Cory's Corner: Best Team In NFC Resides In Green Bay

The Packers just vaulted themselves into the Super Bowl conversation after beating the Saints 37-30 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday night. 

But it's not just that they beat the Saints. It's how they beat them. 

Green Bay was without its top defensive player in Kenny Clark and its top wide receiver in Davante Adams and the Packers controlled most of the game. 

The Packers always have a goal to advance to the Super Bowl, but now with Matt LaFleur really spreading his offensive gospel this year, the Packers look very smooth. Aaron Rodgers has mastered the play-action bootleg and even completed an impressive 48-yard play-action bootleg to Allen Lazard. The most impressive thing about that play from the second quarter was that Rodgers was rolling to his left and he allowed the play to slow down before he made the perfect throw. 

Rodgers and this offense looks so good right now because it looks like it LaFLeur has been here for years. Rodgers knows that with the play-action boots, he will not get a lot of pressure from defenders and he will get defensive backs biting on the run, which will still allow him to hit the home run.

This offense is maximizing the talents of Rodgers and Aaron Jones — who is tied for fifth in the NFL with seven rushes over 10 yards. Which is amazing, because Jones only has 50 rushing attempts this season. 

Was the tackling shoddy? Sure. Did the defense look slow? It sure did. 

But after what I saw on Sunday night, I think the Packers can win a shootout with any team. Now I know that many people are going to sound the alarm because the Chiefs and Ravens are the class of the NFL right now. Those teams have better all-around rosters 1-53 than the Packers. But I have also said the same thing about the Vikings in years past and that hasn't gotten Minnesota anywhere. 

The Packers proved that they can win without two top guns and they did it on the road. I realize that the Packers should be grateful that the Vikings and Saints didn't allow any or hardly any fans. But at the same time, the Packers shouldn't feel bad for getting a free play late in the game because the Mercedes-Benz Superdome wasn't rowdy and deafening. 

Back in May, I figured that the best case scenario for the first four games would be 2-2 with a pair of division games and a pair of road games. Now, they have a great chance to be 4-0 heading into the bye and staring down at Tom Brady for NFC supremecy. 

As of right now, the Packers are the best team in the NFC. And that's all because of LaFleur and Rodgers understanding what it takes to get to this point. 

 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (43)

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Bure9620's picture

September 29, 2020 at 06:20 am

They are certainly one of the best in the NFC, Tampa has a strong roster as well, likely a better defense.....but I want to see if they can defend our offense....That game week 6 will be a real interesting barometer..if the Packers get healthier and learn how to tackle they are very dangerous....

Also the tackling was atrocious against NO but I do not see this being an ongoing issue, Kamara has a tendency to make people look ridiculous and we are still very early in the season.....we can clean it up like we have before

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 29, 2020 at 06:34 am

My thoughts from the game. They didn't run many of the mesh crossers. Instead they ran the TE running crossers from behind the line of scrimmage. It appears they start the game with the short passing game and are able to move the chains and then score. Then as the defense begins to react to the running game, the longer passing game comes into play. I didn't see many passing plays specifically for downfield plays. Perhaps more will be made when Adams returns. But I like the look of the offense, the scheming to get WR's open.

Regarding the defense. There were two plays that made a big difference in allowing NO to score. I am ignoring for this the Kamara touchdown run where half the defense whiffed on him. The first play was in the first half on a 3rd and about 15 where Kamara caught a short pass, Redmond missed the tackle and Kamara got the first down. Then NO scored. The second was a second and 17 just before the half and Z. Smith was penalized for holding on a rush. If that wouldn't have happened, a third and 15 would have happened and a good chance to stop the drive. NO went on to score a touchdown just before the half.

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fansince1959's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:35 am

Not sure they are better than the niners or the seahawks, or others---gute needs to work harder on the defense, or new coaches to teach tackling 101

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dobber's picture

September 29, 2020 at 08:21 am

There's a difference in saying Team X is better than Team Y, and Team X matches up well with Team Y. The Packers have matched up well with Seattle over the years, but not with San Fran (esp. in 2019). Right now due to injury, San Fran is not that team we saw a year ago, and they're likely to be closer to full strength when the Packers go out there in November, but they've lost significantly to FA and have some significant injuries to climb over in that time. We'll see how they match up then.

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fansince1959's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:12 am

all the niners have to do is run the ball against us and right now, i don't even believe the chiefs could beat wilson

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Coldworld's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:13 am

Seahawks D has been as bad if not worse than ours. Niners have some big injuries.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:50 am

Slow your roll, Corey. It's still September. GB sucks at 5 Tech, ILB and (surprisingly) safety right now. The cupboard is bare at DT and ILB. There are no answers on the roster, and good teams will take advantage of that. Pettine has shown no ability to adjust his personnel to the problems plaguing the defense, nor has Gute done enough on the front 7.

Yes, the OL, TEs and WRs are surprisingly good. Kudos to Gute, MLF, the offensive coaches, the players and Hackett for making that happen. But this roster has plenty of warts.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:46 am

I'm really looking forward to seeing what we have in Martin. From every report out of camp it sounds like he could be a stud.

And honestly I like maybe a combination of Barnes and Burks. I like what I saw from Burks as a Nickel or Dime LB.

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Demon's picture

September 29, 2020 at 11:25 am

Arent you in the least concerned that this year K Martin could be another example of last years M Adams?

Last year all the training camp reports were that Adams was the most improved player on the roster, was expected to have a big year, how everyone was excited coaches and players. Only to find out there was no truth in any of it. Adams would have a tough time making most NFL practice squads IMO.

When I see these camp darlings I generally roll my eyes knowing that most is not true More times than not it is just coaches and players giving members of the press SOMETHING to write about.

I hope K Martin would be able to make some contribution but, the chances are pretty slim. Being a rookie and having surgery in his rookie season I predict he will basically be shelved until next year.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 29, 2020 at 12:02 pm

Yep. This.

And also: RC - It's not so much that I don't like the Packers roster. It's that in the NFL, the difference between the #1 and #32 team talent-wise isn't as wide as the difference between Wisconsin and Rutgers. If you don't shore up your weaknesses, you're going to get beat at times by a smart coach or better personnel.

Also, I think it's way too early to proclaim GB the NFC's frontrunners in the standings. Seahawks, Rams, 9ers (when they get healthy), Cowboys (easy division) Bucs (if/when they figure it out on O), Cards (young team who could catch fire) and yes, the Saints, are still completely capable of beating us. Not to mention the Bears, who just drastically improved their talent at QB.

I'm pleased with the start but concerned about the spots I mentioned above. Just waiting and watching and cheering! :)

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flackcatcher's picture

September 29, 2020 at 02:34 pm

Foles has always been a good system QB. His ability to make good decisions was the difference for the Eagles playoff drives. They miss him. You're right. The Bears offense just took a huge leap forward. Nuts...

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murf7777's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:59 am

Stats, stats, stats.....we get too caught up in them to determine our perceived or lack thereof problems? So far this year it is missed tackles. Would you believe me that San Francisco, which many would say was the best D in the NFC last year, had more missed tackle then the Packers in 2019? Yes they did, both teams were around average. What this tells you is one stat doesn’t tell the whole story.

Is limiting missed tackles very important,YES, but so is, rushing the passer, few penalties, interceptions, etc....you get my point. Every team has it weaknesses and no team can fill them all due to the salary cap. The best you can do is to mitigate damages. And, this is what MLF is doing by keeping track of each games missed tackles, thus keeping players conscious about the importance. Just another example of Mlf’s coaching abilities. Look at Baltimore last night their vaulted D couldn’t get the chiefs down when it mattered. They also had many missed tackles.

Sure we want thumpers, but is that at the risk of having less coverage abilities? Only All Pro type players are great at both. So, you pick your poison and the Packers put their emphasis in drafting and FA on pressure the QB and coverage in back field. You might as well understand we will be an average tackling team like last year and enjoy the ride, because even adding one thumper isn’t going to change it much.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 29, 2020 at 02:47 pm

Yeah, we're in the era of matchup football. It's just most have not focus on the defensive side, were most of the change occurred. When the NFL changed the pass rules, something had to give, and we are seeing it in Mike Pettine's defense.

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PhantomII's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:56 pm

I would say DL not separating off blocks and being washed out in the middle. Same thing on the OLB position doubled up by a TE and OT. Once that is accomplished the RB is just hitting them where they aren't in a position to tackle anybody. Poor technique inside and out along with poor adjustments by the D.C. Not putting the right sized bodies on the line or outside to help out and filling the box. Good blocking by their offense and good running by their RB. These things should be anticipated as a possibility and an adjustment/ personnel package to mitigate the damage. Neither of these have ever happened. N.O just stopped running on their own. Some problem is personnel/injury/not enough safety or LB blitzing into the backfield for TFL.

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chugwater's picture

September 29, 2020 at 08:07 am

Don’t sleep on Seattle. Their defense is suspect, but Russell is on a roll.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 29, 2020 at 08:17 am

What I love about what the Packers are doing offensively right now is that it's a really simple concept - stretch run, and then play action. MLF keeps defenses guessing by adding some misdirection, motions, underneath routes, etc., but the base concept is the same one the Texans used to make Shaub look like a stud, and what GB was using in 2014 when Lacy was busy demoralizing defenses.

Defenses are going to start keying in on this, so Rodgers will need to stay disciplined on checking down to the underneath route if he doesn't want to end up getting planted by a safety or CB coming in on a delayed blitz.

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dobber's picture

September 29, 2020 at 08:25 am

Agreed in that defenses will modify what they do to slow down the Packers. They aren't going to put up 40-burgers every week all season, and with a few games in the books now (and plenty of film) good DCs with athletic defenses will find a way to keep games in reach.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 29, 2020 at 03:18 pm

Right. The Packers didn't have an answer in the past when the D just started jamming receivers and playing tight man, and the result was the offensive implosion and Aaron Rodgers Hero Ball type of offense that ended up getting MM fired. We have what is probably the most complete offensive team the Packers have fielded in years, but there will be times this year when GB is playing from a larger deficit or where defenses will be able to do a better job taking away parts of the offense. So far it has seemed like MLF and AR have been able to stay disciplined and still try to okay within the game plan, but I think the SF game will really test their resolve.

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Coldworld's picture

September 29, 2020 at 04:28 pm

The thing about the 49’ers is that LaFleur got out coached twice. The other thing is that a lot of what we have done offensively is familiar to them.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 29, 2020 at 06:52 pm

Two for two, and I don’t take it as a slam against Coach Matt. Those were learning experiences last year and from the look of our offense, he learned.

In games not played in SF, we’re 17-2 under Coach Matt, favored to go 18-2. This is one of the great stretches in our history, really.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:39 pm

They didn't use motion and mis-direction under Mccarthy , if that 's what you mean. The Packer RBs are better now and so is the blocking scheme. Prototypical TEs not just big wides w/out blocking skills. I think LeFleur has been holding back this offense. He's just running qualifying laps and building up the total package. Pettine needs to keep base or 4-2 looks. Redmond should be demoted.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 29, 2020 at 08:28 am

I'm very happy with the Packers right now, defensive issues aside.

However, the Chiefs just steamrolled the Ravens. That offense is electric. It's a long season but KC looks way ahead of the rest of the league at the moment.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:40 pm

Andy Reid pulls every rabbit out of the hat and Mahomes is having fun. Tackle eligible will keep your team in high spirits for months. Full frontal attack.

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Lphill's picture

September 29, 2020 at 08:36 am

Yes I am excited about the offense it does look sharper but Corey this defense is not championship caliber , we know there will be no improvement at inside linebacker although Summers may surprise us but we need another big body for the D line to help with the run , there has to be someone available , I thought Mack was the answer but that was short lived, also lets see if our Hyped corners can cover Ridley Monday night.

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dobber's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:17 am

The Chiefs won the SB last year with the 17th overall defense (in yards, 7th in points...Packers were 18th and 9th). We've seen over the years that a single elite unit (offense or defense) can cover up for a lot of flaws on the other side of the ball.

So far the Packers are 13th in yards (so they're actually BETTER in that regard so far) and 21st in points. It's early. Let them build a body of work.

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Coldworld's picture

September 29, 2020 at 04:34 pm

Almost impossible to be good on both sides of the ball with a veteran QB cap hit. Pretty difficult without that. Our D is good on places, notably at rushing the passer. I think Clarke and Greene are the ones we need back and to stay healthy. That will improve the ILB and Safety play I think.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:48 pm

They were missing some of their key contributors, but when Jones returned and they picked up some beef like Penell, they made the plays during crunch time. That's all that matters.Get it done when it counts.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 30, 2020 at 08:41 am

Great post Dobber and very true!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:11 am

Q- Why are the Atlanta Falcons terrible salesmen....?

A- Because they're afraid of leads.

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murf7777's picture

September 29, 2020 at 01:52 pm

Lol....only a salesman can appreciate that joke.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:11 am

Hey it’s fun to debate but what does it really mean? I’ll take it game by game because whose the “best” team really is a week to week proposition. Just look at what injuries have done to the 49ers. One week of bad injuries could derail the whole thing. Also, before last night the Ravens were the “juggernaut”. Now they got exposed on National TV by the defending SB Champions and you would think the Ravens are terrible. We might want to circle back on that in six weeks and see where that stands. Let’s just worry about crushing the Falcons at Lambeau and go into the bye at 4-0. Many tests still remain.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:39 am

One game at a time. We can go to 4-0 this week. KC and Baltimore are of no concern to us unless we meet in the Super Bowl.

Packers and Seattle. Everybody else in the NFC is behind those two...

Unlike Bearmeat, I do not believe that multiple positions on this team “suck”. I think our offense is outstanding and our defense is better than average. .

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cheesehead1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:19 am

Fantastic start, didn’t expect this. However, this D is not championship caliber. Hope Gute can add a couple more pieces and Pettine can add a few more wrinkles....GPG!

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Since'61's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:08 am

If our defense were stronger I would agree that we are the NFCs best team. However, it’s way too early to make that claim in any case. Let’s beat the Falcons this week and take it one game at a time.
Our offense should get better with the return of Adams and Deguara. If our OL continues to play as well as it has we will be fine because they score points and keep our defense off the field.
As for our defense we lost both Kirksey and Gary against the Saints. That took a lot of speed off the field. As I posted earlier this week, take out Kamara’s two big plays and we may have held the Saints to 13 points. If we can get Clark, Kirksey, Gary and Martin back after the bye our defense could look much faster and better. I think we need to see more of Raven Green as well. Our DL should Lowry, Clark and Keke. Maybe just Clark and Keke on passing downs with Z and Gary pass rushing.
The key for the defense is making plays and stops when they need to which they did against the Saints on Sunday. First they forced and recovered a fumble and then they got a 3 and out on the next possession giving the offense the chance to expand a 3 point lead to 10 points and effectively end the game.
Not many defenses go into NOLA and hold down the Saints offense or come away with a win but the Packers did.
Take care of business against the Falcons and enjoy the bye. Although I would prefer the bye to come a few weeks later. But here we are. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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cheesehead1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:22 am

Hope Kirksey and Gary won’t miss too much time. Don’t take the Falcons lightly, this game has trap written all over it.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

September 29, 2020 at 11:10 am

Seattle and Green Bay are pretty similar in that they both are getting excellent QB play, good coaching, and suspect Ds. Perhaps the road to the Super Bowl will go through GB because of divisional opponents. The North has some pretty weak teams. The West looks far stronger (although the Lions just beat the Cards). I’d expect this to mean we’ll have a home game if the two meet. Hope fans will be there to witness the thrashing by the Pack.

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splitpea1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 11:26 am

It's a bit too early to say that the Packers are the best team in the conference, but they're looking pretty awesome right now. I've have no complaints about the defense in the victory over NO, even though the tackling was shoddy at times. They DID make some nice open field tackles, and bottom line was that they made the plays when they needed to help us win. NO is a talented team, and I'll happily take the road win no matter the score.

We all know the defense isn't the strength of the team, and we're just going to have to hope that Pettine can cobble together an adequate run defense and that Gray can bring the best out of our safeties. The matchups I'm most looking forward to are against SF and Tennesee. And hopefully we can get some of our most recent draft picks healthy and on the field. Dillon especially needs to get some touches in short-yardage situations--let's get him in the flow to at least take the load (and hits) off of A. Jones on the ground.

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Tarynfor12's picture

September 29, 2020 at 12:56 pm

GB looks a lot like the 2011 version with a top 2 offense, right now, and a defense mired around 20th, without looking at rankings, and we all remember how that came to a door slamming end. This team may very well replicate last season as to record, but if the defense doesn't get a lot better, the ending will be the same, and that like last year is nothing to boast about, unless it's at least a participation role in the SB.

The most important question about a teams' success. Did you win the last game?

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fastmoving's picture

September 29, 2020 at 12:59 pm

Dont know where we end up but we could not had a better start. Nobody can take the Ws away.
O was great and the D was not so bad. And there is a good chance for improvment on some basics.
WR was never a problem. Anyway, when AR plays with fun in MLFs system we have a chance. For what more can we ask!

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arthurl's picture

September 29, 2020 at 02:34 pm

There is still time to bolster the DL and ILB. GM should have done this already with the DL. It’s pretty obvious both Lowry and Lancaster have no business starting. They need some bulk and these two are pedestrian which puts too much pressure on the ILB and safeties. Either Wilkerson or Harrison are street players that could possibly be upgrades. They could also either try to work a trade or grab a hope off someone’s taxi squad if that’s allowed.

They have the makings of a great offense the way the coach has structured their philosophy with imagination; a significant upgrade versus what McCarthy was doing. With all the motion going on, defenses are guessing to figure out what GB is doing. That is why they are scary, with what ML is calling added with the greatness of #12, they are pretty much controlling games.

The niners have fallen to the injury bug and GB seems to have the Seahawks number like they have the Cowboys.

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Nate-1980's picture

September 29, 2020 at 02:59 pm

Lazard is playing really good football right now, I’m so glad we didn’t lose him to waivers, he’s easily an average/above average wr2.. But what I can’t understand is why we should keep Mike P as our defensive coordinator.. I thought in the beginning he was a good coach, but now I don’t think he’s even average with the talent he has.. Alvin Kamara was the saints whole offense, and he did nothing to stop him.. Put a cb spy on that guy the whole game( like many posters have said) and limit or take away him, and make Brees beat you.. I guess it just gets annoying as a fan seeing obvious things he should stop from an offense, and fails at it miserably..

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Jon Schloesser's picture

September 30, 2020 at 12:07 am

Rodgers is playing great again is the biggest reason we are 3-0. Love the way Adams and Aaron Jones look. Lafleur's play calling is on point. But I am still disgusted by what I think was the worst draft in Packer history. To not have a single drafted player contributing to this team is unacceptable for a team that was one game away last year. Our weaknesses were so obvious (MLB, DL, and WR) but yet the blind arrogance to pick a QB and RB in the first 2 rounds followed by a 3rd RD TE that was projected by most to go in the 6th or 7th round or to be undrafted. It just burns me more when I see the improvement on the offensive side of the ball.

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fastmoving's picture

September 30, 2020 at 02:14 am

WR was never a need, that was really obvious!!!! As every blind can see now.

And the draft can very well turn out as one of the best. Gute did a hell of a job here.

Dont know what "blind arrogance" mean and where such sensless conspiracy theories (science is evil) come from but it sounds like orange looser slang. Just like unacceptable. What should that mean??? So the draft was so unacceptable that every armchair GM had to accept him the second it was made??

For the drama queens and crybabies (so sad, so sad) every draft is the worst ever and they knew it right away. Wondering if they ever get away from here couch and we all know the answer. You can see it in here posts.....

I guess the 2021 draft would be a mess and even more unacceptable than unacceptable because of the blind arrogance of the smart pros who lean on facts and trust there plan.

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