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NFL personnel director reviews Packers

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by net, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. net

    net Cheesehead

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    From the Green Bay Press Gazette...
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    Pete Dougherty column: Scout offers praise, urges patience


    By Pete Dougherty

    Going into tonight's regular-season finale, General Manager Ted Thompson has three more wins than in 2005 to show for his remade Green Bay Packers' roster and coaching staff.


    That rates as tied for the sixth-best improvement in the NFL, behind New Orleans (plus-7 in wins), Baltimore (plus-6), the New York Jets (plus-5), Tennessee (plus-4) and San Diego (plus-4). Philadelphia and Houston, like the Packers, are plus-3.


    No doubt, Mike Sherman's disastrous final season was caused mainly by season-ending injuries to two of the team's three best players — receiver Javon Walker and running back Ahman Green.


    Sherman, however, was fired more because of his almost nonexistent communication with Thompson by season's end, and the poor working chemistry between the two.


    The Packers' improvement over the course of this season gives them the look of a team on the upswing. But there are some caveats.


    For one, unless the Packers beat Chicago, they will not have defeated a team that finished with even a .500 record. The combined record of the teams they beat going into this weekend was 33-72, whereas the records of the teams they lost to was 74-46.


    Also, the two best teams they played, Chicago and New England, beat them by a combined 61-0 at Lambeau Field. The New York Jets (9-6) blew them out at Lambeau, 38-10, in a game that was over by halftime. There's a huge gap between the Packers and the NFL's best.


    Nevertheless, the Packers won their games against the Arizonas, Detroits and Minnesotas of the NFL, and thus placed themselves near the middle of the pack. There's no denying improvement from last year, no matter the reasons, and there's no denying the strides the young team made over the course of the season. A win tonight would put them at .500.


    The pro scouting director for an NFL team just finished his season-ending evaluation of the Packers, and agreed to share some of his thoughts about them. He doesn't know Thompson, but studies every team's management as well as personnel. He's taken part in helping rebuild several NFL teams.


    "I think the Pack is in good shape. I think they've done what they needed to do," the scout said. "I said it in the beginning of the year. Absolutely think they're doing the right thing (building through the draft). You take your licking. I'd have another big draft (class), that's what I'd do. Would I go after (a free agent such as Kansas City tight end Tony) Gonzalez if I was in Green Bay? Probably not. They've got a lot of guys on (injured reserve) that are going to come back. This group is going to get better. You throw another big (draft) class in there."


    The scout said that while the key to the Packers' long-term future is quarterback Aaron Rodgers, their first-round pick in 2005, his failure wouldn't have to mean a catastrophic step back for the franchise. He thinks Thompson appears to be building a defense-oriented team, perhaps because finding another quarterback anywhere near Brett Favre's caliber is difficult.


    "They're used to scoring a lot of points up there, (but) that's not the only way you win," he said. "If you've got a good defense, good special teams, good offensive line with a running game and running back, you're going to win more than you lose. The quarterback is what separates you from the elite group, the final eight probably."


    The scout predicted one of Thompson's biggest problems will be weathering pressure from fans, media and the organization's hierarchy to suitably replace Favre. He warned that the search can take years or even decades.


    "They haven't gone through this in so long, they're just not prepared mentally for this," the scout said. "This quarterback thing is tough. They've been very fortunate, haven't had a quarterback change in a long time. He's been as durable as they come, and you don't know what it's like when he's not there. This patience thing, (fans and media) aren't ready for this. You're going to expect results right away, and if they're not there, you're going to move on to the next guy."


    The following is the scout's thoughts about other topics:



    He said the Packers' two major needs on offense are at quarterback and halfback: "If Brett comes back, 38 is the threshold for quarterbacks at the end. Is (his successor) Rodgers? That's an internal decision. There'll be some people who want him to be the guy, and you're going to have to play it out. They're going to have to get another quarterback, whether it's the draft or a veteran, if Brett goes. They'll be looking for a big-time running back. The offensive line is well on its way to being fixed with the guys they brought in there."


    The scout couldn't predict whether Rodgers will be a good starter, but said this about his preseason: "He looked fine to me, looked like he stepped up this year compared to the year before. The year before, I was like, 'Ooohh, wow.' But I felt that way about (San Francisco's) Alex Smith, (and) I thought he got better."


    The scout rated rookie guard Jason Spitz ahead of rookie guard Daryn Colledge: "This was a good year, because they were able to develop some depth (on the offensive line). (Center Scott) Wells has found a home, they've got a center now for probably the next 10 years. He's still a fairly young guy. Those guys can play forever. And they've got guards for the next four or five years, depending on the life of the contract. They're young guys. The key for that offensive line is going to be (left tackle Chad) Clifton. If Clifton — he's still only 30 years old, usually a left tackle goes to 33, 34 years old. I don't know his durability issues or what's actually wrong with him, but I know something is wrong with him."


    On halfback Ahman Green: "He's still got something left in the tank. They'll still be looking for a starter (in the offseason). Maybe he ends as a backup, but I don't see anybody chasing him."


    On rookie receiver Greg Jennings: "Got a bright future. I know the (West Coast) offense for receivers, it's one of the toughest, toughest areas to develop because there's so much verbiage and sight adjust and reading coverages. There's a lot to playing wide receiver in a West Coast offense. He's a playmaker."


    On the receiving corps: "(Donald) Driver, what can you say about him? He plays the game with passion, he's a football player. You've got two football players (at receiver). I think they need another wideout. They do need a pass receiving threat as a tight end. (Bubba) Franks isn't that guy."


    On the defensive outlook: "They're halfway home. They do need a (No. 3) corner. Strong safety (Marquand Manuel), they didn't get a lot of plays out of that again this year. They're thin at safety. Linebackers are coming around for them. Defensive line is coming around. Might be able to address that through free agency with a player here or there."


    On whether Cullen Jenkins has solved the problems at right defensive end on early downs: "If they hold onto KGB (for passing downs), they're fine. I think Jenkins is a hell of a football player. I think he's their second-best defensive lineman."


    On linebacker A.J. Hawk, the No. 5 draft pick: "A.J.'s one of the strongest Will (weakside) linebackers in football. Most of the Will linebackers are speed-space players, but they have to run around blocks. A.J. is one of the only ones in the league that can use his hands and punch his way downhill through players, offensive linemen included. You could put him at middle, you could put him at strong, you would put him at weak. He can play all three at a high level. The only knock I have on him is he can't catch the ball."


    On middle linebacker Nick Barnett: "He's not Brian Urlacher. He thinks he is, though. I like Barnett, but he wouldn't be a guy I'd feel comfortable giving $5 million to. I feel like I can draft a guy."


    On the signing of cornerback Charles Woodson in free agency: "Woodson really came around. Early on, I worried about him, but he came on, started making plays. Al (Harris) is Al, he's a good corner. They need another corner and a fourth one, too. You never have enough of them."


    On kicker Dave Rayner and punter Jon Ryan: "Just OK. Rayner I think is going to be OK, just keep going. He's got a strong leg."

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    Couple of things said I fully agree with....

    1)Going after Tony Gonzalez is a waste of money. There's two college tight ends Olson at Miami and Miller at Arizona State who will likely be around in the second or third rounds who could be players. Gonzalez only has a couple of years left and he will want monster money. We'd be better off with Bubba for the money.

    2)Green is a free agent. While most people think he will be back, some team like Houston could make a run at him, especially considering Sherman is there. The Packers need another running back. Morency would make a good third back, but he can't carry the load.

    3)They still need to draft a safety, or possibly before that, a cornerback. The kids they have were coming on, but they need a playmaker to take over for Harris or Woodson, should injury occur.

    4)While Rodgers is the heir-apparent, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers pick yet another development QB.

    5)Could they find a kick returner somewhere in the universe?

    6)I agree with Clifton. He's giving it his all, but it looks like his knees are hurting. Might be wise to find at least one more tackle.
     
  2. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Thanks for the great article, net. I agree with most of your points, although I am still intrigued by the possibility of getting Gonzalez. The Packers have a lot of money to spend, and which free agent could possibly have more of an impact? He could be next year's Charles Woodson for us.

    Clifton had a shaky season, but he seemed to improve toward the end, which gives me hope. It will be a big setback for the offense if can't play at a high level next season. Sometimes I worry about the possible long-term effects of that catastophic hip injury he suffered in Tampa Bay in 2002.

    I agree with the writer that it's important to look for more talent at cornerback. I don't think our starting CB's missed any games this year, and that was a lucky thing.
     

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