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  1. Who's your 2019 Breakout Player

    I respect your opinion, but there's a lot that I disagree with here: This is just a weird take in general. First, neither was a particularly mediocre college player; they both played on teams with significant issues at the QB position which affected production. EQ put up 58 for 961 yards and 9 TDs as a true sophomore; there were issues with his junior season sure, but the fact that he lead the team with 515 yards receiving should be telling about what the ND passing game was like that year. Marquez played for USF. They ran the ball 626 times vs 354 pass attempts his senior season. He put up 879 yards and 6 TDs despite playing on an offense that rarely played to his strengths. They fell in the draft because they had other issues (EQ's family and concerns about his attitude and approach; MVS was a total unknown with no film in a downfield offense. It really isn't. The Packers have had generally deep receiving corps until 2014-2015, so young receivers needed to earn their way onto the field. Jones, Nelson, Adams, these guys all had multiple starters to surpass before they could see the field. This is not the case now. It's not at all unreasonable to expect NFL starter production from a second year wideout, especially as both have already shown the ability to play in an NFL offense. You don't think the fact that the QB was playing on one leg and struggled badly with ball placement downfield may have had something to do with it? EQ had at least 200 additional yards left on the field from Rodgers' strange refusal to hit him on time on the deep crosser. I've watched the All-22 of enough 2018 games to know the rookies ability to gain separation was not the core issue with the offense. MVS and EQ both had more yards last year than those three players combined have in their career. This isn't baseless projection; we know what they look like on an NFL field. That's the difference. This is extrapolating to the next dot from what we saw last year. I mean the Packers didn't cruise to a Super Bowl win in 2011 with a better receiving corps and better defensive pieces. Same with 2009. This idea that Rodgers is so good that he's guaranteed a Super Bowl victory in any situation is a take that badly misunderstands the nature of the NFL. This could easily be the best receiving corps in his career and they could miss the playoffs yet again. You can have talented players and still struggle, which the Packers were happy to prove last year when they took the Rams to the edge in their house and then lost to the Cards at Lambeau. Talent is just a small part of the equation; we don't know what the rest of the formula holds until the year starts.
  2. Who's your 2019 Breakout Player

    The idea that Cobb was Green Bay's only slot receiver given the state of the game in 2019 is crazy to me. Davante, EQ and Graham would have eaten up a good chunk (if not most) of Cobb's snaps this year even if he was around, and there's three elite physical talents who could take that year 2 jump. You never know what you're gonna get until the year starts but I'd put solid money on this group ending the year being considered one of Rodgers most talented receiving corps. Certainly this is the most talented downfield group he's had since 2011, and since that's all Rodgers wants to throw anyway that's a pretty big deal.
  3. Who's your 2019 Breakout Player

    MVS on offense for sure. Too talented to keep off the field, and has the work ethic to play any receiver position. Given all the work he did to learn Mac's playbook front to back last year, I expect him to end the year as the clear cut #2 and a guy who will have a few plays in the book just for him. On defense I'll actually take Fackrell. His 10 sacks aside, he's a far, far better complementary rusher than he is a focal point, and with the Smiths and Gary I expect him to produce much more consistently.
  4. TEs in the McCarthy/Rodgers System

    Graham is getting knocked for a lot of "drops" that were him being unable to haul in desperation passes from Rodgers. Yes, Graham could and should have caught passes he didn't, but that's true of almost every receiver and Graham didn't get nearly as many on target on time passes as he should have. Dropping the occasional combat catch isn't an issue period, but it stings even less if you're putting up 8 for 80 on the days when you don't instead of 1 for 4.
  5. TEs in the McCarthy/Rodgers System

    It's borne out somewhat by the stats, at least at a surface level. Rodgers' best seasons (and the offense as a whole) by far are 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016. He had Finley in 2009, 2011, and 2012, and Cook in 2016. 2014 only had RichRod, but that offense really worked off PA to Lacy with Nelson downfield and the lack of a receiving TE was less of an issue. It's worth noting that in 2016, Rodgers level of play didn't seem particularly determined by Cook being on the field or not. He put up very good numbers even when Cook was injured. Whether or not that actually holds true when you look at the film I can't say. 2009, 2011, and 2012 also coincide with having an elite downfield receiving corps in general, which Rodgers has always worked best with. 2016 as I noted Cook was on the field, but the offense actually jump-started four weeks before his return. The only real way to answer this for sure is to do a deep dive into the film and I just don't have the time for it. My guess is that this probably is somewhat true but not as relevant as people think. A TE presence in the middle of the field condenses the defense, leaving the edges of the field more open and that's where Rodgers' heart lives anyway. I honestly think if he could get away with it he'd throw nothing but sideline routes. But there's a difference in making it easier for your star QB to do what he wants to do anyway and actually improving the offense. I think over time teams realized that the Packers didn't really target the TE as often as they should, and consequently they stopped putting as much emphasis on the coverage there. But take all this with as big a grain of salt as you can find, because I just don't have the time for the research to answer this properly.
  6. I see a lot of people contend that Graham is done, and his performance last year is proof. Personally, I don't think the tape shows that; he looks about the same as he always has, with the edges sanded off a bit by time. No, he's not quite as quick or explosive as he was early in his career, but honestly he really hasn't lost much of a step since 2015. He's a big body TE who can sink his hips when he wants to and knows how to use his frame, hands, and vertical ability to box out defenders and bring the ball in downfield. Those have always been his biggest strengths and he still has those. I think the biggest reason his production was underwhelming is the same reason every TE who comes to Green Bay has underwhelming production. I think the Rodgers/McCarthy offense just did not use TEs well. The Packers had three TEs rank in the top 10 in receiving yards in a season during McCarthy's tenure as HC: Donald Lee, 2007 - 575 yards, 9th Jermichael Finley 2009 - 676 yards, 10th Jimmy Graham 2018 - 636 yards, 9th In terms of receiving yards per game by a TE, from 2006-2018 the Packers best year by a TE in terms of receiving yards per game is Jermichael Finley in 2009, at 52.0. That ranks him at 81st, and it's the only Packers season in the top 100. Other Yards/Game notes: Jared Cook could only average 37.7, good for 19th in the league in his ten games. That's the 3rd worst mark of his career. His very next year in Oakland it was up to 43.0, and last year jumped up to 56.0. Jimmy Graham's 39.8 is also the 3rd worst mark of his career, and 2nd if we're not counting his rookie year where was only a rotational player. It's also 14 YPG below his career average. Martellus Bennett (yes, I'm including Bennett) managed 33.3; the worst mark of his career since becoming a starter and a full 10 YPG below his 2016 year with the Patriots. Lance Kendricks had the two worst years of his career with Green Bay, and he played a three year stretch on the 30th, 28th, and 32nd ranked offenses in the NFL. Mercedes Lewis. I mean I assume I don't even really need to go on from here. Every TE that comes to Green Bay experiences a sharp and significant downgrade in their production, and the only TE we have data on after he left experienced an immediate resurgence. And to close it up, let's look at targets. The Green Bay Packers don't have a single TE in the top 100 most targeted seasons from 2006-2018. Their best is Finley in 2011, who clocks in with a whopping 92 in 2011 (T-109th). Graham's 89 in 2018 were 5th in the league, but only 16 more than MVS. The Packers targeted a 5x Pro-Bowl, 2x All-Pro with a $10 million salary once more per game than a 5th round rookie receiver in a season where they struggled to find rhythm. The Packers simply did not get production from their TE position in a consistent way under McCarthy. There's a lot of reasons for this, and admittedly injuries were a big part. But even when their TEs were healthy they simply never produced up to their level of talent. They seemed to largely be an afterthought in the scheme, mostly relegated to the checkdown or flat option when they weren't attempting poorly designed TE screens, which is strange for a man who once kept five on the 53 man roster. The point of this off-season nonsense is that I don't believe that we've seen the best of Graham in Green Bay. There's still some very elite tools in that man's toolbelt, and on his good plays last year he got to show them. Whether or not LeFleur can make better use of them than McCarthy did last year remains to be seen, but I remain optimistic.
  7. 2019 Draft Thoughts

    I mean there's a couple things here. 1. There were no elite DB prospects in this draft. The fact that the first DB taken was a safety /slot hybrid tells you everything you need to know about the top of this year's CB group. 2. Savage is more flawed than most elite DB prospects, but what he does well is at a premium in today's NFL and he does it really well. There's not another DB in this class that can click and close like he does. In a game where physical man coverage is becoming increasingly more difficult and misdirection being the name of the game for offenses, the ability to read the play and hit it fast is absolutely worth its weight in gold. You don't have to love everything Savage does to see he has A+ closing speed and he's not afraid to use it.
  8. Random Packer News & Notes

    Yeah this is all 100% true, but frankly isn't that the case with most position groups on most teams? Today's NFL is almost entirely about first contract players, which means there's going to be roiling uncertainty just about everywhere. I mean you can make a similar case for the Packers' WRs, OL, OLB, ILB, and TE groups. DL, QB, and RB are really the only positions where I feel there's no obvious question marks among the starters/key backup groups.
  9. Random Packer News & Notes

    This is such an odd take to me. For one, HHCD hasn't been right since late 2016. At this point expecting him to get right is the bigger reach. I've gone through a handful of games on the All-22 just to watch HHCD over the past few years and that's not a safety I'd want on my team at any pay rate. Given his value in trade and then on the open market, I don't think this is a particularly controversial statement. Whatever the reasons for that precipitous decline, he's simply not an NFL starter as a safety at the moment. If we're talking about what they each could be at their best, then sure, but since Green Bay hasn't seen that player in years I don't know why we're pretending that's who he was when he left.
  10. 2019 Draft Thoughts

    I think even more than that he'll benefit from being a situational player and being able to focus on a single aspect of his game. More than being doubled, Gary's primary job at Michigan was setting a hard edge and messing up blocking schemes; pass rush reps were secondary in importance. Playing situationally, Gary will generally know what kind of down he's in on, either run or pass, and hopefully it'll allow him to really focus on refining his technique.
  11. 1[21]: Darnell Savage [S; Maryland]

    No one knows exactly what happened with Randall, and it's weird to see so many people attempt to create explanations based off seeing maybe 1/20th of the picture. A few third hand quotes from unnamed sources isn't exactly the kind of smoking gun people should be clinging to with the fervor they are. Whether it was Randall's fault, the team's fault or both is irrelevant; he's gone and so is nearly every relevant party. We can discuss the accountability of former players and front office personnel all day, but if we're going to do that there's a lot better places to start in Packers' history than Damarious Randall.
  12. 1[21]: Darnell Savage [S; Maryland]

    You'd think the Packers hadn't played both Super Bowl teams competitively on the road, or that the team had no young talent at all even though Thompson was responsible for Aaron Jones, David Bahktiari, Kenny Clark, Davante Adams, Corey Linsley, Blake Martinez, etc. Man I can't wait to see how Packers fans handle it when this team is actually bad.
  13. 1[21]: Darnell Savage [S; Maryland]

    Man the story on Randall has really flipped from what he was as a prospect. Randall had more TFL his senior season than Savage had in his entire collegiate career, and notched 5 less tackles than Savage in ~ half the games played. How can anyone say he had no toughness or aggressiveness? The dude was all over the field. If anything he had a similar problem to Savage; not always breaking down and making good tackles in the open field because he was going too fast. That's not even remotely uncommon for college safeties. Whatever your issues with Randall were coming out, it's hard to imagine one of them would have been aggressiveness.
  14. 2019 Draft Thoughts

    I get why people are bagging on the Gary pick in the media, but I feel like it's way overblown from the actual situation. Every draft pick has issues. Maybe every once in a very blue moon you get the elite prospect with almost no real flaws, but even when they come out they're going top 3 and the Packers will never have a shot at them as long as they have Rodgers. So by default, you're picking a guy with holes in his game. The only thing you really get to decide is what kind of flaws you can accept. Gary's biggest flaw by far is a lack of continued development. He's just not a better player as a Junior than he was a Sophomore, and that's a little concerning. His hand usage is borderline non-existent as a rusher, he has no rush plan, no real inside counter, he's basically just a big, fast ball of muscle that's hard to block because he's a freak. That's all stuff that can be taught. It's not as easy to teach as people think, but you can build a lot of that stuff up with reps and time. Gary's role at Michigan was such that he never really knew what he was doing on any given play. He had to worry about setting the edge on the strong side and dealing with constant misdirection and zone read plays before he could even think about rushing the passer. This year he shouldn't be more than a rotational guy, which means he can focus on just improving his game rep to rep and not worry about being the linchpin for the entire scheme. That's a much better situation for a guy who needs to develop his game. Does that mean he'll do it? I don't know. Nobody knows. This isn't Madden, there's a lot that goes into the human element even before you get into whether or not Gary will show real aptitude for it. But if you're picking 12th overall, you could take a lot bigger risk than picking the hyper-athletic freak with the work ethic to be a two time Academic All Big Ten despite football and dyslexia whose biggest flaw is needing skill refinement.
  15. 2019 Draft Thoughts

    So, because you feel he played badly in one game from the TV copy means he's in fact a bad safety? Everyone has up and down days, and I don't actually see a breakdown of his play, just "he was bad". Are you really asserting that none of CGJ, Thornhill, Rapp or Adderly had bad games?