Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
I said the Packers need a defensive lineman to provide an inside pass rush for most of last season, but then DTs Corey Williams and Cullen Jenkins came on to provide it during the last few games. It still might be the position to draft because DE KGB has declined the past two seasons and Jenkins might be a free agent after next season. Michgan's DT Alan Branch and Clemson's DE Gaines Adams should be long gone by the Packers pick. Maybe someone like Louisville's Amobi Okoye, who is one of the biggest stories at the combine because the guy is only 19 years old and set to become the youngest player ever drafted. Okoye isn't a pass rusher, more of a nose tackle like NT Ryan Pickett, and wouldn't fit an obvious need in 2007, but with someone so young he could be providing solid performance and depth at the defensive tackle position for the next ten seasons.
The Packers need to add a good receiving tight end. Here are the 40 times for tight ends. Arizona State's Zach Miller has been a stud for years but Miami's Greg Olson blew them all away with a 4.47. Unfortunately he didn't show too much production at Miami. Both players would be a reach at 16.
The Packers need depth at wide receiver too. Some mock drafts have the Packers selecting USC's WR Dwayne Jarrett at 16. Unfortunately for Jarrett he didn't run at the combine officially and now his speed is coming into question. Of course the Packers would love Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, but he will never fall to 16 and might be the first player selected. The receiver who did the most at the combine was Tennessee's Robert Meachem. He blazed a 4.39 in the 40, but he did not have a perfect college career, with a history of drops too, and might not be worthy of the 16th pick. Just like running back, this is another position where the Packers might wait until the 2nd or 3rd round to select someone like USC's Steve Smith or Washington State's Jason Hill.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
But the Packers would be reaching by drafting Lynch at 16. Lynch should be good, but he might be the next RB J.J. Arrington too. If RB Adrian Peterson fell to 16 then the Packers should dance like New Orleans danced once it was reported that Houston signed DE Mario Williams. Assuming Peterson doesn't fall down to 16 (which he shouldn't) and Thompson doesn't trade up (which seems just as unlikely) the next prospect to discuss is Lynch. Unfortunately for Lynch there are a number of other college running backs who ran as fast or faster than him. Florida State's Lorenzo Booker, Arizona's Chris Henry, Auburn's Kenny Irons, and Ohio State's Antonio Pittman. All of these players might not have Lynch's size or eye-catching 6.21 yards/carry during his final two college seasons, but some of them will last into the 2nd and maybe the 3rd round. Plus if Green does return, then there is good depth for 2007 with RBs Vernand Morency and Noah Herron and another running back doesn't seem like a good fit.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
However, the laugh is because Millen is paying $6.8 million for a defensive tackle that is basically the same player as DT Cullen Jenkins. Both are lighter defensive tackles/ends that are not run stoppers, but provide a good inside pass rush. The Packers will pay Jenkins a lot less in 2006, although that is due in large part because Jenkins has one less year in service time. But if it was announced that the Packers just slapped the franchise tag on Jenkins, most casual fans would probably wonder who he is. Plus putting the tag always upsets the player tagged. Better GMs would have found a way to pay a reasonable price for an unremarkable, but valuable, player and wouldn't have upset the player in the process too.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Of the remaining unrestricted free agents, the only two that should be resigned, but not at any price, are RB Ahman Green and TE David Martin.
Green had a strong 2006 season, but his 4.0 yards/carry is a half-yard under his 2004 and career averages. Both RBs Noah Herron and Vernand Morency had a better average yards/carry than Green in 2006. Also, Green is only a season removed from major knee surgery and is about to turn 30. ESPN's Mel Kiper had his mock draft predictions scrolling at the bottom of ESPN and has the Packers selecting RB Marshawn Lynch, which is a possibility. With Green's strong return in 2006 and the weaker group of free agent running backs this offseason compared to last season's bonanza with RBs Edgerrin James and Shawn Alexander leading the way, it wouldn't be surprising to see some team overpay for Green. Green crossed the 400 carry mark during his outstanding 2003 season (including playoffs) and has never been as good since. Last season he resigned for a modest one year deal, but that won't happen this year. The Packers should let another team pay a premium price for his last few seasons.
If only Martin could stay healthy, then resigning him would be a priority. His 2006 stats look modest, but the offense played its best during the middle of the season when Martin was healthy and starting. They won 3 of 4 games in late October and early November by scoring 34 points at Miami and 31 against Arizona, with a TD pass to Martin in both games. They only scored 10 points at Buffalo, but turnovers ruined an otherwise great offensive day. Then Martin played his last healthy game in the win at Minnesota (against a great Minnesota defense) with 23 points scored. In the last seven games, the offense scored over 20 points (24 points at Seattle, but one TD scored by LB Abdul Hodge) in only two of them. They need Martin or another quality receiving TE like him. His past injury problems should keep contract offers modest so resigning him could be reasonable. Any free agent TE to replace him would have risks (such as Seattle's inconsistent TE Jerramy Stevens), so they should resign Martin but draft a TE to replace him in 2008 if he remains injury prone.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Now they've started off the free agency season with a laugh by giving former Packer DT Vonnie Holliday a fat $7 million signing bonus. Looking at his career stats, he has played well for them the last two seasons. But stats are a bit misleading for Holliday. He pads them with big games and then vanishes for the rest of the season.
Holliday's big rookie season in 1998 with 8 sacks in 12 games came because he was playing opposite DE Reggie White when White was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and then he took a step back in 1999 without White in the lineup anymore. He had 6 sacks in 10 games during his final season with the Packers in 2002, but 3 or 4 of those sacks came in a single game. After he signed a big free agent contract with Kansas City his tackle total collapsed although he had a respectable looking 5.5 sacks until you learn that he had 3 sacks in the first half of the first game of the season. His 2004 stats were dismal until Kansas City released him mid-season. The Packers played Miami last season and I only remember noticing him a couple of times. It seemed like he was only a part time starter. Just an awful signing.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
ESPN says the Packers defense is all beefed up because they signed some future candidates for the practice squad. The only interesting name is Marcus Randall because he is now a linebacker but used to play QB at LSU.
Unfortunately the Packers signed WR Koren Robinson last season because now his updated legal status is reported on Packer news sites. However, if Robinson is sober and in shape then he could help in 2007. The good news for Robinson is that he will only serve 90 days and he should be available by training camp. GM Ted Thompson signed him last season when he knew Robinson had these legal troubles coming so there should be no reason he doesn't keep him now.
What does Rivera's departure mean for Chicago? Unfortunately for the Packers it doesn't mean too much in 2007 because it is Lovie Smith defense it is unlikely to change. Here is Windy City Gridiron's take on the move. Why did they let Rivera leave? If Rivera gets a big fat new contract as defensive coordinator, then it is possible that Chicago is on the hook for his contract when/if they let Lovie Smith. If Smith is staying long term, then this isn't a problem. Is Smith not staying because he allegedly can't get a new contract extension? Did Smith have a problem with Rivera? Clash of ego and money are not something new in Chicago. George Halas's son Michael McCaskey ran the football and business operations from 1985 until 1999 when his mother "kicked him upstairs". From 1985 until Jerry Angelo was named GM in 2001 (although Mark Hatley was defacto GM during the late 1990s) the McCaskey family didn't feel they needed anyone else. The McCaskey family has been on the right track since 1999 when they hired CEO Ted Phillips who got the new stadium built and hired Mark Hatley. Hatley made some famous bust moves like drafting QB Cade McNown, but he also built the 2001 13-3 Chicago team and drafted LB Brian Urlacher. It has taken Chicago eight years to get where they are but only one offseason of bad front office moves to tear it all down. Is Chicago uninterested in paying any of their front office staff or coaches top dollar? Smith's departure would be a huge loss for Chicago and maybe Rivera's departure is a sign that it could happen.
Friday, February 16, 2007
There will be a million pointless mock drafts posted online between now and mid-April. All of them will be pointless and a waste of time. I know I shouldn't pay any attention to them, but just like staring at car accidents and reading tabloids at the supermarket, I just can't help myself. I ripped a Yahoo! mock draft for being ridiculous, but ProFootballTalk's Mock Draft 1.0 is much more realistic. ProFootballTalk says the Packers will take
One thing that surprised me in both mock drafts was the high rankings given to
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Shocking but true, the Packers didn't give CB Al Harris any guaranteed money to sign a contract extension. It will be a 50% raise for him over the next three years, but he will still only be making $12 million over that time. The extension would be crazy for Harris to sign if he was an unrestricted free agent, but since he is under contract for the next three seasons, he doesn't have much leverage to negotiate. Still his extension is an NFL bargain for a (should be) Pro Bowl cornerback. Just ask Minnesota, who gave CB Fred Smoot $10 million to sign in 2005 but will now kick him to the street after two mediocre seasons later.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
Friday, February 09, 2007
I was thinking about the ideal coach because I was recently re-reading Rob Reischel's book Packers Essential. He discusses Vince Lombardi who was 46 in 1959 when the Packers hired him. Lombardi was a top NFL assistant with the New York Giants who believed he never would have a head coaching opportunity after getting passed over in New York. "He had prepared for that job for a long time," said former Packer Norm Masters. He was young, experienced, and knew exactly what he would do if he ever became a head coach.
While an NFL team is unlikely to find the next Lombardi, teams should be looking for someone with experience and past success, but who has never had a head coaching opportunity. Looking around the NFL at the top offenses, why doesn't Tom Moore's name ever get mentioned as a possible head coach? Maybe he is happy in Indianapolis and he does flunk the Speed Limit Coaching Corollary, but as the offensive coordinator of one of the best offenses in NFL history over the last 9 seasons, wouldn't you at least want to talk with him? How about Bob Bratkowski in Cincinnati? He has built Cincinnati's offense from the ground up and every important offensive player has been drafted since Bratkowski was hired in 2001. Cam Cameron was hired in Miami after a great season coordinating San Diego's offense, but both him and Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia have had previously unspectacular results as head coaches. If you ignore coaches that have failed in previous head coaching tries then you would miss some pretty good coaches like Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy. However, for every Belichick and Dungy, there are many retread coaches that never again succeed. I would look for the assistant coach with NFL experience, but first time head coach, and leave the retreads behind.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Thompson will be active in free agency if 2006 is any guide. Last season he made one good signing that worked out as well as was expected with NT Ryan Pickett. One signing that seemed bad and turned out bad with S Marquand Manuel. Finally he made one big signing that looked like a disaster, but turned out to be one of the best free agent signings by any team with CB Charles Woodson. He made a good non-signing by letting K Ryan Longwell go to Minnesota. There aren't as many holes this offseason, but there are still are some free agents that should be targeted.
There is a need for depth at wide receiver. WRs Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin might be good next season, but for the most part neither was good enough to start last season. Although Tennessee will probably overpay to keep him, WR Drew Bennett could be the most likely target from this list of wide receivers. Not that Bennett is any good, Football Outsiders has him ranked as the 56th best WR last season, but Bennett is 6'5" and Mike McCarthy prefers tall receivers based on reports I read last offseason. Bennett's biggest problem is the awful 47% of intended passes that he caught last season. You can't blame QB Vince Young either, because Bennett caught an awful 53% in 2005. On the 2005 list, you can see WR Robert Ferguson's awful 47% catch percentage in 2005 and understand why I am not considering Ferguson has a legitimate option in 2007. Based on the Football Outsiders list from 2006, the Packers should seriously consider making an offer to restricted free agent WRs D.J. Hackett and Patrick Crayton or unrestricted free agent WRs Kevin Curtis and Keenan McCardell. McCardell is one of the few players left in the NFL that is almost as old as Favre, but McCardell still caught 71% of the passes intended for him.
Maybe the player most likely to be signed is TE Jerramy Stevens. Just like Manuel last season, he has that connection to Seattle from when Thompson was in their front office. It would seem impossible that Stevens will stay in Seattle after becoming a notorious pass dropping machine ever since the Super Bowl. Although Stevens has concerns, he is no Manuel, and he was one of the best TEs in the NFL in 2005. There is a major need to upgrade at tight end to find someone who can catch the ball. Stevens was one of the top 10 worst regular tight ends in 2006 when he managed to stay healthy, but he was still three times better than TE Bubba Franks who is parked dead last on that list. Stevens is still young, needs a change of scenery, and could return to his 2005 form. For a contract that limits the long term cap damage if he doesn't work out, he could be a good signing.
Monday, February 05, 2007
The Packers desperately need a veteran wide receiver to either push WRs Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin or start alongside WR Donald Driver. The Packers probably have the salary cap room to make the trade. Supposedly Chris Mortenson reported that QB Brett Favre asked the team to consider it, which seems possible since Favre has to remember how good Moss can be. If Favre was a strong locker room presence, then he could probably keep Moss in check, but from everything I have read, Favre doesn't have a lot of friends on the team anymore. That probably has something to do with the fact that most of the team is closer in age to his eldest daughter than to him. A talent like Moss has to be considered, but it would be better to play it safe and see what the free agent market would offer instead.