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What We Learned About the Packers in 2018

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What We Learned About the Packers in 2018

It’s been a long, strange ride for the Green Bay Packers in 2018.

Entering the season, I think we all had pretty high expectations for what the team was going to be able to accomplish this year. Aaron Rodgers was back and healthy. Dom Capers was finally gone. Joe Philbin was back at offensive coordinator for the first time since the record-setting 2011 season. The team had a new general manager who was willing to use all avenues available to build his team. There were several splash free agent signings, a couple surprising trades and what seemed to be a strong draft.

While there were certainly some positives to come out of the 2018 season, ultimately the Packers’ 100th season will be remembered primarily for disappointment, underachieving and the midseason ouster of Mike McCarthy.

With the Packers’ regular season mercifully coming to a close in just a few days, here are some of the things we’ve learned about this team this season, both positive and negative, many of which will likely have a significant impact on where the team goes in the 2019 offseason and beyond.

1) The Packers have a legitimate top-flight wide receiver in Davante Adams

Fans and analysts who have paid attention to the Packers in the last couple years have watched Adams blossom into a strong, well-rounded player. After Adams continued putting up good numbers even with Brett Hundley in the lineup in 2017, many expected 2018 to be the year Adams truly arrived as an elite receiver.

He did not disappoint.

Adams enters week 17 with 111 receptions for 1386 yards and 13 touchdowns, all career highs. He has a chance to set franchise records for both receptions and receiving yards. When you’re talking about a team with a 100-year history and multiple Hall of Fame quarterbacks and numerous prolific wide receivers, that’s highly impressive.

Adams has been able to find success against most of the matchups he’s faced this year, and in just his fifth year, he can be a big-time player for the Packers for years to come.

2) The rest of the pass-catching depth chart is a major work in progress

Beyond Adams, the Packers really do not have a solid number two pass catching threat for Rodgers to rely on. Randall Cobb was hurt most of the year and will be a free agent after this season. It would not shock me to see him back in Green Bay on a short-term contract at lower money per year, but Cobb hasn’t delivered big-time production for multiple years. When he’s available and healthy, he still has Rodgers’ trust and is capable of finding holes in zone defenses that the younger receivers simply cannot find yet, but we’ll have to wait to see how much the front office believes his value to be to the team moving forward.

Geronimo Allison was another player who seemed to earn Rodgers’ trust, but got hurt early and missed most of the season. He likely will not be back in 2019. Of the trio of young rookie receivers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown both flashed potential at times but still have a long way to go before they can be reliable number two contributors in the passing game, while J’Mon Moore barely saw the field. Jake Kumerow will have another offseason to prove he can be more than a Mr. August type of player.

At the tight end position, there’s a non-zero possibility we’ll see a complete reset in 2019. I’d bank on Robert Tonyan being back, and I think there’s a decent chance Jimmy Graham will get another shot in 2019 as well, given his contract, but he certainly didn’t produce to the extent many people expected him to this year, especially in the red zone. Marcedes Lewis wasn’t a factor and never really seemed to be used properly, and Lance Kendricks is just a guy at this point in his career, and probably will not be back next year.

Hopefully some of the rookie receivers can make big strides next year, because the Packers have plenty of other areas on the roster they need to be able to fill out. We’ll see what happens during the draft and free agency.

3) Aaron Rodgers desperately needs new coaching.

It was clear all season long that the Rodgers/McCarthy pairing was no longer working. Rodgers calling out McCarthy’s game plan and play calling after the Buffalo shutout was, in hindsight, one of the biggest moments of the season, and a major indicator that this team was flatlining. In a power struggle between one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and a long-tenured Super Bowl-winning coach who was already likely on the hot seat, it was never a question that Rodgers would win out.

So while it was McCarthy’s time to go, it also became clear just how much Rodgers needs something of a reboot. In 2006, Mike McCarthy took over the reins from Mike Sherman and had to essentially rebuild Brett Favre from the ground up after a disastrous 2005 campaign and play that had been regressing for a couple consecutive years.

Now, that’s not saying there’s any comparison between Rodgers in 2018 and Favre in 2005—Favre was legitimately one of the worst players at the position that season. But the issues with Rodgers’ play and performance have been discussed ad nauseum this year—inability to find and hit open receivers, lack of accuracy, sloppy mechanics at times, negative body language on the field, unwillingness to trust his receivers, unwillingness to take risks (even moreso than usual).

Aaron Rodgers is still a special, generational talent who still has MVP-quality football in him. But if he’s going to have the kind of success expected out of him in this final stage of his career, he’s going to need a coach who will be able to come in, command the respect of Rodgers and his teammates and not be afraid to attack and repair the weaknesses in his star players.

Who is that guy? Hell if I know. But over the next couple weeks we’re going to get a real good idea of the kind of coach Mike Murphy and Brian Gutekunst are looking at. And, hint, it’s not going to be Jim Caldwell or Chuck Pagano.

4) Brian Gutekunst’s first year showed promise, but it’s this offseason that will make him a success or a failure.

Speaking of Gutekunst, there was a lot to like about his first year on the job. He was aggressive in a way his predecessor never was with both trades and free agency. He magicked an extra first-round pick for 2019 after trading back in the draft while still getting the guy he wanted in the first round all along (Jaire Alexander).

He traded away a player in Damarious Randall that had apparently worn out his welcome in Green Bay for a change-up at the backup QB position (jury’s out on that one). He had no qualms about trading away Ty Montgomery after he disobeyed orders and cost the team a win in Los Angeles. He jettisoned the underperforming Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and somehow came away with a fourth-round pick for what amounted to Washington getting a half-season of play out of him.

In free agency, the results were not quite as strong. Jimmy Graham has not performed to expectations. I maintain that Marcedes Lewis was a strong signing, but that he simply was not used well. Mo Wilkerson gets an “incomplete” grade, as he was hurt in the first quarter of the season and never got a chance to make an impact.

So there were some ups and downs in Gutekunst’s first year, but certainly some positive signs.

That being said, Gutekunst’s future in Green Bay is tied to the coach he and Murphy select this offseason. Botch this decision, and the Packers will not get another ring in the Rodgers era, and Gutekunst’s tenure in Green Bay will likely be a short one.

There will once again be a lot made out of the power structure in Green Bay, with fans being critical of Murphy taking an active role in the coach hiring process. But I don’t believe for a second that Murphy would go over Gutekunst’s head and hire a coach that the general manager would be anything less than excited about. Gutekunst will own the decision of who will be the next coach of the Green Bay Packers just as much as Murphy, which means he still has the opportunity to shape this team in whatever manner he deems appropriate.

5) Mike Pettine delivered solid results given what he had to work with.

The Packers’ defense was not perfect in 2018. At times, it was poor. But based on what we’ve seen this year, I feel comfortable saying the Packers are better off with Mike Pettine as coordinator than they were with Dom Capers. While the yards per game and points per game marks have been similar, there have been definite signs of improvement in other areas.

Pettine was, as advertised, excellent at scheming free rushers to the quarterback. This was crucial, as it made up for the Packers’ pass rushers generally being unable to beat guys one-on-one. Long gone are the days when Clay Matthews would burst past pass rushers or when Mike Daniels would throw guys around on the interior of the line. The Packers are still in desperate need of reliable rushers who can get to the quarterback without needing to be schemed open.

So the fact that there were frequently free rushers coming from all over the field was a testament to Pettine’s creativity with his blitz schemes.

Perhaps the biggest difference from year to year was the cleaning up of communication breakdowns that frequently occurred under Capers. Pettine simplified his defense, and players seemed to respond to that—no longer were guys trying to figure out where they were supposed to be lined up every other play.

With a healthier team and more draft picks, Pettine would be well-positioned to get significant improvement out of this Packers defense if he is retained by the next coach. Plus, the young players who made significant contributions to the team this year will all continue to improve.

I’d sure like to see Pettine back in 2018 to see how this defense continues to grow under him.

6) There’s a lot of dead weight the Packers can let go this offseason.

When your team has two losing seasons in a row, you’re probably going to see some roster shakeups. As Gutekunst continues to shape this roster in his own way, expect to see a lot of familiar names be let go (or not brought back) this offseason. Matthews and Cobb both have expiring contracts, and I think there’s as good of a chance as them both being gone as there is of them both being back. I already mentioned the potential overhauls to the tight end position. There are other contributors on the offensive line and all over the defense that likely will not return.

How much roster turnover will we see? It really depends on how aggressive Gutekunst wants to be with his roster building. But after a season like this, there are certainly plenty of players and coaches who will be shown the door.

7) There are young building blocks all over the roster.

That being said, there are a lot of bright spots on this team that could be key contributors for at least the foreseeable future, many of whom are quite young.

We already discussed Adams, who is still in his mid-20s and has become a premier player at his position.

Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are different types of backs who have both shined in different ways during the course of the season. With the two of them in the fold, the Packers are in good hands at the running back position.

Corey Linsley and David Bakhtiari remain reliable pillars of an offensive line that seems to be constantly in flux due to injuries.

Kenny Clark, at just 23 years old, is one of the best defensive players in the league and will hopefully be a Packer for a long time.

Blake Martinez has his weaknesses, particularly when it comes to shedding blocks, but he’s the kind of player you want in your linebacking corps, and has once again been a strong contributor to the team.

Jaire Alexander is looking like a blue chipper at the corner position, and he’ll only get better.

Young players like Tony Brown, Robert Tonyan, Lucas Patrick, the rookie receivers and others have all flashed potential throughout the season.

 

The Packers have one more game to play in 2018. It’s not going to tell us much about this team we don’t already know. It’s going to be an ultimately meaningless contest in which the bulk of the interest boils down to “Aaron Rodgers better not get hurt.” But bad season or not, it’s one more chance to watch our Packers before the long offseason begins yet again.

Here’s hoping the second century of Packer football begins better than the first one ended.

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (79) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

I disagree with your first two points quite strongly:

1. Adams has shown out and is a superstar, but there absolutely IS depth behind him that is exciting. EQ, MVS, GMo, Kumerow, Moore... a lot of potential there. GMo and Kumerow give you the veteran savvy and athletic upside that Cobb hasn't had since 2014. I do not want to waste precious cap dollars, nor an even more precious day 1/2 draft pick, on a WR. Maybe a speed burner late who can serve as a KR/PR. That's it.

2. I do NOT think Graham will be back and good riddance. Graham of 2014 would be exciting. Graham of 2019 who can't run, can't jump and won't block? Nope. Not worth it. Cut him. It was a stupid signing in the 1st place. I do agree that Tonyan should get a very strong look in training camp in 2019, but we absolutely need a cheaper stopgap FA and a higher pick at TE. The cupboard is bare.

That said, points 3-7 are right on IMO. ARod absolutely needs a reset, 2019 is going to set the bar for Gute, Pettine has done well with less than a stacked deck, there is a LOT of Ted's leftover dead weight on this roster that MUST be removed post haste, and there is also a lot of promise from the young players. This is a better and younger roster than 2018's. Hopefully, 2019 will be even better and even younger.

I am surprised you didn't mention the right side of the OL... a lot of interest there. Bulaga is on literally his 8th knee/ankle/hip.. dude is on fumes. Spriggs has busted so far... no replacements on the roster...

Tim Backes's picture

I like GMo, but there's not a ton of reason to think he's going to be back in 2019. He's a free agent, and with all the other guys they've got at receiver looking to get playing time, I don't think it's much of a guarantee the team values him enough to bring him back given what they've got behind him.

I agree with you that there's a lot of potential among the young receivers, my main point was that none of them can yet be counted on to be a true #2. I like what we saw out of EQ and MVS in particular at various points of the year. This offseason is going to be huge in their progression. But I don't think you can really feel *great* about the position when you're likely going into an offseason without a legit #2 (assuming Cobb isn't coming back).

If it were up to me I probably wouldn't bring Graham back either, but I can see the argument for giving him another crack considering the cap space the Packers have and the fact that at least two of the other tight ends are probably also being shown the door after this season.

Agreed on the right side of the line, going to be real interesting to see what happens there. I'll always have a bit of "what if" when it comes to Cole Madison... what kind of player could he have been at the guard spot occupied by Byron Bell most of the year? Bulaga is definitely just about broken down for good, dude can still play when he's healthy but he can't be relied on to give you a full season any more.

Bearmeat's picture

See, I think they'll re-sign GMo. His injury this year is going to keep him from being really expensive in the market. And he has been successful here. I think bringing him back will give ARod some comfort when Randall isn't re-signed and Graham is cut....

And I think he will be a good #2. JMO.

Rossonero's picture

G-Mo is also a restricted free agent, so we'll get the first crack at re-signing him, and he shouldn't be too expensive.

Bearmeat's picture

Yep.

Tim Backes's picture

You're right about that -- thanks for the correction, Rossonero.

HankScorpio's picture

Pretty good discussion on Allison. Tim made a strong case but in the end, I'm closer to Bearmeat's point. Allison was solid before he got hurt. I would not be terribly surprised to see them over-tender him just to make him less tempting of a target. Then hope he ends up playing for the tender to kick the bigger choice to next fall or winter. He's not established enough to really pay yet. But he is established enough that I think they want him back.

Oppy's picture

Agreed, Bearmeat.

I don't know why they -wouldn't- make the attempt to re-sign Geronimo.

Rodgers loves him and if you take the numbers he put up in 2018 and project those out to a full season, he was producing like a sound #2 WR.

Even if he wasn't producing like a #2 wr... why wouldn't you keep him around? Most teams carry 5-7 WRs on the roster. If you don't think he's a legit #2, he's clearly capable of being 3,4,5, etc.

I assume if Gmo isn't a Packer in 2019, it will be because another team made him an offer he couldn't refuse.. but I also think he knows having a Rodgers' trust and backing when he's known to have trust issues with WRs makes staying in GB attractive for an UDFA guy like Allison.

Old School's picture

A lot of people are assuming Geronimo will be the guy he was before the injury, surgery, and rehab. I'm not so sure.

I do think there's a chance that some of this years rookies will be better next year.

Old School's picture

A lot of people are assuming Geronimo will be the guy he was before the injury, surgery, and rehab. I'm not so sure.

I do think there's a chance that some of this years rookies will be better next year.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Kyle Murphy was cut..jyst fyi..

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That means GB had zero interest in Murphy. He must have passed his physical, but GB still waived him even though they could have left him on IR at a cost of just $30K and retained his rights for 2019.

I've brought up the issues about Allison a few times. A $4M or so tender means we'd get a 2nd round pick if another team tries to sign him. No team will give us a 2nd so we'd definitely keep him. A $2.1M gives us the right of first refusal but no draft compensation. Pros and cons to that. GB could just offer him an extension.

sonomaca's picture

Cutting Jordy was a big mistake. He’s acting as a sort of player-coach in Oakland, while producing on the field (when healthy). He really could have mentored MVS, EQ, and J’Mon, just as he mentored Adams and Cobb back in the day. Some people credit Amari Cooper’s progress to Nelson. Ditto for Marcel Ateman, who was supposed to lack NFL talent.

I think Gute should look to reaquire him, if possible, although Gruden and Carr are big Jordy fans.

BradHTX's picture

While it’s not unusual to get the occasional “They shouldn’t have cut Jordy” opinion even now, this has to be the Hot Take Of The Week, claiming that Jordy is somehow responsible for Amari Cooper’s “progress.”

Cooper made the Pro Bowl his first two seasons in the league before having a down year in 2017. It’s not like he was setting the world on fire this season before getting traded to the Cowboys following week 6 — two games out of six with 100+ yds is a rate of production pretty consistent for his career. Training camp and six regular season games in a four year career is barely a cup of coffee together, professionally.

I actually agree with your larger point about bringing him back, if it were in a coaching capacity rather than as a player. He has value as a mentor, no doubt. But seriously, to assign him any role in Cooper’s development really feels like a reach. I mean, unless Cooper has said so in an interview or something.

HankScorpio's picture

"A $4M or so tender means we'd get a 2nd round pick if another team tries to sign him"

I'd be inclined to give him that 2nd round tender and let him start the season on it. They have plenty of cap room to do that. I can't imagine that another team would pay enough to pry him away and give up their 2nd to do it. If I'm wrong about that, they go from 3 picks in the top 50 to 4 picks in the top 64 (or better). It puts the Packers in a good place whether or not they are able to retain him.

Projecting his first 4 games to a full 16 would have put him at 1100 yards and 8 TDs. To me, that's definitely worth $4 mil. That might draw some bigger interest at the no-compensation tender level. It only takes 1 of 31 other teams, after all. But since he's yet to actually do that, I'm not inclined to think he's worth signing to a bigger $$, longer-term deal.

jeepingmakooi's picture

Let Cobb and Gmo go. Allison has had flashes but I don't see him being better then mvs or eab. I'd like to get a speedy slot guy to fill that role and leave esb or mvs on the outside... I'd like djack but I have read he is a locker room issue so not him exactly... Maybe even Adam humpries who I know has been on a couple teams but he showed he could be a play maker this year in a pass happy offense in Tampa.

As for Graham I think he will get a year two in GB... But Lewis and Kendricks can see the door. I'd like to see a decent draft pick spent on the position... Maybe one of the Iowa guys or Irv Smith... Bring in someone like Demetrius Harris as a free agent and we keep big Bob.
Right guard play this year was atrocious and I still don't understand why they didn't bring Evans back in. I'm hoping that the guy we brought in from the Ravens pa can provide some details at a minimum for us... But outside of center and left tackle... Our line needs some work... Kudos to bulaga this year to playing hurt and still being pretty good.
Saftey and edge rusher have to be addressed... Idc if it's free agency or top draft capital or both... We need bodies that can perform... Kudos to facrell giving us all the bird this year and getting double digit sacks. Middle linebacjer play needs to be addressed... If clay takes a home town deal move him inside.. I'd like him to end his career a packer.
I still believe in Lowery Lancaster Clark and bike Mike. I don't think we need to resign Wilkerson unless it's cheap as can be...
Take special teams and burn it down.. start completely over..
I'm hoping we bring in someone that's offensive minded and reset the offense and let's Pettine stay. I think for what he had to work with he did well

Of course all this is subject to any scheme changes.

Packer Dave's picture

I think Gute is going to have a monster offseason. We haven't had this much draft capital and cap space in a while.

There is a lot of talent on this team despite what the record shows. The personnel usuage was atrocious as you mentioned. Guys like Tonyan, Jones, Lewis are easy examples.

Community Guy's picture

i am curbing my enthusiasm a bit on both the 2019 draft capital and cap space excitement. part of my reduced excitement stems from the performance of the Saints this year.. they have already made sure that their 1st rounder that was traded to the Packers is very late. mostly though, i am not sure about the depth of the 2019 draft class as opposed to, say, last year's draft class. the extra draft capital the Packers have for 2019 simply may not be as potent as in other years. of course, time will tell if this theory is true.

my biggest "back down to Earth" point: the Packers' 2019 cap space (presumably useful to pursue 2019 free agents) needs to be viewed as relative to the cap space of all of the other teams. that is, the purchasing power of the Packers' available cap space is only useful if that cap space is enough for the Packers to outbid a competitor in the market (assuming X free agent is looking to sign with the highest bidder). unfortunately, there are going to be a handful of teams in the league which will be well-positioned to easily outbid the Packers for the desired free agent. so, i see free agency for the Packers in 2019 as similar to free agency in past years when Packer free agent acquisitions will generally be second-tier free agent types who may ably fill holes in the roster but will not likely be impact players for the organization.

Lare's picture

As the article mentions, there's quite a bit of overpaid dead weight on this roster. The question is if Gutekunst is willing to cut his losses now or if he decides to continue to overpay them at the expense of improving the team.

Players like Cobb, Bulaga, Taylor, Matthews, Perry, Crosby, and Graham should only be brought back at drastically reduced (veteran minimum) salaries or simply let go. Others like like Spriggs, Murphy, Kendricks and Lewis should just be let go.

It's time for the Packers to move on, you don't improve by staying the same.

Bearmeat's picture

Perry has absolutely no incentive to agree to a pay cut. Even if we cut him, he still keeps his signing bonus. We get stuck with the dead money. And someone will take a flier on him at more than the veteran minimum.

That's not to say I don't want to cut him. I do. Along with Bulaga. I'd just want a contingency plan in place before we do. 2 speculative shots on FA OLB and OTs who haven't worked out at their previous place of employment for example...

Tim Backes's picture

I almost forgot Perry was even on the team, which says quite a bit right there.

Old School's picture

Bulaga and Perry will both be back.

But Cobb will not. And Matthews would have to agree to a much more modest contract.

Accelerating cap hits by cutting starters limits what we can do in
FA and creates unnecessary holes in the roster.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I am not so sure, Bearmeat: I think Perry does have an incentive to take a pay cut. I assume that when Perry signed his 2nd contract, he had decided to remain an OLB rather than moving back to DE. He could change his mind. Particularly if GB moves on from CM3, Perry is sure to get a real chance to prove himself as an OLB in GB since he has practically no competition. I don't think his market price is terribly high, so perhaps GB could have for a reduction of $5M that he can earn back through incentives.

I think you're wrong about Bulaga. He'd probably like to play out 2019 and try for one last contract with a signing bonus in 2020. However, if released, someone would throw $6M at a minimum at him. I think there is no chance of Bulaga being released. If GB moves on from him they will do it by trading him for whatever they can get.

Coldworld's picture

I don’t see any chance of Baluga being let go at this point. I do see action being taken to prepare for his eventual replacement.

There are few ace tackles likely to hit free agency, therefore improvements will likely be via the draft. For that reason, I think both Baluga and Spriggs will be back. Spriggs has shown some signs of improvement and is our first reserve. I think he will enter the season in that role alongside a reasonably high draft pick behind Baluga.

I would expect guard to be an area where we might look at a free agent acquisition as well as drafting new blood in the later rounds.

HankScorpio's picture

"The question is if Gutekunst is willing to cut his losses now or if he decides to continue to overpay them at the expense of improving the team."

I go back to his intro presser last January. Gute said something along the lines that when you know a player is not part of the future, you move on. He did it with jordy, Damarious Randall, Brett Hundley, HHCD and Monty. He did it again today by cutting Kyle Murphy from IR. He didn't really have a plan to replace any of them. Right or wrong, he was decisive in cutting away what he viewed as dead weight.

If that trend continues, those guys you mentioned may very well be the next ones out the door.

sonomaca's picture

Really could have used Randall and Jordy this year. Randall was mishandled in GB from the get-go. Then, when he got frustrated they dumped him on grounds of “ bad attitude.” Sad.

sonomaca's picture

Randall has become a borderline Pro Bowl FS In Cleveland. Gute dumped Randall, kept HHCD, then dumped Ha-Ha. Now he’s got not virtually nothing at safety. Hmmm...

Coldworld's picture

He traded Randall for our #2 QB whom they were high on. Whether you agree on Kizer or not, hardly a dumping. We needed one.

The shame with Randall was that we seemed unable to have identified his best position or usage, a serious failing in the latter years of Capers and Thompson. Had Pettine had the chance with him, who knows what could have happened for Randall in GB.

We have Williams next year, but safety is an area I would expect to see some major investment in this off season.

packerbackerjim's picture

As for Randall, he appears to be the latest of talent developed by the team they were traded to: Heyward and Hyde being the others. It was quite ironic Whitt saying he wanted to be a HC someday but needed to first be a DC. I would have thought he needed to be a great position coach first. I can’t think of one player he has developed during his time in GB. I won’t miss MMs remnants.

packerbackerjim's picture

Correction: Campen has done a terrific job taking 4-7th round picks and coaching up to a decent OL. Given better picks he would do even better.

HankScorpio's picture

Here are the OL drafted by the Packers since Campen was promoted to head OL coach in 2007
1-Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod
2-Jason Spriggs
4-Allen Barbre, Josh Sitton, TJ Lang. David Bakhtiari, JC Tretter
5-Breno Giacomini, Jamon Meredith, Marshall Newhouse, Corey Linsley, Cole Madison
6-Caleb Schauderlaff, Kyle Murphy, Kofi Amichia
7-Andrew Datko

In those 11 years, his two most notable UDFA success stories were Lane Taylor and Don Barclay. I suppose opinion vary on Lucas Patrick and the book is not yet written on him.

If you want to throw in 2006, they took Colledge (2), Spitz (3) and Moll (5).

Campen has been almost magical with 4ths. Picks before that are 1 of 3 and picks after that are 1 of 9--at least in terms of what they did in GB. A couple of those guys carved out long careers after the Packers gave up on them.

The TKstinator's picture

Ditto on Randall, Hyde, Hayward. Very, very frustrating.

splitpea1's picture

Let the old players go--please!! At this point, most of them belong in a wax museum.

Coldworld's picture

Agree. Cobb is not good enough or resilient enough to impede the development of EQ or any of the young receivers. Simply put, these are the core of our future alongside Adams and Cobb will only impede their growth.

I see Allison back as a restricted FA, Kumerow and the three draft picks from this year being the core entering next year alongside Adams. If they think there is a hidden gem on the PS/roster (recent signing), it could be the quietest WR draft process in years. TE may be the opposite.

freddisch's picture

Not addressing the Ol in the coming year would be a major oversight by Gutekunst

Old School's picture

He didn't do much this year. He signed Bell and drafted a guy who never showed up. That's it.

Lare's picture

To me that was Gutekunst's biggest fail of last offseason. Many people expressed concerns about the lack of OL resources and it apparently fell on deaf ears. That and how on earth do you not do the due diligence necessary to exclude someone with emotional issues that won't even show up?

I'd like to give Gutekunst the benefit of the doubt, but the OL problems this year are directly related to the offensive problems and the final win/loss record.

That, and he should have forced McCarthy to fire Zook before the season. Even a blind squirrel could see that Zook is a terrible special teams coach.

The TKstinator's picture

GB needs some young, strong, guns a blazin’ OL prospects.

Ryan B Dub's picture

I don’t think you can cut Perry or Graham. You definitely can let Cobb, Kendricks, House, Pleasant, Bell, Ryan, Brice, and Brown slowly walk. The rest you have to think about.

Old School's picture

Agree with all your points except Brice. He's inexpensive and the best SS currently on the roster. Ryan is worth signing to a modest deal if his rehab is successful.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Brice makes too many mistakes.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Absolutely disagree on Brown. He looks like a keeper. Kendricks could come back on a vet min deal. Or not. We have plenty of holes in this roster. He can be cut in September if necessary or perhaps Gute finds someone better and younger.

Nick Perry's picture

Why on earth would you cut Tony Brown???

HankScorpio's picture

At the very least, Tony Brown should be brought to camp. Fadol Brown is a much tougher call than Tony. But I'd bring him to camp next fall, as well.

Coldworld's picture

Not sure about Pleasant or Fadol Brown (I assume). I would not be surprised if they gave them a roster chance through off season if they in anyway impressed the coaches.

Disagree on Ryan. He was missed in the Morrison role and I think will come back.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Take Reggie Gilbert and Jeff Janis just to name a couple and I have Vince Biegel to that list and Jason Spriggs

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Potential is OVER RATED

It does not win games.

LeotisHarris's picture

Perhaps, but the power of compound words cannot be denied.

Coldworld's picture

Lack of potential is even worse

The TKstinator's picture

LOL
(Kindred spirit)

Since '61's picture

I think that this season has confirmed what many of us discussed during the offseason.

1. The right side of the OL was a concern and it became a liability throughout the season. The OL weaknesses were compounded by a poor season from Taylor a many injuries along the OL. The right side of the OL and the quality of depth still need to be addressed.
2. Lack of depth behind our starting WRs this became all too clear early in the season as both Gmo and Cobb went down early. MVS and ESB showed some potential but also played like rookies and were non-factors for most of the season. We still need a game break type of WR to compliment Adams.
3. We had hope that our TE position would be improved with Graham's signing but he has been a disappointment and a non-factor at best. We still need a TE.

4. ON defense we discussed the OLB position group endlessly and that group proved to be a major liability for the defense. Perry as usual was a non-factor while healthy and then injured yet again. Chuck him. CM3 is fading further away with every game. Time to move on.
5. At safety we're back to pre-2014. We need to rebuild this position group. Keep T. Williams for the right price to provide depth and experience to whoever we bring in at Safety.
6. We still at least one more ILB. Martinez is a solid player but the rest of the rotation is very weak.
7. CB we found Alexander and he may evolve into a shut down corner. If King can stay on the field we could be set at CB for a long time.

While we confirmed the 7 items above we learned that our Special Teams were as bad as ever including Mason Crosby who cost us at least 2 games. This entire phase of the Packers roster needs to be rebuilt. Fire Zook and find a real ST coach who knows how to build an ST program.

We should complete the management make over with the chucking of Murphy. We have replaced the GM and soon the HC. I would not re-sign Murphy when his contract comes up in March. He allowed the Packers roster to decline for far too long.

We need a new HC and staff, better players and as fans we need plenty of patience. Thanks, Since '61

Coldworld's picture

I wholeheartedly agree on Murphy. He presided over what is now clear was a long downward spiral and then promoted himself as the solution. Can’t understand why so many give him a free ride on the back of his real estate work.

HankScorpio's picture

There is no doubt in my mind that Murphy waited too long to move on from TT. People make mistakes. How they go about correcting them is most important, IMO.

I'm not particularly comfortable with Murphy assuming an expanded role just yet. Mostly because I'm not sure exactly what he's doing. If he's simply taking a more hands-on role in managing the football operations staff, that is a good reaction to correcting his mistake with TT.
He is well qualified to manage people and showed some competence in doing so as a college AD. His playing days background means he can speak the language of football fluently enough to make sure everyone has the tools to do their job and is succeeding at it. He can also see through them trying to "baffle him with BS".

OTOH, if he's extending that expanded role to "helping" Gute, Ball and the next HC with their day to day job function, well, he's never been a scout, capologist or coach. And he should not try to start now.

Since '61's picture

If I was consulting the Packers on their organization I would recommend either that they do not extend Murphy when his contract is up or that they put him in charge of all non-football operations and put Gute in charge of all football operations and let him do his job and choose his own HC.

Murphy can work on other revenue streams on a full time basis. Gute can focus on the football side 100% which is critically needed at this point as the decisions made this offseason can make the difference between returning to the playoffs consistently or returning to the NFL wasteland for a long time.

It was fine to have Gute, Ball and MM reporting to Murphy for the one year transitional period which is now ending. It's time to get everyone involved with the football side to be 100% focused on the on-field product and results. By the very nature of Murphy's current role he can't be 100% focused on the team and the downside risk of him hurting the team further is an unnecessary risk if he believes that Gute was the correct choice for GM. If he doesn't believe that Gute was the best choice then we have an entirely different problem. Commit to Gute, let him do the job and evaluate him accordingly. That would be my first of many recommendations that I would make to the Packers organization. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

Totally agree '61. I hope the executive committee is waiting out Murphy's contract to give him a graceful exit. While I have been extremely hard on Murphy the football guy. His handing of the non football side has been nothing less than outstanding. His work and leadership will put the Packers on a sound financial footing for years to come, when the down slide in TV revenues comes. That said, I want Murphy gone. As he has shown, there will be no wall between him and player development. And as owners like the Fords, and the Jones have done, nothing good comes their involvement in front office decisions. We as fans, have seen the damage Murphy has done to the front office under the last two years of Ted Thompson. At the very least, Gute deserves to rise, or fall on his own merits, not having a backstabbing 'president' picking over his and his teams every move.

Lare's picture

I haven't seen enough of the "football" side of Murphy to form an educated decision yet, but if his hanging on to Thompson & McCarthy a few years past when they should have been released is any indication this next coaching hire probably isn't going to end up well.

I agree in that I think Murphy should just let Gutekunst make the HC decision, but that doesn't seem to be the case so we'll just have to wait a few years until we see how this decision ends up.

If it ends up badly, it'll cost both Murphy & Gutekunst their jobs. And although Gutekunst will have a good chance of getting another job, I doubt if Murphy will never get hired in the NFL again.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

So, many holes. I do like Breeland and J. Jackson and I do like good flashes from Tony Brown.

Safety position other strong and free safety need to be addressed big time.

Martinez is not great but solid player.
The rest of the LB are no good.

K.Fack had some good sacks. Still unsure about him, but kudos.

I like Aaron Jones obviously and J. Williams, but we need another solid RB.

Tight End - Here we go again. This will have to be our 32nd pick.

Bulaga needs to be moved to RG and we need a right tackle..

K. Clark is good and Daniels good, but slacked off this year, so our 1st pick needs to be Defensive linenan or offensive RT.

The TKstinator's picture

Are you saying you were at Mardi Gras with Tony Brown?

And, how would you know such personal info re: K Fack??

Nick Perry's picture

Tight End....NOAH FANT PLEEEEASE!!!!

Oppy's picture

I just don't see a lack of depth at WR in the least.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Packers have jokes as well 6-8-1

Holecrap's picture

My thought at the begging of the season is that the Bears are due and the Vikes D didnt go down hill yet so if anything, this was going to be a battle this year for position in the NFC North.
To me what I witnessed was:
1. Pass rush. Forget the inury bs, this team had no pass rush when everyone was healthy. Perry Mathews too old now.
2. Pass d is still a mess. How can you just play off the receivers and come up and make tackles after the fact the entire game. How many intercepts this year? Poor tackling abeit better than last year.
3. Run game is ok but just seams to be a real lack of speed. More power, not quickness and speed to freeze the linebackers.
4. Coaching sucked but we fixed that. Kind Of

Lot of needs for this team and not enough picks and free agent talent to fix it in one off year.

sonomaca's picture

Pettine likes to put his chips in the defensive backfield. Can get the job done without elite Edge talent.

Coldworld's picture

We have, when fit, a really disruptive interior of the DL and depth emerging behind there perhaps too. Imagine what the whole line could be if there was real threat on the outside!

To me, this is the single most important are to address this off season. It could change the whole D on its own.

albert999's picture

SIGN Joe Flacco as #1 back up QB

sonomaca's picture

No thanks.

Razer's picture

This is a fairly concise recap of the year that was or wasn't for our Packers. Good article Tim. I have so many mixed feelings about this team and the poor showing this year I hardly know what to conclude. These things stood out:

Injuries: Pretty hard to play with the big boys when many of your starters are in the training room. Posters have mentioned WR depth but let's not forget that our #2 and #3 options missed most or all of the season. Same goes for DL, OL, secondary. All of which leads to my second point...

Depth: It is painfully obvious that Ted Thompson left this team without a lot of talent options. Let's thank him for building an early winner but 4 to 5 years of misses and FA avoidance has caught up to this team.

Coaching: Mike McCarthy is a good man but he too needed to be turned over. His inaction on Capers, Slocum/Zook, Winston Moss, QB coach contributed to this year's slide. How we aren't a top 5 offense with Aaron Rodgers continues to baffle. Not building a solid run game and under utilizing a stocked TE room handicapped this team at a time when we really needed their contribution. Yes - it was time to rebuild the coaching staff.

I hope that Gutekunst gets the guy that HE wants and he hits it out of the park this off-season. Year two of this rebuild may be all that he gets.

CDC Dave Retired's picture

It all starts with the hiring of a new HC is critical.
Ergo: Eric Bieniemy checkes all the boxes.
Through the first round and free agency the offensive line must
be upgraded.

wildbill's picture

Quite a long list of players that people are wanting to cut. The only problem with that is that there is no guarantee that the replacement will be better. And other than the draft we will be competing with 31 other teams for quality talent, some with much larger cap space. I don’t envision a major overhaul with the realities of the NFL being present.

Bure9620's picture

We learned how important special teams really are, if we had not already from the Seattle NFCCG debacle. Even if this team plays the way it had offensively and defensively, Missed field goals and 1 XP in Detoit and Ty bringing the ball out likely cost us 2 wins. One reason for the Patriots success is they have consistently been good on teams because Belichick puts an enormous emphsis on teams. The Patriots beat the Bears this year because of 2 critical special teams plays. Special teams can be the great equalizing field flipper in Football.

DD's picture

Most of the article is correct. I see a lot of changes coming at different positions. Players were given a great opportunity to shine and it showed their value. Dont hope for third year players fi make the cut. Gut the group and get some tough gamers. One thing missed, Kumerow will be a star receiver, mark it.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Missing your 2 and 3 receiving options only matters when they should have been on the team in the first place. Cobb has earned his release and he earned it prior to the season. His fumbles and drops have impacted the team and wins far more than his limited production has justified.

Every snap he took hurt the rookie WRs two of them looking like they could be finds, although MVS sure seems to have hit the rookie wall. That wall is a real wall and this bodes well for next year.

Cobb bodes badly, so does CM3. they have to go. At his current price Bulaga has to go.

The far bigger problem on offense was coaching. Bad play design, bad identification of talent, bad use of talent. Ignorant play calling and worse situational football. Special teams were a disaster on a scale not seen before even in Green Bay under MM who was known as a world leader of bad special teams.

Since91's picture

WR Depth Chart 2019
Adams
Fitzgerald
St Brown
D Jackson wants out of TB (Mr Deep Threat)
GMO
MVS
Kumerow
What do you guys think?

Bure9620's picture

I doubt we go after Larry Fitz or Jackson

Since91's picture

My free agent targets are:
If not franchised
Clowney
Mosley
Collins
Any of three above players quickly becomes our best defensive player
Others
Fitzgerald can’t wait for a rookie to develop
Gilchrist at SS
Boston at FS if Collins is franchised
Saffold at RG
Flowers edge
Clark edge
Pretty good start????

Lare's picture

The problem at this stage is knowing who on your list may actually be available. First we have the franchise & transition tags, and then around half the teams in the NFL will have more cap space than the Packers, some with twice as much. And then you have the Jets with over $100 million in cap space and the Colts with over $120 million in cap space.

This means that some teams will have boatloads of cash to be throwing at the players they want. It also means that it's less of an incentive for players like Mathews & Cobb to sign team friendly deals, and others like Bulaga and Perry to agree to a pay cut.

In addition to all the potential coaching changes, it will be interesting to see what Gutekunst can do to fill some of the huge holes on this roster. Especially considering the holes are at the same positions that many other NFL teams are trying to improve.

Since91's picture

I agree Lare
but this is more of an idea like wish list
im just tired of relying on rookies all the time
some veteran blood is needed

Since91's picture

By the way Noah Fant at TE is my draft favorite please let him be there with the saints pick....He fixes the TE position day one on campus

Matt Gonzales's picture

1. There have been locker room issues festering that finally broke free this year. MM list the confidence of his team, and that's a damn shame.

2. AR needs to swallow his pride and spend an off-season with Tom House. He can still be an MVP quarterback with a renewed focus on fundamentals.

3. Everyone complaining about Jones not getting enough touches at the start of the season should remember that he ended the last two years sidelined with knee injuries.

4. Gute probably batted .666 with his 2018 WR draft picks, and that is probably good enough to move in from Cobb if they want to.

4b. I sincerely hope they don't as he is an incredibly effective role player in the slot when healthy.

5. Don't EVER take depth for granted, especially with big guys (OL and DL especially).

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