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Thoughts on the Offseason

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When you choose to gamble in Las Vegas, the game you play if you’re determined to not lose your money is Blackjack. You can grind out 3%-4% per hand on average if you play everything according to the sheet. It can be a long and tedious process but you have to be extremely unlucky to lose out. The opposite side of the table game spectrum is Poker, where you find yourself sitting at a table with other serious players and a serious dealer. It’s rare to win, but if you’re a shark or get very lucky, you can win big.

Ted Thompson played Blackjack and was very good at it. He worked with a very slow and steady approach, preferring to maximize the number of years the team was in contention, rather than gambling the team’s long term financial health away on a big signing to really push the odds on a single year. The draft and development philosophy that was used was very low risk, and the Free agent signings that were brought in rarely busted. That method led to one of the most successful careers as far as Win/Loss Percentage that a GM has ever had. A record of 125-82-1 over 13 seasons is an exceptional record.

The problem with the method Thompson utilized was that the NFL only rewards the biggest winner “of the night”. Only one team is winning a Super Bowl per season, and Blackjack rarely makes you a big winner. In his 13 years as a GM, 6 of them did not feature a playoff win, and only 2 seasons featured more than 1.

In fairness, Thompson was a victim of horrendous injury luck (and other luck really) in the later part of his career with the Packers, but there also never was the sort of hole-filling, future draft pick trade that could have helped patch a leaky secondary and pushed the team further. It would have been fascinating from a team management standpoint to see some of those teams play out a season with even league average injury problems. That didn’t happen though, and the NFL is an outcome driven league and by extension Ted Thompson is no longer the General Manager of the Packers.

In his place steps Brian Gutekunst, Thompson’s former right-hand man. Unlike his predecessor, Gutekunst has not been playing Blackjack. Instead he’s sat at the mid-value Poker table and began placing his bets. It will be interesting to see how those bets play out as the cards start to drop.

The most predominant move of the offseason was replacing Dom Capers with Mike Pettine at Defensive Coordinator. Partly due to a mangled secondary, Capers’ defenses had performed awfully two seasons in a row, and it seemed that the players had lost faith in him. Capers leaving was a foregone conclusion, but the DC search was the portion that was expected to have some drama to it. Instead, there was none to be had. Pettine was the Packers first choice to be the new DC, and they got him under contract quickly.

Pettine brings something of a different attitude to the team than Capers does. Capers was a tactician and not a guy particularly known for bringing the intensity. He’s a smaller guy, shorter and older, not known for having a loud voice or an intimidating presence. He was a professional and he expected professionalism from his players. Winston Moss and others on the staff were the ones expected to *** kick when players needed to be brought back into line.

Pettine isn’t anything like his predecessor. He’s a big, loud, imposing, in-your-face guy. He takes a more hands on approach to player development, and he’s more active in instructing. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on the players that are involved, but teams need a new message after a few years and Pettine’s message will hopefully resonate after the cooler, and more detached Capers. Pettine coaches from the booth like Capers does, which sticks in the craw of some Packers fans, but it really is the most efficient way to call a defense.

I like Capers’ scheme more than I like Pettine’s, but I absolutely love this hire. While it’s hard to judge a coordinator of the side of the ball that the HC specializes in, Pettine has had nothing but very good defenses and has been lauded by everyone who has worked with him.

Pettine plays a much heavier scheme than Capers. In his 2015 season with the Browns, the Browns averaged 4.60 DBs per play. That same year under Capers the Packers played 5.05 DBs per play. Part of that difference had to do with the Browns having a lot more talent in their front group than in the secondary and the inverse being true for the Packers. Another part had to do with the Browns being down very frequently and having to play defense against an offense trying to kill the clock via the run. The opposite was true for the Packers who were typically ahead. Even acknowledging those differences, the scheme Pettine runs features the base defense much more heavily than Capers who preferred to play the dime in most cases when he could get away with it. This trend plays out through the careers of both men.

The other significant difference between the two is that Capers was a blitz/pressure coordinator. He grew up in the **** Labeau zone-blitz schemes and that’s what he built his defenses off of. Pettine plays more of a coverage-oriented system. Pettine was a QB and an offensive coach until he was asked to switch over upon arriving in the NFL. His defensive introduction came with Rex Ryan back in the early 2000s when Rex was still running his hybrid of the 4-6/4-3 Under. Rex likes his big interior disruptors and Pettine is the same way. He’s much more likely to play a 2nd and 9 with his two Under Tackles, where as Capers would prefer to swap out one of his defensive lineman for another linebacker who he wanted to blitz.

In order to fit personnel for Pettine’s scheme, Gutekunst chose to roll the dice on a one year “prove it” deal with Muhamad Wilkerson. Wilkerson played for Pettine with the Jets before Pettine left for the Bills with Ryan, and Wilkerson did develop extremely well under Pettine. He had his breakout 10.5 sack season the year after Pettine left, but much of that skill development occurred under Pettine, and the production was there the year previously even if the numbers didn’t come until later. 

Wilkerson continued to be an excellent player and non-troublesome person until the very end of the 2015 season (a year in which he recorded 12 sacks). In the final game of the 2015 season he fractured his right fibula and missed most of the offseason recovering. Whether there was structural or nerve damage resulting from the break has never been reported one way or another.

During that offseason, Wilkers signed a massive contract worth 86 million dollars over the course of 5 years. The deal included a 15 million dollar signing bonus, and paid him 37 million in the two years before the Jets decided they just couldn’t deal with him anymore.

His 2016 season was his worst since his rookie year, only recording 4 sacks, nowhere near the double digit numbers he had recorded 2 of the previous 3 seasons. He was out of shape during the season, partly due to his recovery from the fractured leg bone, and he seemed noticeably less explosive. Later in the season whispers of poor effort began to emerge and the team finished a miserable 5-11.

The 2017 season was Wilkerson’s worst. He refused to listen to the coaching staff, often doing his own thing and hunting individual stats during games as opposed to doing his job. He was insubordinate and was repeatedly late to team activities. He was suspended by the team for the week 16 game against the Saints for simply not showing up to a meeting and then blowing off coaches when they demanded an explanation. He did not play in the week 17 game and rumors suggested that the coaching staff simply told him to stay home the entire last week of the season, knowing that he was going to be released and not wanting him around the team. He only played in 13 games and recorded 26 tackles, a career low.

Gutekunst didn’t bet much on Wilkerson. A 1 year/5million dollar deal is peanuts in the scheme of NFL contracts. The gamble is that the fibula injury that marked such a sharp turn in Wilkerson’s career isn’t the cause of the man’s issues. The Packers are hoping that his issues are all psychological and that a change of scenery and a friendly face in Pettine are all that he needs to be the legitimate all-pro talent that he’s shown himself capable of being.

If the attitude does continue to be a problem, they’re not out a significant amount of money to simply cut him from the roster and move on. The 1 year deal means there are minimal long term cap implications.

The signing of Wilkerson forms an interesting comparison to the trade of Damarious Randall. Randall was apparently considered to be something of a locker room cancer, thus necessitating his removal. With only the speculation from various reporters on what sort of conduct occurred with Randall, it’s difficult to imagine that Randall’s behavior was somehow worse than Wilkerson’s in New York.

Randall wasn’t a top-flight CB, but he was a guy who could play every position in the defensive backfield with some semblance of competence. He could play the #2 boundary spot (currently figured to be manned by 35 year-old Tramon Williams), the slot (currently with rookie Jaire Alexander penciled in), or the Safety spot across from HaHa Clinton-Dix (with reserve sophomore Josh Jones and third year undrafted free agent Kentrell Brice battling for a starting role). The Packers could use something other than a total wildcard at any of those spots. Even if one wanted to argue that Pettine’s defense needs one Safety more physical than either Clinton-Dix or Randall, there isn’t a single sure thing at CB on this roster.

If Randall had been traded for a veteran to help a very shallow group of pass rushers, the trade would have made more sense in the long run. Instead he was traded for Deshon Kizer and non-noteworthy draft capital. It was a move that didn’t make a lot of sense unless the team desperately wanted Randall gone. Even if that was the case, I would’ve preferred more draft capital coming back and the Browns could keep Kizer.

Kizer’s value around the league couldn’t have been high. It was common knowledge that the Browns were going to take a QB with the #1 overall pick in the draft. They also signed Tyrod Taylor, a dependable if unspectacular starting caliber QB. Kizer was sitting at third on the Browns depth chart for all intents and purposes at the time of the trade. There was no way he would get snaps in the short term with Taylor or the long term with the QB who turned out to be Baker Mayfield. He was going to rot on the end of the bench.

The Packers are hoping to improve their backup QB position with the acquisition of Kizer. There should be an interesting camp battle between he and incumbent Brett Hundley. On a depressing note, those were the two worst QBs to play significant NFL snaps in 2017. Hundley was completely incapable of converting 3rd downs and Kizer couldn’t stop throwing the ball to the defense.

Hundley has the advantage of being familiar with McCarthy’s offensive philosophies and having taken game reps with the Packers receiving group. He’s a better athlete and has more experience in the NFL. Kizer is younger and carries more of the magic “potential” that gets coaches in so much trouble. He’s bigger and has a more lively arm, though he goes through inaccurate spells. Both are absolutely dreadful in the pocket and seriously lack processing speed. I guess Hundley has the advantage in this regard, in that it’s better to eat sacks than throw interceptions, but it’s a grisly choice no matter who is in there.

Without knowing how ugly Randall’s behavior was, it’s tough to speak of the trade in absolutes, but it looks seriously like Gutekunst called and raised on a pair of 3’s, in reference to McCarthy’s ability to develop Kizer and Rodgers not staying healthy. A healthy starting DB helps you more than a backup QB. This trade may also have been a bit of McCarthy flexing his muscles for a guy he liked, involving the new power structure of the organization.

With the departure of Randall, there were big holes in the secondary. Kevin King (who is an unknown in his own right) and HaHa Clinton-Dix were the only locked in starters. The Strong Safety spot had at least a few viable contenders, but the other two starting CB spots were barren.

Tramon Williams was signed as the other boundary CB in Free Agency. Tramon’s coming off arguably his best year since 2010. He was very good in Arizona in an almost exclusively off-man/vertical-zone role. By limiting the amount of cutting and back pedaling he needed to do, Arizona was able to take advantage of his good instincts and solid technique and work around his lack of legs. The problem that exists is that Pettine’s defense doesn’t hide a CB in nearly the same ways that Arizona’s did, barring having a Darrelle Revis caliber CB who can cover the entire tree by himself.

Unless Kevin King takes an incredible leap forward, Tramon is going to have to be exposed to more danger than he was in Arizona. When he was playing with the Pettine Browns, he looked very similar to the guy he was towards the end of his first stint in Green Bay. His legs looked gone and he wasn’t able to hang with the better #2 guys because of it.

While Tramon was likely always in the Packers plan, he likely wasn’t expected to play such a prominent role. He was a perfect fit to step into the role currently occupied by Davon House as the experienced guy sitting at the end of the bench passing on sage wisdom. The Packers were in on Trumaine Johnson to the very end before his price tag became too extreme. After that they decided to pursue Kyle Fuller by placing a claim on him when the Bears tried to use the Transition tag. Both of those guys would have been better suited to stand up on the boundary than Tramon is. The Jets went all in on Johnson and Gutekunst chose to fold. Sometimes that’s the right call.

Even with Tramon in house, the Packers still didn’t have a slot CB. When Denzel Ward went 4th overall to the Browns, Jaire Alexander became the only guy capable of playing that spot as a rookie. The Packers worked the board very well and ended up getting their man as well as some extra draft capital in 2019. Looking at the roster and the bodies available in Free Agency at that point, it would make sense that Alexander became the Packers sole focus after Ward went off the board. If that was the case though, could they have gotten a “higher rated” player (such as Marcus Davenport) if they hadn’t locked in? It’s an interesting discussion even if it is based entirely in speculation.

Alexander isn’t without his red flags by any means. He’s short at 5’ 10-1/4”. That limits his upside on the boundary just because he’s not a guy you can see matching up effectively with a taller guy like Julio Jones. Additionally, he’s got a small frame and was hobbled basically his entire junior season, first with a knee injury and then with a broken hand. You worry when small guys get beat up in college because they’re going to be playing more games with more severe collisions in the NFL.

With the exception of those two things, Alexander really checks off the rest of the boxes, but whenever you take a guy who’s missed a good portion of his final season, you worry if he got enough reps to adequately expose the warts. In many ways, he’s the perfect fit for what the Packers need, but it’s scary to rely on a rookie, especially on a team with super bowl expectations.

Even with Tramon Williams and Davon House on the team, there wasn’t a long-term answer opposite Kevin King going into the draft. That’s where Josh Jackson falls in. He’s far from a finished product, though he looked exceptional at times in college. He’s somewhat the opposite of Alexander, being really long and exceptional playing vertically. He also didn’t have any notable production outside of his final year at Iowa, which was a sight to see.

He’s got his issues on the intermediate aspects of his game, but he’ll absolutely be a dog in the fight for the spot opposite King with Tramon and House. If the rest of the secondary was more seasoned, he’d likely have a better shot but it’s scary to think about a CB rotation with a grand total of one year of NFL experience. HaHa is still on his rookie contract and both Jones and Brice are still green with almost no years and even fewer reps on the back end. Heading into a new system, this could get ugly very quickly if players aren’t picking it up quickly enough. Pettine’s defense is a simpler one than Capers, both mentally and as far as the break points for the DBs, which should help.

The rest of the draft followed a pattern of gambling on athleticism and stopping to pick up a guy when the value just got too extreme. That method of player selection can lead to some big hits, but it can also lead to a lower “batting average” in the depth rounds. Guys like Oren Burks, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Kendall Donnerson are all really good athletes that lack development in their football skills.

The same athleticism that gives them that high ceiling, also makes them viable as top tier special teams players. When you add in the draft picks spent on Long Snapper Hunter Bradley and Punter JK Scott, it paints a picture that developing the Special Teams units is going to be a priority. 

The other picks in this class fall under the heading of value picks. J’Mon Moore was a receiver who showed NFL caliber skillsets both as a route guy and as a catcher of the football, but fell for off the field questions and a lack of reps spent operating in an offense more complicated than a hamster wheel. His future in the NFL is going to be all about his learning and mental development.

Cole Madison is a college Tackle who will be developed into a Guard. He’s got the skillset to succeed in the Packers passing heavy/zone-run heavy scheme, but he’s a guy who isn’t going to work for everybody. He’s got decent quickness and understanding for the spot but doesn’t display a great anchor or drive skills. He’s a low ceiling/high floor prospect at a low impact position, though one that still isn’t settled for this Packers team. He’ll fight for reps in camp right way, though probably end up as a backup this year. If you can pull a potentially decent every down starter in the fifth round, there’s real value in that

Equanimeous St. Brown is another guy with good potential but just has flaws that really limit him. He absolutely looks the part of a number one wide receiver, and even runs like one, but he’s a rough route runner, with lousy hands, and struggles with the jam. From whispered reports, coaches were not willing to go to battle for the guy when questions of toughness and competitiveness arose. A raw player with a great work ethic and mindset is a tool. A raw player with an attitude becomes a problem for an entire organization. Notre Dame had issues with his father’s continued involvement in his son’s athletic career including going so far as to disagree with coaches. The Packers will need to stop that involvement immediately.

Every pick outside of usually the first five picks in a good draft have flaws. The entire NFL process is about developing away those flaws while still acknowledging the ones that are permanent and using players in the ways in which they’re most effective. Oren Burks and JP Scott are the two draft picks in this class that I didn’t like the value.

In the case of Scott it has nothing to do with the player, I think he’s going to be a great punter. I just don’t know if banking on him as the long term answer at the expense of Justin Vogel, who performed adequately if unspectacularly, was worth a fifth round gamble. On the flip side of the argument, it was the 172nd pick in the draft. There aren’t high expectations for anybody drafted in that spot.

My issue with Burks has to do with the value of a coverage linebacker. Burks is inexperienced and really didn’t impress in his run fits in his first real year playing inside on the second level. That’s going to really limit what he can do right away as a pro. As a sub package ILB he has the physical skillset to play, but his long term ceiling is going to be set by where he can get on the field on early downs. He seems like a fifth round caliber prospect who was picked rounds too early. Part of that may be that Pettine wants a certain mold of guys to fit in his defense and so that list needs to be prioritized, but it still felt like a reach to me.

The other big moves happened on the offensive side of the football. Jimmy Graham signed the largest AAV contract for a TE in the history of the NFL. If Graham fails to perform in 2018, the Packers can get out of it with 7.3 million dollars in dead cap. That would get them out of Graham’s 12.6 million dollar cap hit in 2019 and his 11.6 million dollar hit in 2020. It’s a tough decision to eat that dead cap if it becomes necessary, but the option remains on the table.

That’s a scary check to cut for a 31 year old Tight End who only recorded 520 receiving yards in 2017. He did add 10 touchdowns, but Graham hasn’t recorded a 1000 yard or 11 TD season since 2013. In his three years in Seattle, he’s averaged a disappointing line of 57 receptions, 683 yards and 6 TDs per year. Even if we were to extrapolate his games out to a fully healthy 16 games seaon, his numbers only rise to 63 receptions, 762 yards, and 7 TDs.

The potential payoff is that Graham returns to being a genuine game changer like he was from 2011 to 2014 with New Orleans. If he can return to that level of play, his contract makes a lot of sense. It may be that he only needs a stud QB throwing him the ball and to be playing in an offense designed around his skills, but skill position players rarely perform better from 32-35 than they did from 29-31. How the offense chooses to implement Graham into the game plan and how Graham handles the load he’s given will likely be the biggest story line on the offensive side of the ball, with the possible exception of how well the WR group performs without Jordy Nelson.

The cutting of Jordy Nelson on March 13th raises some significant questions. Nelson was coming into the year with an 11.5 million dollar cap hit. Understandably the Packers didn’t want to pay the entirety of that money. Nelson is an older guy and his production had slipped. By cutting Nelson they were only on the hook for the 2.3 million that was the remaining portion of his pro-rated signing bonus. They were able to get out of a half million dollar roster bonus and a half million dollar workout bonus, as well as 8.25 million in base salary. On it’s face, this all makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is the reports of how the entire situation was handled. The Packers at down with Nelson and tried to work out a pay cut to keep him a Packer. According to reports from Nelson’s side, the number was insulting, barely above the league minimum. Regardless of what you think of Nelson as a player, even at 33 years old he’s a noticeably better player than Geronimo Allison who will likely take his place. The offering of Nelson a lowball offer isn’t looking particularly bright in hindsight now that the salary cap has worked itself through this offseason.

The Packers are sitting with 11 million dollars in salary cap space, and they’re still sitting on Jordy’s 2.3 million dollar signing bonus cap hit. The Packers do tend to roll over about 7.5 milliion into next year, but there was still money available to get Nelson under contract and not be sweating the #2 boundary receiver position. That call only makes sense at the time if there was significant expectations that the Packers were going to need that cap space to go big on Free Agency with someone like Allen Robinson. That never ended up materializing. With that said, Dez Bryant is still a Free Agent, though it that was the mold that's desired, Jordy Nelson brings that skillset while already having chemistry with Rodgers and not being a pain in the ***.

The other aspect of the move that is slightly upsetting is the date that was chosen to make this move. March 13th is a significant date because it’s the beginning of Free Agency and the League Year. There is no financial incentive to cut Nelson on that day.

Nelson’s contract doesn’t start paying him a cent until he’s attended 80% of the Packers offseason workouts that began on April 16th and run all the way until June 14th. That’s only a half million dollar workout bonus. His half million dollar roster bonus didn’t pay out until June 1st. He doesn’t start collecting the money in his base salary until the very end of training camp. There was no financial incentive to cut Nelson on that day. The Packers could have kept Nelson around until May 31st, after the draft, evaluated where the roster was at and then made the decision with no financial impact to their cap. If Gutekunst had known on March 13th that he wasn’t going to find a starting WR in Free Agency, that situation probably plays out a little differently and Nelson might be a Packer on a mid-tier 5 million dollar contract. Instead the Packers have some cap space and Geronimo Allison.

Nelson was cut on March 13th as a display of loyalty to him as a player rather than a prudent financial decision. By letting him go then, he had a chance to catch on with another team in the Free Agency frenzy of the initial few days where signing is allowed. That’s a choice that a General Manager has to make, and no one is more worthy of that gesture of friendship than Nelson who was a consummate professional his entire lengthy career in Green Bay. But it also was a move that hurt the team. And that’s something that needs to be evaluated.

The other moves that were interesting were the signing of Marcedes Lewis and Bryon Bell. Both are interesting less so for the actual players and more so for the timing of the acquisitions. Rather than head into the offseason with a bit more cap to roll over into next year, Gutekunst decided to write a few checks heading into camp on some low totem pole guys. That’s the sort of move that Thompson avoided in many of his years in charge. It will be interesting to see how those guys produce and how the method is working in small sample sizes.

Lewis is a real good blocking TE and an experienced big target that still carries some red zone value even if he is a limited player in the passing game. Bell is a utility lineman who is a capable backup at both Guard spots and maybe Right Tackle if you squint. The Right Guard battle in training camp is going to be an interesting one with Justin McCray, Lucas Patrick, Cole Madison, and now Bell all competing for those reps. None of them are solutions you get very excited about, but hopefully one of them can play at a competent level.

On the offensive coaching staff, former offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett was given the option to be demoted back to Wide Receivers coach, and instead chose to leave the organization. Alex Van Pelt was given the opportunity to remain on staff as the Quarterbacks coach, but chose to leave the organization rather than potentially be blocked again for interviews at Offensive Coordinator positions. Luke Getsy who was the wide receivers coach, took a job with Mississippi State as their offensive coordinator.

Filling those roles has featured the return of long term Packers coach Joe Philbin who Packer fans will remember for being the Offensive Coordinator of some extremely explosive Aaron Rodgers’ led offenses. The use of a TE as a primary target has long been a staple of his offense which may explain the big contract for Jimmy Graham.

Frank Cignetti Jr. will be taking over at QB coach. He has seemingly one hundred affiliations with the McCarthy coaching staff from having University of Pittsburgh ties, to most recently working with Ben McAdoo with the New York Giants, and many others. He’s bounced around offensive coaching staffs at just about every college and pro team in the world it seems like.

David Raih gets promoted from an Offensive Assistant to the Wide Receivers Coach, and Jim Hostler formerly the Wide Receivers Coach for the Colts was given the newly crafted title of Pass game Coordinator.

Pettine has already been discussed in detail on the defensive side of the ball. Joe Whitt Jr. was promoted from CBs coach to Defensive Passing Game Coordinator.

Patrick Graham will take over as Defensive Run Game Coordinator and Inside Linebackers coach. He grew up in the Patriots organization bouncing back and forth between Linebackers and Defensive Line coach. He signed on with the Giants for the 2016 and 2017 season as the Defensive Line coach and is now the Packers head man for run defense.

Jason Simmons is taking on the role of Secondary coach under Joe Whitt Jr. He’ll primarily work with the Safeties. He was an entirely unremarkable Strong Safety for the Steelers and Texans from 1998-2007 before catching on with the Packers as an Administrative Assistant in 2011. In 2015 he was promoted to Assistant Special Teams Coach and now comes the upgrade to Secondary Coach.

Jerry Montgomery was promoted from his role as Defensive Front Assistant (which he held from 2015-2017) to the new Defensive Line Coach. Similar to Simmons he’ll be acting primarily under Patrick Graham as they work together to form the run defensive sets.

Ryan Downard will reunitee with Mike Pettine leaving his role as Safeties coach at Bowling Green to join the Packers as the Defensive Quality Control Coach.

I’m off-thesis here, but the general focus of the offseason seems to getting the new coaching staff the guys that they want. Many times that means missing out on “more talented” players as you draft for fit rather than Best Value Available. That’s always the risk that you take when you make significant coaching staff moves.

This offseason has the potential to hit big. If Graham and Wilkerson both have “Julius Peppers” career revitalizations, this team could be very very good on both sides of the ball. Alternatively, if things go bad, this could be the worst secondary in the NFL, and Davante Adams might be the only legitimate passing target.

When Ted Thompson was the General Manager of the Packers, you knew whereabouts this team was going to fall if Aaron Rodgers was healthy. With Gutekunst in charge, and a new coaching staff in place, that’s far from the case. That might be a good thing. Only time will tell.

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Too long for me to read on a Saturday afternoon(for me).

when will it go into publication?

i will buy it.....

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I am reading all of it now. This will,probably save me the money buying the book.

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I read it.  Nice analysis.  Black Jack if you play perfect basic strategy the House has a .5% edge.  So you will still lose albeit more slowly.  Still the best game to play.    Gute took a few gambles for sure but nothing outrageous.  The biggest and most important changes are Pettine and Philbin IMO.  That should pay immediate dividends on both sides of the ball.  Health is the biggest key for the Packers in 2018.  Left us a little thin at OLB and WR.  Pretty much covered all the other bases though.  

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Thanks. I enjoyed the read. Remember when we used to open up our PCs and drop in new memory cards? "Vroom!"

Well, I think Philbin and Pettine are going to to drop right into the Packers' motherboard and make everything work better and faster.




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4 hours ago, 66PinG said:

One question, are you a lawyer??

Am not. Engineer by profession.

Parents are both attorney's though so if I communicate like one that's probably why. 

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This was a great read. Thank you! I love the blackjack/poker analogy. That makes perfect sense. 

Overall I feel about the same as you do, though you've obviously studied the team, and the league, more than I have. I didn't mind them letting Jordy go because he looked washed up to me at the end of last season. Davante Adams had recently passed him up as the #1 receiver, and by the end of the season (by the midway point even), there was a chasm between the two players. Adams was able to be somewhat productive with Hundley at QB, while Nelson seemed unable to get very open or gain yards after the catch. It will be very interesting to see how Nelson does in Oakland. He's a class guy and I wish him the best, even if that means he proves me wrong. I think that hanging onto Nelson for longer would have been seen as classless, and players take note of things like that. 

I couldn't agree more about the Randall/Kizer trade. I didn't like it at all. And I agree that the Pettine hire is intriguing. That's the biggest X factor coming into this season. 

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Good read as usual, AG20. My only nitpick is we did get a bit more value than just Kizer from trading Randall (moved up in the 4th and 5th rounds IIRC). Although even with that factored in, I get why the value concern is still there for a lot of folks.

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Even if you're sitting a table at a casino with player-friendly rules, you're still approximately a 2% dog unless you're counting face and low cards.  Ted is more like the low-limit poker player grinding out an hourly expectation.  Ted also hired a new DC, also splashed a free agency year or two, and moved around one or two early draft rounds; so I think it's too early to understand Gutes' style.  It's hard to imagine anyone getting the value Ted got with Woodson, and if Graham is Brian's case example, then perhaps the gambler's analogy is paying too much chasing a flush.  He might hit, but that doesn't mean he played the hand correctly.  

I like many of Gute's offseason moves, but for the wrong reasons.  Getting bored of being the second best team in football?  Me, too.  But that's crazy talk. As much as I'd love to see the Packers win some rings, it's pretty easy to imagine having a string of seasons like our 2017-2018 showing and the way to make that happen is to lose Rodgers or to chase a lot of flushes.  I know Rodgers is the reason we have been so good each and every year.  Ted was also drafting at the end of every round, trying to bring in good value free agents to a town that doesn't have a lot to offer beyond good historical narrative and a dedicated fan base.  His commitment to value has always been, and always will be, undervalued by the win-now fan mentality.

One offseason isn't going to prove Gute is the guy for this job.  But the change of pace has been almost enough to get us back to the pre-season.  I'll be excited to see the "new" defense, and to see if Graham still has a pulse.  But thank god Rodgers is back, huh?  



Edited by StinkySauce

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you got 5458 words man. when i gotta write 1000 word papers i dedicate a whole night to that ****. kudos. ill respond w/ something more substantial when i read thru it. will be longest thing i've read since graduating HS tbh 

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Did Gutsey roll the dice or play the odds? He went into an area of need in replacing the offensive and defensive coordinators. The upside is tremendous and the downside is minimum since who the Packers had could have been considered nominal value. (Personally I like Capers, but either his players quit on him or he never adapted to their skills.)

Wilk is/was a very cheap aquistion if he improves at all on last year's performance, so not a big risk. Graham is the roll of the dice especially without Nelson. Lewis was a huge grab of talent (In blocking and possible endzone target.) again without breaking the bank. Kizer is a project so another roll of the dice.

The draft is always a roll of the dice. People speculate before the draft, after the draft, and five years after the draft. So yes, Gutsey along with every other GM rolled the dice on the draft.

So I don't see the changes as a high risk situation, but one of Gutsey played it smart and changed what he could that improved the team without breaking the bank. The draft.....who knows? It will be decided in three years.

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Great breakdown, albeit a bit lengthy. It's nice to see a comprehensive summary including touching on attempted moves like the Johnson & Fuller. It'll be exciting to see how all the new staff and players will do. 

I do think the jury is still out on how different BG will be from TT, since they haven't really had the same situations. It's not like each of the previous years the team's had ~30m in cap space and no rookie-deal guys in need of their first extension. TT did spend on FA's every now and then when money was available (Peppers, Bennett, etc). From 2011-2017, the team spent 98.6% of the cap they had available with the remainder being carryover margin. I'm not so sure that TT wouldn't have operated like BG this current offseason, finding ways to shoot the powder they'd been keeping dry, now that Arod's final prime years have arrived. Coming within an 'end' date beyond which savings won't really matter changes the risk/reward calculation of actions.

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Awesome post AG30!!!! One of the most informative posts I've seen on the board in my short time here.


Well worth the read.  

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