Some people told me not to rip apart something from Bob McGinn, because people love Bob McGinn, but honestly, this has so many issues it would be crueler not to rip it apart.
I mean, what if it happens again? Then people will stop liking Bob and JS readership will erode and they’ll go under and we’ll have to get all of our news from Begel. I’m doing a public service here. (Article in bold)
It’s one thing to be confident. It’s another to be smug.
Listening to Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers and others last week, it would appear as if the Green Bay Packers think they can just roll the balls out next season and be a prime contender for the Super Bowl.
The Packers went 8-7-1 last year and won their division. Their MVP Hall of Fame level quarterback missed basically 8 games (we’re going to call it 8 because, let’s face it, they win that Bear game if Aaron doesn’t get hurt). With him they’re probably closer to 11-12 wins, maybe with a 1st round playoff bye. So yeah, probably.
All this stuff about finishing strong and overcoming adversity has to stop.
They won 3 of their last 4, almost beat a very good Pitt team with Matt Flynn and almost beat the reigning NFC champs in the 1st round of the playoffs. I’d say they finished pretty strong all things considered.
The Packers didn’t finish strong. They were on their home field in their kind of weather and in ideal position to beat a powerful foe in the playoff opener. Then they blew it in the last six minutes.
PACKER WEATHER! I think basically everyone knows at this point that the Packers aren’t really built specifically to play in bad weather anymore. I mean, Eddie Lacy and James Starks give them the ability to do so, but this is more of a precision passing team and they really do prefer being in domes. Calling it “their kind of weather” is silly and Bob would have known this had he interviewed 3 “personnel men” on December 31st:
"Forget about that they’re from California," the scout said. "If you had the Saints coming there you’d feel great. But the 49ers are built like a cold-weather team. As a matter of fact, they’re built better than the cold-weather team.
They also didn’t overcome adversity. The Packers lose their starting quarterback for the first time in 21 years and are proud of going 2-5-1 against a soft schedule (five at home) without him?
It’s pretty easy to replace Aaron Rodgers and still make the playoffs. Remember when the Colts lost Peyton Manning for the entire season? They courageously fought hard every game; got the #1 overall pick, drafted Andrew Luck, and now they’re right back in the playoffs!
Let’s be clear about something else. The NFC North championship was more about the Detroit Lions pulling a colossal fold than the Green Bay Packers doing anything wonderful.
If you were planning for a significant loss on offense and how you were going to cope, you definitely would want to assume that the extremely well-coached Detroit Lions would not completely collapse down the stretch as that is completely unprecedented (I’m going to miss you Jim Schwartz). I would also point out that the Packers did actually have to win a few games to make this happen, and the Bears were also a factor.
From the sound of things, the Packers — aside from a tweak here and a tweak there — plan to keep on operating the way they always have under Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.
In case they missed it, pro football has moved on since the Packers’ lone Super Bowl in their eight seasons as partners.
The Packers won the 2010 Super Bowl against the Steelers. The next year the New York Giants won it in a rematch with the Patriots with a team very similar to the one they used to win it in 2008 over the Patriots. Great front 4, elite defense, Eli Manning, good receivers, power running game. Apparently pro football has moved on back to 2008. It is also worth mentioning that said Giants team had to go through the Packers to reach and win the Super Bowl.
In 2012 the Ravens won with a very good defense and an OK offense that had a nice month at the right time. They beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl, who had to go through the Packers to get there. So the Packers basically keep losing to Super Bowl caliber teams. If you’re only going to mention the Joe Webb Viking debacle, it’s only fair to mention the other side of the equation too.
While the Packers were beating the Joe Webb-quarterbacked Vikings for their only postseason triumph since the 45th Super Bowl,
See what I mean?
NFC upstarts Seattle, Carolina and San Francisco — a combined 15-33 in 2010 when Green Bay was winning it all — drafted dynamic quarterbacks and made vast improvements to marginal defenses.
The playoffs are often more about matchups than anything and the Packers have had some tough ones, and these tend to balance out over time. The Packers actually had very favorable matchups in 2010 and made the most of it. The last 2 years they’ve run into Super Bowl caliber teams. It happens.
But I don’t want to talk about that right now, I want to talk about the Seattle Seahawks “drafting a dynamic quarterback.” First of all, those 3 guys – they sure are “dynamic” aren’t they? Hard to think of a more “dynamic” bunch. I mean, I may have thrown Andrew Luck in there too, but that’s just me. I wonder why Bob didn’t.
Second, it’s true that they drafted Russell Wilson in the 3rd round and he won the starter’s job and now commands a Super Bowl favorite, but that wasn’t exactly the plan in Seattle. The plan in Seattle was to have $26,000,000 Matt Flynn (with $10,000,000 guaranteed) quarterback that team. Hey, maybe the Packers DID learn something from the Seahawks*!
It might have been a terrible year in the division, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way.
Yeah, Aaron Rodgers probably won’t miss half a season again.
The Vikings panicked and missed on Christian Ponder, but with the No. 8 pick in the draft they’ll probably be right back in the quarterback hunt.
And they’ve had so much practice at this between drafting Ponder and signing Josh Freeman for no reason, they’re bound to get it right this time. I’m sure whoever is left after Bridgewater and Bortles go before they get to pick will be a dominant franchise QB.
If the Vikings find the next Russell Wilson, Cam Newton or Colin Kaepernick, they have more than enough good young players to be right back in the division race next season and beyond.
This is true for basically every single bad team in the NFL.
Ill-tempered and arrogant Jim Schwartz, whose teams were always undisciplined,
Can’t believe they collapsed!
did get the Lions out of jail. Whoever the next coach is would be a better choice than Schwartz to erase the stench of that 1-6 finish.
I like that he posits that literally anyone is better than Schwartz. X will wipe the stench off this 1-6 finish.
And aggressive general manager Phil Emery, already having built a formidable offense, will be using every means at his disposal in an attempt to rebuild the broken defense in Chicago.
Defensive players drafted by Phil Emery – Shea McClellin, Brandon Hardin, Isaiah Frey, Greg McCoy, Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, Cornelius Washington. I am shaking in my boots.
Meanwhile, in Green Bay, McCarthy on Wednesday talked about what might have been in 2013 and, as his quarterback did a day earlier, a championship window they don’t foresee closing any time soon.
The Packers could forget how fortunate they were that the Lions self-destructed and bask in their third straight NFC North crown and fifth straight playoff berth.
The T-shirts around town say division champs, baby. How can you argue with success?
You could point out a bunch of shortcomings that have nothing to do with Rodgers being gone as if they’re big deals.
Or the Packers can take a long look at themselves, admit to their many shortcomings and failings and come back as a more vibrant organization under old standbys Thompson, McCarthy, Rodgers and Dom Capers.
None of those four men has any reason to feel good about the recent past.
They are 34-13-1 since their last Super Bowl. Did I mention they won a Super Bowl?
Thompson has made his share of outstanding picks in the draft. It’s his area of expertise, and his drafting record over the years is better than the norm.
Hey, there’s something else to feel good about! Better than average drafts.
Last year, Thompson went blithely along with McCarthy on the idea that Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman were capable backups when everyone in America knew that they weren’t. Given Vince Young’s mental limitations, his signing Aug. 5 made no sense, either.
The Packers did with Harrell and Coleman exactly what they’d done before many times, sometime with great success as with the Brunell’s and Hasselbeck’s and Aaron Rodgers’ of the world, and sometime less so with the Matt Flynn’s and Doug Pederson’s of the world. They draft a cheap backup or two who may develop into something more, figuring that they probably won’t win if Aaron goes down anyway. They basically try to turn a wasted position into an asset, much like how Billy Beane used to create and trade closers for the A’s. Vince Young was once viewed as a very talented player and bringing him in as they did was a no-risk high-reward play.
If Thompson hadn’t dawdled for a week before bringing back Matt Flynn, the Packers might have gone 2-0 against the Giants and Vikings instead of 0-1-1.
Probably not. Matt Flynn did a heck of a job for a pretty untalented quarterback, though he did almost single-handedly cost them the Pitt game. But even assuming they win those two games, they finish 10-6 and get…the 4th seed in the playoffs. So signing Flynn earlier would have changed nothing. At all. Under McGinn’s best case scenario.
Thompson made another mistake when he didn’t sign another center after Greg Van Roten was done for the season Sept. 30. When Evan Dietrich-Smith couldn’t play an entire game, at least two changes in the line had to be made and the offense fell apart against the Eagles and Lions.
Maybe, but center’s don’t exactly grow on trees (see the Jeff Saturday debacle from last year). And against the Eagles the Packers actually sacked Nick Foles (3-17) more than the Eagles sacked Scott Tolzien (1-8). The Lions have one of the best defensive lines in football when they actually decide to show up. And every time you add one player you have to cut another. Backup centers are pretty limited in what they can contribute.
A secret to the Packers’ continued success has been their ability to identify core players early and sign them to slightly below-market contracts. Thompson’s decision to give Morgan Burnett a big-money extension in mid-July and then watch him perform like a free agent should have rocked the franchise’s draft-and-develop model.
One guy? One guy underperforming should change your entire personnel philosophy?
As good as the Packers have been acquiring extra draft picks, there usually aren’t enough of them to close all the holes. The safety position in Green Bay the past two years is a perfect example.
It’s a decent example, but they lost their awesome safety of the future to a horrible neck injury, and it’s not like they haven’t spent resources at the position. Missing on draft picks hurts, but not as much as missing on free agents. I think that’s what Ted would tell you.
Thompson’s aversion to veteran acquisition, whether through unrestricted free agency, street free agency or trade, must end for the Packers to hang with the top teams.
34-13-1 since the Super Bowl with their current philosophy.
John Schneider, Dave Gettleman and Trent Baalke, the personnel-oriented GMs in Seattle, Carolina and San Francisco, have their teams among the final four in the NFC partly because of their veteran additions.
In the trades of 2013, look what Anquan Boldin did for the 49ers,
They went from 11-4-1 and winning the NFC West and playing in a Super Bowl to 12-4 and being a Wild Card…
what Alex Smith did for the Chiefs,
I think Alex Smith is actually a pretty decent quarterback and that he was a pretty major upgrade from Matt Cassel, but I will forever argue that the biggest addition to the Chiefs was Andy Reid replacing a truly incompetent coaching staff, and that they would have hugely improved even with the same personnel. Also, they made it exactly as far as the Packers.
what LeGarrette Blount did for the Patriots,
Oh come on. The Patriots are probably the closest thing to the Packers in terms of relying on drafted players and cast-offs. Getting Blount for a song is the kind of thing the Packers have been ripped for by many people prior to drafting Eddie Lacy. LaGarrette Blount is basically Cedric Benson. Praising the Patriots’ player acquisition strategy while ripping the Packers is just…
what Jerry Hughes (10 sacks) did for the Bills, what Carson Palmer did for the Cardinals and what Jon Beason did for the Giants.
Hughes was a good get. Beason, who played a combined 5 games in 2011 and 2012 had a fine season for a Giants team that went nowhere. Palmer was fine except that he was something like the 20th best QB in the league and they still missed the playoffs and have a terrible offense.
In free agency, some of the wise signings on offense were tight end Martellus Bennett by the Bears, guards Louis Vasquez by the Broncos and Matt Slauson by the Bears, and running back Danny Woodhead by the Chargers.
All fine signings. Should I point out that none of these players would have helped the Packers with what we knew at the beginning of the season? That Finley was about as good as Bennett? That the Packer offensive line is actually quite strong at guard? That RB is strength, anchored by cheap talent?
The list on defense includes ends Michael Bennett by the Seahawks and Mike DeVito by the Chiefs, nose tackle Glenn Dorsey by the 49ers, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby by the Cardinals, outside linebacker John Abraham by the Cardinals, cornerback Keenan Lewis by the Saints, safety Glover Quin by the Lions, kicker Phil Dawson by the 49ers and receiver-returner Ted Ginn Jr. by the Panthers.
Look, some of these are fine signings, though including Phil Dawson is pretty hilarious, but the biggest problem with this whole section is that it ignores a bunch of terrible signings. Steven Jackson was awful for the Falcons. Danny Amendola got $10 million guaranteed from the Pats to barely play and be a worse version of Julian Edelman. The Vikings gave Greg Jennings 18 million guaranteed. The Dolphins gave Mike Wallace a huge pointless contract. And if we’re talking about emulating the “elite teams” of the recent past, maybe the dumbest thing you could possibly do is make Joe Flacco the highest paid QB in NFL history. And missing on a free agent can be crippling to your cap. If you miss on a draft pick it sucks but you can just cut the guy and try again. If you miss on a free agent it has serious consequences.
Green Bay’s only signing was Matthew Mulligan.
"They have no pro department up there," an executive in personnel said. "Ted does some good things in drafting but they don’t do (expletive) in personnel.
"Ted has shut it down lately. They’ve gone stone cold. They have not been utilizing all the markets. Now it’s caught up to him."
Wow! I didn’t realize it was so dire! They have no pro department, I mean that’s just…
If Thompson trusts himself, pro personnel director Eliot Wolf and others in the building, he’ll resume activity in free agency and seek bargain-priced or market-priced veterans to augment the draft.
Wait, what’s that?
pro personnel director Eliot Wolf and others in the building
So…they do have a pro department. And not just one guy either. “Others in the building.”
As one scout put it, “You start at 8-8 when you have a franchise quarterback.”
Pretty impressive to finish better than that with half a season of the Flynn/Tolzien/Wallace monster then.
McCarthy deserves a degree of credit for developing Rodgers. He deserves blame for not being able to function better without him.
I’m not surprised that the Packers struggled without Aaron Rodgers but do you know who is surprised? Journal-Sentinel Packer Beat Writer Bob McGinn, who on November 2nd wrote an article titled:
Packers could win without Aaron Rodgers
He’s the quarterback/offensive/play-calling guru. He didn’t get it done with Harrell, Coleman and Young, and when push came to shove he didn’t get it done with Seneca Wallace or Scott Tolzien, either.
Try as he might, McCarthy failed to win a game for a month. In that period, he couldn’t rally the team the way some great coaches in similar straits have done over the decades.
I like the “he failed to win a game for a month” line because it ignores the tie. McGinn should try being a hockey writer sometime, he already has the lingo down. Anyway, the Packers didn’t “win” in November, however Mike then did “rally the team” (whatever that means)to win 3 out of 4 in December to make the playoffs! It was very exciting how they rallied! Maybe Bob stopped watching games in November and missed the rally.
It also would have helped if McCarthy could have counted on his special teams more when Rodgers wasn’t around to outscore the opposition. Unlike coaches that have had to make do without a great quarterback, he never had to depend on his kicking game for field position and points.
I’m with Bob on this. The Packers have atrocious special teams, especially in coverage, but it’s worth noting that injuries really kill your special teams because your normal special teamers are playing starter minutes.
Bill Walsh never seemed to care. If McCarthy really does care, you wouldn’t know it by the performance of his special teams for much of his tenure.
As for the overriding problem of injuries, McCarthy either has the most fragile or the unluckiest team in the league. The Packers need to find tougher players from the standpoint of injuries (see Eddie Lacy), but I’m not sure McCarthy or any of his advisers have a clue how to do it.
The Packers, Panthers and Patriots (among a few others) have been consistently injury-plagued for years now. Typically this kind of thing regresses to the mean, but not with them. I’m not really sure why either, but I know of one theory which I will quote here:
“However, given that Thompson excels at finding talent on the fringes, it makes sense that a) some of that talent is going to have flaws that kept them from going high (for example, being undersized or injury prone) and b) Thompson’s ability to scrounge up good freely available talent minimizes the actual risk of bringing in players with injury concerns. That’s the kind of player-acquisition style that can keep a team both infused with talent and constantly managing injuries, a tradeoff the Packers are more than willing to make.” – Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac
The pipeline from Thompson to the defense has all but dried up after the draft-day trade for Clay Matthews in 2009. That has placed undue burden on Capers, but as someone regarded by many in football as a top-five to top-10 coordinator it’s incumbent upon him to perform better than this.
Why doesn’t anyone like Mike Daniels? That guy is good!
In the last four years, the Packers have ranked 28th, 26th, 26th and 29th in yards allowed per rush. Stopping the run is the foundation for any defense.
Actually stopping the pass is the foundation for any good defense. As evidence for this I will point out that in the last 4 years the Packers actually won a Super Bowl with that run defense.
After a one-year improvement, the total of missed tackles (127) was almost back to the 2011 level (140) that sent McCarthy on an off-season tirade.
Just when it seemed the Packers could never allow as many as the 85 plays of 20 yards or more that they did two years ago, they yielded 82.
Has he mentioned the safeties yet? I guess he mentioned Burnett. Most of this stat is attributable to terrible play by the safeties. Another big figure is the rule changes that have led to more offense in the NFL as a whole, and the shift by the Bears into an actual offensive juggernaut. It’s bad and needs to be fixed. I would totally not FJM an article on the specific problems with the defense.
The red-zone defensive ranking was in the 20s for the third straight year, and the points-off-takeaways totals the past two years were by far the two lowest of the McCarthy era.
So many evils on defense returned to Green Bay this season.
Capers, however, has owned Jay Cutler (8-1) and Matthew Stafford (6-1), and it’s a critical feather in his cap.
I’m actually in favor of ditching Capers even though he coached a hell of a game in the playoffs this year, but there’s a lot here that’s silly. Takeaways tend to vary wildly for all teams from year to year and they are likely to increase next year for the Packers even if they do nothing (and more so if they improve their safety situation). Red-zone defense is sort of the “batting average with runners in scoring position” of the NFL and we should basically just ignore it. Teams with bad defenses have bad red zone defenses too. As for that last thing…can we not do quarterback wins? This is just making me long for bad baseball writing, which is still months away.
In 2010, Rodgers performed well in the first and third playoff games and brilliantly in the second and fourth. His pelts forever are on the wall.
Since then, in four playoff games, he outplayed the aforementioned Webb (subbing last minute for the injured Ponder) in the only victory and was outplayed by Kaepernick twice and Eli Manning once in the three defeats.
I think it’s totally fair to pick on the Packer defense. What’s not fair is to compare quarterbacks who were facing the defense you were just ripping to Aaron facing some elite defenses.
Not once in those four games did the opposing coordinators all-out blitz Rodgers, and on a mere 12.3% of passes did they even pressure with five. Just as San Francisco’s Vic Fangio did last Sunday, the way to subdue Rodgers in the postseason is to make him be patient.
No. The way to construct a good defense is to acquire personnel who can generate a pass rush without blitzing. The Giants sacked Aaron 4 times in that game. The Packers only got to Eli once and I’d wager they blitzed the hell out of him. The 49ers only got him once the first time, but 4 times last Sunday. They’re not making Aaron be patient, they’re getting pressure while covering everyone. It is what elite defenses do.
After review, it could be said that Rodgers gave the Packers ordinary quarterback play in his last four playoff starts.
I’d say he was pretty good but not great. He couldhave been better, but Aaron is far from being the problem in Green Bay.
Rodgers accepted blame Tuesday, but the only thing that matters will be if he performs a whole lot better than ordinary if and when his team returns to the postseason.
In a league set up for quarterbacks to dominate, the Packers need Rodgers to dominate. By the same token, they need Thompson, McCarthy and Capers to step up their games.
Complacency can be insidious within a National Football League operation. The Packers should have nothing to be complacent about.
Complacency can indeed be insidious. This article is titled “Packers getting left behind by NFL Elite” and was posted on January 11th, 2014.
On January 19th 2013, Bob McGinn wrote an article titled “Packers too soft to join NFL’s elite”
So at the very least the headline writer is getting a bit complacent.
That article contains this line:
“Is it helpful that the players work in the lap of luxury? Team executives are proud to say football gets everything it wants, but at some point having the best amenities and finest food can be counterproductive in a quasi-militaristic culture.
Is it necessary for McCarthy to give older veterans a practice off just a week or so into training camp? Maybe he could put the hammer down just a little bit more.”
The Elite! They’re getting away! And also tough and physical and grrr…
A: Sign expensive free agents.
B: Treat them like dirt to toughen them up so no one gets hurt.
D: Huge Profits.
*I would also like to mention that the Seattle Seahawks have more PED suspensions over the last 3 seasons – by far – than any other team in football (except for Washington).