Confessions of a Polluted Mindset 2020 - Talking 'bout Practice?

The Weekly Packers Brain Drain from Jersey Al.

Are you Ready for Some Football? If you're reading this, of course you are. Despite what is currently happening with college football, the NFL and Green Bay Packers are aiming to satisfy your thirst for bone-crushing hits and laser-like throws for touchdowns. On-field practices start on Saturday, but what happens after that is subject to change at any time. There will be no fans at the Packers' first two home games, and my guess is, for more after that. And I'm ok with that. If it were me, I would lean towards canceling fan participation for the season. The one thing that would stop me are all the local businesses who depend on Packers fans coming to town for games to keep their businesses afloat. With so many already struggling to survive, no fans for the entire season would be their death knell.

Devin Funchess: While not initially excited by the signing, as I considered it more carefully and did my research, I had come all the way around to feeling like he would be the surprise of the Packers' 2020 season. Maybe with so little expected of him it would be easy to achieve such status, but I was convinced he would be a much more productive player with Aaron Rodgers throwing him passes instead of the erratic Cam Newton. Who knows if I would be proven right or wrong, but his decision to opt out likely stings much more for me more than it does for you. 

Churn Gutey Churn: One thing about Packers' GM Brian Gutekunst - he's active and he's always looking. Just this week, he signed former Chief FB John Lovett, WRs Travis Fulgham and Malik Taylor. He also supposedly put in a claim for former Eagle DT Bruce Hector, who ended up getting awarded to the Jaguars. While his mentor Ted Thompson preferred to stick with developing his own UDFA signees, Gutey is more inclined to bring in players that have had some experience with other teams. These are the unheralded types of depth moves that will be more important than ever in this outlier of a typical NFL season.

Avoiding the Middle: Nice job by our own Aaron Nagler here on the topic of Rodgers' reluctance to throw passes in the middle of the field. It first became apparent to me during last season's Week 3 game against the Lions. I brought it up in that week's Polluted Mindset, where I calculated that not counting dump-offs behind the LOS, 80% of his passes that game were outside the numbers. The trend continued throughout the 2019 season, but what is really interesting is that his highest passer ratings over the course of the season were all in areas in the middle of the field.

Submitted for your approval:

NFL Draft: So what happens now? With the Big 10 and Pac-12 already opting to cancel fall sports and possibly play football in the Spring, what happens with the whole "Draft Industrial Complex," as Aaron Nagler likes to call it. It's not just draft day, it's the combine, the months of leadup and content creation, the media coverage, Draft preview shows, mock drafts, hell, even the CHTV Draft Guide? How can they do this to us? 

Covid-19 testing: Well, it seems those Covid-19 tests the Packers are given every day are shipped out to a lab in New Jersey with results received early the next morning before the players enter the building. The company, BioReference Laboratories is located in Elmwood Park NJ - less than 10 miles from my home. All kind of ideas are racing through my head right now...

Talking 'bout Practice?  Just think, next week, this is what we'll be doing...

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"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  Follow Al on twitter at @JerseyalGBP

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Comments (27)

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

August 12, 2020 at 06:24 am

I'll be surprised if Turner or Fulgham make the roster, unless there is an injury or two. They are both solid-but-not-spectacular. They are very similar to Begelton. It's possible one of them will rise like cream, but I think it's more likely they will homogenize. :-D

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mrtundra's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:19 am

With Funchess opting out, I think Turner and Fulham have a good chance of making the roster. UDFA's like Begelton and Stewart may not make the team now that Turner and Fulham are on board. I think it all depends on how much time they get on the field, in camp, and who gets sick, injured, etc on the WR depth chart ahead of them..

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BradHTX's picture

August 13, 2020 at 11:20 am

Begelton is not a UDFA. Last year, the dude caught 102 passes for 1,444 yards and 10 TDs. The CFL is not the NFL but it’s not the XFL either. I believe Begelton fights with ESB for the #3 position and probably wins it. He’s a solid player; if he has half that production for the Pack he contributes more than anyone besides Adams and Lazard.

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marpag1's picture

August 12, 2020 at 06:53 am

"What is really interesting is that his highest passer ratings over the course of the season were all in areas in the middle of the field."

Probably because it had to be an absolute slam dunk completion or else he wasn't even going to try it.

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dobber's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:17 am

Defenses scheme tendencies. If we see that #12 doesn't typically throw over the middle, you know DCs are seeing it and are playing the outside routes harder.

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gkarl's picture

August 12, 2020 at 07:18 am

Are you ready for some football, Finding it to hard to get excited about season. Expect the worst hope for the best.

Devin Funchess, Well the good thing is he's still signed for next year. Glad he made the decision he thought was best for him though.

Churn, What do we have to lose?

Avoiding the middle, As smart as AR is you would think that he would see what the stats and film show, guys are open there, throw the damn ball.

Draft, I can't wait to see what the CHTV draft guide has to say about next year. He did 23 reps on the Covid testing?

Covid testing, Al don't do anything crazy, I'd miss your Wednesday musing if you ended up in the lock up.

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PeteK's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:39 am

Oh boy, I think he was a biology major in college and worked in a lab for many yrs.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 12, 2020 at 07:30 am

I really do like the bottom of the roster churn that Gute does. We make fun of it (or at least I do) at times, and 99% of these guys will never make a difference on offense or defense for Green Bay, but every once in awhile there is a Sam Shields or Allen Lazard.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 12, 2020 at 07:46 am

Sometimes there are more players that contribute too. Chandon Sullivan to most fans was a player they didn't expect to make the 53 much less do much for the team. Tyler Ervin was a bottom of the roster type of player to some, but they found a great role for him.

Sometimes its just getting the right person in the right role and they can really do well.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 12, 2020 at 08:41 am

This is true.

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dobber's picture

August 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

The opposite of "square peg--round hole"

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PeteK's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:36 am

Absolutely, I like the Hector pickup. Our roster has many undrafted players who are contributing :Lancaster, Taylor, Greene ,and Sullivan

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JerseyAl's picture

August 12, 2020 at 10:40 am

They didn't get Hector. They tried, though.

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JQ's picture

August 13, 2020 at 01:57 pm

Jared Veldheer really helped hold the line on the right side. He was a mid-season churn by Gute. There's no downside to the process, in my opinion.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 12, 2020 at 07:34 am

Are you Ready for Some Football?
I WANT Football! But with how this year is going, I'm basically taking this as a "we'll see" approach. Until we get 5-6 weeks in, I'm still leary about a full season getting played. Just with the way everything has been.
This has been by far the hardest year to get into my normal football mindset which usually starts in about March. I'm more of bracing myself for the worst and hoping for the best.

Devin Funchess:
I felt the same with Funchess. I wasn't excited about it early but came around and thought he could have been a really good pickup. For the opt out players, I respect their decision. Just have to wonder if for a guy like Funchess if he won't ever make it back onto the field.

Churn Gutey Churn:
I absolutely love how Gutey goes after some of these better rated prospects vs some of the players that Thompson always went after. The players that Guty brings in at least feels like has a chance to make the 53. Fulgham is an interesting player. He was drafted 1 spot ahead of where GB took Ka'dar Hollman. So one would have to ask, if Fulgham was on the board would they have taken him over Hollman? But here is another question. If we had a normal offseason would Fulgham been made available? He is only entering his second year. That is the time where most players take their biggest jump on the field. He might be a player that could come in and surprise some people. One to watch for sure.

Avoiding the Middle:
This to me seems like it has been going on for a while now. Part of it I think is when he lost Finley he lost that dominant player over the middle. He had Cook for a year but he hasn't had that TE he has truly trusted over the middle. Also he hasn't had that WR that he has fully trusted since Nelson and Cobb. I do wonder if having Adams, Lazard as 2 trusted WR's. And maybe a guy like Sternberger can earn his trust over the middle. Maybe he will start attacking that area more? Perhaps he will find more trust in guys like MVS and EQ as well. Also how about the RB's. Jones, Williams are already really good pass catchers. Add in Dillon they might have more options for throwing to the RB's in the middle of the field.

NFL Draft:
We thought this years draft was messed up. Wait until next years... If some of these confernces are planning to play in the spring, how many players will say screw that. And what happens to next fall's season? They expect college football players to play in the spring and then again in the fall? How is that going to work?

Covid-19 testing:
I get its going to be tough for NFL to battle this covid thing. For me the part that I think helps it over baseball is that they only play 8 games on the road. They only play 1 game a week. The every day testing should help also. If players are responsible I think they could manage this. Perhaps the early outbreaks in MLB will help NFL players take things more serious.

Talking 'bout Practice? Just think, next week, this is what we'll be doing...
I really hope so! I really hope we get to that with no issues!

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Bearmeat's picture

August 12, 2020 at 08:31 am

RE: ARod avoiding the middle. I don't care. He's making a large part of the salary cap. His JOB is to make others better. Now, we should have done better in the draft and free agency, this is true, but ARod needs to make that offense tick, and you can't do it if you're avoiding negative plays to the point that positive plays trend down. You have to use the middle 1/3 of the field.

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Bure9620's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:18 am

He avoids the middle but also passes up open receivers early in plays, even Adams........

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 12, 2020 at 10:37 am

While I mostly agree with you, I can see where he wouldn't look over the middle if some guys are continuously out of position. Perhaps they are supposed to be in a different spot, they aren't there and he looks elsewhere then? I have no clue just trying to justify why sometimes he probably doesn't even look at some players over the middle?

Also some of it maybe done by play design? If there aren't any players running over the middle, he can't be looking that way either.
Maybe some of the teams greatest strength is the middle of the defense so they targeted outside passes more?

This is all just a lot of guessing on my part. But these might be some reasons why he has not looked to the middle of the field more?

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CoachDino's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:35 pm

When you win Games w/o using the middle of the field "you don't have to use it". I see the point of using the whole field and if need be he has shown the ability to do so (passer rating point made earlier). The Game is about winning, if it works stick with it.

So many of his pass completions are on roll outs, be it designed or scramble, it will impact that stat.

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Handsback's picture

August 12, 2020 at 08:29 am

Churn:
Gutsey is looking for diamonds in the rough that might make the PS and possibly the team in a year or two. I seriously doubt that he has any delusions of grandeur that these players would make the 53 man squad. But if one hits...it's one more draft choice that he saves for another position so you see his point.
Testing:
Virus testing is going to be problematic. False positives could wreck a team (remember 300 test sites in FL tested 100 positive on one day as an example) and the season. I hope that the test are 100% accurate, but realistic expectations should be multiple test that will show false positive when they crop up.
Middle of the field receptions:
The middle has always been a great place to attack for a QB. I suspect, but don't know, that AR has avoided that area because they don't have the receivers that are capable of getting open and that he trusts to catch the ball when he throws it to them over the middle. I believe that was going to be Funchess's primary focus and now Lazard's/TE focus to challenge make that their area of damage to the defense.

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Oppy's picture

August 14, 2020 at 07:31 pm

The test sites reporting 100% positives thing isn't an issue with false positive tests, it's an issue with the state reporting system. It's not bad tests, it's bad transferal of data.

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PeteK's picture

August 12, 2020 at 09:33 am

Unfortunately, no fans is the safer way to go. I just hope all those business's saved a little bit for a rainy day and can weather hopefully one season.
I thought Funchess was similar to Lazard, and we could of used a receiver that uses speed and athleticism instead of size. However, I am very high on Ervin for the slot position.
I don't see a big problem with the draft, just move it back a few wks.

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ricky's picture

August 12, 2020 at 11:53 am

Rather than let small local establishments that depend on Packers football to fail, why can't the Packers/NFL lend these people money at low rates to keep them afloat? Start with the locally owned/operated places, and if necessary, then move on to the larger establishments, then, if necessary, helping out local franchise holders of national chain restaurants/motels. Not a gift, but a loan. If this is a stupid idea, please indicate why. Because we are all in this together, and helping out the the local community just seems like a good idea.

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IceBowl's picture

August 12, 2020 at 12:35 pm

ricky, I love your optimism and ideology. I so wish it would work and save our locals.

But business decisions are not made on optimism and ideology. The govt. has done this, to an extent, with it's bail out money. But without a clear vision of return to normalcy, such a loan doesn't have much clarity of repayment (businesses have no idea if they can survive). I doubt you would take on such risk.

The Packers donate money each year, maybe that might be possible.

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MilwPackFan's picture

August 14, 2020 at 04:41 pm

Good ideology, but in the real business world, you don't lend money that can't be repaid. Even if it's in the environment of a pandemic. It falls on the business owner to save for a rainy day. Today is a rainy day.

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Packers0808's picture

August 12, 2020 at 08:31 pm

I would not hold my breath on any NFL season taking place at all. If it does start the whole scene looks shaky at best! I still think Reggie Begelton will be a real player and surprise because of his experience!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 13, 2020 at 02:06 am

Some colleges have discussed spring football. That would mess up the combine (yet another revenue-generator). And how would Gute draft guys without RAS scores?

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