Surviving Sunday: Packers news, notes and links for the football deprived

A common criticism of the Packers offense last season was that it was too basic and predictable. While other teams used elaborate schemes and receiver routes that took advantage of picks and other tricks to spring receiver's open, the Packers just ran the same old plays they've always ran.

That same 'ol, same 'ol resulted in a once-powerful offense finishing 15th in scoring, 23rd in total yards and 25th in passing yards.

Yikes.

Can we expect an offensive overhaul in 2016? Or at least a few tweaks to change things up a bit? Not if you believe what Packers coach Mike McCarthy told NFL.com's Jeffri Chadiha this week. Here's a quote from the piece:

When asked about how this offense will improve, McCarthy said: "The best plays are still the basic plays. It's not the design of the play. It's what everybody can do with that design ... That's what we have to get back to -- winning with the fundamentals, with players and not plays. When you get in tough times, offensively, we may have leaned a little more towards plays instead of focusing on developing players. That's a big part of my getting back in there full-time [calling plays]. That's how I built this thing, and that's how it should be ran. We got away from that a little bit."

You might be saying to yourself, "McCarthy's been running the Packers' offensive show for 10 years now. His scheme has obviously become predictable to the rest of the league. It's time he changes things up."

If you're saying that, you're not wrong. But the thing is, McCarthy isn't wrong, either. 

You need pure talent, strong fundamentals and on-field instinct to successful in the NFL. If you posses those qualities, you should be able to get open and help your team move the ball, regardless of how simple or complex the offensive play calls are.

But here's the thing: Everybody is talented in the NFL. Many players posses strong fundamentals and on-field instincts. What often sets one talented team apart from another is a coaching staff's ability to put their players in a position to succeed.

Yes, sometimes it's fine to just stick to the basics, or roll the ball onto the field and let your talented players do their thing. But when that isn't working, you need to adjust, maybe even experiment a little.

McCarthy watched his offense struggle for much of last season. Perhaps that was just a blip on the radar. Maybe McCarthy was right not to overhaul everything and his team will get right back to being the Packers in 2016.

But if Rodgers and crew stumble out of the gate, it'll be obvious that those offensive struggles were more than just a minor bump in the road. If that's the case, hopefully McCarthy is ready and willing to make some changes.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are getting a visit from NFL investigators on the first day of training camp to discuss their link to performance enhancing drugs in a story reported by Al Jazeera late last season. 
  • Whoa! Freddie at LombardiAve.com lists Kevin White -- who has yet to play a down in the NFC North -- as the division's fifth-best WR. Be sure to read the whole post before you get too upset with Freddie.
  • Andrew at Packerstalk.com takes a look at Brett Hundley's potential trade value.
  • Who in the hell told Jayrone Elliott that it was ok to go speeding around in a race car with Mario Andretti at 220 MPH? Wear your seat belt, Jayrone, I expect big things from you this season.
  • The Packers reported a record $408.7 million in revenue for last year. Players like Josh Sitton and Eddie Lacy who are set to become free agents have to be licking their chops at the potential signing bonus they could get from the Packers.
  • Tony Romo says that without Brett Favre, the Packers aren't the Packers. Um, you're wrong, Tony. But having Favre defintely was sweet.

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

  • This is a fascinating story about a reporter who took a job as a guard at a private prison for four months.
  • Comedian Aziz Ansari published an excellent op-ed in the New York Times. I know mass shootings make people scared and there's plenty of other stuff in this world that adds to that uneasiness, but don't be hateful. It only makes things worse.
  • Here's an inspiring read about Pittsburg running back James Conner and his battle with cancer. Normally, I don't read stories dealing with cancer, but this one sucked me in for some reason.
  • My own cancer update: Chemo treatment No. 11 is completed. Somehow I gained eight pounds since my last treatment two weeks ago. I swear I wasn't hanging out with Eddie Lacy.
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Comments (36)

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NickPerry's picture

June 26, 2016 at 07:45 am

Fundamentals..... The one word McCarthy preaches above any other when things go south.

Poor Tackling..Fundamentals
Ball Security...Fundamentals
Red Zone Troubles...Fundamentals
Poor 3rd Down %....Fundamentals
Drops..Fundamentals
Poor Run Defense...Fundamentals
Wide opens receivers running down the middle of the field...Fundamentals
Brandon Bostick...Fundamentals

After 11 seasons you'd think the Packers would be the most fundamentally sound team in the NFL considering the number of times McCarthy preaches it. Hopefully this season they are.

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Bedrock's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:15 am

The constant infusion of youth requires a constant attention to fundamentals.

Our nation has excellent teachers in schools. What do the most effective ones teach? Fundamentals. Does that means every student learns to be a genius? No, not at all.

Coaching gets out of players what you emphasize. At most, a coach can emphasize 2-4 things. Beyond that, nothing is emphasized. Take any team, what are they known for? That's what the coach emphasized. What are the hallmarks of a MM team? You cannot teach and learn everything, especially with today's CBA rules governing practices.

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dobber's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:21 am

I always read "fundamentals" as "execution", and that takes some of the heat off players and puts it on the coaching staff.

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WKUPackFan's picture

June 26, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Agreed. I read it as if the fundamentals are correct the execution is quicker.

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cpheph1's picture

June 28, 2016 at 02:18 pm

My take is different. Fundamentals are taught/learned (coaching/classroom); whereas executing is doing (players).

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 26, 2016 at 08:28 am

MM gets credit from numerous sources as being good at calling the plays and at devising a game plan, as well as being a creative offensive mind, and in the next breath we read that it is the players, not the plays, that matters. Both logically cannot be true to the exclusion of the other.

The job of a coach is to put the player in a position in which he can succeed. That means not asking RR to stretch the field, or identifying weaknesses of one's opponent and running plays that exploit those weaknesses, where possible.

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Michalske's picture

June 26, 2016 at 02:21 pm

In an up-to-date NFL offense, every route is available to every receiver on every play.

The actual route run is selected by the *player* based on:

A) The formation
B) The play call from the sidelines
C) The audible call from the QB
D) The defensive adjustments to A, B and C observed by the player prior to the snap

After the snap, the player needs to run the selected route with proper technique and execution, including making the correct route adjustments based on what the defenders actually do (as opposed to where they set up), correctly executing cuts, defeating the actual coverage, and catching the damn ball.

Last season much of the Packer's woes were with the execution after the snap. Yes, they should have had a dedicated WR position coach. Yes, Clements choices at step B were often uninspired and predictable. But as others have said, you can only coach em up so much before it depends on the player to actually do the job on the field.

There are no plays that work if the player does not make them work. (That is your 'logical connection' if you need one.)

I consider McCarthy's statement about fundamentals to be a direct call for Davante Adams, Jeff Janis et. al. to do their jobs better than they did last year, and for Getsy (the new receivers coach) to make sure they know how.

(Side note: The 'play selection by the player' sequence I noted above was exactly the same under Lombardi. Read the bit in Run to Daylight where he describes the decision making by the players on the sweep play. Yes, the playbook was simpler, there was more emphasis on the run vs. the pass, and the defenses more vanilla. But it was still **up to the player** to figure out what to do and then get that task done.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 27, 2016 at 06:02 am

My point was that astute game plan/design and playcalling should take into consideration & complement the abilities of the players. Success, IMO, is predicated on a blend of astute game planning/playcalling and good execution, not upon one to the exclusion of the other.

I suppose we might define "execute" differently - I don't agree with "defeating the actual coverage...." If JJ, or RR 1) runs the selected route w 2) proper technique, 3) having made the correct route adjustments based on what the defenders actually do (as opposed to where they set up), 4) used the proper footwork to make his cut 5) without tipping off his intent to the defender, the receiver has properly executed his job. If he still isn't open, he just isn't good enough or isn't in the right setting (say, no deep threat around), and there isn't much a coach can do (see RR, though he wasn't so good on 4 and 5). If the WR does 1-5 well he will generate at least some minor amount of separation usually, and if the QB has good timing with the WR, and is accurate, completions will often enough follow (see JJ, maybe Abby, and Cobb - though Cobb was limited by being doubled or shading by a S, and thus limited).

If a coach devises 20 plays that each get his 3-point shooter wide open, it's great play design, and if the guy makes 19 of the twenty 3-pointers, I suppose one could say that the guy failed to execute on the one he missed, but I wouldn't. If the coach devises 20 plays that each get his center, Shaquille O'Neal, wide open for a 3 pointer and he makes two of the twenty 3-pointers, it's lousy play design and O'Neal executed it brilliantly (since he made one or two more than expected given his 3-pt ability).

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Tundraboy's picture

June 26, 2016 at 02:46 pm

TGR
That definition works for me.

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Bedrock's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:07 am

Lombardi's offense had how many plays? Sure it was a different era, but his men lined up and kicked the expletive out of the guy opposite him.

Trick, or clever, or scheme changes...those are noticed by players. A big reason MM has success is his ability to trust his players to make plays. It seems the suggestion is the creation of new plays and/or formations. Since GB is known for its youth, they need to know they are trusted to beat the man opposite him. If MM starts doing things differently, doubt creeps in. It's a confidence builder.

Remember GBs last 'bowl win when Jennings said something about "Polumalu jumps the middle and the outside is wide open"? Same play, adjustment made. Smart players make plays.

In a sport of confrontation, it's going to be players, not plays. It's the long term solution to creating a winning program.

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al bundy's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:42 pm

Ya or they arent able to learn the order sequence. Janis didnt need three seaons to be fast and 6'3. I still beleive he aint bright enouh to figure this out and the nfl is way above his mental capabilities thus why he does not play regularly. He was div Ii for a reason.

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NickPerry's picture

June 27, 2016 at 06:06 am

"Aint bright enouh"

Common Man!!!

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NickPerry's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:25 am

27 Tampa with a Twist!! TD!!!

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:54 am

I assume after 11 rounds of chemo that adding 8 lbs is a GOOD thing. You doing the low carb diet or are you just eating what works for you?

Go see Free State of Jones. A damn good ride.

I'm holding all my comments about wanting to resign anyone until after the bye week, at earliest. The highest priority players this year all have question marks.

I don't believe McCarthy when he says its all about fundamentals. That is just coach speak. He knows he needs to get creative, but he also has to trust that the guys have the playbook down to do that.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 26, 2016 at 11:31 am

Every team is to some extent fundamentally sound until they meet a more talented opponent.

The loss of Nelson on offense made them appear less fundamentally sound and even lesser talented defenses more fundamentally and talent enhanced, at least since the Denver game as the first 6 opponents were trying to hide/ cover their own pangs which we did a better job via the wins.

The same applies to the front seven of the Packers defense over the last 4 seasons via the offenses played.The level of play, via a fundamental or talent view, is to up and down for either one to be the issue but more a weekly choosing as reason depending on opponent and outcome.

Players not plays is often the thinking but plays create cohesiveness but the lack of talent/ability makes both equally failing.

Whether players can't retain or coaches can't embed the fundamentals is the question but actual ability needs to be scrutinize and not carte blanc protected by tossing fundamentals under the bus. : )

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Michalske's picture

June 26, 2016 at 02:27 pm

I mostly agree, but at this point the talent they have is the talent they have, (minus eventual injuries.) There is no one available to sign that would be a significant improvement (that might change in early September as it did with the James Jones acquisition last year, but I really hope they don't need to do that again.

The coach calling on the players he has to do their jobs right and learn how to beat the man across from them should be entirely expected from this point in the season froward, and in training camp it carries the extra hint that jobs are on the line.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

June 26, 2016 at 01:05 pm

I tape all the Packer games and like to look at plays in more detail. I know I'm bias, but it seemed that other teams had receivers running all too often with 3 or more yards of separation during plays and that was not noticeable with the Packers.

Rodgers makes some remarkable throws and overall is so accurate compared to other QB's.

Question: is it the lack of talent or lack of scheme? Maybe too much of both.

Either way, I hope we see some changes with a WR coach this season.

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jclombardi's picture

June 26, 2016 at 01:52 pm

Quote: Tony Romo says that without Brett Favre, the Packers aren't the Packers. Um, you're wrong, Tony. But having Favre defintely was sweet.

DUMMEST LAME HIGH SCHOOLISH REMARK REFLECTING THE SCHOLARLY LEVEL OF THESE WEEKLY BS PACKERS NEWS HIGHLIGHTS.

GOD AWFUL! LMAO

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JerseyAl's picture

June 27, 2016 at 08:22 pm

Hey look, it's the self-aggrandizing "Legendary Senior Plagiarizer" of other people's work , commenting on CHTV about someone else's writing.

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PETER MAIZ's picture

June 26, 2016 at 01:59 pm

Can McCarthy change the menu? I'm not so sure. One problem with running the same offensive plays is that you become predictable by the other team's coaching staff.

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4thand1's picture

June 26, 2016 at 04:53 pm

Under lombardi the Packers ran the famous sweep for years and teams couldn't stop them. Execution and players. Last year the Packers simply didn't have the players to execute their scheme and game plan. This year will be different no matter what udder disaster cowpie says.

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al bundy's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:50 pm

Really. You lose a nelson and your entire passing game goes to hell? Why couldnt someone else cill some oc those passing roufes he ran.
M M wants a simple system in place so new guys and this team has new guys all the time, get up to speed fast. El problemo, the seasoned d backs know the simple system betternthen our players and you have a strong defense that frustrates mental mikes mind.

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John Galt III's picture

June 26, 2016 at 07:16 pm

We have an offensive system and a defensive system. We fit the players into that system, but what if the players we draft and keep are not ideal for that system?

Example: We have a 3-4 on defense that argues we have the perfect players for that scheme. We have had the scheme for years.

Does anyone here think that if we do NOT have the perfect players at the end of pre-season that we might want to move players around fast to get the most out of them? Or to quickly realize that we junk a system to replace with another?

To me football is like war. When I was in the military we spent a week on bayonet practice. We all marveled at the creative nature of the general staff who had not quite figured out that bayonet practice a waste of time. That was in the mid 1960's and the Vietnam War was going full tilt. Our troops were not prepared for jungle warfare. Bayonet charges by the way kind of went out in the 18th century,

I read here for years about moving No. 52 inside. It took a very long time to do that. Just thinking that if football is like war you have to see what is not working damn fast and make adjustments.

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John Galt III's picture

June 26, 2016 at 07:29 pm

The New York Times article written by a Muslim can be summed up as follows:

1) Trump sucks
2) Muslims are not guilty of anything
3) Anyone who complains about Muslims murdering Americans or for that matter anyone is Islamophobic.
4) White people (Christians and Jews presumably) are just as bad or worse than Muslims.

To you that is an excellent Op-ed. After spending the last (4) years reading the Hadith, Sira, Reliance of the Traveler (The best compendium of Sunni Sharia Law) and the Koran and watching the Islamic State in action, I come to a completely different conclusion about this Op-Ed. The guy is a liar and is using taqqiya. Look it up.

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oldfart's picture

June 26, 2016 at 07:43 pm

If mm is a great play caller and devises such a great game plan, why are the packers so often playing from behind at halftime? It appears to me that the packers are in need of more creative plays and play calling going forward if we are going to get beyond wining the division. Better plays to support speedy receivers. Also, we need plays that will get Lacy through the line or short passes to him over the line. MM must realize by now that Baktarri is not opening holes for Lacy. Run Lacy to the right side. I will be more optimistic if I see improvements on the above concerns. Go pack!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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al bundy's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:54 pm

To make matters worse mental mike runs a simple system in pre season to avoid teams from picking up on the scheme. Problemo, the new guys arent learning and putting into practice the things they will really be callec on to do in real games hense all the mistakes.

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The TKstinator's picture

June 26, 2016 at 09:59 pm

I have been saying for years that GB should exclusively run plays that work.

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marpag1's picture

June 27, 2016 at 02:59 am

LOL. I especially like those running plays that "get the ball carrier through the line." Novel idea. Personally, I've drawn up a few plays that are designed to slam the ball carrier directly into the defensive tackle, and I can tell you that they always work, 100% of the time. But for some reason I've never seen any similar plays in an NFL playbook. NFL coaches seem to have some strange fixation with "getting through the line."

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EdsLaces's picture

June 26, 2016 at 07:49 pm

As a packer/mountaineer fan Kevin White playing against us this season scares the hell outta me dude is a beast..

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porupack's picture

June 27, 2016 at 01:35 am

Who can prove it is talent vs. scheme/coaching?
I think we're above overall average talent, but not highest in pro-bowl caliber talent. GB has a strong middle, lower middle cadre of journeyman players which has actually been a strength, rather than over-rely on marquise players.

In an era of near parity, talent is going to basically be statistically even across 32 teams. Any given 3-5 year period, some rise above others. Some clearly have poor drafts over sustained periods no doubt. GB is probably a bit higher than average more years than most. And to note GB has suffered some notable career ending injuries by very promising players.

So the things that separate are: 1) exceptional Talent at QB (clearly where GB has benefitted), 2) continuity, 3) above average leadership; instilling confidence, effective in transferring fundamentals, innovation, game management, effective decisions, evaluation of talent for the situation, strong and cohesive staff. 4) other factors such as strength of division (Patriots automatic entry to post season?).

To repeat my mantra; I lay more responsibility on MM for not having enough innovative scheming at times. But I admire MM for other leadership.
I lay some blame on TT for leaving some weaknesses at talent on positions that seem low priority; ILB and TE.

Adam; best wishes for courage/hope to you.

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marpag1's picture

June 27, 2016 at 05:00 am

Fans can criticize McCarthy for being "ultra-conservative' or "unimaginative," or whatever if they want to. They're entitled to the opinion and that's OK. But unless something drastic changes, I'm just not going to buy it. My main reason for this is that I watch Packer games too, and I just don't agree with the criticism. My other reason is that MM is undeniably held in high regard in the eyes of his own peers, regardless of what armchair GMs might think.

I don't think the majority of fans distinguish between "creativity" and "success." They assume the two are roughly synonymous. If a play worked, it must be creative; if it didn't, it must be unimaginative. In general, I think that's wrong.

Last year, things obviously took a step backwards on offense. A few guys with questionable expertise like Pete Prisco at CBS and Doug Farrar at SI stated their opinion that the Packer passing game didn't employ enough "man-beaters," and now every casual fan with an anti-McCarthy leaning has taken this as ammunition. I've never heard so much about bunches and stacks as I did last year - as if this were the sum total of offensive creativity.

Bunches of stacks and stacks of bunches... if only someone would implement The Bunch/Stack Policy, a global utopia would surely dawn.

Much has been made of Bill Belichick's stated opinion on the matter: "Mike's one of the best coaches I've ever gone up against." And we all know that Belichick never says anything simply for the sake of political correctness. But for some reason fans like to ignore the opinion of one of the all-time greatest NFL coaches when that opinion doesn't suit their own agenda. As for me, I'm thinking Belichick knows what he's talking about.

https://twitter.com/MikeReiss/status/580399771694862336

Bucky Brooks wrote an article for NFL.com a few days ago, naming his "dream coaching staff." The head coach was Belichick. The offensive coordinator was McCarthy. You can knock Brooks' credentials if you want, but I doubt that he was lying when he said this: "Don't let the Packers' 2015 performance overshadow McCarthy's impeccable reputation as a play caller. I've had former NFC defensive coordinators describe McCarthy as a "stone-cold killer" due to his extraordinary instincts."

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000670903/article/bill-belichick-mi...

In my opinion, a lot of fans let their disappointment cloud their judgment. McCarthy is downgraded BECAUSE HE GOT CLOSE - which is dumb - but getting close made losing hurt more, and dammit, someone needs to pay for my sadness. Oddly, MM might actually be judged more charitably if the team hadn't done as well. The bias seems to be "surely a different coach would have put us over the top," rather than "surely a different coach wouldn't have gotten this far."

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The TKstinator's picture

June 27, 2016 at 08:58 pm

Extremely well put, sir.

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marpag1's picture

June 27, 2016 at 06:42 am

"No one??"

I guess you haven't seen their Facebook page then....

https://www.facebook.com/Fire-Mike-McCarthy-310362632339772/

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 27, 2016 at 08:20 am

I really do think McCarthy dropped the ball a bit last year.

I understand he was handcuffed a bit with the injuries. That being said I still feel they could have done more with what they had though.

I know Janis wasn't ready for a big role. But on a team that lacked play makers, and needed someone to take the top off the defense, he could have at least provided a bit of that.
And the part that still bothers me was when they were lacking WR's, and Abbrederis went into the Lions game and plays well McCarthy said afterwards that he was ready to play 4 weeks before but for whatever reason they didn't play him... Not really the best way to use your players.

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oldfart's picture

June 28, 2016 at 09:39 pm

MM IS NO VINCE LOMBARDI AND DOESN'T COMPARE TO MIKE HOLMGREN EITHER. I'VE WATCHED THEM ALL COACH. THE PACKERS WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH FURTHER AHEAD IF THEY HAD GIVEN HOLMGREN ALL THAT HE ASKED FOR. BAD MISTAKE TO LET HIM GO IN MY OPINION

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oldfart's picture

June 29, 2016 at 09:06 am

THE PRIMARY REASON MIKE HOLMGREN WANTED THE GENERAL MANAGER POSITION AT GREEN BAY WAS TO HAVE CONTROL OVER PLAYER SELECTION. THE PACKERS HAD A DROUGHT OF TALENT BEFORE HOLMGREN. AFTER HOLMGREN ENTER REGGIE WHITE , BRETT FAVRE, ETC. AND WE WERE SOON IN THE SUPER BOWL. THE DUTIES OF GENERAL MANAGER COULD BE ADJUSTED TO FIT THE TALENT OF THE PERSON IN THAT POSITION.

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