Archive for January, 2009

Gut reaction to Capers’ hiring

January 19, 2009

After reviewing Capers’ overall coaching record a few days ago, I had become suddenly nervous about hiring him. He owns a weak, weak head coaching record and an OK D-Coordinator record. As I told Brother Steve yesterday, my preference would have been to wait for a younger guy and take a chance (Keith Butler or AZ’s LB coach – apparently the Eagles Sean McDermott was not really an option after all as the Eagles wouldn’t have let him interview, according to Tom Silverstein).

However, now that we have apparently hired Capers, I must say, I’m not super pumped up but I’m also not totally disappointed. My major reason for not totally hating this move is that he has experience and I believe it was perhaps a lack of experience that made Bob Sanders seemingly freeze during some games and not make necessary adjustments. Even though Capers failed as a head coach, he may just be one of those guys who is better not being THE guy. I could be wrong here because I have seen Capers have that dumbfounded, no-clue look on his face when things weren’t going right. But something tells me that his experience may help us make adjustments on the fly – especially considering he has 3-4/4-3 and hybrid scheme experience. The one concern I had about my own preference for a younger coach like Keith Butler (and Sean McDermott before he was essentially deemed unavailable), was whether they would be able to recognize the variety of offensive plays coming at the defense and then be able to counter and adapt quick enough.

I also think at least a small part of this hire came down to MM/TT being somewhat afraid for their own jobs. If they take a chance on a young swashbuckler, and the guy/defense fails and the team stinks, chances are more than decent that MM/TT may not be asked to come back in 2010. However, by picking an experienced guy who probably has a quality overall NFL reputation, it is less risky and if the defense sucks, they can say things like “we just need a bit more time for the players to adapt to the scheme” and stuff like that.

(One thing I do like about Capers is the apparent fact that he didn’t get along too well with Bill Belichick and that’s why the Patriots had no problem with him leaving. Now, make no mistake, I greatly admire Belichick’s football mind, but his personality strikes me as, well, jackass-like. He kind of seems like that old neighbor on your block when you were growing up who terrified neighborhood kids because he was such a jackass. In fact, this reminds me, there was once a sort-of-neighbor by our grade school who was so angry that my friend hit a foul ball into his yard when we were playing baseball, that he went into the garage, grabbed a gas can, plopped our hard ball on the driveway and set it on fire. I could see Belichick doing that in a few years).

Capers is New DC

January 19, 2009

Details here.

NFL.com reporting Dom Capers interviewing

January 16, 2009

The following is from Adam Schefter NFL.com Perhaps most interesting is Schefter’s implied comment suggesting the possibility that Green Bay is not an enticing place to coach:

As it has attempted to fill its defensive coordinator job, Green Bay has brought in Mike Nolan and Gregg Williams. Nolan took Denver’s defensive coordinator job, while Williams went to New Orleans. Now, Green Bay has New England assistant coach Dom Capers visiting and interviewing for the job. Which means Capers is likely to land a job elsewhere.

If Green Bay could hire him, Capers would be a superb addition. He has respect around the league, experience in the game and will be coaching somewhere soon. But Green Bay has struggled to close defensive coordinator deals this offseason. Now it gets another chance.

I can’t pretend to know much re Capers as a D-Coordinator. But I do remember that as a head coach, along with Wayne Fontes, Capers was one of the original “clueless face” coaches. I remember thinking about him as I wrote a post on coaching in the moment a few weeks back. That doesn’t mean he would be a bad d-coordinator and he does have solid experience which may help McCarthy a bit. We’ll see.

UPDATE: read here from Wikipedia – not so sure we should be interviewing Dom Capers. While Wikipedia info isn’t always right, I don’t find this to be a very flattering entry. And, I am not impressed by coaches who spend all their time at the office. I think a lot of the time, working long hours can be more of an indication of an inefficient work-style than actual hard work. I’d rather have a coach who works 8 hours a day but works intelligently and efficiently. Working long hours didn’t seem to help Capers to a winning record, that’s for sure.

Gregg Williams signs with New Orleans

January 15, 2009

Read here from jsonline – Gregg Williams no longer an option. I was intrigued by the jsonline article this morning that talked about Tim Lewis. I don’t know much about him except that I felt really bad years ago when it looked like he might be paralyzed after making a tackle. His experience is interesting though and I like the fact that he’s worked with both the 4-3 and 3-4. I’m on record preferring a change to a 3-4, but I think it would be nice to have someone who has experience with both. I also am drawn immediately to the fact that he’s worked with Dick LeBeau. His 4 year D Coordinator success in Pittsburgh was also impressive. Sean McDermott is also a guy to keep in mind as anyone who has been working with Jim Johnson for more than a few years has to have picked up some good ideas. While Gregg Williams may have been decent, I do wonder if his personal style would have fit under TT/MM (I get the sense he’s fairly strong-willed). He apparently has had some issues in the past getting along with head coaches, including last year with Jack Del Rio. Right now in fact, I’m getting the sense that it may be a good thing that we didn’t land any of the initial, hot candidates because some of these other guys may be just as good. It’s not like we missed out on a Monte Kiffin, Dick LeBeau or Jim Johnson.

That said, I do have some concern, as some of you have mentioned, about whether Green Bay is still a place players/coaches even want to come. I wonder if some coaches have concerns about TT and/or MM. Reggie White made Green Bay a place lots of players and coaches wanted to come. And I believe Favre helped maintain that for years. But now, I have to admit, I’m not so sure it’s as attractive a place to work.

Call Jennings

January 15, 2009

I’m higher on Ted Thompson than a lot of PG readers, for reasons I’ll lay out in a longer post to come. But he is an awful communicator. Awful. His post-season interviews are evidence of that.

Communicating with the press and the public is one thing. It’d be nice if he’d do it more and do it better. But communicating within the organization, particularly with his players and coaches, is crucial. And his performance in that regard has been woeful.

Brett Favre was a jackass last year and virtually everything that happened in the long, ugly battle he had with the Packers was his fault. But not everything.

Favre made it clear that he needed to be loved or at least needed to be appreciated. He needed to be told he was needed. Ted Thompson refused to do that and when he finally did it was because the dispute had gone public. And throughout the entire episode it was clear that the problem started — and grew — from a lack of communication.

This hasn’t changed, apparently. Look at this passage from today’s JS Online [Ed: link added] regarding the future of Greg Jennings, one of the top wide receivers in the NFL, the best wide receiver on the Packers and the jewel in the crown of Thompson’s draft picks.

“Green Bay has done nothing to let Jennings or his people know he’s wanted beyond 2009. And while it’s generally assumed the Packers will do everything they can to keep Jennings, they haven’t told that to their top offensive weapon.”

That’s worth rereading.

“Green Bay has done nothing to let Jennings or his people know he’s wanted beyond 2009. And while it’s generally assumed the Packers will do everything they can to keep Jennings, they haven’t told that to their top offensive weapon.”

That is ridiculous. There is no conceivable reason that Ted Thompson has not called Jennings’ agent to let him know they’d like to keep him around. None.

More to the point, one of the reasons Thompson gives for his lack of aggressiveness in free agency — a position that’s far more defensible than much of the chatter in Packer World in recent days — is that his priority is resigning top Packers and doing so early. If he wants to keep using that excuse for sitting out the opening week of free agency, he ought to make it a priority to resign Jennings.

Packergeeks season grades

January 14, 2009

Bob McGinn came out with his season grades. Read here for this article. In his overall summary, he made some good points and some of his grades were dead on. But there was plenty to disagree with. Perhaps the biggest issue I have with how he grades is that he is so dependent on stats. It’s almost like he tries to create a mathematical formula to come up with grades. I know, I know, numbers don’t lie etc etc etc. But they don’t tell the whole story either. Take his D+ for Brandon Jackson based solely on his low 3rd down reception average (doesn’t mention his quality blocking for Rodgers on 3rd downs and his stellar 5.5 yards per carry).

Offense

  • Rodgers – A. McGinn wrong giving Rodgers B. Rodgers great. Inconsistent O-line play, no run game – Rodgers great. Will get clutch victories soon, then it will become routine. Also will become better leader starting next year.
  • Grant – C+. Grant didn’t avoid tackles well this year. Wasn’t terrible though (O-Line didn’t help him much). Should be fine next year if the line improves (and perhaps has a new offensive scheme).
  • Brandon Jackson – B. McGinn was way off here giving Jackson a D+. Jackson was pretty good and only had a low 3rd down reception average because of a shoddy O-Line.
  • DeShawn Wynn – B. Maybe didn’t play enough to get a grade but answered when called upon. He has vision our other RBs don’t have.
  • Korey Hall – D+. Injury problems again. He’s not bad and when healthy could be a valuable player. If not, he may end up being yet another guy who should just play his natural position – LB.
  • John Kuhn – D+. There were too many times when Kuhn didn’t get to the right spot at the right time.
  • Greg Jennings – A. No need for comment, just very good.
  • Donald Driver – A-. Driver is still good and he still gets the job done. I gave him a “-” because he can’t seem to break tackles like he used to.
  • Jordy Nelson – C+. I like Jordy’s attitude and sure hands. He strikes me as a quality #3 receiver. If he gets stronger, he might be able to shed tacklers like I imagine he did in college.
  • James Jones – C+. Jones was too injured almost to be graded. But when he was actually on the field, he showed he still presents a scary option.
  • Ruvell Martin – C+. It is now trendy to talk about Ruvell’s blocking ability ever since Packergeeks gave him the unofficial title of “best WR blocker” last year. But he is a great blocker and a high level team guy.
  • Donald Lee – C. Lee wasn’t too special this year. He’s still a quality TE but I almost wonder if the priority to develop him has given way to what seems like an overwhelming priority by the staff to develop Finley.
  • Tory Humphrey – B-. I can’t pretend to know how good Humphrey was blocking etc, but it seemed to me that whenever he got a chance, this guy came through.
  • Jermichael Finley – D+. His last couple games were encouraging – mostly because I like the way they tried to use him. As he adjusts to the NFL, he could become really good.
  • Colledge – C. Still nothing special to me. McGinn will throw stat after stat at you and it seems “cool” presently to talk about how Colledge was a “bright spot”, but I just didn’t see it very much.
  • Clifton – D. Clifton is just not good enough anymore. Physically his knees don’t work, his hip probably doesn’t work. I’m not sure he makes the team next year.
  • Moll – D-. He is not good. Though yet again, he is another player the Packers tried to convert. Apparently Moll was mostly a TE in college.
  • Tauscher – C-. He really struggled this year. C- is a bad grade from me, but especially bad for a guy whom I’ve given high Bs or even As in the past. Tauscher has been one of our best players over the years, but 2008 was not a good year for him. I do want him back, but I think other teams will come after him looking for a bargain.
  • Spitz – C. I saw in some other post-season grades that Spitz did OK by some. I don’t get that. I like that he can play center in a pinch and I didn’t notice a drop-off at all when he did. But I’m just not sure he’s that good yet.
  • Wells – C-. I don’t see what others see in Wells. I think he is too small and is often responsible for giving up the push up the middle at the line of scrimmage.
  • Barbe and others – who knows.

Defense

  • Woodson – A. Maybe one of the best seasons ever by a Packer corner. His tackling this year was unreal.
  • Harris – B+. Harris is still good. Yes, he is vulnerable against the big/talented guys, but generally he still holds his own.
  • Bigby – incomplete.
  • Collins – B+/A-. Collins was a lot better at actually catching interceptions (though he still dropped a few) but I think the most important thing about the Pro Bowl nod is that he will be even more confident now. I think he had questions about his own skills going into this year and now I think he’ll have more faith in what he’s doing going forward.
  • Peprah – C-. Often injured. Shows signs of talent for tackling at times.
  • Tramon Williams – B-. Was great filling in for Harris but his level of play dropped in the 2nd half. I still think he has the skills to be a starting CB though.
  • Will Blackmon – C-. This grade is for his contributions as a CB, which weren’t great. He had one great tackle play against Jax that caused a fumble but outside of that, I’m not sure he’s that good of a corner. I really like him in the return game and may give him a B to B+ there.
  • Jarrett Bush – C-. His mistakes cause headaches, and overall I’m not sure he should be on the team. I do like his enthusiasm though.
  • Aaron Rouse – D+. Disappointment. I do wonder if Sanders just never found a good way to use him. Rouse has unique LB-like size for a safety and I hope that the new D-Coordinator can maybe find some special ways to use him. I’ve said it before, but I think having Collins, Bigby and Rouse on the field for the same plays at times could be an intriguing combination.
  • Brady Poppinga – A. Just kidding, D. He and Spencer Havner should switch roles.
  • Desmond Bishop – B. If I read again about how he missed a tackle on Chester Taylor (a tackle that only MAYBE Patrick Willis would have made – certainly not Barnett) or about major coverage let downs, I’m going to puke. He did more in his short time out there than any part-time player. He caused 3 forced fumbles in very very limited action. YOU CAN’T KEEP SOMEONE ON THE BENCH WHEN HE’S CAUSING TURNOVERS AND MAKING PLAYS AND YOUR STARTERS AREN’T!!! Sorry, bitterness.
  • Nick Barnett – C-. Barnett was not sharp this year before his injury. Not sure what it was but his level of play dropped significantly from last year when he was pretty darn good.
  • AJ Hawk – D. Gotta wonder if that chest injury affected him more than he let on. Any kind of injury of the chest is kind of scary. Either way, he was bad this year and I think Winston Moss is right when he says that AJ is not playing freely/instinctively because he’s too assignment-focused.
  • Chillar – B. He was good. Yes, he had a few missed tackles and poor plays here and there, but overall, he was probably our best LB.
  • Kampman – B-. Kampman wasn’t as visible this year. I don’t think he was stellar and I think if he rated himself, he would say the same. But I do recognize that he was double-teamed constantly because if opposing lines didn’t do that, they’d have been bored doing nothing.
  • Pickett – C-. Pickett was not the same. Like Tauscher, a C- for a player like Pickett is a bad, bad grade. We expect high “B” performances from him but he didn’t deliver this year.
  • Jolly – D+. I had high hopes for Jolly. I thought he’d be great. He wasn’t. He plays hard and has enthusiasm, but I just don’t know how effective he can be. Perhaps he was affected negatively by having a weak right DE next to him all season.
  • Montgomery – D+. A small part of me was pulling for Montgomery to be a surprise this year. He wasn’t. His rush “moves” are slow and he didn’t contain the edge well against the run.
  • Jeremy Thompson – D+. Lots of development to do for this guy.  Thompson plays hard and is excited about being out there. Just didn’t perform. He consistently over-pursued or just plain got burned on plays. He plays small, more like a LB. If we move to a 3-4, he may actually have a shot at helping at OLB.
  • Colin Cole – C. I can’t say for sure why I believe this but I think Cole came on at the end of the season. For most of the season though, he was pretty absent.
  • Alfred Malone – C+. He’s a guy I’d like to see more of. He took advantage of his chances to play and looked OK.
  • Jason Hunter – C-. Had hopes that he would get more playing time and perform better. I believe an injury sidelined him for a bit. May be another guy who would fit in a 3-4 defense as an OLB.
  • Justin Harrell – D-. Harrell’s injury issues are sad. Considering the ongoing back problems, I’m not sure he’s going to be able to play at all anymore. I’m over the fact that it was a blown draft pick – dumb mistake by TT – more surprising than anything. But this is sad because if you see an interview with Justin, you’ll realize pretty fast that he’s a good kid. He, himself feels badly for letting down Packer nation and has said so.

Special Teams

  • Mason Crosby – C+. Still helps us on kick offs quite a bit. His misses on potential game-winners obviously hurt. But a bigger concern to me was the few kicks he had (like the first miss in the Bears game for example) where it seemed he had no idea how to kick. My unofficial count had this happen 3 times. He came out of his kicking form way early, didn’t focus on the plant foot whatsoever and kicked a low-flying duck-hook type kick each time. Sort of like he was afraid of someone running into him or something. 2 of these were in cold weather, but weather in which the opposing kicker made longer field goals. Still, I like Crosby and am not too worried about him.
  • Derrick Frost – F.
  • Jeremy Kapinos – B-. Came in under tons of pressure and performed OK in poor conditions. His numbers weren’t great but as I said before, numbers don’t tell the whole story. He had big kicks when we needed them and importantly, didn’t hurt us down the stretch. Packers should throw millions at Shane Lechler this off-season.
  • Brett Goode – B+. He was…um…goode. Not sure why McGinn would give this guy a C or whatever he gave him. He was a sure-snapper. I didn’t give him an A only because I’m not sure how he was blocking and coverage-wise.

Coaching

  • McCarthy – C-. Mike McCarthy was off this year. He was distracted by Favre and distracted by having a baby. Neither thing his “fault”, and neither thing a small thing. I think next year he’ll be more focused and get back to being the creative, quality playcaller I think he is. This past year, his game-flow and playcalling was really subpar though.
  • Sanders – D+. Sanders did have a couple outstanding games, like the Colts game and the first Bears game. He was on the money for those games. But he was not consistent and his inability to adapt to changes throughout the course of a game was a major liability for us. Good guy it seems, but we’re ready for a new defensive coordinator.
  • Mike Stock – D. Stock’s fall was interesting. The special teams in 2007 were a key part of our success. They were consistent and solid for the most part. In 2008, however, this was a major weakness. Penalties, weak coverage, the Frost nightmare. Stock’s stock could have gone either way as he was on the rise after 2007.
  • Joe Philbin – ?. Not sure what he does. I’m sure he contributes in some way, but it’s hard to know exactly how because McCarthy is so involved with the offense.

Management

  • Ted Thompson – C. Didn’t like his handling of Favre. Didn’t like the Frost situation. Didn’t like the lack of depth the team ended up having. And still believe he over-emphasizes the draft vs free agency. On the other hand, I liked that he tried at least for Tony Gonzalez. I liked that he got something in return for Favre. I liked that he picked up Chillar. As critical as I’ve been of TT in the past, I am not one of the group calling for his head. He has shown flashes of brilliance and I really want to see if he can help bring the team back from this miserable season. While I’d say that the players and coaches bear the majority of the blame for this past season, I do think TT must do more to improve both our talent and depth, particularly on defense and particularly on the lines. I also think we need more veteran leadership out there in the form of free agents and I hope that TT modifies his approach to accommodate this. If he doesn’t and the team doesn’t show marked improvement next year, I’m not sure TT will be wanted back.

Nolan Gone, Williams Going

January 12, 2009

Greg Bedard blogs that Mike Nolan is going to the Denver Broncos and Gregg Williams may be headed to New Orleans.  There are others.  Here’s hoping that we lost Nolan (or Nolan and Williams) because we didn’t want them and not because we didn’t act.  (HT, Cindy V.)

Silverstein grills Ted Thompson

January 11, 2009

Read this Q&A that jsonline writer Tom Silverstein had with TT recently. I want to be one of the first to commend Silverstein for not asking easy questions. This is a good interview that asks some important questions and difficult questions for TT. It’s fairly evident to me that one concern Silverstein had throughout this season was the lack of veteran leadership. He raises this point several times in the interview and TT doesn’t take well to it.

The interview made me think of several things: TT didn’t like our defense, he cares about what’s written about him, he was smart not to touch the Favre situation, I like that he denied injuries being a major factor, he may be putting too much emphasis on the kind of person a player is which may cloud his judgment re the player’s ability to contribute (think Poppinga), and finally, and importantly, he does care about this team.

On a related noted, usatoday.com did a story on TT too. There is one interesting exchange in this interview that I thought stood out. Recently Charles Woodson shared with the media his belief that the team needs more veteran leadership, apparently implying that a lack of this kind of leadership affected the team’s ability to win close games. Read here from the article for more:

Some tried to draw a straight line between the Packers’ youth to a lack of leadership, perhaps providing a reason — THE reason? — the team faltered in so many close games. Veteran cornerback Charles Woodson appeared to be solidly in that camp, calling on the Packers’ front office to bring in some veterans. “Well, Charles is a very bright guy, so I’m not going to dispute what he says,” Thompson said. “Other than to say that, you know, we were in a bunch of close games that we didn’t win, and I think it’s a little too simplistic to say that we were too young.”

A lack of veteran leadership didn’t alone cost the Packers those games – Ted’s right. But I also think TT missed Woodson’s larger point – veterans could have helped in those games and others. Like the author of the article states, Woodson was driving at the possibility that the team lost close games because there were too many young guys out there inexperienced in those tight situations. And, a veteran leader or two might help pull the team through moments like that while at the same time just adding needed competence and depth to a questionable defense in particular.

I agree with Woodson (and I’m assuming Silverstein here) here. I actually think a good number of Packer fans probably would agree too. What’s interesting is that it seems TT is concerned about bringing in a free agent who may not fit in the locker room. Doesn’t seem like he’s considered the possibility that certain free agents might come in and actually improve team chemistry. In fact, team chemistry can often be improved simply by being better and if we add a quality free agent veteran or two (or five), we will get better (can’t get much worse), which may improve team chemistry. Packer fans remember how Reggie White came in and made the defense legit immediately. Eugene Robinson also helped quite a bit. While there aren’t many free agents who could step in and alter a defense like Reggie White, there are certainly quality guys out there who could fill our defensive holes or at least add depth, while at the same time providing some added leadership.

One final thing I do want to say is that I am not one of those people asking for TT’s head here. I don’t think he should be fired right now and I haven’t even jumped ship on his overall philosophy (though I am souring). I do think it’s important though that we question him more and more when the team is not winning. When things aren’t going well many fans naturally shift to trying to problem-solve to make this a winning team – just like TT and his staff will do. Let’s hope things get turned around this coming year – I just hope he dabbles a bit more with free agency than he has in the past.

2009 NFL free agency options

January 10, 2009

Just to get your wheels turning a bit here, I wanted to list some of the unrestricted free agents who should be available going into this off-season. (Caution: never heard of this source/website, but the free agent info is consistent with what I’ve seen elsewhere and it was presented in the easiest to read format).

  • Matt Birk (C) – very good still, would be an upgrade over Wells (Because he’s getting older, he’d probably come reasonably priced.) Could really help develop Rodgers too – one of the smarter players in the NFL.
  • Jordan Gross (T) – likely too expensive, but a significant upgrade over Clifton and possibly a smart long-term investment.
  • Other Offensive Linemen – I can’t pretend to know which of the free agent linemen are any good, but there HAVE to be at least a couple who could add needed depth or perhaps serve as starter updgrades.
  • Shane Lechler (P) – we should offer him $4-6 million a year…not kidding.
  • Owen Daniels (TE) – like a good # of these guys, he’ll likely get re-signed (if he hasn’t already), but then the Pack should trade for him or something. Donald Lee and Poppinga for Daniels. Just have Winston Moss call Houston and give them BS about how Poppinga played “very well” in 2008.
  • Julius Peppers (DE) – was weak in 2007, but great in 2008 and before 2007 – would certainly help our D-Line immediately.
  • Albert Haynesworth (DT) – appears to be quite close to re-signing with Tenn, so not a likely option.
  • Other Defensive Linemen – I am not too sure if players like Rocky Bernard or Jonathan Babineaux are still contributing at some level, but there may be some big bodies like these who could at least add some needed depth to our lines. I’m not sure I’d take a chance on a guy like Tank Johnson, but the fact is, at some point he did play at a high level and it’s at least possible that he may now be mature enough to stay out of trouble off the field.
  • Darren Sproles (RB) – this guy is unreal. He had a big game Saturday which has given him lots of attention – but he also had a huge game the week before when SD played Den. He is the quickest person…on earth. He would definitely give us a potentially unique and nasty 1-2 punch, but my guess is that he’ll command serious money on the open market and TT will not want to shell out for a RB.
  • Terrell Suggs (OLB/DE) – he’s one of those guys who may not get the attention he deserves – if we move to a 3-4, I would pursue him hard and even if we remain in a 4-3, a decent D coordinator should easily be able to find a role for someone with his talent.
  • Ray Lewis (ILB) – we all know re Ray Lewis. He could be a great veteran addition and though he’ll cost a lot and it would be financially risky to invest in him at this stage in his career, his leadership, fire and quality could transform the defense for the next few years – perhaps having a Reggie-like effect.
  • Mike Peterson (ILB) – despite having a bit of a conflict with his coach this year, Mike Peterson has been talked about as being a very underrated MLB who can cover the field very well.
  • Bart Scott (ILB) – another Balt LB who can play
  • Karlos Dansby (OLB) – a quality young guy for the Cards (if Nolan is hired, I’ll bet he lobbies for Dansby)
  • James Farrior (ILB) – very good player some think is seriously underrated
  • Brian Dawkins (FS) – getting older but still very good
  • OJ Atogwe (FS) – offer a big contract to this guy, with he and Collins back there, the Pack would be set for years at safety (though one of them would have to learn the Strong Safety position – same with Dawkins)
  • Dunta Robinson (CB) – though he was out for much of 2008 with knee issues, this guy can play.
  • Nnamdi Adomugha (CB) – Will cost a fortune but several national NFL writers have recently indicated that Asomugha has taken over the title as NFL’s best shut-down corner. Could we trade Al Harris?

There are certainly a number of other free agents available who could help our team, but these were the players who caught my eye. In particular, I am most interested in Peppers, Lechler, Suggs, Ray Lewis, Farrior and Atogwe (if moving he or Collins to SS wouldn’t be too hard). I don’t think it would be a stretch to sign at least a few of these guys given our cap space and if we did, our team would improve instantly. If I had the chance to interview TT, one question I would ask him is: how does he approach free agency? I would remind him of his stated draft philosophy of just selecting the best available player with little to no regard for position needs – does he have a similar approach in free agency? Why or why not?

Anyway, just thought I’d get us thinking about free agency now so that as the off-season heats up, we can collectively put so much pressure on the team to make some moves that they will finally give in and ultimately, do what’s best for the team.

Ditch mediocrity by switching to a 3-4 defense

January 9, 2009

One common argument I have heard against moving to a 3-4 defense is that we presently don’t have the personnel for it. I have three thoughts on this: 1) we obviously don’t have the personnel for a 4-3 either; 2) don’t we have to make serious personnel changes anyway?; and 3) why are we clinging to a style of defense that has yielded mediocre results at best for years? Would it hurt to try something new like a 3-4? The only time I remember the Packers D being good in the last few decades was during the mid 90s with Reggie and company. Well, boredom carried me to ridiculous levels just now because I decided to see how the Packers have finished in the main defensive category of yards per game over the course of the last 12 years or so. (I didn’t go back further in part because this took too long and also because our defenses just sucked before that.)

  • 2008 = #20 overall, #26 rush, #12 pass
  • 2007 = #11 overall, #14 rush, #12 pass
  • 2006 = #12 overall, #13 rush, #17 pass
  • 2005 = #7 overall, #23 rush, #1 pass
  • 2004 = #25 overall, #14 rush, #25 pass
  • 2003 = #17 overall, #10 rush, #23 pass
  • 2002 = #12 overall, #21 rush, #3 pass
  • 2001 = #12 overall, #16 rush, #15 pass
  • 2000 = #15 overall, #8 rush, #19 pass
  • 1999 = #19 overall, #22 rush, #18 pass
  • 1998 = #4 overall, #4 rush, #10 pass
  • 1997 = #7 overall, #20 rush, #8 pass
  • 1996 = #1 overall, #4 rush, #1 pass

Sure there were a couple decent seasons from the pass D, but overall, the defense has been consistently mediocre. Only 2 times in the last 12 years have the Packers had a defense finish in the top 5 overall in yards per game allowed, 1996 and 1998. Of course, LeRoy Butler recently shared with the 1250 WSSP listening audience that during those  years it was common for the defense to shift from their 4-3 base to a 3-4 set. On the show, LeRoy talked about how effective their use of the 3-4 was back then and how in general, a 3-4 defense gives a team a greater variety of looks/options with regard to blitzing, coverage and gap fills (if you will, I made that expression up…I have to admit, I did consider not admitting I made this expression up so I could mislead you all into believing I’m down with modern defensive lingo – but I’m not down with any defensive lingo so I decided to come clean).

Anyway, my point is this: why not just give it a try? Whether it’s Mike Nolan or Keith Butler or Andy Hayes. Just give it a try.

(Note: as I sifted through the defensive stats of the last 12 years, it wasn’t surprising to me to see Pittsburgh up near the top almost every year in every defensive category. By now, you all know of my developing man-crush on Pittsburgh’s D Coordinator Dick LeBeau – he’s a genius. Oh, and he has used a 3-4 for years.)


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