Game Notes: Writing a new chapter

-- It just so happened that the team from Detroit was better at their job than the home team from Green Bay was on Sunday.

The Lions conquered the Packers at Lambeau Field -- and when I say conquered, I mean, like, decimated. The Packers suffered their first shutout loss to the Lions since 1970 when they fell 40-0. Not that 31-0 is much better because that's a nine-point difference, but that's still pretty pathetic.

Can you tell I'm trying to use a small hint of humor to get through this and mask my misery? Is it working? Humor is often the best facade.

I'm kidding. This is just football; it's a game. At the end of the day, none of this matters. I'm not letting it impact my mood and you shouldn't let it impact yours. For as downright horrific as this season has been to watch at times and for as many times as you've wanted to pick up a chair and throw it at the wall (no joke, I actually did that when Larry Fitzgerald scored in overtime in the 2016 divisional round), the reality is, it's the last time you'll watch this team compete until August.

I hope you all did find a way to enjoy every moment of it, good, bad or ugly -- because I did. Maybe not the time Mike McCarthy decided to run a dive with Aaron Jones at his own one-yard line into a wall of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Or that 37th time Aaron Rodgers overthrew his intended receiver. Or even that one time Ty Montgomery committed insubordination and returned a kickoff from the end zone when he was specifically told not to.

I did enjoy the game-winning touchdowns. I enjoyed the resiliency and fight that was routinely on display at various points. I enjoyed the fact that, no matter what the playoff stipulations were and no matter what had to be done, there was a small part of me that genuinely believed some kind of weird miracle would happen and I'd be covering a game in January with the Packers on the road and a commentating tandem of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the show.

It's those little things that make the season worth it, even as frustrating as it was and as many confrontations I got into with some of you over disagreements that literally didn't matter at all. They make this gig worthwhile. Thank you to everyone who has read Game Notes this year, followed along with my stories or wherever else you view/listen to my work and everyone who interacted with me on Twitter. Your loyalty, kindness and passion don't get overlooked -- at least not by me.

Now that all of the sappy bullshit is out of the way, let's break down this enigma of a football game, yes?

 

WHY.

Yes, why? Why was Aaron Rodgers even still in the game after he took that hit on his first dropback? That's where his concussion was speculated to have occurred; a concussion that is now the third reported one of his career. No concussion is good, obviously, but in 14 seasons in today's league, three concussions is child's play.

Rodgers played two more series after taking that hit from Lions linebacker Jarrad Davis and, apparently, he was acting normal and everything. I don't think there's any way to properly articulate the state of the brain, so it'd be hard for me to call the NFL's concussion protocol flawed, but it sure as hell isn't perfect or anywhere remotely close to it. A similar scenario happened with Randall Cobb two weeks ago in Chicago where he suffered a concussion but stayed in the game.

It's seeming as if there's no higher power dictating whether or not Rodgers plays in games like this, when, in reality, there certainly should be.

Now things get really interesting.

With nothing left to play for this season and everything on the table, including job security, the Packers are entering their most important offseason to date. Last year emphasized turnaround in the front office with personnel and executive adjustments. This coming spring should see a similar happening with the coaching staff, as the Packers will need to seek McCarthy's successor at head coach and pair whoever that is with a new offensive coordinator. Like I noted in yesterday's game recap, that could come with a change at defensive coordinator as well considering coaches typically like to pick their own staff.

The Packers don't need to blow everything up like Twitter and various outlets seem to believe, but they can't keep a large part of their current roster in place either. Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb headline two names that are unlikely to return in 2019, and those two alone would be enough incentive for the Packers to potentially target both position groups, linebacker and wide receiver, with their two first-round picks come April.

Staff changes and roster moves could come as soon as Monday -- a day that is widely referred to in the NFL world as "Black Monday." A day when coaches are relieved of their duties, players are released and the first step towards eventful offseasons are taken. In the Packers' case, theirs will be eventful in every sense of the word.

Not everything is bad.

There's some good in all of this too. General manager Brian Gutekunst has turned the cornerback position from a weakness into a strength within the course of a year, Pettine has made Kyler Fackrell into a player and Rodgers will have a new play-caller in 2019 and beyond. Someone innovative and someone that could maximize the Packers' talent on offense. At least, that's what they're hoping for and what everyone else is expecting to go along with the blueprint other NFL coaches around the league are evidently trying to follow.

Change is necessary, but change is also sometimes good. In this case, it's both. There was already a noticeable change in the demeanor of Rodgers after McCarthy was fired. The Packers played their most complete game of the season against the Atlanta Falcons and his body language was back to what others have come to familiarize themselves with. No more of the arms being thrown up in frustration, the Jay Cutler-esque cigarette-in-the-mouth daze that he had shown earlier this season with what felt like was a complete lack of interest in what was happening on the field.

Last week's win over the New York Jets was the happiest Rodgers had been all season; he looked like he was having genuine fun on the field. Having that in your pocket going forward could be a positive for any coach looking for a job, and of course, being able to pair with one of the most talented quarterbacks every and a young, promising roster that will just re-tool in the offseason via free agency and the draft is a good motivator too.

Thanks for everything, 18 and 52.

As I prefaced earlier, Sunday could've been the last game for Cobb and Matthews, two players who have been major contributors to the success the Packers have been able to enjoy over the years.

Matthews, drafted in the first round in 2009 and Cobb, drafted in the second round two years later in 2011, were never on the same team for the 2010 Super Bowl run. But they've been teammates and veterans on both sides of the ball for the past eight seasons and have played out what will likely end up being their final contract for the franchise.

Matthews has become the Packers' all-time sack leader and almost guaranteed a spot in the team's Hall of Fame, whereas Cobb solidified himself as one of Rodgers' most trusted, reliable targets and was on the receiving end on significant moments for the franchise. Most notably the 45-yard touchdown reception that gave the Packers the NFC North title and put them in the playoffs in 2013.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (59)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
4thand1's picture

December 31, 2018 at 11:08 am

What is left to say? Out with the bad in with the new. We are with the bottom feeders of the league at this moment in history. Now we know what uncertainty looks like for so many teams. This whole coaching staff will be different next year. We've had the luxury of great QB play for 25+ years, now we have to build a team around one. Gute and Murphy are under the gun to put a winner back on the field next year. The pressure is on, produce or hit the bricks.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

December 31, 2018 at 11:37 am

bottom feeders is exactly the right word combination and applies to these two as well. CM3 quit the last several weeks, has been taking about half his plays off and was just walking away from plays several time yesterday. That kind of attitude ruins teams and young players. It was not even going through the motions.

Cobb, maybe, had one catch in 5 targets. All his snaps were wasted. He should have been cut in training camp.

Enough with keeping Rodgers friends at WR.
No more coaching buddies.
No friends in the front office or scouting.

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Bure9620's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Yes what crazy coach would want to work with Aaron Rodgers? Seriously?

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:22 pm

It's an honest and fair question Bure. I can't think of anyone foolish enough to throw their careers down the drain. At this point it would most likely have to be a young and foolish guy who is desperate and willing to take that risk. Any gray hair would have enough life experience to run away from that job like the plague. It's totally set up to fail for the short term meaning until Rodgers retires. He's in total control of that franchise. No veteran head coach wants a player with that much power and control. Ask MM. About the only one that could possibly work with Rodgers in my opinion would be someone not even in football. I'm thinking Dr. Phil.

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Bure9620's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Is Pat Fitzgerald young and foolish enough?

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:06 pm

Young? no. Foolish enough? probably.

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Nick Perry's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:46 pm

I have a SOLID idea Rip.. Lets wait and see before we force Rodgers out or ask him to retire OR blame everything that went wrong in GB in 2018 on Rodgers. Matter of fact I have an idea for you which just might help you see another side.

First and foremost take a look at the starting defense from week one and the one the Packers fielded Sunday.... Wilkerson, Clark, Daniels, Alexander, King, HHCD (No loss there though), Williams playing another position, Perry to name a few. Now you can say anything you want about those players BUT they were better than the players the Packers had on the field on Sunday.

Lastly go back and watch on You-Tube games from the 2010, 2011, or even the 2014 season. The offense the Packers were running EIGHT YEARS AGO is the same offense as yesterday. The biggest difference though was the lack of WR.

The Packers in those years I just mentioned whipped opposing teams asses by lining up MORE WR that the opposing team had CB's to cover. That 2011 WR Corps of the Packers is still top to bottom one of the best I've ever seen in the NFL. Obviously this is an opinion but in NO WAY can you compare the Packers WR Corps of the last 4 years even close to that group.

Jennings, Nelson, Jones, Driver, Cobb, and Finley....GOOD LUCK!

In 2018 they had Adams and?????? I don't care what anyone says..Thompson left behind a friggen mess for the next GM. Gutekunst was left the impossible task of trying to put a playoff team around Rodgers in 2018 after failed draft upon draft from TT. After defensive drafts after defensive drafts by TT. The Well on the offensive side is bare and needs to be refilled. Let Gute have a swing at it before writing off the still best asset the Packers have....

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:01 pm

I'd be amazed if Gute can get this roster sorted out in 2019. My hope is that the Packers will be serious SB contenders by 2020. Of course, it'll all depend on the coaching changes that the FO comes up with. Go Pack!

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dobber's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:08 pm

It's not so much getting the whole roster figured out (I don't think many teams are in that boat) so much as finding key pieces to fill gaping holes, and a coaching staff that can adjust to the pieces they have.

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HankScorpio's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:18 pm

I agree. A fully sorted roster is like perfection. It should be chased but it is impossible to achieve. The relevant point is how far away from perfection is a team's roster.

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:24 pm

Absolutely.

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Lare's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:38 pm

In many cases, it's how healthy they are.

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fastmoving's picture

December 31, 2018 at 06:12 pm

So when the 2011 WRs were one of the best groups ever. it was more on them, not on AR that the offence was so good?

Ok, got that.

I saw a above average WR corps, witch helped the QB out a lot. But he was just not good enough that year. It was way more on AR than on his group of receivers. and a lot of QB in this NFL did more with less over the span of here playing years.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:09 pm

The constant theme by so many here was the word MOMENTUM... Play Rodgers with all the young guys at all costs the final two games and gain momentum for next year. Well, you all got your wish. Rodgers played and got a horrible concussion and the team suffered it's worst home defeat against Det since 1970. Instead of momentum you got NOmentum. Great decision guys!!

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Bure9620's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:14 pm

NOmentum is actually the name of my new energy drink that will brought to market soon

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The TKstinator's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:21 pm

I feel like a proud papa when I read comments like that one. Bravo!

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Please think of me Bure when I see you on Shark Tank. I am only asking for 10% for the NOmentum brand name. You're welcome!!

Dash

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shmelbs's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:30 pm

If Rodgers had led the team to inspired and dominating win, would we still be questioning why he played in this game?

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scullyitsme's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Yes! Absolutely Yes!

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:09 pm

Yes!!

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Lare's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:44 pm

I don't believe Rodgers has a "horrible concussion".

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fastmoving's picture

December 31, 2018 at 06:25 pm

couple of days ago, you said "play him, thats football, even if he got hurt". now, when something happend you crying again. and complaining of course. and all the guys that wanted to play him, got here wish. even you are one of them…………

other than that, you want trade AR anyway, so it does not matter if he got hurt. But why should things make any sense???

give me a break. you are the king of all the armchair GMs

but I guess that`s the way bigotry works.

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Big gar's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm

It will not be Phillip. Just remember what wolf did in his first year. Be ready for are to be traded. Not a rebuilt but a retool

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dobber's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:35 pm

I feel like there's a secret decoder ring I need for this one...

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Samson's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:43 pm

I have a 'secret decoder ring'. --- It didn't help.

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dobber's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:09 pm

I tried stealing second base: it didn't help.

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Gort's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:39 pm

My message decoded as:
Besuretodrinkyourovaltine?

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scullyitsme's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:53 pm

This might be the most profound statement on cheesehead tv all year! I’m just not smart enough to understand....,yet.

Happy new year.

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scullyitsme's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:01 pm

.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:12 pm

Big gar, when you say it will not be Phillip are you talking about Philben or Dr. Phil? Who's Phillip?

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:58 pm

I get the feeling Big gar has either triggered sleeper cells across the nation with this post, or he's being held against his will somewhere.

Big gar, please nod if you can hear us!

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Lare's picture

December 31, 2018 at 03:09 pm

I suspect Big gar is somewhere watching old Monty Python reruns.

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Samson's picture

December 31, 2018 at 12:54 pm

The negativity abounds in Packerland. --- A lot of you must not have lived through the 70s & 80s.
It won't be easy, but, to improve enough in one offseason to once again contend is not at all out of the realm of possibility.
Find & hire the "correct" HC with a strong supporting coaching staff. -- Play the free agent market. --- Score a 'monster draft' in 2019.

Stir the above & serve up another postseason appearance for the Pack in season 2019. -- It'll match tonight's eggnog.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:32 pm

I've lived thru the 70's and 80's. What was on display yesterday was a typical game in 1976. Sure, I could/can handle it and actually had a good laugh and enjoyed the game like I was a kid again. You have such an easy recipe Samson. I wish that matched reality. Here's the problem. Gutey Frutey already has one year under his belt. He did play the free agent market and spent spent spent like many love. Well he failed at pretty much every free agent player. He also had his first draft. Well, after a promising preseason, most of those players are not looking good. Another fail. He's already 0-2 in his first year with a losing record and NOmentum heading into next season with a concussed 36 year old descending qb. On top of that, he has to hire a new head coach who could turn out to be another Forrest Gregg or Lindy Infante. I have to tell you based on his first year of work I'm not getting positive vibes that somehow he is going to suddenly go 3-3 this off season and hit all home runs. My advice like Old School gave. Store up on plenty of PBR, the official Packers beer of the 70's and 80's.

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Gort's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:44 pm

Never ever hire a HC whose first name is Ray.

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:53 pm

Or Marty.

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Lare's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:46 pm

I doubt if "Gutey Frutey" and the Packers organization think the sky is falling.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:01 pm

I see you like that Lare..."Gutey Frutey". I think it will stick especially at the rate of bad decisions they are making lately.

I do agree with you that neither thinks the sky is falling. However, as a fan I am not taking any chances. I am storing up on as much PBR as I can and filling the basement. If this shit falls apart next season which I think it will I'll be prepared and you'll be frantically and desperately seeking out PBR and there will be none to be had.

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Samson's picture

December 31, 2018 at 03:44 pm

Gute has been on the job for less than a year & you already have resorted to name calling.

Be honest -- you have nothing better to do in your life but expose your own negative feelings about everything. -- Here's a guess on my part. --- You'll be all alone when the clock hits 12 tonight.

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Barnacle's picture

January 01, 2019 at 03:34 pm

Samson

Your “Guess” is very unkind!

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Paul Konieczny's picture

January 01, 2019 at 10:35 am

You are 100% correct, Rash Diprock sounds like a lonely little cow.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:24 pm

Good overview Zach. In so many ways this was a disappointing season. I'll leave the how for later. The why sits at the feet of Mark Murphy. From not letting Ted Thompson retire in 2016, interfering in player personal decisions, and trying to force Russ Ball as GM over the objections of both Mike McCarthy and the executive committee itself, and the midnight hiring of Gute and then trying to denied him hiring authority over the objections of the executive committee again this past year. For that, Murphy should be giving his gold watch and be gone. The damage Murphy has done to the front office on the football side is massive, and I hope the executive committee understands that basic fact when they consider hiring the next Head coach of the Green Bay Packers.

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Lare's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:54 pm

Not sure if most of this is conjecture or fact, but we'll soon see how Murphy's decisions work out going forward.

Lots of negative fans here today. Unless everyone just enjoys whining, complaining and living in the past, I think people would enjoy life more if they looked at it like this is the first day of a new era for the Packers.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:50 pm

Lare, since late 2017 I've been tough on Murphy for the reasons listed. All of it is fact, It has been reported on the record. The Gute hire is really galling for the reason Murphy lied to Gute on hire and firing authority. Jason Wilde got that out of Gute on his show earlier this year. Why Murphy would pull that is beyond me. And yes, the executive committee did put back the authority in Gute's contract. No matter how one frame this, Murphy's action was a bright red flag in his handling of the critical player personal department and should be noted as such.

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Samson's picture

December 31, 2018 at 03:49 pm

Flackman
There's no way you can claim what you have posted. -- You have no inside information pertaining to anything you've stated. -- Just seeing what's in your head online (in a social media post) doesn't make it real.

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flackcatcher's picture

December 31, 2018 at 09:26 pm

Google Jason Wilde and Gute at espn milwaukee. Also listen to the Bob Harlan interview, it gives context to Murphy's actions. I don't care if you believe me. It's all on the record, just look it up yourself, and stop being so lazy.

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GeorgiaCheesehead's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:30 pm

We CAN turn it around it 1 year.

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Gort's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:47 pm

Turn it around or spin it out?

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Bedrock's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:13 pm

The bears (still suck-even when they win) did it in one year.

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pacman's picture

December 31, 2018 at 01:47 pm

deleted

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packergal's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:10 pm

Speaking of writing a new chapter, in addition to the roster building responsibilities that Gute has, I hope he and Murphy interview Dave Toub, the KC Special Teams Coach, who may be a viable HC Candidate.

In addition to being a commanding presence, Toub has managed to generate excellent special team performances--for the Eagles, Bears and currently for Kansas City.

Toub actually played college football as an OL, coached the OL and DL at Missouri and began his professional career with the Eagles. Most recently, Toub was promoted to “KC Assistant Coach” under Andy Reid.

He reportedly can put together a staff on both sides of the ball, communicates extremely well, exudes leadership and consistently produces top tier ST results—irrespective of the resources he is provided to work with.

Even though Reid praised Toub leadership and game strategy skills and suggested he was ready, Toub was rejected by Miami who hired Adam Gase instead.

I thought I read a post here that praised Toub. (Poster—if you are reading this—why do you believe Toub should be interviewed as a viable Head Coach candidate)?

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Lare's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:39 pm

I'm also high on Toub (although I think the Packers HC job is McDaniels to lose). I can't find anything negative about Toub online, but have to assume he doesn't interview really well as he's been beat out of a couple HC jobs.

If hired, Toub would have to bring in a good offensive & defensive coordinator, but there are a few of those on the market today after all the HC firings.

Just think everyone wants the next great young offensive or defensive genius. But the list of past Special Teams coaches includes- Marv Levy, Bill Cowher, Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Dick Vermeil and Mike Ditka.

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 31, 2018 at 03:34 pm

Hmm, not sure I'm ready to sign on to Toub, packergal. My main concern is with the oozing associated with exuding leadership. 1265 has very nice carpeting, and unless they put Dave in a wet suit, well, it's bound to get messy. I'm guessing working around Andy Reid has a way of allowing a guy doing a lot of exuding to fade into the background. In the fishbowl that is Green Bay, he's bound to stick out.

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stockholder's picture

December 31, 2018 at 02:18 pm

Why? - These guys became Yo Yos. They got caught up in the press, and believing that the coach was to blame. He had the answers before. But it just didn't pay to back him. The end was Dix and Monty. People were hurt, and the beautiful fantasy collapsed. Life in the NFL, became service above and beyond. It no longer was fun. The sounds of victory became Boos. Cheer-up we won a higher draft pick. But the doubt is now inside this organization. 8 years of bad choices. The shield to protect Rodgers was ignored. The defense was sky high with new blood. And some players just never wanted to have fun. They collected their pay, and like any poor entertainer , the curtain came down on them. Goodbye! Winning should come easy, Don't explain anything anymore. Put this team back together again. Make it fun. No Nonsense. Good Football players just want to play. And that will get us back to normal.

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alforno54's picture

December 31, 2018 at 03:15 pm

If yesterdays game did anything it really helped clear up roster questions. A lot of us were asking to see what the backups could due the last few games and unfortunately because in some cases injuries we found out. Looks to be some good young talent, but to me one thing that has to happen is some basic football. Learn how to tackle and catch the ball. Guys are making a lot of money and are not doing their jobs

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badaxed's picture

December 31, 2018 at 06:04 pm

"Tramon Williams, who will turn 36 on March 16 — also the day he's due a $1 million roster bonus — plans to play next season"

Hopefully someone else will be paying him a million dollars . NOT the packers.

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Since'61's picture

December 31, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Zach - check your facts. The last time the Packers were shut out by the Lions was in 1970 as you stated. However the Packers were shut out by the Lions twice that season.

On opening day the Lions defeated the Packers 40-0 at Lambeau field. Then the Packers ended the 1970 season in Detroit with a 20-0 loss to the Lions. The Packers finished the 1970 season with a 6-8 record.

2 days following the end of the season Packers HC Phil Bengston (Lombardi's successor) resigned. Then the Packers hired Dan Devine. The team didn't recover until Ron Wolf hired Mike Holmgren and traded for Brett Favre in 1992. Let's hope that the cycle does not take another 22 years. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 01, 2019 at 07:11 am

Symptoms for concussions sometimes do not manifest for hours, days or even weeks. That AR played two more series does not necessarily suggest that the protocol is flawed. It can be just the nature of concussions. I do think a member of the medical staff should take a peek at any player who took a hard shot to the head, though and monitor that player for the rest of the game.

We don't know if AR's concussion will prove serious, or impact his playing days at any rate. Time will tell.

Concussion diagnoses are usually inferred from the symptoms. A player can have a negative MRI or CT and still be diagnosed with a concussion.

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

January 01, 2019 at 04:14 pm

I'm 49 & I remember the crappy 70s & 80s very well.
Let's be honest: Rodgers is really the only reason the Packers have been consistently considered Super Bowl contenders for about 8 years.

This year, despite the sparkling TD/Int ratio & the week-1 epic comeback, he was nowhere near "that" Rodgers that had carried this team, coaches, management to "success".

Guys like Khalil Mack are rare. Getting them offered in their prime as proven studs is even rarer.

Ron Wolf's biggest regret/mistake was Not taking Randy Moss in that 1998 Draft. Coming off back2back Super Bowls, Moss would have given Favre what he needed to keep that offense prolific.

I fear that Guty's biggest mistake will be not getting Mack when he was available. That's a top-2 in the Draft talent that we would never otherwise be able to obtain.

Ironically, Moss went to Minny who then took over our division. And now Mack & the Bears have taken over our division.

Fatal errors not pulling triggers.
Remember when Buffalo & Teddy Thompson almost had a deal to send Marshawn Lynch to Green Bay? Instead, TT let Seattle slightly outbid us. Same with NE & Moss with Oakland in 2007.

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