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The Question We Don't Want To Ask

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The Question We Don't Want To Ask

As the Green Bay Packers have stumbled through their second preseason debacle in as many tries, there's a lot of statements being made to calm the masses.

It's early.  It's a long season.

There's several key contributors absent (Jennings, Bishop, Woodson) from most or all of those two games.

Injuries have hurt, but we know Thompson/McCarthy can compensate for them by mid-season.

For cripes sake, people...it's the preseason!  These games just don't matter.

All are very wise points, backed up by the experiences of having gone through these panic-ridden seasons before, only to find ourselves still playing in mid-January later on.  Chances are that the Packers are off to a slow start, hampered by a CBA-controlled practice schedule that doesn't accentuate the needs of the exotic schemes on both sides of the ball.  Chances are the Pack will indeed be back in 2012.

But that question still lingers in the back of my mind.  Maybe in lingers in the back of your mind, too.  Maybe you don't want to ask it, and maybe if someone even comes close to asking it aloud, you're ready to slap them down to size for even suggesting it.

But it's still there.  It's not a panic-ridden question, nor is it full of angst-ridden fingerpointing.  Like Mufasa said in The Lion King, "It's all a part of a great Circle of Life, Simba."

Have the Green Bay Packers peaked?

We stood and basked in the glory of the unexpected Super Bowl win in February of 2011, then watched as the team ripped off thirteen straight wins to start the following season. And we've clapped ourselves on the back and enjoyed the ride.  Rightfully so, too.

But even as the 2011 Packers were finishing 15-1, had a first-round bye, and were set to play host to a team essentially given last rites before sneaking into the playoffs, the chinks in the armor were growing more noticeable each week.  The defense, which once carried the team on its big plays, was a weekly liability.  The passing game powered the entire team, putting more and more pressure on Aaron Rodgers to win each game on his own.  We believed, for some inexplicable reason, that the Packers could win another Super Bowl with no running game and a terrible defense.

The Packers took the field against a team that finished the regular season with a negative point differential, and proceeded to look like the inferior team from start to finish.  It wasn't a "tough loss".  It was, in Clay Matthews' own words, a demonstration on how to pull the rug out from under your own feet.

Like the Packers the year before, the Giants coalesced at the right time and turned it into an impressive road warrior path to a Super Bowl trophy.  The team that should have had all the momentum fell flat, and Packer fans were left with the faded glory of a 15-1 regular season and a lot of questions coming into 2012.

While all of the above explanations of why the Packers have looked so bad so far can easily be true and reassuring, it may also be a simple truth that the Packers are slowly succumbing to a system designed to chip away at and weaken the elite teams.  The Packers aren't going to get a double-dipping first round draft like they did in 2009, when they came away with Clay Matthews and BJ Raji.  The Packers are running out of disposable veterans to show to the exit door, with the Cullen Jenkins departure coming at a much higher cost than perhaps Ted Thompson expected (or hoped).

But the biggest disparity between the pre-Super Bowl Packers and the post-Super Bowl Packers is the amount of money that has to be thrown at your quality starters.  As a higher and higher percentage of the salary cap money is tied up in your starters you want to keep (TJ Lang, Jarrett Bush, Jermichael Finley, Mason Crosby, and Tim Masthay), other veterans are allowed to leave (Scott Wells, Matt Flynn).  The depth that you once cherished is suddenly much more thin, and declaring "Next Man Up" when Nick Collins or Desmond Bishop gets hurt becomes a dicier proposition.

An ill-addressed position, like defensive end or running back, suddenly has Thompson breaking from his normally iron-clad commitment to building "Packer People" from within, taking chances on players with checkered pasts like Anthony Hargrove and Cedric Benson.

And there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about this, gang.  This is the way that the system is structured, and why parity is more prevalent now than perhaps at any other point in the history of the NFL.  In other words, whether we like it or not, it's bound to happen someday.  I'll be totally honest in saying I really hope it isn't right now, that the Pack is simply off to a rough start, and McCarthy is going to start working on those pad levels again really soon.

What strikes me is the previous Super Bowl team back in 1996, a team that captured our imaginations and brought Green Bay glory with an exciting offense and a dominant defense, just like the 2010 version.  In 1997, the Packers dominated the regular season again, with talk of going undefeated early on (despite finishing at 13-3).  But the Packers deflated that year in the Super Bowl, despite having all of the momentum and all of the expectations of an easy win en route to another Lombardi Trophy.

But, in that second year after the Super Bowl, the Packers became a doppelganger of the team they once were.  It didn't matter that most of the names and jerseys were still the same.  Favre was still throwing to Freeman, White was still rushing the quarterback, and Butler was still patrolling the backfield.  Despite all that star power, the Packers finished with just an 11-5 record and laid an egg in the first round of the playoffs.

It was the quick end of what many were predicting just a year earlier would be a dynasty.  That year, the head coach and most of his coaching staff made an exodus for Seattle, and the undisputed soul of the team, Reggie White, retired.

It didn't matter than the revered Ron Wolf was still general manager, or Brett Favre was still quarterback, or that the Packers were still hailed as the class of the NFC.  In two short years, the Packers went from the pinnacle of the NFL to living through a season with Ray Rhodes as head coach.

Now, please don't divine from my comparison that the Packers are on the verge of collapse because of a few preseason losses.  It's not my point, nor am I rooting for it to happen.  I am acutely aware of the financial cliff the Packers would be in if they were to suffer a few losing seasons with the economy still struggling.  Face it:  the plummeting of playoff tickets prices against the Giants meant several fine folks were able to attend the game for well below face value.  That's good news for those few lucky fans, but it isn't good news for the Packers' organization or the halo of local commerce that relies on the good karma brought on by a successful team with high hopes year in and year out.

But the natural path of the rise and fall of a team doesn't mean that the Packers are going to turn into the Detroit Lions.  It could simply mean a few years of average play, perhaps missing the playoffs or sneaking in as a wild-card.  It's not unheard of, even under Thompson's reign.  It is, however, something that would feel like a bit of a sock in the gut after seeing the Packers go 21-2 in their last 23 games (post-season included).

But even if that does happen, there isn't a GM in the league I trust more to restock and reload a roster than Ted Thompson, nor a coach who can do more with what he's given that Mike McCarthy.  In the end, this is a team that has been built for the long-haul.  It doesn't mean that the Packers will be the Super Bowl favorite year in and year out.  Even the vaunted Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004, but have remained in the running almost every year since.

It's far to early to write this team off, and I truly believe that anyone who starts talking like the Packers have to plan for the future instead of playing for the present because of a few injuries has a screw loose.  Anything can happen in this league, and many players who were unknown at the start of 2010 stepped in and became pivotal players on the road to the Super Bowl.

Let's continue to rationalize why we shouldn't panic and continue to have the highest expectations for Mike McCarthy and crew.  It's far better than the alternative, which is why it remains that question we don't want to ask.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (108) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

" Have the Green Bay Packers peaked?"

No.

GBP 4 LIFE

fish/crane's picture

if peaked means at the peak and chillin....then yes..oh yes, The Packers have peaked.

MLecl0001's picture

Good article, and nice read. However I live by one mantra, just get into the postseason. It doesnt have to be pretty just get in. Anything can happen, its why the NFL is so popular.

Bearmeat's picture

^ This.

Tarynfor12's picture

TT has been very lucky with the UDFAs and we the fans have enjoyed the success and the bragging rights of such.But.I think maybe it has gotten a little too expanse for it's own good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsOQ4LdlSPk

I'll get hammered for this but seriously...there is a lot of dead weight in this camp that isn't playing anywhere.

razor's picture

Agree, agree too many bodies to evaluate with a CBA reduced practice schedule. Would seem to be better to have more time to work with fewer players.

Kevin's picture

No no no no no no!

We're not like other teams. The Packers don't "peak" and then decline like everyone else. We remain at the top forever.

This isn't too complicated....

Rocky70's picture

An interesting read but just about any analysis could point in just about any direction. You need to get much more specific to be able to generalize' that parity is the key to all understanding in the NFL.

2005 --- 1 of 11
2006 --- 2 of 11
2007 --- 3 of 11
2008 --- 3 of 9
2009 --- 5 of 8
TOTAL -- 14 of 50 or 28%.

The draft years 05 thru 09 represent players that would now be in their prime (more or less) as GB Packers. Only 14 players still remain on GB's present-day roster from those five draft years (TT's first 5 years as draft-guru). Only ten are starters. (AR, Hawk, GJ, Bishop, Jordy, Finley, Sitton, BJ, CM3, TJ & Crosby) --Only 4 of these 10 have been designated as Pro-Bowl players at some point in their careers. (so far) Four Pro-Bowlers out of 50 draftees --- that's 8%.

TT has missed on too many drafts to assure the Pack of ever becoming a dynasty-type team. Having said that, GB still has AR. An elite QB is always the starting point to another Lombardi Trophy.

ohenry78's picture

I don't think this is quite a good indicator of how well Thompson has drafted. There have been freak injuries for players who could have been starters or were at some point (Collins, Jeremy Thompson, Terrance Murphy), and there are players that were good players at the time, but Thompson drafted other players that are taking their place now (College, for example).

Because Thompson is someone who trends toward youth and inexpensive manpower, I think a more accurate way to look at it would be how many of his picks have completely failed, and are no longer employed, rather than how many are still on the Packers' team. How many Thompson picks did we get serviceable years out of, and then drafted a more adequate replacement?

Rocky70's picture

All 'dynasty-type' teams historically have hit on their draft picks at a much higher rate than TT. You win SBs with elite players, not serviceable players.

ohenry78's picture

Aaron Rogers
Josh Sitton
Bryan Bulaga
Greg Jennings
Jordy Nelson
Clay Matthews
BJ Raji

That's a pretty decent list elite players, or if not elite, at least above "serviceable". I guess I'd be curious to see how that stacks up against legit "dynasties" in the salary cap era, like the Steelers and Patriots.

Bearmeat's picture

Rocky is wrong... again.

Shock.

Pack fan from ATL's picture

Could you expound on this statement a little more? What is your definition of a Dynasty? Does that include the Giants? What numbers are you basing this statement off of? I am not intending to bash you. I just want to know for comparison's sake, because I have doubts that any of the GMs of any of the "recent" Dynasties have had much better luck with the crap shoot that is the NFL draft.

Oppy's picture

I'm glad to hear you've done the numbers break down on the "drafdt success rate" of "Dynasty-type" teams. Spit out the numbers?

Rocky70's picture

I actually do have an extensive base of stats (Some by me but most by others) that do shine a better light on TT's draft success. However, they are not for your use & consumption.

I would suggest you visit PFR. (Pro-Football Reference). With a little time & energy you too can deal with the real world of the NFL instead of the "foggy media version" most people follow.

murphy's picture

"However, they are not for your use & consumption."

Is there an "ignore" option? I'd prefer "the 'foggy media version'" to reading the comments of a blowhard.

PackersRS's picture

I do have them but I'm not gonna show you lalalalalala

Oppy's picture

You have incomplete/bad data.

off the top of my head:

Daryn Colledge
Brandon Jackson
Breno Giacomini
Scott Wells
Bryan Bulaga
Marhsall Newhouse

These guys are all starters in the NFL.. What about them?

Just because a guy isn't starting on the Packers- doesn't mean he was a draft miss.

Oppy's picture

You might as well write Flynn in there, too.

Rocky70's picture

LOL ---- Teams almost always keep their best players, especially their best drafted players. TT has kept (for the most part) his elite or core players together as best he can in the salary-cap era.

Believe me, Colledge, Jackson, Wells, Breno, Popps, Tony Moll, Spitz, K. Hall & several others would still be in GB if they were better players or not so easily replaceable. It's pretty much common sense & logic when you examine more closely.

Ooppy, maybe you should stick to soccer.

Rocky70's picture

Ooppy --- you really need to read these posts with more attention to detail. I'm strictly dealing with TT's 1st 5 years as GB's draft-guru (05-09). The last 3 drafts are just too difficult (at this time) to draw solid conclusions. Too soon.

Rocky70's picture

BTW, you really need to pay attention to detail when reading posts. My whole analysis was based on TT's 1st 5 drafts. Focus on that & things may clear up for you & others.

Oppy's picture

The players I listed aren't just cast-offs floating around the league as journeymen FA's.. They occupy starting positions in the NFL.

BTW, I love the fact that since you don't have any actual numbers, they "aren't for (my) consumption".

Rocky, we should have a beer together, you're a hoot.

Rocky70's picture

They aren't cast-offs nor are they wearing G & G. There are reasons for that. The obvious reason is because they were deemed expendable by GB. If they were elite & strong draft choices by TT, most would still be playing as Packers. ----- I haven't invented this scenario. It's just the way of the NFL.

Oppy's picture

Other reasons: Free Agency, Development Time Constraints, Better Options.

Sometimes a guy wants more money than you can afford or you feel he's worth. Sometimes you don't have enough time to develop the talent, or another player is further along in development and that forces your hand. Sometimes, you find a better option.

None of these things indicate the "other" player was a draft miss/bust.

I haven't invented these scenarios- it's just the way of the NFL.

Perhaps it's you that doesn't fully grasp how the game works.

markinmadison's picture

Oppy 1. Rocky 0. Thanks for playing.

Seriously, TT deserves credit for drafting guys that could start for a few years here, and be good enough to get signed as starters somewhere else. The NFL acknowledges this - they are called compensatory draft picks, and the Packers usually get more than most other teams.

Finding stars is another deal altogether. It takes a bit of luck, and drafting in the top 5 helps. TT found Matthews and Rodgers in the bottom 10 of the round anyway. Does that count for nothing?

Stevie B's picture

Look at it this way. We could be Viking fans.

BrandoGB's picture

Rec'd, liked, thumbs up'd and +1'd

Jamie's picture

(Skimmed to the question)

Never crossed my mind...cannot comprehend the logic that would lead one to that surmisation.

(Stopped reading)

Tommyboy's picture

Then perhaps you should have read the article. If nothing else, the Packers won the super bowl two seasons ago and went 15-1 last year. Believing that there's a world of growth available isn't necessarily the first conclusion one might come to.

Oppy's picture

Or,

when your defense gave up a record number of total passing yards, there certainly is a vast amount of improvement that can more than realistically be made, and you don't have to look hard to find it.. Pass rush and run defense are both wide open for improvement, as well. So is safety play. Good lord, the entire defense can be improved.

There is always, of course, the ground game and the screen game on offense that can be drastically improved, as well.. For that matter, we know we can get even more from the TE position.

As good as the Packers have been, there are ample areas to be improved. That's what's scary about this team.

Tommy boy's picture

Understand I am not suggesting there is no room for improvement. The question is if they peaked. I don't think they have, but watching our defense,albeit a broken unit in the preseason, play poorly thru two games at least allows for the question to be asked if they peaked. There is a big difference.

Jamie's picture

Obviously not any higher than the SB and not much better than 15-1 (in the reg season).

There is plenty of growth potential within the organization, and growth we will need should we want to get there again.

Perhaps you should say something less obvious and pointless.

Tommy boy's picture

The question is about if they peaked....not room for growth. They obviously have room to grow, the question is "have they?" also, to be clear, I don't think they have. I just think it's a fair question. The obviousness of this apparently is needed.

Chris's picture

Have the Packers peaked? Perhaps. But I don't think it really matters. Even if they aren't peaking that doesn't mean they can't put together another "unexpected" championship season like they did in 2010. I tend to agree with the comment above: All that matters is reaching the post-season. And with Aaron Rodgers in his prime years, GB has a significant leg up on getting to that level. Once there, many good possibilities exist.

NoWayJose's picture

Three words:

Aaron. Fucking. Rodgers.

The Packers have not peaked.

CD Angeli's picture

I believe the Brewers felt the same about Ryan F'n Braun, too (and all of the remaining talent around him). One man cannot carry a team.

aberamsey's picture

Apples and Oranges comparison. Yes, one man can't carry a team, but an elite QB can carry a football team a lot easier than any baseball player at any position.

CD Angeli's picture

Disagree. I might agree that they are two different types of apples, but the Brewers had the league MVP surrounded by talent that was considered elite talent a year ago: Gallardo, Grienke, Marcum, Weeks, Hart, Axford, Ramirez. Despite the loss of Fielder, they were still predicted to be in the playoff hunt, and in MLB that's a much tougher task than in the NFL.

Rodgers is the league MVP, and we can make the case that more than half of the starters would be considered in the top 20 league-wide at their position.

But this team...particularly the defense...is not adding up to the sum of its parts. There's no way that a defense with names like Matthews, Bishop, Woodson, Raji on it should be not only bad, but historically bad last year.

I am and have always been a strong believer in the power of coaching and teamwork. This is what is worth watching as the season gets underway.

ohenry78's picture

Yeah, still gonna have to disagree, Mr. Angeli.

First, as a technical note, much to many Brewers' fans surprise, the Brewers were not predicted to go far at the start of this year by most national pundits :)

On a more technical note, it's like others have said. Ryan Braun can only affect certain portions of the game. He can't control how other hitters hit, he can't control balls that are hit anywhere near him. Like others said, on his own he only reasonably controls maybe 10% of the game. And that's a big maybe.

Aaron on the other hand will have the ball in his hands on (hopefully) every single offensive snap this season. Roughly half of the time he will have an opportunity to improve the team's chances of winning.

It's not even a close comparison. A QB can carry a football team, but no baseball player can carry their team to any sustained success.

If you need a concrete example, look at the Colts last year. Years and years of sustained success with Manning at the helm. Lost him for one season and everything fell to absolute disaster.

CD Angeli's picture

I think, to a degree, you miss my point. I am drawing a comparison between having a lynchpin player AND the surrounding cast to boot.

I also am trying to make the point that, yes, Rodgers DOES handle the ball 50% of the time. In fact, the offense has no chance for any success without him essentially making something happen himself on every play, either with his arm or legs.

The Colts are a great example of what I'm talking about. They went from a very talented team to a team with a few bloated contracts of key starters and a revolving door of supporting talent...and ever more dependent on Manning to do everything. When he was gone, the whole team tanked because of all the attention focused on Manning.

In the end, # of Manning's Super Bowl Rings = 1.

wgbeethree's picture

Completely disagree with the analogy. A leftfielder has far less of an impact on a game than a quarterback does. Braun has an impact on maybe 10% of a game where AR has an impact on at least 50%.

aberamsey's picture

Well said. Can't compare a football QB with any other position in any sport other than an elite basketball player like a Lebron James in impact they have. Rodgers touches the ball every offensive play. Does Ryan Braun get to bat every time the Brewers come up?

BrandoGB's picture

Especially considering so much of brewers problems have been bullpen related. That's similar to blaming AR for the defense collapsing.

Because of the dynamics of the game vs baseball AR can do a lot more to help prevent a 180 than a left fielder no matter how good. Now if we were comparing to pitchers there would be substantially less of a gap.

As we all agree though, one shining star surrounded by muck can't do much. Hopefully everyone else on the Packers lives up to or exceeds expectations. Preferably exceeds as that seems to be necessary for any team to win a super bowl.

Shawn's picture

This year could be like the 2010 year. We start good, not great, and put it together in the end and win it all.

paxbak's picture

There is no way CM3, BJ, Rodgers, Jennings, Finley, Jordy, J Jones, BUlaga, Lang, Sitton or Tyrone Williams are past their primes. If anything I see them ascending into their primes. This whole theory doesn't compute. The 1996 team was old, especially on "D". The 2010 team was the youngest in the league. It baffles me that this defense played so poorly lase year. By the way, it wasn't the "D" that lost the playoff game, it was the offense that scored only 3 points in the same 3rd quarter that the "D" gave up NO 1st downs. The offense went flat with missed throws, turnovers and dropped passes.

nick's picture

tyrone williams? you should probably learn the names before dropping a comment...

MarkinMadison's picture

"Tyrone" aside, he makes a good point. The 1996 team was significantly older. My counter to that point is that in both cases, the defense was led by a surefire HOFer who was getting past his prime - Reggie in 1996, Woodson in 2010. Woodson is not useless now any more than Reggie was useless in 1998, but in both cases they are not the same player. The production has to be replaced somehow.

Oppy's picture

Easy mistake to make if you've watched the Packers over the years.

Tyrone Williams was a Packers CB...

Khawaja's picture

We are running a vanilla offense in the Preseason. Like most teams. In 2010 we dominated the preseason with our offense but our offense wasn't even that explosive that year. Our D was amazing. We would just shut down in the 2nd half and not score. If Packers can go 15-1 with last years D. They can win a lot more games with this D. Perry and Clay will help this secondary out and all the doubters will become followers after we beat 9ers, Saints, Bears and lions we will be the talk of the town again!

CD Angeli's picture

Wait, we're runnning a vanilla offense? Rodgers is running the no-huddle exclusively in the first-team drives. That's like getting a double-whipped cafe mocha frappachino and calling it "vanilla".

The McCarthy defense has always lived and died on the Big Play. The difference is in 2010, the defense made a habit of making them, regularly and at key moments. In 2011, they did not come through with them at critical times.

When you live and die by the Big Play, and you don't make the Big Play, a lot of weaknesses that would otherwise be covered come to light.

Rocky70's picture

This is the same dilemma as the Sherman years. Not enough "D" to support more than enough "O".

GBFaninCA's picture

I'm gonna disagree with this point here (nicely wrote article tho). This is not a McCarthy ran defense. MM knows his strength is offense, which is why he brought in Capers to run our D. If you look at all of Capers' prior defensive squads he has had success when he has had two good edge rushers to harass the QB and a strong DL. In Green Bay he has had half of that, and a crazy talented secondary. If Perry and Worthy pan out, this defense will be a force to be reckoned with, unfortunately we may have to wait a full year for them to blossom into the players we are praying for them to be. Pressure the QB and all our defensive worries will be gone

Rocky70's picture

I hope you're correct. The only problem I have is: "Will the new additions to the "D" get up to speed soon enough to matter in season 2012 or will it take more than one season?" ---- Some rookies need time to make a difference.

ChicagoBearJew's picture

This is a very accurate and honest article. I don't say this as a Bears fan, but I think the Packers may be due for a rougher season than many anticipate. The mild winter of last season along with a defense that got old quickly has to be of concern. Even with this being said, there's still many weapons floating around the Packers. Should make for a fun season. I'm looking forward to week two. Should be a fun one.

Bearmeat's picture

Defense that got old???

What planet are you living on Jonathan? The BEARS are the D that needs youth.

The only old guy on GB's D is Woody. Maybe Pickett.

CM3, Raji, Bishop, Tramon, House, Perry, Worthy - these are players that you build a future on.

You have... McClellin at DE. IF he gains 20 lbs of muscle so he can play more than 3rd down.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

LMAO. A bear fan calling our D old... That's fresh. How's good ol' Brian 'one knee' Earlicker holding up these days anyway? You wanna see a D go from 'aging' to 'old' right before your eyes? Watch duh bears the next couple years. Briggs, Tillman, Peppers, Earlicker... Basically the main components of the D's days are numbered.

And unless you're a glutton for punishment, you won't be enjoying week two. Now get back on your side of the tracks before you catch a beating.

Bearmeat's picture

Thanks Fitz. I needed a laugh.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

My pleasure.

fred's picture

Interesting read. That said, this is the time of year where pretty much any opinion regarding the future of the franchise can be supported by a reasonable looking analysis. Bottom line is whether you truly believe it.

Is it possible that this GB team has already peaked? Sure.

Do I truly believe that this GB team has already peaked? No.

Shawn's picture

I think the real question is, Is Dom Capers actually a good defensive coordinator, or does his defense just seem better than it is because in the first year or two its run other teams have yet figured out how to defeat it? Once they do it's down hill from there.

CD Angeli's picture

That's not a bad questions. Personally, I think Capers is great. He's been willing to tinker and mold his defense around his players, rather than relying on a scheme to save the day.

That said, I was highly critical of the 3-4 move at the time, simply because everyone was moving to the 3-4. You don't jump on the trend late, you jump on it early. Now, more and more teams are facing these 3-4 hybrid defenses and they have more film to scheme from.

I'd be really impressed with Dom if he were to look at his talent and do something really out of the box, and to a degree, I think he is trying to do that with the dime scheme he's been moving towards.

Oppy's picture

CD,

What do you find "outside of the box" with the dime package?

To my eyes, it's the textbook dime package that most teams run., a 4-1 front.

Capers has been pretty honest about the move away from playing so much of his nickle last year- he actually blatantly stated he didn't have the DB depth last season to move out of nickle, and he stated implicitly that by moving to dime he won't have to expose AJ hawk as much in coverage.

Play more dime to get more DB's on the field for coverage purposes, play more dime to get our LB's off the field so they don't have to cover. That's pretty straight forward "in the box" thinking, IMO.

CD Angeli's picture

I don't know if its the scheme itself of the dime, or the way the Capers has talked about using it...first of all, more prevalently, in order to get the Packers' best players on the field. But, I'm also thinking of some of the guys he's planning on using...DJ Smith calling the plays in the dime, using Woodson or Bush in rush situations. It's not a Madden standard dime defense. That's what I like about Capers, is that he's willing to adjust his scheme to the players. I always had the feeling with Sherman (and Bob Sanders, to a degree) that the scheme was the magic bullet, and they wedged players like KGB in there, even though it wasn't their best fit.

Oppy's picture

I'm not sure I fully follow what you mean about the personnel in CApers' dime. Smith was inserted at the LB position in dime during walk throughs from the beginning because he's perceived as a good communicator and a better coverage LB than other options. Wood and Bush make sense because they cover better than the LB's that would be on the field in nickle, but they can play the run almost like a LB.. I don't see this as being wildly inventive or clever, it seems like straight-forward football.

Jim Bates' match scheme (the one Sanders continued to run) relied on the front four- specifically, the DE's, to apply all the pressure to the QB, and required great corners because they were left on an island the majority of the time. KGB was actually not a horrible fit when it came to pressuring the QB. He certainly was NOT an every-down player, however, as we all knew he couldn't play the run. I have to think the Sherman forced Sanders' hand when he paid KGB like a rock star, 3-down DE. I'm not sure that Sanders would have used KGB every down if he didn't have to. Thank god Cullen Jenkins ended that debacle- although too late.

Khawaja's picture

We are an elite D. Just unlucky that's all. TT messed up with Cullen Jenkins big time. I am still pissed about that one. When it isn't broken dont fix it. He helped Babin do what Clay did on 2010. Plus Collins goes down. And Tramon plays hurt. Just think about that. Three huge factors. No D can hold anyone without a Pass Rush. Look at Bears, Steelers and Giants. Decent to mediocre corners but all have an AMAzing pass rush. That's the trick in the nfl. The teams that win SBs get the most sacks. That's how Steelers do it. Giants did it twice. Packers with Clay and Cullen. And Saints in 09. Of course u need a talented offense too but pass rush is key. Perry looks good. It's only a matter of time he breaks out and Clay gets loose!

CD Angeli's picture

You are completely correct. I don't like to worship at the altar of the sack stat, because I would much rather see consistent pressure that derails and offensive gameplan over the KGB sack stats that come in bunches in games when we don't even need them.

There's NO excuse for opposing quarterbacks, particularly those on bad offensive teams, to have five seconds-plus to think on every dropback. Sadly, that's what happened in 2011.

Khawaja's picture

Besides what's this panic about offense? We had a great drive and scored and Rodgers and company pulled out. Yea Rodgers missed with a throw. But who doesn't. I think our D is much better. It's our backups letting the score run wild. We made the playoffs 3 years straight. And have addressed the issues that plagued us last year. I mean we are a couple of seasons from a SB and one from the best record in franchise history. And we have peaked? Jennings and Finley haven't even played yet. Neither has Benson. Or our LTs. Woodson hasn't either. Come on Man! Pack is the new Patriots, Colts and Steelers. We are here to compete and have a legit SB shot year in and year out with Rodgers healthy.

CD Angeli's picture

I don't know who is panicking about the offense, but you only need to look at last year's playoff game to know that, just like Favre in the mid-2000's, relying on a prolific passing game alone will get you through a regular season and will come back to bite you in the playoffs.

Love Rodgers to death, and yes, he is the lynchpin of the offense, if not the whole team. But the more you work the entire offense around his abilities and don't have a viable running game (or even a conservative offense), you will struggle when you face the best teams who've kicked into the next year in the playoffs.

Rocky70's picture

Evidently, CD, most Packer fans have forgotten season 2008. I doubt any of these posters here predicted a 6-10 record back then. It was a surprise coming off a 14-4 season in 2007.

Oppy's picture

2008 was a season that ended up going sour due to a rash of injuries that saw 10 players go on IR including Barnett, Tauscher, Bigby, and Jenkins. We had an absolutely ridiculous number of missed starts that season due to injury.

I don't see the connection to putting too much faith on the QB's arm and expecting to win in this situation.. Ryan Grant had a 1,200 yard season. Rodgers passed for over 4,000 yards. Offense was balanced.

Defense lagged due to injury. Offense ranked 8th in the league, Defense ranked 20th.

I don't see the connection between what CD is talking about potentially happening to the Packers in 2012 and what you've brought up about 2008..?

Rocky70's picture

"I don’t see the connection between.........."

No great surprise.

Oppy's picture

Rocky,

it is my personal experience, during the course of my life, that people I have encountered that are as rude and disrespectful as yourself, only really respond to being punched in the throat, followed by a few kicks to the ribs, before they even consider being civil and respectful to others.

Seeing as that is neither behavior I want to engage in any more, nor a viable option, I will not bother you with any more correspondence in the future.

I sincerely hope you one day pull your head from your ass, because if you actually talk to people in the real world like you do on the forums, someone, someday, will without doubt punch you in the throat and kick you in the ribs. It's just a matter of time.

Signed,
A guy who used to punch people like you in the throat, and kick them in the ribs.

Rocky70's picture

I made a completely benign post about season 2008 which had absolutely no connection with you in any way, shape or form but yet you still felt compelled to 'complain' about it.

Just read your own posts. You have an issue with anyone that disagrees with you. It has very little to do with me. Good luck.

MarkinMadison's picture

Rocky70,

Oppy's counterpoint to your 2008 comment was legit. He was not getting personal with you or starting a fight. Your "'I don't see a connection....' no surprise" comment was out of line. It was a strictly personal insult with no thought behind it at all. You should apologize.

MIM

Rocky70's picture

Another 'poster' commenting with limited info or perception.

Apologize ?? ---- I think the term used is "When pigs fly" --- LOL.

redcheesehead's picture

i cant believe this was even posted 2 weeks into the preseason.. the preseason. we have two games where we dont blow the other team out in the preseason. PRESEASON and this article shows up... over reaction. by a mile

CD Angeli's picture

We've had two games where we have had sloppy play, turnovers, and been outmatched by inferior talent. Hey, I'm as big of a fanboy as anyone else (and you get a green and gold star for being the most loyal Packer fan EVER), but no one is above criticism, even in the preseason.

Apparently, I'm not above criticism, either. Right, red? :)

PackersRS's picture

The 2011 team peaked, simply because this is not the 2011 team.

A big percentage is the same, but a considerable enough percentage is not.

Not to mention the fact that there are only 2 key players above 30 years old (Woodson and Pickett).

Aaron Rodgers
Greg Jennings
Jordy Nelson
Jermichael Finley
Josh Sitton
Bryan Bulaga
BJ Raji
Clay Matthews
Desmond Bishop
Tramon Williams

All guys that have proven they can dominate at their position, all under 30.

Then you include guys like Burnett, Worthy, Perry, Heyward, House, Cobb, Lang, Starks, Smith, all under 25.

Take into consideration all that, plus one of the best front offices and one of the best coaching staff in the business.

Peaked? I don't see how.

Bearmeat's picture

Thank you RS. Some sanity here. That's all I ask.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

8-)

Jake's picture

LOl was just waiting for RS to respond...

Mike's picture

You guys spend too much time bickering over little things.

cole's picture

We also haven't seen Sherrod really play yet, he could become a stud midway through the season and then we'd have three good players, all capable of playing LT. We have an awesome interior line.

I'm fully confident in Smith/Francois to get the job done in absence of Bishop, who may still be back for the playoffs.

Randall Cobb will be the X factor this year, our Percy Harvin. Alex Green hopefully stays healthy and averages 4 to 5 a carry. Plus Benson can grind out the tough yards. We've never had a backfield with this much potential since Grant in his prime.

Out of Daniels and Perry, one will become an adequate interior rusher. I've already seen enough of Perry to surmise that he will be a good, possibly great OLB. McMillian can obviously play in the box well, and if he can cover we may have an amazing secondary. House looks like he will be very good. I believe Heyward will be very good as well.

I don't see how we haven't gotten better in every way from last year.

I think what really happened is that we just had one horrible game against the Giants and Graham Harrell is fucking awful. That's it.

We weren't exposed last year. People knew our D was horrible the whole time, but it's a game of inches. Someone tackles Bradshaw before the hail mary, Peprah wraps up Nicks, Rodgers doesn't miss a wide-open Jennings for the first TD, Jennings catches the second, plus the majority of the other WR's catch their balls...and we still win that game. Oh and the four turnovers.

It was was an offensive fluke. The only teams that could have beat us last year when we played like normal were the 49ers and Saints, but I don't think they would have.

Just like losing the Arizona Cardinals game in 09. If Rodgers had hit Jennings in overtime, who knows what could have happened. Game of inches.

Pack will come out fired up and get past the niners in a close one and then from there it's on. Pre-Season does mean nothing. Super Bowl XLVII Champs. Mark it down.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Love it man.

Bearmeat's picture

This is closer to MO than CD's post. I understand CD is a thoughtful writer. But in this circumstance, I think he thought a little too much :D

CD - let's bring this topic up again about week 7 huh? It'll be fun for all involved.

Oppy's picture

You really can't judge a team's ability to win championships by when it has, in and of itself, "peaked", since a team's ability to win games is dependent upon how strong the competition is.

It's competitive sport, there are opponents that you compete against in real-time. It is not a game of Solitaire, where you are only competing against yourself.

In other words, regardless if the Packers have already "Peaked" or not (BTW, How can that even be possible when the defense just ranked dead last and the overwhelming majority of the team is still young?), it is immaterial. The only thing that matters in any given year is if the Packers are better than the competition when it counts.

Jamie's picture

Maybe we should give CD the benefit of the doubt and consider that he was assuming the NFL would not allow the Packers, and arguably the best personnel dept in the league, to draft or sign any new players beyond '12...in fairness to the other 31 teams.

CD Angeli's picture

I thought you didn't actually read the entire article. Didn't you just skim to see what the question was and then stop at that point? So, aren't you now just giving us hyperbole on what you THINK I wrote about?

Jamie's picture

I didn't...I read all of the comments bashing it.

CD Angeli's picture

So, let me get this straight. You look at a title of an article, don't bother to read the article, but jump directly to the comment section and join in to blindly belittle, mock, and denigrate anyone who was the opinion you disagree with.

Let me guess...you normally post on political forums?

I have no issue with anyone who disagrees with the opinions I put out there. But for the hour-plus of my life that I put into creating a piece, I would far rather intelligently debate it with a true Packer fan like Oppy or RS, who can dissent objectively, than deal with someone who devolves the entire conversation out of spite.

woodson4president's picture

Im excited as hell for this season! We lost a couple players yeah big deal! What happened last time we were a little banged up? Ohhh yeah we won SB 45!! If Worthy,Perry and Hayward play as well as we know they should, and we get even a decent guy at safety when chuck isnt back there ( jennings or mac) we will be juuust fine!! And on a side note Benson going to wear green n yellow against Cincy thurs?? God i hope so!

Kendra's picture

There will always be questions about the Packers and their depth because Ted does try to build from within. Most of the non-starters are young, unknown quantities to us. Last year everyone worried about the O-Line in preseason. The injuries came, the rookies or second year players got thrown in as replacements and the team kept scoring. Ted keeps them young and there are young stars on this team that we may not even see this season. I think that's the difference between Ted and Ron. Ron was more likely to give big contracts (none of the no risk stuff Ted is doing) to aging veterans and free agents.

Has this team peaked? Yes. When they won the Superbowl. That's the best they can expect and will always be striving to peak again at the top. That doesn't mean we're heading into death valley, though. Even if they have a bad year, they're set up to recover.

I'm confused about your economics argument, however. This team is a non-profit team who has had some very revenue positive seasons so they should have some money in the bank. Ticket prices did plummet for the playoff game which is probably why there were so many Giants fans but even that was positive for the economy and GB got face value on those tickets.

Green Bay has supported bad teams for decades. Do you think Packers fans, spoiled by success, have turned into fair weather fans? Maybe that's the question that should be asked.

CD Angeli's picture

You are correct that the Packers Inc. wouldn't lose a ton of money on ticket sales, but the shareholders meeting revealed some great profits this year on the off-game visits: Pro Shop, Hall of Fame, Stadium Tours. That revenue will decrease if and when this team ever does decline.

But the number of businesses that have thrived since 1992, including ticket resellers, restaurants, and retail stores close to the stadium, depend on the Packers as much as the city of Orlando depends on the Mouse.

Continued, consistent success is very important for a small-market team like the Packers.

CanadianPackersFan's picture

I have the same sinking feeling - D won't be any better and Rogers will have a great year - just not an awesome year like last.

Clay's picture

Well written Mr. Angeli.

I don't disagree because I am a homer, the fact is we just don't know.

I moved to Boston in 1996, and watched the Pack beat the Pats.

Since then the Patriots have appeared in 5 Superbowls and won 3. Most oddsmakers have them basically tied if not moving ahead of the Pack at this point as the favorites to win it all this year.

They routinely have TWO first round draft picks (see this year Hightower and other dude).

I STRONGLY believe they are the favorites to win it all and it makes my life a living hell because I live in New England.

If Mr. Angeli's logic is sound, will someone please explain the Patriots' success to me, because I sure could live with routine Superbowl appearances such as they have grown accustomed to around here.

Why hasn't "the system" caused the Pats to peak?

CD Angeli's picture

Will be honest, I was going to include that until I realized that I already hit 1,500 words, which is kind of my limit in an article. More than that and readers besides Jamie will skip the reading part as it gets too long.

I think you could easily do a case study on what has kept the Patriots at such a high level for so long. I think I had looked it up for this article...they've only missed the playoffs twice since 2001, and finished first in their division any of the years they did go. That's amazing.

However, one thing can easily be divined from the Pats: they are the exception, not the rule. In some ways, their very success is what keeps them successful...they always find some shlub team willing to trade away their first round picks for what they perceive as a bit of the Patriot magic. An extra first round pick nearly every year? How do you fight that?

PackersRS's picture

May I suggest part 1 and part 2? You don't have a problem writing extensively, it wouldn't get redundant or superfulous. Particularly good for a weekly column.

Oh, Belichick is an active HOF coach, but his recent draft history isn't very good, considering exactly the ammunition he has had to work with.

I don't have the research data to back that up, though ;)

Oppy's picture

Clay/CD:
I wanted to bring this up in my discussion with that other guy, but didn't bother.

I don't think the Pats draft more amazing players than the Packers.

The Pats are a catch-and-release team. They draft guys, mold them into amazingly productive cogs within the Pats' system, and then when they are up for FA and want to earn big money, they are allowed to fly away.. And usually never produce anywhere near the level they did in NE.

You can say that the Pats do the same with "over the hill" or "troubled" veteran players as well. Take in the washed up, watch them relive their glory days, let them go and the fade away.

The reason why the Pats have not hit the FA/Salary cap lull and parity that the league is supposed to be structured to ensure is simple.

Best. Coach. In. The. History. Of. The. Game... Best overall system (not talking scheme, but as an entire organization.) Patriots just are, organizationally, on a whole other level.

I hate the guy.. But, sorry, Vince. The guy is the best. Just by a little bit.

Rocky70's picture

Why complicate the issue. The solid stats to support your assertions don't exist. The comprehensive comparative studies to 'exactly' compare how teams function don't exist. You're just repeating the same ol' foggy media interpretation of the Pats. (even worse - no names)

The truth is simple ------ Tom Brady.

CSS's picture

Yet they managed to go 11-5 with Matt 'noodle arm' Cassel in 08' with no real talent at TE, Sam Aiken and Jabar Gaffney as your WR depth and a bunch of 30 year-old running backs. Not to mention the core of their defense was getting really, really old.

Rocky70's picture

Sorry CSS
Knew someone would mention that NON-playoff team of 2008.
Regardless, take away Brady from the Pats for the last eleven years & this conversation doesn't exist.

Walty's picture

This was a really great article. Nicely done.

Lucky953's picture

Agree with you Kendra. The Packers peaked at the end of 2010 with 15 players on IR. As many have said, it's all about getting on a roll in the postseason. Do they have the talent to peak again this year? Absolutely. Will they? That's why we watch.

Khawaja's picture

I agree with Cole 110%. If It weren't for the fumbles our D wouldn't have allowed as many points in the preseason this season. Our D is solid. Picked off Rivers. Sacked Him. Brought pressure to Weeden. Causing fumbles. Not awful against the run. I am still interested to see How Mike Neal Plays after his suspension. The depth is there. Much more than last season. Think about who was back there and up front. No more Peprah. Waldin won't start. And I still can't figure out the hating on Hawk. I looked at stats and his numbers weren't awful overall. Unproductive last Year. Then again so was pretty much everyone else besides bishop, clay and Woodson. Top 10 D. Number one offense. We are the only team in the NFL who don't have a true no. 1 receiver. Jennings and Nelson are equally beasts! All these fumble issues and sloppy offense and D is a great thing for the league to fall Asleep on us and for us to realize our mistakes early. Pack is back and Rodgers will win 4 SBs before he retires!

Charlie M's picture

I would say they have peaked...at times with different units. But they have not peaked for an entire season yet, and that's what MM and co. are striving for. If they play D like 2010 and O like '11 then they will have peaked.

Khawaja's picture

Packers arent going to put up numbers like 2011. They are striving for balance and good Defensive games. They don't want to become as predicable because some teams were able to take advantage of it. We will still be a top 10 offense but not #1. And we don't want to be anyways. #1 offenses usually never win SBs historically.

Tobey's picture

I'm concerned. But its early so...I'll deal with it but, I am concerned. Is it me or have we NOT been able to run the ball consistently for years? I believe that the problem is systemic. Every other team that plays vs. them...is able to run it; but still, we can't! Is it a methodology issue, does Campen know what hes doing? Is it possible that technique wise, they aren't doing it correctly? Can ALL their coaches be wrong? Or is it....? Yeah...I'm concerned.

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