Packers better than 5 years ago

JBlood

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Mike Vandermause column: Green Bay Packers better now than 5 years ago

By Mike Vandermause • May 8, 2010


The record says yes. Thompson inherited a 10-6 team coming off a first-round playoff loss when he replaced Mike Sherman
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as GM in January 2005. Five years later, Thompson has an 11-5 team also coming off a first-round playoff defeat.

A one-game improvement in the standings doesn’t seem like much, but a comparison of the Packers’ roster in 2005 and today indicates, on paper at least, an improved team with greater potential.

In a subjective assessment, the Packers have improved at 11 of the 22 starting positions, gotten worse at seven spots and stayed the same at four others. At three positions — tight end, nose tackle and one cornerback spot — the Packers are significantly better. They also have upgraded their depth.

Here is an analysis of how the Packers compare (better, worse, same) to five years ago. Players during the 2004 season — Sherman’s last as GM — were matched up against the current roster.
Starting offense

Quarterback: Brett Favre lovers will squawk, but the numbers suggest Aaron Rodgers (30 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 103.2 rating, 4,434 yards) is an upgrade over a 35-year-old Favre during the 2004 season (30 TDs, 17 INTs, 92.4 rating, 4,088 yards). BETTER

Running back: Ahman Green was in his prime and coming off a fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season (1,163 yards, 4.5 average). Ryan Grant’s rushing numbers are similar (1,253, 4.4), but Green was a bigger pass-catching threat (40 receptions compared to Grant’s 25). WORSE

Fullback: There’s not much difference between an aging William Henderson and the John Kuhn-Korey Hall combo at the least consequential starting position. SAME

No. 1 receiver: Javon Walker
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had one breakout season but flamed out quickly. Consistency gives Greg Jennings the edge. BETTER

No. 2 receiver: It’s only natural that a 29-year-old Donald Driver (84 catches, 1,208 yards) had a little more spring in his step than he does now (70, 1,061), but there isn’t a huge gap. WORSE

Tight end: The difference between Jermichael Finley (55 catches, 676 yards) and Bubba Franks
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(34, 361) is like night and day. MUCH BETTER

Left tackle: Until rookie first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga
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proves otherwise, Chad Clifton remains the starter. But he is older, slower and more injury prone. WORSE

Left guard: Daryn Colledge hasn’t come close to filling Mike Wahle’s shoes. If Wahle was a size 12, Colledge wears a size 9. WORSE

Center: I’ll take my chances with Scott Wells over Grey Ruegamer
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. BETTER

Right guard: Thompson has been chastised for letting Marco Rivera go in 2005, but it was the right move. I favor a youthful Josh Sitton over a long-in-the-tooth Rivera. BETTER

Right tackle: As with Clifton, it’s admirable that Mark Tauscher is still around, but he’s no longer in his prime. WORSE
Starting defense

Primary pass rusher: This designation will help in comparing the current 3-4 defense to the Packers’ former 4-3 scheme. Right defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was a sack machine in his prime but one-dimensional, and thus right outside linebacker Clay Matthews receives the nod. BETTER

Defensive end: Johnny Jolly is versatile and can be a force but has stiff competition against Aaron Kampman entering his best years. WORSE

Nose tackle: Grady Jackson doesn’t reside in the same ZIP code as Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji. MUCH BETTER

Defensive line: I will take Cullen Jenkins over Cletidus Hunt any day of the week and twice on Sundays. But then, I would take just about anyone over the underachieving Hunt. BETTER

Middle linebacker: Nick Barnett still is the starter after all these years, and despite a potentially devastating knee injury in 2008, can still bring it. SAME

Linebacker: Brad Jones has only half a season of starting experience under his belt, but he looks good compared to Hannibal Navies. BETTER

Linebacker: A.J. Hawk gets criticized for not making enough plays, but his stock soars when matched up against Na’il Diggs. BETTER

Cornerback: Five years and one serious knee injury have taken their toll on Al Harris. He can’t possibly be as good, can he? WORSE

Cornerback: Ahmad Carroll vs. Charles Woodson? That’s like comparing my dandelion-infested back yard to Lambeau Field. MUCH BETTER

Free safety: Take your pick between two Pro Bowl-caliber players in Darren Sharper and Nick Collins. SAME

Strong safety: Atari Bigby has struggled the past two seasons, but he’s a cut above Mark Roman. BETTER
Backup depth

Defense: Five years ago, bench players included R-Kal Truluck on the line, Paris Lenon and Steve Josue at linebacker, and Michael Hawthorne, Joey Thomas, Jason Horton, Chris Johnson and Bhawoh Jue in the secondary. Today, Tramon Williams is vastly better than Hawthorne as the No. 3 cornerback, and quality players like Raji and linebackers Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop can’t even crack the starting lineup. BETTER

Offense: The 53-man playoff roster in January 2005 included Sean McHugh and Ben Steele at tight end, Robert Ferguson, Antonio Chatman and Andrae Thurman at receiver, and Steve Morley and Brad Bedell on the line. No wonder the Packers went out with barely a whimper in a first-round postseason loss to the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau. BETTER
Other areas

Special teams: Other than kicker Ryan Longwell, the Packers’ special teams were mediocre five years ago, yet Thompson has failed to upgrade those units. SAME

Coaching: Mike McCarthy in four seasons has the same winning percentage (38-26, .594) as Mike Sherman in six seasons (57-39, .594). McCarthy gets the edge because he advanced to the NFC title game, while Sherman never got past the divisional round of the playoffs. BETTER
Mike Vandermause is sports editor of the Press-Gazette.


I'd argue the grades at running back and no. 2 receiver, since Green was nearing the end of his greatness and Driver was the no. 1 receiver 5 years ago, imo. Maybe this will be the year the offensive line jells, and we establish a ball control, time consuming offense in the 4th quarters that will carry us to the 13th Championship this year.

Thompson is a good GM, and a good man.
 
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JBlood

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I honestly think this is the best Packers' team since 97.

Offensively, I agree. Defensively, we should be close now that we've played Capers' scheme for a year. We gotta be healthy at playoff time.
 

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I'd argue the grades at running back and no. 2 receiver, since Green was nearing the end of his greatness and Driver was the no. 1 receiver 5 years ago, imo. Maybe this will be the year the offensive line jells, and we establish a ball control, time consuming offense in the 4th quarters that will carry us to the 13th Championship this year.

Thompson is a good GM, and a good man.

I'd argue the grade at RB too. Especially when you take turnovers into account. Ahman Green, as great as he was, had a fumbling problem. Grant just doesn't fumble.
 

3irty1

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Great topic, and I love Green, but that fumbling problem really drove me crazy...
 

NYPacker

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I'd argue the grade at RB too. Especially when you take turnovers into account. Ahman Green, as great as he was, had a fumbling problem. Grant just doesn't fumble.

Green made that up with 3 pro bowl appearances. Imagine all the yards left on the field for those fumbles....
 

FrankRizzo

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Ahman was nearing the end of his greatness by then, and you guys are right, his fumbles cost us a lot. I remember when the Chiefs were like 10-0, we had them beat, but an Ahman fumble catamounted their comeback.

Jennings + Driver is better than Driver + Walker, plus the #3, #4 WRs are better, and the TE's are better.

Our team will go as far as our pass defense allows it to this year, and good call on being healthy come playoff time. Bingo.
 

Mack_20

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Green in his prime is much better than Grant.... I do agree this is one hell of a team.. Probally the best since '97.. But that team was better...Much better..
 

FrankRizzo

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Green in his prime is much better than Grant.... I do agree this is one hell of a team.. Probally the best since '97.. But that team was better...Much better..
Very true. But I don't consider that Green in his prime. As the article pointed out, his and Grant's stats THAT year were almost identical, minus the fumbles.
 

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Yeah the fumbling problem with Green drove me nuts but he was so much more physical that Grant. I remember a Monday night game against the Redskins where one of the DB's (cant remember his name) pissed him off at one point and for the next few runs Green was specifically searching him out to lay down the hammer. There was a replay they ran in slow mo that showed Greens eyes searching around in the open field and as soon as he caught this guy in his sites he lowered the boom on the guy. It was awesome. I have that on VHS somewhere.

I think that was '03 when he ran for 1800+ behind that machine of line we had. I sure wish we would have gotten past Philly that year. I think we would have killed the Panthers in the Championship game and might have given the Pats a run in the SB.
 

CM_Awesome

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Green made that up with 3 pro bowl appearances. Imagine all the yards left on the field for those fumbles....

Very true. But I don't consider that Green in his prime. As the article pointed out, his and Grant's stats THAT year were almost identical, minus the fumbles.

As Frank pointed out. Sure I'd take the 1800 yard Green with those fumbles anyday, but in 2005 Green was slowing down with his production.
 

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Mike Vandermause column: Green Bay Packers better now than 5 years ago

Linebacker: A.J. Hawk gets criticized for not making enough plays, but his stock soars when matched up against Na’il Diggs. BETTER

where the hell is Matthews? but agreed Hawk > Diggs.

Green in his prime is much better than Grant....

Agreed. But Grant is progressing in YPG each year. Only -7 fumbles, -4 TDs when compared to Green.
 
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JBlood

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The difference in depth is huge as well. Thompson took over a team that was old, in cap trouble and turned it around much more quickly than I thought possible. I liked Shermy as a coach, but he was a disaster at GM.
 
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The_Ohioan_Cheesehead

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What ever happen to Javon Walker.. From what i remember he was pretty good...
 

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