TT to continue to over-emphasize draft?

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I think TT relies too much on the draft. He needs to consider modifying his approach somewhat to include more free agent acquisitions. TT hasn’t totally ignored free agency as some contend and obtaining players via the draft is an important part of building and maintaining a quality team no doubt. But I think he is a bit off-balance w/re to his approach and free agency needs more attention this off-season. It’s interesting because when you look back at TT’s history of acquiring free agents, it makes a compelling argument for doing it more often. It could even be said that the percentage chance that a free agent will perform well for the Packers is greater than the percentage chance a draft pick will. Consider Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, Atari Bigby (sort of), Chillar, Tramon Williams, Ryan Grant. (Al Harris wasn’t a TT acquisition, but he’s been a great free agent pick-up).

But my concern is that TT will not look into free agency much and that the Packers will continue to be a losing team under his watch, using his philosophy. We’re 32-34 under TT . While I give him a bit of leeway for 2005 when Sherman was still around, and I understand implementing a new philosophy takes some time, the fact is that this team has only made the playoffs once in his 4 years – and this is in stark contrast to the success the team enjoyed prior to his arrival. Read below from a Tom Silverstein article this morning quoting TT  – this is why I don’t think he will change much of anything this off-season (thanks to reader Scott W for bringing this to my attention):

“We’re going to try to improve this team like we always do,” Thompson said. “People talk about free agency, draft. We’ll use whatever avenues we can to try to improve this team. But again, I’m still going to preach the thing we’ve always preached: The best way to get better, the most consistent way to get better, is to improve from within.”

TT, please take a look at some quality free agents out there. You’ve done nicely to give us the cap room we enjoy and I’ll even say tentatively that you’ve built a good nucleus of young players. But we’re not winning. So modify your approach. Complement these young guys now with some quality veterans. Other teams have done this more than we have recently and have enjoyed more success (the Patriots for example). Consider the fact that veteran leadership has value and that players who have already played in the NFL at a high level are more likely to contribute immediately than drafted rookies.

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14 Responses to “TT to continue to over-emphasize draft?”

  1. PackerBelle Says:

    I think he does look carefully at what is available. He’s brough in some really good guys – like Charles Woodson and Brandon Chillar. And if not for the GM of KC being a jerk he would have brought in Gonzales. I think we need to wait and see what happens first and then react.

  2. MC Says:

    Al Harris wasn’t a free agent; he was a Mike Sherman trade acquisition…

  3. Ron La Canne Says:

    Remember the greatest FA signing in GB history. Reggie White! If Ron Wolf had the attitude TT has, it would be likely we’d never have seen the Super Bowl Teams. Reggie was the building block for the defense. And like it or not the defense was as much or maybe more of the reason for the team’s success as the offense. We have a chance at an impact player or two in this signing period. Sure you take a risk, but you are getting someone with a proven NFL record.

    I’d rather not use up roster spots on 8 or 9 more rookies next year. And if it is like this year, their contribution would be minimal.

  4. RayMidge Says:

    I think to be totally fair to TT we have to look at both where the team was going into each offseason and who was available. I think we all agree on the need for “impact” FAs, but that need doesn’t always line up with what is available in a given year or where the team needs are. Woodson and Reggie White are great examples of the right player for the situation that the team found itself in. I commend TT for refusing to sign FAs just to make it seem like he is doing something and to win offseason plaudits that are meaningless in the regular season. I think it is also important to remember the type of team we had in 2005 and the type we have now. TT inherited an old team built on an urgency to exploit Favre’s remaining years. TT, to his credit, saw this as unsustainable and undesirable in the long term and set about getting younger and deeper. He assembled draft picks in volume because this is the best way to build a team for the long haul. Some of his picks have been great, many have not paid off much so far and a few look like out and out disasters (Harrell, Brohm, even Hawk given where he was picked). I do think that now that they have a pretty solid young core (thw WRs, Rodgers, Collins, some of the younger linemen like Thompson, Wells, Spitz) and a lot of cap space it is worthwhile to try to get some proven vets in key poisitions along each line and especially at LB, to make that next step. But as disappointing as this season was I still think that this team has enough talent to make the playoffs next year without any FA’s and that they are well prepared for the future. The 6-10 record was a result of the combination of Rodgers’ inexperience, a lack of clutch field goals, an inability to get a few key stops and some bad luck. Some might add inconsistent coaching to this mix. My point is that only some of those things are addressable by FA signings, the rest will indeed innvolve getting better from within. I would love to see any help to the lines at any of the positions, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money on guys past their primes (e.g. Jason Taylor). The future is still very bright, I think and will get brighter with smart FA signings, but I do think that, for better or for worse, the GM and the coach have to be given time to do it their way.

    I think that the team has reached a point, though, where its patience and approach of the last few years needs to start paying off. I will not be singing the same tune of patience if we go 6-10 again in 2009.

  5. Scott W Says:

    There’s no question TT has increased the talent level on the team since 2005. 4,000 yard passer, two 1,000 yard receivers. 1,000 yard rusher. TT needs quality FA’s to kick this team to the next level..especially on defense. Jenkins wasn’t doing much prior to getting hurt. TT has mostly ignored the defense the past two years. That’s where the talent drain has occurred. No depth.

  6. bucky Says:

    Jenkins wasn’t doing much prior to getting hurt.

    Err- what? Outside of being- by far- the best defensive lineman on this team up until his injury, I suppose you might be right.

  7. joshywoshybigfatposhy Says:

    it’s time to go out and sign brett favre. and the bucks should sign stephon marbury. and the brewers should grab a hold of andy pettitte and robinson cano.

    but seriously, i’m realizing that all of the above aren’t in new york because they’re stars. they’re stars because they’re in new york (and playing at or below mediocrity), and there are more people here, and they all think the rest of the country thinks new york is special too.

    so we should only go after free agents from small towns nobody’s ever heard of. and then build a time machine and sign mike singeltary as our new linebackers coach, and give steve spagnuolo half of the remaining cap money to be the d coordinator, and the rest to haynesworth and kearse.

    ok. it’s new years and i’m alone in a basement on packergeeks with a vodka-redbull and some re-heated pizza hut. give me a break if i’m just spewing garbage indiscriminately.

  8. DaveK Says:

    RayMidge – great post!

    I agree that they have a solid group of core players that is really something to build on. I also don’t think you can underestimate the importance of having a quality QB going forward. A QB is the biggest and most important cog in the system and many teams flounder around for years trying to find a decent QB. It leaves me optimistic that we seem to have a pretty good one going forward. Both lines were horrid this year and that may be TT’s downfall. He has a year to fix the lines. I am guessing he knows this and you’ll see him partake in FA this year more then in the past and I doubt he trades down much in the draft.

  9. Scott W Says:

    Bucky:

    Forgive me, I was referring to 2008 season only. Prior to this past season Jenkins was an impact player…no doubt.

  10. bucky Says:

    Even this season, Jenkins was the best D lineman before getting hurt. He was a monster the first three games of the season.

    Look at the stats that McGinn posted today. The team had 30 tackles for loss this season, with Poppinga (allegedly) leading the team with 3.5, in 16 games. Jenkins had 2 in 3.5 games. Had he maintained that pace, he’d have finished in double digits- three times as many as his closest competitor.

    More from McGinn:

    Jenkins had 19 “pressures” (defined as the total of sacks, knockdowns and hurries) before suffering a season-ending pectoral injury in the second half of the fourth game. At that rate, he was on pace for 76, which would have broken Kampman’s record of 58½ last season. The Journal Sentinel has recorded this statistic since 1998.

    As it was, Kampman finished with 49, including a team-high 9½ sacks, a team-high 21½ knockdowns and a team-high 18 hurries.

    Jenkins was on his way to getting one third more pressures than the Packers’ previous record. I’d say that’s pretty damn good, expecially for a guy that played DT on passing downs.

  11. dreampipe Says:

    two words: JULIUS PEPPERS

    p.s. Albert Haynesworth takes plays off, and will cost way too much! I’ve already sent TT’s office an email including a full rez version of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yprtuIx_F9o
    just imagine Peppers in the 3-4 (DT/DE or OLB!)

  12. dreampipe Says:

    also i love our defense with just a few additions, like JULIUS PEPPERS and Atari Bigby when he’s back from IR next year. Bigby’s a total stud who brings a fierce Palomalu-like energy to our defense when he’s on the field. our line backers will be allowed to shine with a FA boosted D-line. Barnett’s effect on the Packers’ D play is unfairly marginalized, and when he comes back Hawk will return to his natural position, weakside LB, where he is quite solid. I think those who frequent this blog (i call you packers-linebacker-hating-geeks, affectionately:-) would be very pleasantly surprised by our LB play if our D-line gets markedly better. it goes without saying that our healthy secondary is one of, if not the best in the NFL.

    Let’s lobby TT for that big FA whale of a D-lineman (a la reg-GIE reg-GIE), oh and i’d also like a new D-coord who turns our D’s attitude into that of a nasty, insatiable animal…

  13. awhayes Says:

    Dreampipe – good points. I do think that the D-Line’s shoddy play this year had a direct effect on the LBs and secondary. And, I can’t say calling us packer-LB-hating-geeks is unfair. In particular, I have been quite critical of the LBs this year. I’m not convinced re Bigby yet because I do like the fire he brings (unlike Gary Ellerson on local WSSP radio who yesterday indicated that Bigby likely wouldn’t be back next year). I’m with you on acquiring a quality D-Line FA – Peppers would work well opposite Kampman for sure. Brother Steve feels the same way you do about Haynesworth. I have concerns re his character, but it’s looking more and more like he’ll remain a Titan anyway.

  14. Larry Musche Says:

    Could anyone tell me the last time we drafted an impact player in the first round? I have been a packer fan for almost 50 years, and I would have to go back a very long time to remember a top notch first round pick. I am not a big fan of TT’s ” always trade down ” approach. I know the draft will (if you know how to pick em) build a solid long term team, but I think the Pack’s super bowl team had a lot of help from free agency. So I hope this year we add a few solid free agents. And please get a good defensive coordinator, lb coach and secondary coach.

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