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Offline Bob Fox

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A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« on: December 22, 2017, 07:01:57 AM »
A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers

By Bob Fox



For the first time since the 2008 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers will not be playing in the postseason. There are a number of reasons why the Packers are 7-7 and already eliminated from playoff contention in 2017.

Injuries are certainly one big reason why, especially the broken right collarbone suffered by quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Week 6, which kept him out of action for several weeks, a time in which Green Bay went 3-5, to put their record at 7-6 going into last Sunday’s game versus the Carolina Panthers.

Even with a gutty performance by Rodgers, who was hit a number of times during the game, it wasn’t enough, as the Packers lost 31-24, which more or less eliminated the playoff hopes of the Packers.

That became official, when the Tampa Bay Bucs lost to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in Tampa.

Rodgers was not 100 percent in the game against the Panthers, as one could tell with three deep passes that were under-thrown and picked off. Still, Rodgers did throw three touchdown passes as well for 290 yards and had the Packers in position to score the game-tying touchdown. But after Rodgers completed a pass to Geronimo Allison, the second-year wide receiver fumbled and the game was all but over.

After the Packers were officially eliminated, the Packers placed Rodgers back on injured reserve and ended his 2017 season.

But it wasn’t just the injury to Rodgers and to other players which torpedoed the 2017 season for the Packers.

There was also the uneven and inconsistent play on both the offensive and defensive lines. Being good in the trenches is a vital ingredient in terms of winning in the NFL or in any type of football.

The area that stuck out the most this year for the Packers, was the very disappointing play by the defense of the Packers.

This came after the 2017 NFL draft conducted by Ted Thompson and his scouting staff, which gave defensive coordinator Dom Capers the first four picks (CB Kevin King, S Josh Jones, DL Montravius Adams and OLB Vince Biegel) that the team utilized in the draft.

Add to that, Thompson also signed a couple of free agents to help the Packers on defense, which included former All-Pro and Pro Bowl OLB Ahmad Brooks.

But you wouldn’t know that based on the performance of the defense this season.

Going into Saturday night’s games versus the 11-3 Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, the Packers are ranked 26th in total defense in the NFL. The Packers give up on average 356.4 yards per game, as well as 21.3 first downs per game. The “D” also gives up 5.6 yards per play. That just won’t cut it in today’s NFL.

It gets worse.

The Packers are ranked 24th in passing defense, as they give up 240 passing yards per game. What’s even more troubling, is that they allow opposing quarterbacks to have a 100.5 passer rating, which is third-worst in the league.

Opposing quarterbacks have thrown 26 touchdown passes versus just 11 interceptions, plus have been able make big plays, as they have completed 48 passes of 20-plus yards. In addition to that, the Packers have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete a whopping 68.4 percent of their passes, which is the second-worst mark in the NFL.

The Packers are also dead-last in the league in giving up first down completions. It seems like the defense just can get off the field, at least until after a score. Part of the reason that the Packers are susceptible in the passing game is the lack of a pass rush. The Packers have just 32 sacks, which ties them for 16th in the NFL. Compare that with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have a league-leading 51 sacks.

In terms of stopping the run, the Packers were fairly solid in that area early in the season, but have fallen off as of late. Currently, the Packers are ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing defense, as they allow on average 116.4 yards per game and a 4.0 average per rush.

The bottom line is that the Packers allow 23.8 points per game. That puts a lot of pressure on the offense to score, especially when you have a backup quarterback starting a game, like the Packers have done seven times with Brett Hundley. The third-year quarterback from UCLA now gets to start two more games to end the 2017 season for the Packers.

With all of this in mind, I wanted to get a read on the Packers by talking with one of the best in the business, NFL scout Chris Landry. I was able to do that on Wednesday, as I spoke to Landry 620 WDAE’s Steve Duemig Show.

Before I talked with Landry, he and Duemig were talking about defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and outside linebacker Lavonte David of the Bucs. Landry had told Duemig that he had given both McCoy and David blue grades for their performance defensively in 2017 thus far.

Here is how the color ratings work according to Landry’s grading scale:

BLUE (B) = The best. The top line players in the league. Blue players make the plays that are the difference in close games. Superior talent, big plays and consistent.

RED (R)= Red players win for you. They have starter type production in the league. Top line Reds are usually Blues in either the running or passing game but fall short in the other. Red players are impact players and start on contending teams.

PURPLE (P)= Purple are players you can win with. They are usually Red in some areas and can match up with some Reds but overall fall a little short of Reds. A very good player. Solid starter who will usually get the job done at least in some areas. NFL scouting axiom is to not play anyone who is below purple.



Knowing all that now, I wanted to find out who on the defense of the Packers had a blue grade and also what the status of Capers might be.

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“The Packers didn’t get any blue grades at all this year,” Landry said. “Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels were red-grade guys, who had pretty good year’s. To a lesser degree, you had Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, who were what we call high-purples and partly in the red at times.

“If you go on the offensive side, [David] Bakhtiari graded in the red. Aaron Rodgers is the only guy when he’s been healthy is in that upper tier, and he’s certainly a perennial blue-grade player. This year hasn’t been quite so much. Davante Adams is a high-purple and Aaron Jones has done some good things.

“But the biggest problem that they have is that I don’t think they are talented enough on defense. I don’t think they have enough bodies there. I think Dom is a good coach, but he could pay for this with his job. That’s just the way it works in this league. They’ve not been good enough on defense with him. Why haven’t they been able to consistently improve that defensive personnel, where it needs to be, particularly with edge-rushers, is beyond me.

“They have just missed. It’s pure and simple. They just haven’t been good enough in doing that. I don’t think their defense is very good. It’s quite frankly, a team which is built, or totally reliant on the quarterback. And I think playing him [Rodgers] last week is a perfect example. And I’m all for that. It’s the only chance that they got.

“And going into next year, if they don’t play any better, they are kind of in the same boat. And it’s unfortunate, because they have got an elite quarterback, as good as anybody in the league and one of the best of all-time in terms of physical skill-sets, to not have a defense, to not have a better running game, to not be a better team at the line of scrimmage, is almost criminal when you think about it from a football standpoint.

“They have just completely missed the boat. I don’t just dismiss the one Super Bowl, I don’t want to make it sound like that, but this is a team with this quarterback, that there is no reason why they couldn’t be what New England is, in the NFC. They are good enough with their quarterback. They go in every year with a chance. But the rest of the team pulls them back.

“I think that is a byproduct of them missing an awful lot in a lot of the personnel moves that they have made over the years. So, that’s my take on it.”

After that emphatic declaration, I responded that Ted Thompson also bares some responsibility with all the personnel issues which were brought by Landry.

Quote
“That whole staff did,” Landry said. “The whole personnel department. They have missed on some personnel moves.”

So what does this all mean? It means that the Packers won’t be playing in the postseason for the first time in almost a decade and there were definitely some reasons for that. Landry brought up a number of them.

Lack of talent on defense was his No. 1 issue. Is that because of the complicated schemes that Capers utilizes? Or it because Ted Thompson and his scouting staff just aren’t drafting or acquiring the right players? Or is it both?

No matter the cause, there is a sense that changes will definitely be made within the organization of the Packers this offseason.

It’s not that the Packers have not been successful under Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy since they joined forces in 2006. Since that partnership took place, the Packers have had 122-68-1 regular season record, with six NFC North titles, nine playoff appearances, four NFC title game appearances and one Super Bowl win.

But as Landry noted, there should have been even more success over that time.

So now the onus is on team president Mark Murphy to see if he’ll dictate any changes in the front office this offseason. Plus, there will be pressure on McCarthy to make changes on his coaching staff, especially regarding the status of Capers.

Time will tell what will happen, but based on the comments from Landry, one of the best of his kind in the scouting business, something has to give.

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About the Author

Bob closely follows the Packers, Badgers, Brewers, Bucks, Golden Eagles and Panthers, but also enjoys sports in Florida as he is a big supporter of the Lightning, Rays, Gators and Bulls, plus enjoys the Bucs, when they aren’t playing the Packers.

Bob always had the itch to return to the media, and he became a writer at a Packer website called ThaPack for a couple of years, before he joined Packer Report, where he was for several years, before joining Wisconsin Sports Online (Packer Chatters) writing about the Packers, Badgers and Brewers.

Bob worked as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report from November of 2011 into June of 2015, mainly covering the Green Bay Packers, but also did columns for teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Wisconsin Badgers as well.

Bob currently writes in his Blog at WordPress and also at LandryFootball.com.


Offline Leader

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 07:09:47 AM »
Thanks for the article Bob and for your contributions throughout the year. Always the three I's :: informative, interesting and insightful.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to you and your family from me and everyone else here at Packerchatters.

Offline OneTwoSixFive

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 08:45:44 AM »
With as many moving parts as there are on a team, it can be tricky (and divisive) trying to work out what changes are needed to bring the D up to speed.

TT, MM and DC all take part of the blame, and let us not ignore the players themselves, but WHERE is the right place for the Packers be making a change ? Different people have different views.

The mistakes made by players on defense are down to the guys themselves, but when you see it happening regularly, it falls on the teachers, the position coaches, to eliminate silly mistakes. However, it is the coordinator that 'sets the table', it is his scheme, and his overall resposibility to see that players understand and execute. In virtually any business, someone with the production record of Capers would have been fired long ago.

That comes with a problem. Will a hot young up-and-comer defensive coordinator be willing to sign for a head coach who could be gone after his contract ends (end of 2018). Loss of a head coach often means everyone gets canned, allowing a new head coach to pick his own group of coaches. Therefore I would not expect a new coordinator, until Mike has a new contract or (unlikely) is fired.

The quality of the team going forward will obviously be determined by who is Ted's successor (I'm assuming Ted goes no later than the end of his 2018 contract. A new GM, a new way of operating, and no-one knows how good or bad the Packers will be then. Now we come back to the same problem. What will a new GM think of keeping McCarthy as head coach ? Will he want his own guy in there ? Much of this might be easier to resolve if the Packers go in-house for their new GM.

My WAG is that the new GM will be Russ Ball over Gutekunst and Wolf, with the consequence that at least one of them goes elsewhere to be GM), and I know that is a controversial choice.

So how it all pans out (in order), is first MM gets an extension, then a new DC is hired, and he brings in at least one other coach to work with him (if any of Whitt, Perry, Moss are pushed out as a consequence, that's ok). Before Ted's contract expires, Russ Ball gradually takes over GM duties. Once Ted retires Russ opts to keep MM. Ted is still in the loop as consultant, but it is Russ's show to run.

In this draft the Packers get an OLB and WR in the first two rounds (the eventual successors to Matthews and Nelson), to stabilise the squad. Beyond that, we just have to hope that the Packers draft well for several years, under Thompson or a new GM. The Packers have a good chance of getting 2x3rd round picks this year, with (I believe) twelve picks overall (probably 1x1st, 1x2nd, 2x3rd, 1x4th, 4x5th, 1x6th, 2x7th). that is plenty of ammo to restock the roster, as long as they avoid making mistakes like letting Casey Hayward go. They also need another effort in veteran FA, for an outside CB especially, maybe TE again.

Finally, one generalised thing I really want to see this offseason, is a shakeup in HOW players are taught. MM preaches that the no.1 attribute for any coach he hires, is to be a good teacher. Looking at the mistakes on the field, the defensive staff are not teaching as well as they should be.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 08:57:52 AM by OneTwoSixFive »
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Offline dannobanano

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2017, 12:13:04 PM »
DANG!!
That picture of Ted is down right scary!

Have his legs EVER see sunlight before? His skin looks like that of a vampire's! Crazy pale!




I agree that there's a lot of needs in a lot of places, but the biggest "quick fix" that will help this team is a different person at the helm of the defense.

There's enough talent on the DL, S, and at ILB that I think they can be very competitive with just a new "guiding hand".

Add one more dependable piece at CB and a couple of go-getters at OLB, and this defense makes a dramatic turnaround, IMO.



As for offense, maybe a little better OL depth and someone to push Linsley to see if his ceiling is any higher than what he's showed so far.

Find a decent (doesn't have to be great) TE.

Find a home for Ty Montgomery. I'm not sure he's durable enough for RB, but he sure as heck is versatile. Invent a position for him if you have to!

Draft another RB to add to Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.

Try and draft another QB to groom. Even if Hundley stays for 2018, he's likely gone the next year, and this next QB can then step in to the primary backup role. It's a good QB draft, so this would be the year to do this kind of thing.

Rodgers makes up for most offensive shortcomings, so most emphasis can/should be placed of fixing the defense........first.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 12:14:16 PM by dannobanano »

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2017, 05:51:13 PM »
Unless I read it wrong, we've got one BLUE player. One...and he didnt get graded out BLUE this year. So we got none. None. I'll say it again - I question who's keen eyeballs is doing the talent evaluations for this team. I think they might need an eyesight test and glasses may be warranted.

Offline ricky

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2017, 08:04:47 PM »
Unless I read it wrong, we've got one BLUE player. One...and he didnt get graded out BLUE this year. So we got none. None. I'll say it again - I question who's keen eyeballs is doing the talent evaluations for this team. I think they might need an eyesight test and glasses may be warranted.

The judgement of Landry is subjective. As is the opinion of anyone. He said the OL was inconsistent. Losing starters can have that effect. And Bakhtiari is not a "blue"? The guy made All-Pro last year, as did Clinton-Dix, for those who are eager to let him go to flourish with another team. Daniels and Clark are both above average players. Clark in particular looks like he has a very bright future, if he can make another jump in his third year. Martinez took a big jump in year two. Jones and Williams, as rookies, are having very good years. They make an interesting combination of elusiveness and raw power, that "thunder and lightning" combination you want to see. Can they make a jump in their second year? Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, the next two weeks will give the Packers a chance to give some of their younger OL men a chance to show what they can do in real games. On defense, I still want to see the signing of a big name FA. A pass rushing OLB or DL to make the pass rush more exciting. See if Josh Jones can be utilized in a hybrid safety/pass rusher/run stuffer. Put him and the rest of the DB's in a position where they can make plays. Since this is a young roster, make the defense simpler, so players can be instinctive, rather than thinking about where they're supposed to be. And someone, please teach these guys the fundamentals of tackling! Move CMIII back inside, where he can be more effective in the waning years of his career.

And,of course, a new DC. John Fox? Vic Fangio? Greg Schiano? Because I go back to what a difference a new DC (Wade Phillips) made in LA with effectively the same players. Meanwhile, what we are seeing in Capers is his coaching history: early success, then declining results the longer he is DC. I'll link to an article from 2013, which finds him lacking. Four years ago. Things have not improved since then:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1771465-the-deep-post-why-do-dom-capers-defenses-always-seem-to-come-up-short

So, what is the answer? Personally, if Rodgers is OK with MM, so am I. And MM has seemed to hint in a recent presser that, indeed, its time for a change,  especially on defense. After the embarrassment of the franchise in successful third and fourth down attempts, passer rating, defensive rankings, and just the general confusion on the defense on a regular basis. these "patterns of negativity" definitely have to be addressed:

http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/2017/12/21/packers-mike-mccarthy-looking-how-patterns-negativity-can-improve/973227001/
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Offline Hands

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2017, 10:50:15 PM »
Unless I read it wrong, we've got one BLUE player. One...and he didnt get graded out BLUE this year. So we got none. None. I'll say it again - I question who's keen eyeballs is doing the talent evaluations for this team. I think they might need an eyesight test and glasses may be warranted.

It's hard for people to accept that their favorite team has only fair players. Much easier to say fire this guy or that guy and the team will improve by leaps and bounds. Landry isn't the only guy saying this so it appears the guys who get paid to know pro football players....that the Packers are lacking in talent.

Somewhere is was suggested that the Packers draft a QB in the first round. Still not sure about that, but what I'm sure of is that they can't take chances and must take the very best players they can to add depth/quality to this team. Many years ago Cliff from the Green Bay Gazette said during training camp, the only pro bowl quality player on the Packers was Favre. It took a couple of years, but they came back with a better roster and made a lot of noise in the playoffs. It needs to happen again! Maybe not even next year, but string a few good drafts together and let them compete.

The last day of the 2017 draft Green Bay had the selection. I was sure they would take Lawson who was rated a better rush end by Landry then many that had been chosen in the first and second rounds including Watt! TT took Biegel and the Bengals took Lawson. Now Lawson has knee issues and maybe in the long run may give out before Biegel, but for the first year looks like a bad decision.
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Offline OneTwoSixFive

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 01:08:10 AM »
Lawson was a very productive college player but had injury issues. I read an interesting scouting report on him, that said he was so tightly wound (stiff) as a player, he would continue to have injury problems when drafted. I liked what I saw of him on tape, though - mocked him to the Pack several times on the fanspeak generator.

The description of him reminded me of Taylor Mays, a college safety with good straight-ahead speed (drafted by the 49ers), who was so tightly wound he just could not adjust to NFL level play.
(ricky) "Personally, I'm putting this in a box, driving a stake through its heart, firing a silver bullet into its (empty) head, nailing it shut, loading it into a rocket and firing it into the sun. "

(Pink Floyd) "Set the controls for the heart of the sun"

Offline SET4YRS

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Re: A Scout’s Take on the State of the Green Bay Packers
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2017, 06:31:37 PM »
  It sure has hurt losing red players such as Finley and Shields to career ending injuries. Replacements for players like that aren't on the free agent market or draftable every year. Also, all the injuries that have hurt development of players. Hopefully 2018 is our year.