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Competition, Versatility the Cornerstones of Packers 2017 Offseason

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Competition, Versatility the Cornerstones of Packers 2017 Offseason

The dust has settled from another NFL Draft and we now have a good idea as to who the Packers will be bringing to camp. Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and the rest of the crew at 1265 Lombardi Avenue have drawn mostly praise for the crop of newcomers selected over the weekend, a process which saw the Packers take four defensive players followed by six consecutive picks from the offensive side of the ball.

In the end, needs were addressed and a lot of promising talent was added. But maybe most importantly, at least to McCarthy, the new draftees will bring a couple other things to the roster: competition and versatility.

During McCarthy’s draft-recap press conference on Saturday, no topic was more discussed than that of having a competitive roster. McCarthy specifically pointed to the running back group, where the team added three players via the draft, as an area where competition will be especially intense. Of course, that was before the team cut Don Jackson and Christine Michael on Monday, but the point remains. Even though McCarthy said Ty Montgomery is “absolutely” the starting running back, the lack of experience in the room should make for a wide open competition for reps and playing time.

Another area McCarthy talked about was the defensive line. Even with established veterans like Mike Daniels and Ricky Jean Francois, as well as the emerging Kenny Clark, bolstering the trenches, the Packers felt it necessary to add another big body to the group in the form of Montravius Adams. McCarthy also noted the significant depth the Packers now have along the defensive line, which the team hopes will benefit them in being able to play more guys.

Versatility isn’t a new concept in Green Bay. When the Packers lost Micah Hyde in free agency, the most popular point of discussion was how the team would replace his jack-of-all-trades playing style. According to the head coach, they won’t be looking to do it with just one player.

“It’s a sub league,” McCarthy said, while noting the Packers have played about 80 percent of their defensive snaps in sub packages in recent years. “You need to have guys play multiple positions.”

Morgan Burnett excelled as a hybrid linebacker in spots last season, sometimes to the detriment of the safety position he normally occupied. With the addition of rookie Josh Jones, the Packers may now have the option of interchanging the two depending on the situation. On the edge, Vince Biegel could give the team the option of pushing Clay Matthews inside, where he has been much more noticeable as of late.

Offensively, McCarthy pointed to the receiving corps as a versatile group.

“You have to be able to play all three positions to play receiver here,” McCarthy said when asked about what rookies DeAngelo Yancey and Malachi Dupre can bring to the table. That versatility could prove to be even more important this year, as the receiver room is already crowded.

These are just a few examples of the road the Packers apparently intend to travel in 2017, but it’s quite clear they’re prepared to commit to it. If the camp competition is as hotly contested as McCarthy & Co. would like it to be, the Packers could find themselves with an awfully hungry roster come game time. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

“You have to be able to play all three positions to play receiver here,”

How does Cobb fit into this? He can't play Split End or "X", and it's not even close. He needs traffic to help him create.

Worztik's picture

Which in itself makes it tougher to get him the ball. I just hope someone really, really needs a slot with a big (overblown) salary hit that has money to burn! We have been burning money since he signed the huge contract! You wonder what we lost due to this contract debacle?

zoellner25's picture

Cobb's days in GB are numbered. Too much salary for production #1, and #2, versatility.

DesertPackFan's picture

I think theres a strong possibly Cobb is in his last yr in GB. IT comes down to his production this season. Have to admit yrs 1 and 2 of his big contract have not met expectations, not even close.

He's got to produce big this yr or he renegotiates or is released.

4thand1's picture

Get rid of Cobb? Seriously? He 's not going anywhere soon. Cobb has as many big plays as anyone on this team. You guys are all wet, sorry.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I didn't say to get rid of him. I asked a question.

zoellner25's picture

look at the draft picks, age, and production. he's not worth 10 million. I give him one more year, then they'll ask him to take a pay cut. Then bye bye

Worztik's picture

I didn't mean he's a bust or a bad team guy! Just the opposite, however, the fact that he's making over 10 mil is the bottom line here. He's NOT worth that kind of money based on his importance to the overall team!!! We let Lange go for a lot less than that... just sayin'!!!!!

croatpackfan's picture

It is much, much easier to replace guard than WR in todays football. And that is why WR get much higher contracts than guards. It is that simple...
I liked T. J. Lang while he was playing for Packers. I have no doubts that he is quality person, but he is old, injury prone and asked to much money for his contract. I'm glad that Lions paid him that much. For Packers sake and T. J. Lang sake. And beause of Lions problem with salary cap in the near future...

DesertPackFan's picture

Reposted... Reply went to wrong comment earlier.

I think there's a strong possibly Cobb is in his last yr in GB. IT comes down to his production this season. Have to admit yrs 1 and 2 of his big contract have not met expectations, not even close.

He's got to produce big this yr or he renegotiates or is released.

DesertPackFan's picture

How does Cobb fit? Well we know he can play (and excel at Slot WR at least until recently). He can and has lined up at other WR positions, particularly boundary, but hasnt shown he can excel at those.

The quote "“You have to be able to play all three positions to play receiver here,” is really misworded. it should say have to know all the receiver positions, not necessarily play or excel at them.

Cobb has excelled at slot in the past, and he does KNOW the other WR positions, whether or not he can excel at them is another matter.

The important thing is KNOWING the other WR positions, not so much that each WR can excel at the other receiver positions. McCarthy literally says all the time, the WR have to KNOW all the WR positions.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Well that makes sense. But I think he said play, which makes me think they have to play all 3 spots well. Jordy is the only one who really can.

dobber's picture

Cobb's greatest value has been as the safety valve for ARod when he's on the move. Cobb does a good job of working to open spaces on the field or coming back to ARod when he's forced out of the pocket. ARod looks for him in those circumstances.

As an oversimplified example: In contrast, when we look at the "lost offensive season of 2015", teams bottled up #12 in the pocked and slowly squeezed him out. Not on the run, not forcing DBs to adjust and make decisions. Instead, they could play the Packer WRs and Cobb couldn't get open (and he has some ugly drops). This is where we tend to devalue Cobb as an outside receiver.

The end question is: is Cobb paid too much. I think he is. But I think the Packers don't cut or restructure him unless cap money gets too tight. TT has a track record for honoring his contracts. He might be cheap, but if you're an outside player looking at the Packers, you know you're going to get your money. Why damage that reputation if you don't have to?

RCPackerFan's picture

I definitely agree with McCarthy.

The depth at each position definitely improved from the draft. Also with the Free agents they signed prior to the draft really helped too.

But the positions that really got a lot deeper and will add a lot more competition are RB, WR, OL, DL, CB, S.

Guys like Davis, Janis, Allison will all have to step up their play with the Packers drafting 2 WR's.

The RB position will be a big battle to see who gets playing time and who picks up the offense the fastest. Montgomery will be the starter, but how does Williams and Jones or others fit in?

With signing Evans, that essentially locks up the starters. But the backups will have a big competition.

DL is very deep. Going to be fun to see how the 2nd year guys evolve.

CB with signing House, drafting King, how does that affect Randall, Rollins, Gunter? Randall and Rollins both suffered from an injury riddled season and poor play, now will have a lot stronger competition.

S with Clinton-Dix and Burnett entrenched as starters, returning Brice and now Josh Jones, this could be one of the best groups of safety's we have had.
I'm really curious to see how they plan on using the safety's. Do they play more Hybrid ILB/S roles with Burnett/Jones?

I definitely like the roster right now.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Depth at OLB is a lot lower than it was last season. Capers 2-4 is built around the OLB. It scares me.

dobber's picture

I expect that we'll see more of the "2-man" DL fronts that look an awful lot like a 4-3...and not just because there'll be OLBs out there.

RCPackerFan's picture

Well experienced depth.

I am looking forward to seeing what Fackrell does in year 2. And seeing what Elliott does with an expanded role. Also looking forward to seeing what Beigel does.

We won't be seeing any Elephant DE/OLB this year. It will be interesting to see how Capers morphs this defense.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'm not too excited about Fackrell or Elliot. Neither one has shown NFL strength to hold an edge. I don't see either of them gaining it all of a sudden at almost 26 years old. They are almost exactly the same age. Hope I am wrong.

DesertPackFan's picture

Clearly the Packers are more excited about Fackrell and Elliot than fans are. They have good reason, they see them in practice EVERY day, we see them on game days ONLY. Its normal for fans to not get excited about players they haven't seen or seen little of.

This is the Packer way... Let underperforming (Datone Jones) and old aging vets (Peppers) leave so younger faster developing players get a chance to prove their worth.

Like it or not, its how the Packers role. Its time for Fackrell, Elliot and now Biegel, to prove they are ready. You can't have experienced higher salaried players at every position.

Honestly, you should be used to this by now.

RCPackerFan's picture

I know Jones had a lot of pressures last year. Not many sacks but a lot of pressures which was a good thing. Simply though, he didn't fit in GB's scheme. Capers tried to change the defense to work with what he had, but ultimately it just didn't work that well.

I think we will see a different type of defense this year. No more Elephant Ends. They will be replaced with faster OLB's.

While they aren't proven, sometimes you just have to let the young guys prove themselves on the field.

RCPackerFan's picture

I really have liked Elliott for a while. I personally have felt he deserved more playing time then what he has gotten. Almost every time he has been on the field he has made a big play.
Fackrell with an offseason in the NFL should really help him. I would hope to see him really improve his strength.

dobber's picture

It really comes down to the Packers using them in situations where the opponent is less likely to try to exploit them, e.g. long down and distance situations. That means more substitutions on the defensive side of the ball, but if it works...?

They're going to have to utilize the tools they have to the best of their abilities. If you're looking at a run-down OLB, based on scouting and past performance, Reggie Gilbert likely leapfrogs both Fackrell and Elliott at this point.

Packmaniac's picture

I hear that, Jeremy

Couch Cleats's picture

Like everyone else I have been screaming for more pressure on the QB from our defense. But honestly, you don't really pressure playoff caliber QB's into poor throws.

The good ones get the ball out quick and if you don't have the coverage players to account for all their options they are going to carve you up with the open man.

I think what's most important is that we seem to be getting faster (and hopefully more healthy) with our coverage players. Not having open receivers is the most effective way to frustrate guys like Brady, Rodgers and Ryan.

If we can eliminate most of the plays where there were "no risk" options or wide open receivers for the opposing QB's the sacks will come. I think this new group combined with better play from Randall or Rollins or both will make a huge difference about half way through the season.

When's the last time an opponent had to throw it away on 3rd down because all his options were covered? I think we're on our way back to that.

WinUSA's picture

Off topic: Just learned that Bob McGinn is leaving the Journal/Sentinel.... His knowledge on the Packers and football in general is incomparable to any other reporter past, and present, as attested by his numerous awards by his colleagues and his peers. I personally will truly miss this man's reporting...an era of excellence in sports writing has now a void with his departure. Good Luck Bob!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

He answered emails too. Actually crafted a real answer to my emails on several occasions.

DThomas's picture

As I mentioned on another thread, I will really miss McGinn's columns. I've been reading him since his Press Gazette days. Way back then he brought an objective league and division-wide perspective that had been largely missing. Have a great retirement Bob, you earned it and you'll be missed.

lou's picture

I totally agree with your comments on Bob McGinn, a class act and deserving of being in the Writers Wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, no one did their homework better, he was not afraid if he had the facts to call someone out and could always connect the dots to make his points. In the years I lived in San Diego I always read Jim Murray of the LA Times (at that time he was the Vin Scully of sports reporters) and Jack Murphy of the San Diego Union also held in high esteem (Chargers named the stadium after him before it became QualComm) and Bob was in their class, he will be missed.

Since '61's picture

Depth and versatility! If this team stays healthy we should have plenty of both. I still think that we're a little thin at ILB and that OLB is still a question mark. But overall the roster is looking pretty good right now. Thanks, Since '61

Packer Fan's picture

Just a few days ago there was a Cheesehead TV article about rookie expectations. I think McCarthy has given an answer. A lot. For the RB's, Williams needs to be a change of pace for Montgomery and Jones adding sub package playing time. Adams will need to perform well in the DL rotation. Same for Biegel. As for the DB's, man that whole position is up for grabs. Can House regain his form. Can Randall and Rollins play up to their expectations? Both of them should be embarrassed by their play last year. I hope for their sake they are preparing themselves, both body and mind for a long season. And King and Jones have everything in front of them. If they prepare and play well, it is a possibility for one or both of them to be a starter at the beginning of the season. If not, most if not all of the rookies need to contributing a lot by the end of the season if the Pack is going to go deep into the playoffs. And get rid of Gunter. Why put development effort into a slow CB. Doesn't make sense to me.

dobber's picture

I always thought that Gunter was destined to be a backup S and maybe was being set up to be Burnett's successor. He was just forced into starting CB duty which didn't match his skill set well. The Packers clearly like Kentrell Brice (and Marwin Evans) and with the signing of House, and the drafting of Jones and King, I don't know if Gunter really has a place on the roster anymore except as 5ht/6th CB. I give him credit for the resilience he showed last season, though.

Lphill's picture

Someone commented that they are concerned at the lack of depth at OLB , I think having 6 is pretty deep , that's a pretty good rotation , 2 veterans and then some 2 yr and 3 rd year guys and 1 rookie . I am good with this .

Somedumbname's picture

It's quality not quantity in question.

DesertPackFan's picture

Your assuming Datone and Peppers are quality options? Well Datone hasn't lived to expectations and didn't give much production. Peppers gave some production but is pushing 40 yrs old. It was time for both to go. Peppers particularly. Datone might have been worth coming back on a short prove it deal. We don't know if he was offered. Either way he took a bigger contract than the Packers would have offered and for more yrs.

We let and underperforming player and a seriously aging player leave to make room for younger faster developing players.

Also, we know the Packers want to get faster on D. One sure way to get faster is to lose the Elephant End's (Datone and Peppers) and replace them w/ actual 34 OLB. Datone and Peppers at EE are literally 43 DL being fit into a 34 scheme. Replace the 43 DL that are Edge rushers and substitute them for actual 34 OLB (Fackrell, Elliot, Biegel) and you just got quite a bit faster on D. The only actual DL the Packers will have now are the 2 DL that remain on the field, every other player will have an extra gear, that Peppers and Datone didn't have.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Datone signed a 1 year deal for $3.75M. It was a one year prove it deal. I should have thought GB would offer roughly that amount of money, but there is no way to know for sure. Neither player was lighting the world on fire, but they did play 1135 snaps last season.

I do agree that eliminating the elephant DE/OLB makes us faster. I'd prefer two real OLBs. Perry is good enough to live with his inability to cover, which makes the defense more predictable.

fthisJack's picture

we need guys that can rush the QB and also hold the edge. i'm not sure some of the fresh faces can do that....i.e. Biegel and Fackrell.

croatpackfan's picture

You all forgot Gilbert who spent whole year on PS. We do not know what Packers see in him and what they expect from him...

RCPackerFan's picture

Gilbert is definitely a guy to watch this preseason. I'm not saying he will be a starter or anything like that. But he maybe a player that takes a jump in year 2.

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