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Thompson, McCarthy start it up again

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    By RICK BRAUN
    Packer Plus writer
    Posted: Jan. 17, 2007

    Green Bay - When the final game is played, the players go home and rest.


    Ted Thompson hopes to make all the right calls for the Packers during the off-season in the free-agent market and the NFL Draft.

    season closed on the final day of 2006, the 2007 season pretty much started the next day for Thompson and McCarthy.

    And when they sit down and evaluate, they'll identify areas that definitely need improvement.

    Simply put, the Packers did show improvement. But they're not good enough to yet compete with the elite.

    Their 1-6 record against teams with winning records is evidence of that, and the one victory came in the finale against a Chicago team that had nothing to play for.

    So as Thompson and McCarthy sit down, here are some of the areas they'll probably be satisfied with and some of the areas they'll know need to be addressed in either the draft of free agency:

    Quarterback - Free agency doesn't start until March and the draft isn't until the end of April. By the time either rolls around, the Packers should know if quarterback Brett Favre is returning for another season. If Favre retires, it becomes Aaron Rodgers' ball game. But Thompson will definitely need to make sure there is a potential replacement on hand that is capable of starting should Rodgers either falter or get injured. The Packers have not had to worry about finding a starting quarterback for 15 seasons. They will soon.

    Running back - Ahman Green will turn 30 in less than a month. His days are numbered and he clearly wasn't the explosive player of a couple of years ago. Nowhere is it more obvious than in the fact that Green scored just five rushing touchdowns and the Packers as a team had just nine.

    Of the 12 teams to make the playoffs, only one - the Seattle Seahawks - had fewer rushing touchdowns (eight). And Seattle's problems spawned from having 2005 MVP Shaun Alexander out for six games with a broken foot.

    Although the Packers had one more rushing touchdown than the Seahawks as a team, Alexander finished the season with seven, meaning every single playoff team had a player with more rushing touchdowns than Green's five.

    Of the four teams still alive, the fewest rushing touchdowns are the 14 by the Chicago Bears, who got six each from Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson.

    The Bears' opponent in the NFC Championship Game will be the New Orleans Saints, who had 19 rushing touchdowns, including 10 from Deuce McAllister and six from Reggie Bush.

    In the AFC, the New England Patriots had 20, including 13 by Corey Dillon and six from Laurence Maroney.

    Even the Indianapolis Colts, famous for their air attack with Peyton Manning, ran the ball in 16 times, with seven from Joseph Addai, five from Dominic Rhodes and four by Manning.

    A simple fact in the NFL is that to be a good team one must be able to run the ball in.

    While feeling great about their 8-8 finish because they won their last four, the Packers could just as easily stew over the fact that they could have finished with the one more victory needed to make the playoffs simply by being able to run the ball in one more time. The Nov. 5 game at Buffalo still sticks out, as the Packers were 1 yard away from a tying touchdown when they threw a game-losing interception instead of punching the ball in.

    With the 16th pick in the upcoming April draft, do not be surprised if the Packers go shopping for the best running back available. In the NFL, top running backs almost never change teams in free agency.

    Tight end - Thompson probably goes into the draft thinking he doesn't have to add an offensive lineman based on the youth the Packers already possess there. But fanning out just a little, one can rest assured the Packers will most likely draft a tight end and maybe even seek one in free agency.

    Unfortunately for Packer fans hoping to see a big signing there, the Kansas City Chiefs inked Tony Gonzalez to a five-year extension last week, taking him off the potential free-agent market.

    Bubba Franks apparently has lost it, and what he had was never that great at stretching the field. Franks, a first-round pick at No. 14 overall in 2000, never reached the end zone in 2006 and has only gotten there once since 2004 after averaging 6.8 touchdowns a year from 2001-'04.

    And for the fifth time in six seasons, David Martin could not make it through the year without missing at least two games with injury. While the Packers were getting almost nothing out of Franks, Martin was a complete non-factor over the final seven games, missing five of them and not catching a pass in the other two games in which he played.

    If Favre is to return for a 17th season overall and a 16th with the Packers, it would be wise for Thompson to note that nearly all of Favre's best seasons featured strong play from the tight ends, including Jackie Harris, Ed West, Mark Chmura, Keith Jackson and Franks. As Favre's numbers fell the past two seasons, the Packers' tight end play was greatly responsible.

    Thompson simply must address the position this off-season. And hoping Franks will return to his 2001-'04 form will be taking too big a risk.

    Wide receiver - On the outside, the Packers might have some hope for the future and had a great season from Donald Driver. But there simply weren't enough weapons for Favre to throw to once rookie Greg Jennings went into a deep tailspin over the final 10 games. Jennings did not reach the end zone after Week 5.

    Ruvell Martin is a nice No. 4 receiver and might even develop into a solid No. 3, but Thompson needs to bring in another big, young receiver not just for the immediate future but also for when Driver - who turns 32 in two weeks - starts to slow down with age.

    Defensive end - On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers showed some genuine growth and development as the season went on. Still, that doesn't mean there aren't holes to fill.

    First off, they'll need to make a decision on Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and his $5 million base salary next season. That means there's the potential need for at least another depth player at end. On the inside, the Packers are strong and relatively young.

    Linebacker - Green Bay is strong and young here, too. Middle linebacker Nick Barnett is the elder statesman in terms of seniority and will only be 26 when next season starts. A.J. Hawk just turned 23 two weeks ago. Although he just completed his second season, Brady Poppinga is the old man of the crew at 27, because he served a two-year mission while at Brigham Young.

    Still, the Packers could get by with only a depth upgrade should they not retain one of their three backups - Tracy White, Abdul Hodge and Ben Taylor.

    White was a special teams maven and will only be 26 by next season. Taylor, who turns 29 this year, seems the most likely to not be around in 2007.

    Cornerback - In the secondary, Thompson is walking a thin line. At cornerback, Al Harris and Charles Woodson will be coming off excellent seasons. Yet Woodson is 30 and Harris is 32. They should be fine again in 2007, but it's time to get potential replacements into the fold. Jarrett Bush and Patrick Dendy do not appear to be front-line caliber, and 2006 fourth-round pick Will Blackmon never really got a chance to show his stuff because of injuries.

    History says the Packers will use a draft pick on a cornerback. GMs are always looking for cornerbacks.

    Since 1994 there have only been three drafts in which the Packers did not pick a cornerback. In 2000 they didn't after drafting three in 1999. In 1997 they didn't take a cornerback, but they had used high picks in the previous two drafts, taking Craig Newsome in the first round in 1995 and Tyrone Williams in the third round in 1996.

    In 2002 the Packers only had six picks and did not take a cornerback.

    Safety - Finally, Thompson is likely to look at upgrading the safety position. Nick Collins played great football the final two weeks of this past season, but free-agent acquisition Marquand Manuel was a disappointment. It's possible the Packers might not have to shop at that position if they believe Marviel Underwood can unseat Manuel after missing all of 2006 with a torn anterior cruciate.

    With young leg men in punter Jon Ryan and kicker Dave Rayner, it's not likely the Packers will bring in anything other than street free agents.

    So adding up the bill, here's what the Packers' off-season shopping list is likely to include:

    On offense, a future starting running back, a starting tight end, at least a backup caliber quarterback and at least a No. 3 caliber wide receiver. On defense, a backup linebacker, some depth at end, a potential starting cornerback for the future and a potential starting safety.

    If Thompson can effectively fill those needs, 2007 could see the Packers return to the playoffs. And, of course, Favre's return would also play a big part in that.
     
  2. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    No mention of Koren Robinson in this article. I wonder if its a forgone conclusion that he's not going to be available at all, or forever.
     
  3. PackFanInSC

    PackFanInSC Cheesehead

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    Isn't it amazing how stats can be twisted to back up just about any point?


    Ahman had 5 rushing TDs so, since he did not have as many as the former league MVP, he must be washed up. They mention Alexander being out for 6 weeks but I do not see any mention of the 2 weeks that Green missed or the facts that he was running in a new blocking system behind 3 rookies and a first year starter, did not have much training camp time to get in football shape and played for a team that threw the ball a lot.

    I think the "deep tailspin" that Jennings went through had more to do with his ankle injury and never taking time to let it fully heal. We'll see next year when he comes back fresh.

    He also makes it sound like the Bears rolled over for us since they had nothing to play for. The game that I saw had their starters in most of the way (except Grossman, of course).
     
  4. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    The passing attempts from the team were omitted as well.
     
  5. Cliff

    Cliff Cheesehead

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    In Ted Thompson's 2 seasons as GM the Packers have only beat 2 teams with a winning record. Both wins came on the last game of the season vs teams who had wrapped up HFA throughout the playoffs.

    The Seahawks last season and Bears this past season. Neither team had anything to play for and the outcome would have changed absolutely nothing for Seattle or Chicago. Do you really think a team could play it's "A" game in a situation like that? C'mon take of those "Green and Gold" glasses and get real.
     
  6. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    I honestly have a HUGE issue with people that say teams had nothing to play for..

    THEIR JOB IS TO PLAY AT THE BEST THEY CAN...Not only play when they feel like it..How many people have ripped Moss for "playing when he feels like it"

    If I were a GM or the HC of a team and my team was lucky enough to be in those spots, and I saw them "slacking" there would be he!! to pay..

    I personally wouldnt let all the regulars play the entire game, but more like a pre-season game but thats just me..

    anything to give an EXCUSE as to why the Bears lost ot the Pack...Other then MAYBe the Pack was the better team that day
     
  7. Popcynical

    Popcynical Cheesehead

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    No mention of Carlyle Holiday either... who showed promise in the short time he played.
     
  8. all about da packers

    all about da packers Cheesehead

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    Or Shaun Bodiford.
     
  9. dxbfan

    dxbfan Cheesehead

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    I dont want to take away from the wins against the Bears this season and Seattle last season. Those games brought back memories of not so long ago when winning was the norm and losing a game was the exception.

    Nevertheless I think a realistic assessment of those wins lies in what you have written. Yes, it is the Bears and Seahawks job to play the best they can and I think they did in both games. However "The best they can" means one thing when it could result in a better division standing, a playoff spot, a conference title or a super bowl. "The best they can" however means something else when there is no tangible objective to be achieved.
     
  10. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    I liked the comment from Jack Lambert when he spoke about having to be 'pumped up' for a game. He said (not word for word) if you are not already pumped up or need to be pumped up this isn't the game for you.
     
  11. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Thats what I'm saying...

    I can understand that if the starters dont play cuz of standings and home field advantage and such, that is fine..

    but when they are in there they should give it their all other wise they shouldn't be playing..

    Wasnt it Glanville that said NFL= not for long?

    If your not playing good enough you can be out the door..
     
  12. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    Hell, if you're starters are going to be out there risking injury, why not give it 100% Why half *** it? And if they are going to half *** it, let the back ups play if its such a worthless game. Give the youngsters a chance to show what they can do.
     
  13. PackFanInSC

    PackFanInSC Cheesehead

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    Ok, let's look at this a little closer. Yes, the Packers only beat one team this year that had a winning record. But, who did they lose to this year? We lost to several of the top teams in the league.

    Chicago (13-3) - Division winner and HFA throughout
    New England (12-4) Division winner
    New Orleans (10-6) Division winner
    Philadelphia (10-6) Division winner
    Seattle (9-7) Division winner
    New York Jets (10-6) Playoff team

    St Louis (8-8) Same record as GB
    Buffalo (7-9)

    They did what 8-8 teams (of which there were 8 out of the 32 teams -- 1/4 of the league) do -- they win the games against lesser teams adn lose to the better teams -- with an occasional upset (Buffalo, Chicago). There are only 12 teams with records better than the Packers and I am quite proud of how the youngest team in the league can come in and compete with the majority of the teams in the league. I think it bodes well for the future as their experience and familiarity grows.


    Another way to look at it would be to look at the records of the teams at the time that they played the games

    Week 1: Chicago and GB both come in at (0-0). Chicago wins
    Week 2: New Orleans (1-0) beats GB (0-1).
    Week 3: GB (0-2) beats Detroit (0-2)
    Week 4: Philadelphia (2-1) beats GB (1-2)
    Week 5: St Louis (3-1) beats GB (1-3)
    Week 6: BYE
    Week 7: GB (1-4) beats Miami (1-5)
    Week 8: GB (2-4) beats Arizona (1-6)
    Week 9: Buffalo (2-5) beats GB (3-4)
    Week 10: GB (3-5) beats Minnesota (4-4)
    Week 11: New England (6-3) beats GB (4-5)
    Week 12: Seattle (6-4) beats GB (4-6)
    Week 13: New York Jets (6-5) beats GB (4-7)
    Week 14: GB (4-8) beats San Francisco (5-7)
    Week 15: GB (5-8) beats Detroit (2-11)
    Week 16: GB (6-8) beats Minnesota (6-8)
    Week 17: GB (7-8) beats Chicago (13-2)

    7 out of GB's 8 losses came to teams that had equal or better records than the Packers going into the game. The Packers won 5 games with teams with better or equal records going into the game.

    Only 3 times did the Packers and their opponent come into the game with the same record. Of those games, we went 2-1. We lost to Chicago and beat Minnesota and Detroit.

    Nine times, the opponent came into the game with a better record. The Packers went 3-6 in those games.

    Only 4 times did the Packers play teams with worse records going into the game. Of those, we went 3-1.

    So basically, for the most part, we beat teams below us and lose to teams above us and are competitive with teams that are close to our level. We can be thankful that there are so many "average" teams out there so we are competitive in most games.
     
  14. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    Nice post
     
  15. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    In the regular season, motivation is a powerful factor because the talent is so close to being equal. Teams that have already sewn up playoff position do not play with the same kind of intensity as teams that have something to play for, or even teams that have already been eliminated. The players know that they will be judged on their postseason performance, not on their performance in a meaningless game.

    The Jack Lambert quote is nice, I guess, but he was always good for quotes that sounded nice but didn't really mean anything. Lambert was a very intense player, and I can believe that he didn't need to be "pumped up" for a game, but most players are not like Jack Lambert. Here's another news flash: Most players don't play as hard in the preseason as they do in the regular season. It's true. Believe it or not.

    Anyway, I think this article by Rick Braun is a pretty good overview of the team's situation. He omits a lot of details, though, and the Packer Forum doesn't like writers who omit details. That's one of the things I like about this forum. I can read a good article, and then get a lot of extra substance just from reading the responses to it.
     
  16. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

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    Packfaninsc said:"I think the "deep tailspin" that Jennings went through had more to do with his ankle injury and never taking time to let it fully heal. We'll see next year when he comes back fresh."

    To me this is a HUGE point, that wasn't brought up nearly enough. I kept telling people that Jennings productivity went down when he screwed up his ankle. He couldn't make the cuts he did before. Yet he STILL was out there trying! I give the kid alot of credit for that! I think he will come back and be a great player.
     
  17. all about da packers

    all about da packers Cheesehead

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    Wow, I honestly didn't know that. Thanks for that tidbit, it is very interesting (at least to me anyways)...

    That IS cause for worry though, especially considering some of the other "bad" teams gave the winning teams a run for their money, and off the top of my head I can't say that GB did the same against those teams... :-?
     
  18. Zero2Cool

    Zero2Cool I own a website

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    Did you know the Packers opponents won(128) as many games as they lost(128)? That's a SoS of .500 The 'weakest' schedule of 0.430 belongs to ... Da Bears.
     
  19. Pack88

    Pack88 Cheesehead

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    [Championship Teams do not take the foot off the gas. Maybe Cliff doesn't remember 1996 when GB played Minnesota in the final, we had nothing to play for except that GB lost to Minn earlier in the seasn, best I recall Packers 45 Vikings 10. I was quite sure GB was going to win it all when I saw that game!!

    Bears wanted to stomp a mudhole in the Packers *** and couldn't. Had GB made the playoffs Chicago would have been dumping large boulders in thier pants at the thought of a 3rd rematch with the Pack!!
    quote="Cliff"]
    In Ted Thompson's 2 seasons as GM the Packers have only beat 2 teams with a winning record. Both wins came on the last game of the season vs teams who had wrapped up HFA throughout the playoffs.

    The Seahawks last season and Bears this past season. Neither team had anything to play for and the outcome would have changed absolutely nothing for Seattle or Chicago. Do you really think a team could play it's "A" game in a situation like that? C'mon take of those "Green and Gold" glasses and get real.[/quote]
     
  20. PackFanInSC

    PackFanInSC Cheesehead

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    The number of wins against teams with winning records may be a bit over-empasized considering that there were only 12 teams in the league with winning records (likewise, there were only 12 teams with losing records -- as there were 8 teams at .500). I am not denying that last year's 4-12 record was a a problem but there were several key injuries so it was not a true representation of what the team can do.

    There were games that we were totally blown out as the team felt its way through the learning curve but I would say that we had a good chance in games against two of the 5 playoff teams that we lost. The New Orleans game was only lost by 7 points and we were tied with just over 8:20 left in the game. Both teams scored after that point but we just ran out of time. The Seattle game was ours for the 1st half until Alexander ran it down our throats (40 carries, 200+ yards). Wasn't that the game that Barnett missed? What if we had moved Jenkins outside 2 weeks earlier?

    I think we are closer to competing than a lot of the pessimists think -- or maybe they are afraid to be disappointed if things don't go well next year. I, for one, would rather spend the off-season looking at the bright future instead of looking at the short-comings and hoping to be surprised when we win.
     
  21. PackFanInSC

    PackFanInSC Cheesehead

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    Not only could Greg could not make the cuts but he also may have been a step slower. How many times did Brett overthrow him down the sidelines? An extra step or two of separation turns some of those incompletions into big gains -- potentially touchdowns.
     

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