Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Packers Disappoint At Running Back, Tight End, and Two Coaches Pay The Price

It's always hard to move onto the next offseason after the last game of the prior season, but Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy moved on quickly, at least as far as his coaching staff was concerned.
The one thing both coaches had in common; the position players under their wings under-performed during 2015. McCarthy did confirm that he will call the plays next season (it's hard for any boss to give up control) and he said would change the structure of the coaching staff. Maybe there's more changes ahead or maybe the firing of Gash and Fontenot is it. I'm sure he had his reasons for the firings, he hasn't been one to make a lot of changes to his staff every year (and usually not this quickly after the season), but I'm not expecting it'll make a big difference in 2016.

The draft is coming up, in almost 100 days (a lot of draft talk lies ahead...) but first free agency is up next. Usually, if GM Ted Thompson has not re-signed an unrestricted free agents before the end of the season, he doesn't re-sign them. But there's always an exception or two. In the big picture, only four of their unrestricted free agents had a positive score according to Pro Football Focus in 2015 (K Mason Crosby, CB Casey Hayward, LB Nick Perry and WR James Jones) so there is no vital unrestricted free agent that must be re-signed for 2016.

Crosby should be expected back, but he might not be re-signed until March when it's seen what other kickers are earning. Hayward had the highest grade of the four, but he was the 4th highest rated defensive back in 2015, which is a sign that it's a strong unit and maybe not Hayward specifically. He should also be the free agent who attracts the most attention from other teams. Perry had a good grade too but primarily for his run defense (not his pass rushing) which makes him less appealing. They have a bigger need for edge pass rushers than they do for another run defender. Jones obviously had a lot of value in 2015 but he's exactly the type of player that GM Ted Thompson usually lets go in free agency (as he did after the 2013 season). Maybe Jones has so little value to every other team, and the Packers would like the insurance he provides, that a low cost, one-year contract can be worked out.

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