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Railbird Central Podcast: Packers Offseason Blueprint

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Railbird Central Podcast: Packers Offseason Blueprint

Episode 355

With Ted Thompson in Alabama for the Senior Bowl this week, we take a look at some of the offseason decisions ahead for the Packers this offseason, including to what extent they get involved in free agency or whether they stick with the draft-and-develop philosophy.

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Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America" and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

ben's picture

Did somebody say blueprint? again here is the green and gold blue print

{Tolzien, Brad Jones($,ILB), & Jonathan Franklin} traded for {LaMichael James, 5th round pick & Craig Dahl($,S)}

QB: Rodgers, Flynn(2year), UndraftedFA
RB: Lacey, DuJuan, LaMichael James(KR), Dri Archer(7thRound)
FB: Kuhn(2year), Jay Prosch(6thRound)
WR: Cobb, Jordy, Boykin, Jeff Janis(4thRound), Harper
TE: Jace Amaro(1stRound), Colt Lyerla(5thRound), Stoneburner, Bostick
OL: Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS(2year), Lang, Bulaga, Barclay, Tretter, Sharrod
DL: Neal(3year), Daniels, Datone, Perry, Boyd, Jolly(2year), Mulumba, Worthy
LB: Matthews(MLB), Hawk, Kyle Van Noy(2ndRound), Telvin Smith (3rdRound), Lattimore(tendered), UndraftedFA
CB: Shields(franchised), House, Heyward, Hyde, Nixon, UndraftedFA
S: Burnett, Tre Boston(5thRound), Richardson, Banjo
ST: Goode, Crosby, Masthay
Let go: TheZoneBlitzScheme,ZoneBlockingScheme,MM'sPlaycalling,Finley,Raji,

Bert's picture

I sure would hesitate to let Tramon (besides Shields only outside cover guy we have), JJones (still a good 3 or 4 guy), Starks (very good #2), and both Pickett and Wilson (we need a couple of big body guys and I have doubts about Jolly's health) go. Bush is a very good ST guy so I'm OK with having him around too. Going into the season with Burnett, Boston, Richardson and Banjo is a huge gamble and I'm afraid they wouldn't be any better than what we saw in 2013. I doubt if the 49ers will be interested in our rejects. They have a much stronger 53 man roster than we have so I can't see them being interested in guys like B. Jones, Tolzien and Franklin.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

ben, Just out of curiosity, why do you want to let Starks go? I thought he played his heart out, the end of the year. At the same time, you want to keep Hawk @ $5 Gazillon a year. I don't care what you say about him being a leader, Make him a coach. He doesn't belong in the middle.

ben's picture

Totally with you.
I think starks played the best football of his career this year. He does have good value as a "no change of pace" back, especially in the 2nd half of games. I'm just not a huge fan, he's fairly often injured, can't catch, and could end up costing a couple million per. But the main reason is I still have huge expectations for Dujuan Harris who is already under contract.

Right on with hawk. The last place for this guy is in the middle of a 3-4. But he's only getting about 2.5 million / year. So.

I'd like to see him go back to a 4-3 OLB or not at all.

ben's picture

Hawk is scheduled to only make about $2.5 Million per year for the next 2 years. Right?

Can I get some confirmation on this?

I'd be just OK with giving most of his money to Starks. But thrilled putting it toward signing Shields, EDS, & Kuhn; or extending Cobb, Nelson, Daniels, House, Bulaga, & Dujuan. (In that particular order.)

Evan's picture

$2.4 mil base each year. $5.1 mil cap hit.

ben's picture

as in $2.4 for 2014, $2.7 for 2015. And if cut would be $5.1 against the cap in 2014? and if traded, nothing against the cap?

or his salary is $2.4 for 2014 & $2.4 for 2015, but his cap # for each year is $5.1 even if he were to be cut? If he were to be traded his cap # would be 0?

Evan's picture

Yeah, $2.4 million base in 2014 and 2015 with cap hits of $5.1 mil each year.

If cut this off-season, there would be $3.2 million in dead money and $1.6 million if cut in 2015.

If traded, I believe the whole contract gets wiped off the books.

All info can be found here:

The TKstinator's picture

What if, when GB picks (in any round) there are 3 (or more) players with identical grades? In that case do they lean toward "need" positions? It would seem the answer is "yes".

Tom's picture

Everyone has an opinion on what the Packers should do in the draft. But, I really struggle with the notion the Packers might take an Eric Ebron or Jace Amaro at #21. Why? We have more weapons than most teams and that's even with Jones likely leaving. There's so much WR talent in the draft. A really nice TE would be CJ Fiedorowicz. As of now, he figures to go sometime on day 2. But, I think he'll be combine himself right into an early day 2 selection. If we pass on any significant FA addition, I'm hoping to see us take Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor at #21. At this point, those are the only two safeties I see worthy of the pick. But, we know the combine, pro days, and interviews change everything. After round 1, I'd like to see us start building up our front seven. This has to be one of the deepest draft classes I've seen to do just that. Rashede Hageman, Dominique Easley, Timmy Jernigan, Chris Borland, Shayne Skov, Prince Shembo, Louis Nix, Daniel McCullers, Aaron Donald, and Ron Powell...could be available in rounds 2 & 3 or even later. There's also some nice DB's that should be available later: Jaylen Watkins, Marcus Roberson, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste are the ones that stick out to me. At any rate, I think Ted and Co. know where we need to improve. And I don't have much reason not to trust his success rate at this point. Go Packers!

Bert's picture

I see your point Tom. But there is the flip side to taking a TE at 21. If TT feels that a TE (Ebron etc.)gives us the most immediate upgrade or impact then I say go with the TE. Problem with just focusing on the defense is that most of the guys drafted will not make much of an impact in 2014 anyhow. We really need help now on the defense. If a safety isn't available to help today then I say draft for the most talented guy with the best chance of making an immediate impact with the first pick. I sure hope there is a defensive player there at #21 that fits that description.

The TKstinator's picture

Me too. Couldn't argue with a defensive player at any position.

ben's picture

The Ultimate Green & Gold Blue Print:

Announce switch from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 base. Proclaim, one of the best cover linebackers in the game, Clay Matthews, the next Nitchke. Who had 25 INTs and recovered 23 fumbles with the Packers. Clay in 2014: 164 Tackles, 6.5 Sacks, 3 INTs, 4 FF, 4 FR, 26 TFL, 14 PD

Trade: AJ Hawk($2.5million/,ILB), Jonathan Franklin, 2015-5thRound} for {LaMichael James, Round4pick29, Craig Dahl($1.6million/,S)

Trade: Brad Jones($3million/,ILB), Round2pick21, 2015-Round1, Tolzien} for {Cleveland's Round2pick3,Round4pick6, 2015-Round4

2014 53 man depth chart (w/ 4-3 base)
QB: Rodgers, Flynn(2year), Connor Shaw(Round6pick21)
RB: Lacey, LaMichael James(KR), DuJuan Harris, Starks/BigUndraftedFA
FB: Kuhn(2year), Jay Prosch(Round5pick21)
WR: Cobb, Jordy, Boykin, Jeff Janis(Round4pick6), Harper
TE: Jace Amaro(Round1pick21 ), Colt Lyerla(Round4Pick21), Stoneburner, Bostick
OL: Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS(2year), Lang, Bulaga, Barclay, Tretter, Sharrod
DL: Neal(3year), Daniels, Datone, Perry, Boyd, Jolly(2year), Mulumba, Worthy
LB: Matthews(MLB), Kyle Van Noy(Round2pick3), Telvin Smith (Round3pick21),
Lattimore(tendered), Jeremiah George(Round7pick21), Thomas Chase
CB: Shields, House, Heyward, Hyde, Nixon
S: Burnett, Alden Darby(Round4pick29), Tre Boston(Compensatory4th), Richardson, Banjo
ST: Goode, Crosby, Masthay
Let go: TheZoneBlitzScheme, TheZoneBlockingScheme, MM'sPlaycalling, Finley,Raji,Tramon,JJones,Quarless,Bush,Pickett,md,Newhouse,Wilson&probablyStarks
Up for extension: Nelson, Cobb, Shields, Daniels, House, Bulaga, Dujuan, Perry, Richardson
(In order with Nelson setting the tone & Shields being a possible franshise tag canidate.)

Bert's picture

Just noticed your proposed trade of AJ Hawk to the 49ers. That presents an interesting dilemma for the Niners. Trade for AJ Hawk with 2 legs or stay with N. Bowman equipped with a peg leg. That's a tough call.

Bert's picture

I'm very concerned about our situation at OLB. Clay's thumb and hamstring issues may be more chronic than we want to admit and Perry is a huge question mark also. Five years into the 3-4 defense and we are still lacking a solid dependable LB corps. Frustrating to say the least.

Evan's picture

Unless he has brittle bone disease, I don't know if a broken thumb can be considered "chronic."

Bert's picture

Given that he broke the same thumb twice in a two month span I think there is reason for concern in the long term. I'm not saying it IS a problem but I certainly wouldn't say that between his thumb and hamstrings that he is a good bet to stay healthy either.

Evan's picture

Exactly. Twice in two months. He re-broke it because he came back before it had fully healed.

If it breaks this season, then I'll start to worry.

Arlo's picture

You may be right but the break may not be just a common break ----

ben's picture

And you could say that our OLB situation is better than our ILB situation.

It may work for the 49ers but why would WE be playing a scheme that relies on strong in and outside linebacker play? Especially with little to no good options at Nose Tackle.

Tell me how we wouldn't be better off with Perry rushing from right DE & Neal from the left DE. Without them having to worry about playing in so much space, dropping into zones, and playing man to man coverage. Daniels and Datone are perfectly suited for providing an interior 4-3 pass rush. Boyd, Jolly, Mulumba, & Worthy would provide a fresh rotation and ample depth in such a system. Not to mention the absolute havoc Matthews could create in blasting A gaps, dominating lead blocks, spying on mobile QB's, Locking down the check down or normally mismatched TE's and RB's, striking fear over the middle, or just showing blitz right in the QB's face before dropping out of it.

ben's picture

with a nickel of:

Neal Datone Daniels Perry

VanNoy Matthews

you could create as much pass rush as you desire while having 2 nickel linebackers with 2nd to none zone and man coverage skills.

A Base of:

Datone Daniels Boyd Neal

VanNoy Matthews Telvin

would be very stout up front while providing excellent run support and coverage ability in the second level.

Jolly rotates in at DT. Mulumba sparingly at DE. Worthy could rotate in anywhere depending on the package.

C's picture

Discussing any philosophy is fair game, but: Neal didn't start generating pressure until he stood up, certainly didn't show the same level of consistancy with his hand in the dirt; We've never seen Perry with his hand in the dirt against NFL players; Jones is in the developmental stage, so I'm uncertain what his apptitude is in any defense and I'm of the opinion Daniels is a bigger threat by taking <70% of the snaps over the length of any given season, his effectiveness at that size would wear by seasons end by taking too many snaps.

Really not sure how you're so confident that group could, 'create as much pass rush as you desire' out of a 4-3? Jolly fades as the snaps went up, and he wasn't a pass rushing threat to begin with. Nobody knows what a healthy Worthy brings to the table either.

Arguing a 4-3 is better can be fair game, but you're way too generous with your projections.

ben's picture

Neal was just as productive, maybe even more so from what should have been less productive 3-4 DE position with his hand in the dirt. He had 4.5 sacks in 11 games as a DE. He had 5 sack in 16 games as an OLB. That's not the whole story, but if you want to factor his lack of coverage abilities as an OLB you could factor that in as well.

Perry played 4-3 RE ONLY until being played out of position as a LOLB in greenbay. Not sure if you noticed but his move to LOLB hasn't gone so well. He has much more experience and game tape at Right DE where he played exclusively in college. He was a top 3 DE in the nation as a senior, & he has largely failed for over 2 years at LOLB, even when healthy.

It's not that I don't think perry can play OLB, but is it even arguable that his skill set, experience, and past success lends itself to the duties of a right DE?

I'd say Jolly still has a little bit of a pass rush and tends to get his hands on a lot of balls in the passing game. But I'd also still be able to say that there are 5-7 better pass rushing Dlineman with their hands in the dirt.

Wearing down? You must have missed by ramblings about having the right 4-3 personnel to maintain a "fresh" rotation along the defensive front. As well as for various situational sub-packages.

C's picture

Pressure > sacks. You're not being remotely intellectually honest with most of your assessment above. That's what happens when you have an agenda, I guess.

ben's picture

Did I say he played DE this past year? It's one thing when your making crap up for yourself. But now your making up crap that I have supposedly said.

You get how this thing works right? Other people can scroll up and see what I actually said.

You are the AJ Hawk of this blog. Your greatest attribute is your availability.

ben's picture

sacks > pressure or pressure > sacks

I'm pretty sure you wrote what you meant. And I'm pretty sure this makes you the intellectually dishonest one.

Ok C, Who is the all-time sack leader? Who's that, WRONG! Bruce Smith. ok now, Who holds the single season sack record? Who? Wrong again.

Ok C, Now, who is the all-time pressures leader? Wrong! No one cares.

Stroh's picture

Come on ben... You gotta do better than this garbage. Neal wasn't a 34 DE this past year, he played OLB! Apparently you didn't even watch the Packers play!

Yeah so Perry was only a 43 DE in college. What do you think almost EVERY pro 34 OLB played in college? Yeah, that's right... They played 43 DE in college! Only a handful of college teams use a 34 D. So 95% of the 34 OLB in the NFL played 43 college DE. This is basic stuff here...

Time to step up your game Ben!

PackerPete's picture

Opponents would run for 150+ yds against this group every single game...not stout at all. This is purely a pass rushing unit...

Bert's picture

Yep. I agree. I'm not sure we have the ideal talent mix for either the 3-4 or the 4-3. We have some one dimensional guys but we don't really have 3 good LBs that we can depend on. And as for the DL I'm not sure we have 4 DL that we can depend either. We just don't have much talent or depth on the front 7 period.

ben's picture

We just gave up 130 rushing yards / game. Almost 5 yards / carry. Would have been more but teams were to busy throwing for well over 4000 yards, like 261 yards passing / game. It's hard to give up an average of almost 400 yards a game, isn't it?

But you seem pretty confident that a 4 man 1200lb base front with Matthews manning the middle would most certainly do worse "every single game." OK then

Bert's picture

No. Just saying that we don't have decent talent on the front 7 to be real effective with either defense. I don't know that we would be any worse in the 4/3 but I doubt if we would be any better either. Clay is about it as far as proven LB talent and he's hurt a lot. On the DL, Pickett, Wilson, Neal and Jolly are FAs with Jolly questionable (neck). I just don't see the talent or depth there either.

dickishness's picture

The bad thing is, every member of the "starting" front seven was a first rounder except Brad Jones. Oh, and if you count Datone. Who is even considered the starting end opposite Raji? Jolly? If it IS Datone, and I have to believe he was drafted to be that (a starting DE), then I'm correct. 6 first rounders out of the front seven. Something is wrong there! Or, at the very least, disappointing so far.

The TKstinator's picture

The first rounders HAVE TO pan out.
AND you have to get contributions from other guys too; late rounds, undrafteds, and maybe even an unrestricted FA too.
You need to get a Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, Richard Sherman, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, etc...all 5th round or later, and undrafteds.
Then, as conracts mature, you gotta be able to retain or replace. All of which is much easier said than done!

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