Three Packer Predictions for 2020

This week, I attempt to predict the future of the Packers.

2020 has been quite an unpredictable year thus far so trying to predict the future could prove to be an exercise in futility.  In a day where we are craving to see some kind of on the field action to write about, predictions are all we have.  So, in the interest of having some fun and wishing for football to come back, let me kick off the festivities by giving you my three Packer predictions for 2020.

  1. The 2020 draft class will end up providing the depth that the Packers have needed for quite some time.  Many critics have graded the Packers 2020 draft class as the worst in football.  As a matter of fact, many of us were pretty pissed off on draft night claiming that Brian Gutekunst had no idea what he was doing and was pretty much signing his own pink slip.  After cleansing myself of Packers twitter for a few days, it dawned on me that the core players were pretty much set in stone and it was time for Gutekunst to address the depth of the roster by adding role players who could eventually develop into starters a few years down the road.  When you are looking to change the direction of the offense from a gun slinging mentality to a methodical, ground and pound mentality, what do you do? Do you go and draft a bunch of flashy skill players? Hell, no!  You draft a bunch of intelligent players with intangibles who fulfill a specific role for your team.  You draft a freight train of a running back (A.J Dillion) and some big uglies (Jake Hanson, Jon Runyan Jr., Simon Stepaniak, and (TE) Josiah Deguara) who will add a ton of depth to your unit and continue to adopt the ground and pound philosophy of your new offense.  On defense, Gutekunst did much of the same by getting a ton of value later on in the draft with the picks of Kamal Martin, Vernon Scott, and Jonathan Garvin who I believe, will all contribute and provide the Packers defense with some much-needed depth.
  2.  2020 will be Aaron Jones’s final season with the Packers.  I feel like drafting a running back with a premium pick told us that Brian Gutekunst knows that the likelihood of reaching an agreement on a new contract with Aaron Jones is slim to none.  Most people point to the Christian McCaffery contract being the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I actually think it was the Austin Ekeler contract.  The Chargers giving Ekeler an average annual salary of over $6 million showed us that the running back market has gotten away and another good season from Jones would likely cost the Packers somewhere around $40-50 million over four years.  There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that Gutekunst pays a running back that kind of money.  
  3. The Packers will bring in a veteran on defense before the start of the season.  You heard it here first, Brian Gutekunst is adding another defender to the roster before week 1.  There has been much speculation that Gute hasn’t stopped keeping an eye on the free agent market, and to be honest, I’ve kind of had this vibe since the end of the first wave of free agency, that the Packers weren’t done adding to the defense.  Gutekunst took a step in the right direction by restructuring Lane Taylor’s contract, which all but ensures that the versatile lineman will make the 53-man roster, and has provided some much-needed cap relief to add one more veteran presence at the right price.  Right now, I think the front runners to be signed are Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Clay Matthews, and Timmy Jernigan. 

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Comments (32)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 14, 2020 at 06:25 am

I actually was encouraged by Ekeler's contract. Let's compare:

Ekeler 1142 snaps:
1371 rush yards, 4.8 ave., 1676 rec yards, 10.6 rec ave, 8.55/target 22 TDs

Jones in 1275 snaps:
2260 rush, 5.0 ave., 702 rec. yds, 8.4 ave., 5.8 yds/target. 32 TDs

Jones has 2962 yards from scrimmage; Ekeler has 3047 yards from scrimmage.

Ekeler: PFF grades: 74.6, 84.9 and 85.2. He was just stuck behind Melvin Gordon.
Jones: PFF grades: 78.8, 81.1, and 85.5. He was just stuck behind Mike McCarthy.
Both were good from the get go.

Jones is a better runner, arguably, and Ekeler is a better receiver with much better hands. The real difference is in TDs.

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Coldworld's picture

June 14, 2020 at 07:56 am

As I see it the discussion of running backs is often based on the assumption that the player is a mostly one dimension every down type. The thinking is that the usage degrades athleticism fast and thus the player is easily replaced.

Is Jones that? Your point about Ekeler being a better receiver indicates that there is still a question. I think this season will answer that. Additionally, Jones isn’t in my view an every down back in the traditional sense. He is a weapon, threat and decoy. He will break yards on vision and shiftiness not from pounding a defense down. In my view he is probably better fresh, not needing 20 carries to get in his stride.

On the basis of the above, I think the assumption that Zjones won’t perform through a second contract is premised on questionable assumptions. One could argue that Dillon is the perfect type to allow Jones to be effective well into the future.

Jones type elusiveness is simply not fungible as much of the discussion of whether he resigns seems to assume. Just how diverse a weapon can he be? Well it looks like we have an offense geared to tell us. For me the key is seeing just how good Jones is in the passing game. If he continues to thrive, he is no longer a traditional RB but an all round weapon and should be considered as such with respect to resigning and remuneration.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 14, 2020 at 10:55 am

If Dillon runs like he did in college, I would hope to see Dillon-Jones backfields where Jones sometimes splits into the slot completely changing the defense responsibilities creating big mismatches and confusion.

I would hope for that to enable keeping 5 WR + Jones on the roster and having a "small" slot guy in the person of Jones when he is not behind the QB.

If that type of offensive scenario pans out, then maybe a 6-8 million/yr investment in Jones could make sense.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:17 pm

The assumption that Jones won't be healthy enough to fulfill a 2nd contract is a general one. He has had a light load in the pros and even in college and he is more solidly built than some suppose.

That said, I play the probabilities which I think (without actually doing the work necessary to calculate the odds) suggests that giving huge contracts to RBs on 2nd contracts is a mistake. I don't mind fairly large money but I do mind big signing bonuses, which I think GB would have to use on Jones given their cap woes.

I think Dalvin Cook is going to get exactly nothing from MN at this point. I expect the MN front office to tell him to take a very reasonable contract or go pound sand. He has played 1264 snaps (ten snaps less than Jones). 2,104 rush yds. 4.6 ave., 914 rec. yds, 8.8 yd/rec, 7.14 yds/target, 3018 yards from scrimmage (note how close these three RBs actually are in this regard and in snaps played as well), 19 TDs, with a bit of a breakout year in 2019. Though he has a high catch rate, he has some drops and has a 9.8% drop rate. PFF grade of 69.9, 72.9, and 81.4. I think Cook reports to training camp on time unless he and/or his agent are stupid.

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Lphill's picture

June 14, 2020 at 07:39 am

Bring back Clay , can play both inside and outside.

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Oppy's picture

June 14, 2020 at 03:47 pm

Clay isn't that good inside; he was just better than the awful options the Packers had. Outside, I wouldn't pull Z'darius or Preston off the field to put Clay in. I'd want to use Rashan to spell either Smith.

With snaps, Gary get experience; Matthews just gets older.

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dobber's picture

June 15, 2020 at 07:54 am

Besides...you need to ask what he would be asked to do.
Be a run-down thumper? Those are a dime a dozen.
Cover on passing downs? No thanks.
Rush from the inside? They can do that by moving Smiths and Gary around.

CMIII would have to come at a real bargain rate.

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Guam's picture

June 14, 2020 at 07:53 am

I'm still not in love with the Packer's draft. I thought drafting a QB was premature and burning their fourth round choice to move up also caused them to overdraft Deguara with their third rounder.

Due to salary cap issues, I have believed for a couple of years that 2020 would be the Packer's best shot at a SB and an additional first and fourth rounder in key positions (IDL, ILB) would have greatly enhanced those chances. Now a SB is a bit more of a stretch and 2021will be rough due to salary cap losses. Gute is the professional and has a far better view of the situation than I do, but I just can't help thinking he might have blown 2020.

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murf7777's picture

June 14, 2020 at 08:40 am

Drafting a QB is premature based on Rodgers contract. I think it wasn’t because you never know when another opportunity will exist, especially when we are forecasted to draft late in the first round over the next couple of years. Look at all the teams who are perpetual losers and winners and you will find one key ingredient or lack thereof in their roster and that is the QB. Sure, you can win occasionally without the franchise QB, but there are few if any examples of consistently winning franchise over 10-20 years without “the man”. I praise Gutey for taking the risk to enhance our future.

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Guam's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:41 am

Win now versus the future is certainly the question. Gute clearly opted for the future. I hope Love and Gute's vision work out, but drafting QB's is such a crap shoot that I am loath to see us miss in 2020 for an uncertain future. Just different philosophies...….

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Leatherhead's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:12 am

Love, Deguara, and Dillon will be starters in 2022. Dillon and Deguara will contribute this season. I agree that 2020 is our best shot.

Aaron Jones will not be resigned. Matthews will not be returning. And I expect we will add a defensive lineman.

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Guam's picture

June 14, 2020 at 03:43 pm

I hope you are right about Love, but more than 50% of the QBs drafted in round one in the last ten years have not worked out for the team that drafted them. There is a very good chance Rodgers will still be our starting QB in 2022.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:54 pm

If you assume that Murphy, and the GM, and , the scouting department all were wrong. I don’t.

There’s many reasons that highly regarded QBs don’t succeed. Some simply were mistakes, some got injured, some didn’t have much around them. Love is going to have a good team around him, so unless the GM is just flat wrong, I think we’ll be seeing the switch in two years.

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Guam's picture

June 15, 2020 at 07:53 am

Most team's GM's and scouting departments get it wrong about some of their draft choices every year. That is not unusual nor is it an indictment of their abilities. It is just fact. It is also fact that less than 50% of first round QB's did not work out for the team that drafted them over the last ten years of the NFL.

I don't know whether Murphy, the GM and the scouting department got this one right or wrong yet and neither do you. Time will tell but the historical odds don't favor a positive outcome.

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NitschkeFan's picture

June 15, 2020 at 09:10 am

Thank you Guam for not drinking the cool-aid. The window was now, and Gute was drafting for the future. A terrible draft. In no particular order team's top needs were OT, WR, DL, ILB. After the first 4 rounds of the draft the team had picked exactly zero of those positions. Not a single one.

As a Packers fan I hope I am wrong, but I feel the team is worse today than it was at the end of last season. My hopes and mood are very low. Maybe its all the other crap going on around us, but I have not recovered from the horror show that draft was.

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mrtundra's picture

June 14, 2020 at 08:08 am

I would take Snacks Harrison over CM3 or Jernigan, if we were to add another defensive player. Clay is past his prime and would not fit in ABM's defense, today, like Snacks or Jernigan would.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

June 14, 2020 at 08:37 am

Jones picked a bad year to have his contract up. I think for that reason, and he's such an amicable person, the Packers havena chance to retain him.

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Christian Roussel's picture

June 14, 2020 at 08:38 am

1- NFC North is one of the, if not the weakest division in pro football, so despite not improving the Packers will probably end up making the playoffs.
2- Because they did not address the receiving squad and the run defence, they will get their ass kick early in the playoffs.
3- That will give them the moral authority to replace Rodgers and Pettine and become SF with a QB on a rookie contract. Because that's what Lafleur wants.

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Archie's picture

June 14, 2020 at 08:55 am

Interesting take.

Would the Pack trade Rodgers BEFORE they knew that Love was a sure-fire franchise QB? Probably not. When will they know that? Probably not for two years. So if answer is yes on Love, Rodgers has two years left as a Packer. At that point he is very attractive financially to another team and still has a few years left in him. What can they get for him at that point? A 1 and a 2.

Will the Pack flounder in the playoffs again? Most likely because of your point #2.

btw - giving up a late 4th round pick to grab Love was a small price indeed. Did that force GB's hand to draft Dillon in R2 and DaGuara in R3? It shouldn't have. They could have easily traded both picks down a half a round or so and still gotten the same guys. Why they didn't is the real question.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:07 am

The NFL North sent two teams to the playoffs and they both advanced. The Bears were 8-8 with one of the top defenses in the league. I don't understand why you think it's a weak division.

It's the same receiving corps and defense that won 14 games last year.

Rodgers has two more years and a pretty good team around him. Then it's probably best for the organization to try something different.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 14, 2020 at 11:04 am

I would guess that Rodgers has more than two years of superior play in him. And Love has almost five years on his current contract. The real issue is can this team keep Rodgers contract. It’s expensive. I believe that Rodgers would be a good QB for quite some time. This team has a lot of time to figure out what to do about that. In the meantime, we have the luxury of having another starter at QB holding a clipboard.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 14, 2020 at 01:30 pm

It’s not about how many years of superior play Rodgers has left; it’s about economics. If Love is ready, we’ll make the switch.

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dobber's picture

June 15, 2020 at 07:56 am

Yup.

At some point, Love will be a better option than Rodgers. It might be a very complex calculation...or it may be a very simple one.

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TheVOR's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:07 am

Let the hate rain down. That Veteran must be CMIII at "INSIDE LINEBACKER"......? If GB could convince him to play here, and retire a Packers Player, he's a Packers HOF'er.? May be anyway?

Again, before hating here people, the man had 8 sacks last year. What if this guy was solid at ILB, and if needed was moved around? When he was played at ILB in GB he was a wreaking machine? Vets minimum for this player is 1.3M this year (I believe)... What if it was 3M? Is that offensive? Who would play into this locker room, franchise, and community to finish a career better than this? In fact I'd say if we added this player at ILB along with Kirksey? It would transform the defense. I'd give us a shot to contend? For 3M-ish? Why wouldn't we? Dudes a UFA.. I'd rather see him in Green Bay than in Purple or Navy Blue & Red..

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Oppy's picture

June 14, 2020 at 03:55 pm

Clay's best year playing primarily on the Inside in green bay wasn't that good. Yes, he rushed the passer well. He didn't do anything else at a high level. He was middle of the road to sub-par in all other metrics for inside linebacker play.

Clay Matthews: Good pass rusher, generally from the edge. Not that good of an ILB.

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Oppy's picture

June 16, 2020 at 03:23 am

Lots of thumbs down, but nobody has anything to say about it. The numbers don't lie. As an ILB, he had good numbers rushing the passer, but he didn't do anything else well compared to other inside LB's around the league. Tackles, assists, passes defensed, etc... all average to below average. Look for yourselves.

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stockholder's picture

June 14, 2020 at 09:13 am

!. Depth yes. Starters No. I believe the ones who said this was the packers worst draft in the NFL are correct. That we paid scouting services big money, only to have Gutey think he knows more. I believe Guteys power has gone to his head. And he will do the opposite of what is logical. 2. His drafting Now will cost us Jones, King, plus others. Remember he's a chip off TTs block. Cheap will return to GB. And his only goal is to Dump Rodgers salary. My feeling is I 'd rather see Gutey Leave, before Rodgers. In Gutey I don't Trust. His biggest mistake, is not doing his due diligence on extensions. Another has been the DL. #3. Sounds positive but I doubt it.

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Coldworld's picture

June 14, 2020 at 02:51 pm

Murphy hired LaFleur expressly to implement his vision. He did not let Gute hire his man and he very clearly made them both equals in the structure. Well, Gute is doing his bit to give LaFleur what he wants to realize the vision that Murphy hired him for.

What is it about that you struggle with? We are now seeing what that vision is. Probably should have sooner, but this draft makes it crystal clear.

This isn’t Gute going off track, it’s Gute giving shape to the LaFleur roster. Whether he chose the right players us on Gute, but the type and priority is clearly LaFleur/Murphy by this point.

Is that a good direction? I’m not so sure, but it’s the one Murphy bought into and that we are going to see.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 14, 2020 at 10:52 am

Damn, David you hit the nail on the head. It was my thought exactly. Seldom does a writer mirror my thoughts as well as you did. That’s not to say we are right. But I hope that we are on to something.

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splitpea1's picture

June 14, 2020 at 11:30 am

On the first point, there's no question we needed more physical-type players if we want to move the chains consistently, stay out of third-and-long, and improve our somewhat embarrassing goal line offense. We're just going to have to hope to see some of that flash from our younger receivers if we want to connect on some big plays; the offense needs to be balanced.

Third point: On the DL, just do it, Gute (while you're also figuring out a way to get Clark done); I don't care when it happens as long as it does.

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NickPerry's picture

June 16, 2020 at 05:10 am

I read something on The Athletic the other day that shocked me. We've all mentioned the Packers injuries last year and there was NO WAY they could duplicate that luck again this year. I was actually in agreement until I read this...

"The Packers ranked eighth in offensive efficiency last season — 11th in passing and fourth in rushing. They were middle of the road in terms of injury luck, ranking 17th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted games lost metric."

It's that 2nd sentence that really caught my attention. That stat tells me they could actually have LESS injuries than last season. To rank 17th doesn't sound all that lucky to me. We're just used to our team getting hurt while stretching before a game or practice. Maybe just maybe this is something that continues to get better each year.

My predictions...LESS Injuries and a Snacks Harrison signing and maybe a WR once cuts start. There were a lot of WR drafted, teams will be cutting some who aren't available yet.

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Nate-1980's picture

June 16, 2020 at 01:37 pm

If they pick up say a snacks for the DL, couldn’t they save some money by either cutting or restructuring Lowry’s contract ? 4-6 per year seems like a waste for the production he gives, and even if Snacks would only match his production, he’d be better in the run game.. Why keep Lowry at this point ?

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