It's always good to end with a victory. Even if it is against the most putrid team in the history of the NFL. The Lambeau environment had a lot to do with the Packers playing energized football in Week 17.
I walked into TJ's Sports Garden in Wheeling, WV to watch the game. I showed up 30 minutes early to pick out a seat and negotiate a TV screen. Jimmy, the Bar Manager, says to me, "this game is so bad that you are going to be limited to watching the game on the ticker on the bottom of the TV screen. Normally, I give the Packers fans the big screen, but I'm sick of seeing you lose."
Ouch. The joke is on me.
Worse yet, five minutes later, he says to me, "I got a gift for you" and walks away. Moments later, he returns with two brwon paper bags. He says, "I'm going to give you one bag and I'm going to give the other to the Lions fan in the corner. I want both of you to watch this game with a bag over your head."
Of course, I declined, but the approach was hysterical.
The '08 season taught me that the Packers need a face-lift. The franchise altered its ego by moving forward without Brett Favre. Now, we need to massively shift our teams' focus towards the defensive side of the ball. UNO-DOS! showed me enough to believe in the future of the franchise. Couple UNO-DOS! with the core of Jennings, Driver, Lee, Grant, JJ, Jordy and J-Mike and I believe that we have demonstrated enough potential to construct a winning organization. One has to believe that, in time, UNO-DOS! will win those close games. He's too talented to continue to struggle in the closing minutes. He'll figure it out. Additionally, while our O-Line is not dominant, it is not the weakest link on our roster. Our defense is miserable.
I've seen enough of Bob Sanders. In fact, I hope that today is his last day as our Defensive Coordinator. I'd move to a 3-4. Winston Moss is a former LB. He's a logical choice to replace Sanders as the Defensive Coordinator. We need a tough minded individual. A physical presence. Moss fits that bill. So would Mike Nolan. Romeo Crennel has been successful as a Defensive Coordinator. All have had experience with the 3-4. If available, Jim Haslett is a fiery competitor and has worked with McCarthy in the past. But, Haslett plays with a 4-3.
If you look at the top 4 leaders in sacks in '08, you find DeMarcus Ware, Joey Porter, John Abraham, and James Harrison. Ware, Porter, and Harrison exclusively play in a 3-4 defense. On occasion, Abraham is in a 3-4 look as well. We need to find players who can get to the QB. The most immediate solution is to increase our defensive speed.
So, I'm going to outline a philosophy to position the Packers to make the playoffs in 2009 and to win the Super Bowl in 2010. UNO-DOS! has the ability to take us there. Over the next two years, our offense will be good enough to keep us in the game against anyone. We need to build a defense that can close a game. Harris and Woodson will have legs for at least two more years. We need to improve our front 7.
The front 7 of our defense must get a make-over. First and foremost, please STOP the negotiations with Michael Montgomery. A penny more than the minimum is a penny too much. Little-to-no money should be guaranteed. The same should be said for Jason Hunter. Don't be fooled by their late season stats over the last couple of games. We've made that mistake before with Cletidus Hunt. Don't do it again.
Pickett disappoints. Harrell is dead. Cole is limited. Jolly disappears. We need a DT.
AK-74 needs help. Jeremy Thompson looks like a flop. Yes, we'll get Jenkins back, but we need a DE.
We lack playmaking skills at LB. Barnett is an aggressive player, but he does not dominate. Hawk has not developed. Poppinga has extreme limitations. So does Chillar. Bishop did not get a chance. Lansanah is a work in progress. As a unit, we do not force fumbles, knock down passes, intercept passes, sack the QB or make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. In space, our LB's aren't even sure tacklers. And, upon contact, rarely are our LB's driving the ball carrier backwards. We need help at LB.
At CB, I love our combination of Harris, Woodson, T-Mon. Willie B. is an OK 4th corner. He's going to be a FA. He's a valuable kick returner and a personal favorite, but I'm not sure how much I'd pay him. J-Bush needs to go.
At S, we need help. Nickie is a Pro Bowler. But, injury concerns surround Ras-A-tari and Rouse. Bigby is a FA in the making. We need help at S.
Here's the solution: Extend Jennings, Nintendo Nick, AK-74. Sign Terrell Suggs. Suggs averages just under 9 sacks a year. Put him opposite AK-74 and let's find the QB.
Mock Draft 1.0:
1.) Michael Johnson, DE, Ge0rgia Tech. He's my favorite player in the draft. A prototypical 3-4 player. Can rush from the inside on pass downs as well. We need a guy who can get to the QB. From what I've seen, he does it best. He'll even drop in coverage and defend the pass. A future superstar. I'm going to look into Brian Orakpo in the Bowl game. Also, Taylor Mays would be the final piece to our secondary. But, I'm sticking with Johnson. He'd change the face of our defense.
As for trading down, as a rule of thumb, I always like 4 of the top 90 picks. We've already got that - no need to trade down. Draft Johnson.
2.) Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinatti. I've been watching him for 3 years. Consistently, he's made plays. He'll get in your face. He'll bump you. He'll run with you. He'll play zone. He's got NFL size. When he gets his hands on the ball, he's thinking 6 points. I want him.
3 a.) Zach Follett, LB, Cal. Another 3-4 player. He'll drop in coverage. He'll rush the passer. 10.5 sacks this year. Solid in space. He can do it all. Strips the ball. Cand defend the pass. Hard worker. He'd fit in with the blue collar Green Bay work ethic.
3 b.) David Bruton, S, ND. Great on special teams. Has a nose for the football. Always around the football. Plays the ball well in the air. I've viewed him as a solid tackler. Like his game.
4.) Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky. Big boy. Holds the point of attack. Plays the run well. Would be a solid NT in a 3-4.
Ian Johnson would also be a guy to consider here. Solid football player. Has a nose for the end zone. Great receiver. Bright guy. Probably a little more than a special teams player who couples as a 3rd down back in the NFL.
Rounds 5-7) I believe the Packers have 4 picks (2 in the 6th thru a draft day trade last year). I'd draft OL with each of these picks. Hope to find gold with one of them.
**** As a side note to the Mock Draft, I am going to be curious to see where initial mock drafts have Patrick White going. In my mind, he was the most sensational athlete in college football. With the introduction of the Wildcat formation into the NFL, the value of White increases tremendously. He could also be a tremendous kick returner. Put the ball in his hands let him go.
More offseason vibes in the near future.
Sign Suggs. Move to the 3-4.
Make it happen,