Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Allow Me To Play GM...

Greetings, G-Force.

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,

Talkin' S-Mac.


Talkin' S-Mac said...

Another guy that shown some positive plays today. Playing thru pain is Phillip Hunt DE/OLB for Houston. Clearly, he's battled cramps today. But, he's been DOMINANT. He's a 3-4 end. Great pressure on the QB. Quick. Commanded the double team. Could run around the Tackle. Put two hands on the ground and went to work. Listed as a mid-to-late round pick, this guy can flat out get to the QB.

A guy to watch during the college season next year is Brandon Brinkley, CB, Houston. Only a Junior. But, dude finds the ball in the air. Too thin, but he'll put on weight. Active defender.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Happy New Year.

New Year's always leads me to sentimental feelings. When the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1996, we had a feared front 4 on the defensive line, speed with a mean spirited toughness at LB, and consistency in the secondary. We had defensive depth which allowed for rotating players and staying fresh for the 4th Quarter. We were able to close games out down the stretch. We wore down the opposition and created pressure on the QB at crucial moments to seal victories. 10 times the Packers held opponents to 10 points or less! In 2008, the Packers gave up 20 or more points 11 times. We need defense.

In 2008, we scored 20 or more points 12 times. In 1996, we scored 20 or more points 14 times. Offensively, we aren't that far off. Defensively, we're miles away. We need defense.

During the college bowl season, I've been on a mission to scout talent. Defensive talent. Sure, thus far, offensive players such as Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Patrick White, and Hakeem Nicks have swayed my vision. But, we don't need WR nor TE help.

I hear a lot of rumblings about the Packers needing a RB. I read/hear people talking about Ryan Grant not having a good year. Dude, the man ran for over 1200 yards! Admittedly, Grant did not bust the long runs that he did in '07. Still, he finished 9th in the NFL in rushing yards and averaged a respectable 3.9 yards per carry. Ideally, your back would average at least 4.0 yards per carry. Also, he missed training camp and had a hamstring injury that hindered him for the first half of the season. I'm extremely comfortable with Grant as our #1 back. Additionally, Wynn showed me enough at the end of the year to make me optimistic about his future as a #2 and a 3rd down back. I'm not a fan of B-Jack, but admit that he showed progress and impressed - at times - this year. If Lumpkin can stay healthy, I like his prospects as well. I don't feel like a RB is a necessity. Furthermore, I don't see a home run hitting RB like Steve Slaton in this year's draft. Unless, of course, we were to convert Patrick White into a RB/WR/QB - slash-style player. I'm also intrigued by Javon Ringer. I'm curious to see how he performs today against a fast, aggressive Georgia defense.

Next year, I believe Rodgers will win the close games. He will finish drives late in games. He had us in position against Carolina, Houston and Chicago.

Back to defense:

As I stated, I've paid heightened attention to defense. Our franchise's mentality should be:


I was in awe when watching the DT play of Boston College. B.J. Raji is LEGIT. If we are to stay in a 4-3 defense, we should STRONGLY consider drafting him in the first round. In fact, I would not have a problem if the Packers drafted Raji in the 1st and his DT partner Ron Brace in the 2nd. Both can play the run. Raji can also get to the QB.

One guy that caught me eye is a Junior - Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College. Bright guy. Good size. Athletic. Knows football. Blue collar worker.

OK, so Michael Johnson got pushed around by LSU. He did have a sack early. But, LSU's rush offense was too powerful for him. Regardless, I'd take him in a heart beat. If we are to move to a 3-4, he's the guy that I want. I'd draft him at #9 with no issue at all. While he got pushed around yesterday, he did have 15 tackles for loss going into yesterday's game. I think he has DeMarcus Ware potential.

I don't fully understand the Tyson Jackson hype. To me, he's not a 1st round pick. Sure, he's physical. Good length. Put, he's slow and not overly productive. The same can be said of Darry Beckwith. Beckwith has battled injuries, but I don't have a need for him in Green & Gold.

Bradley Fletcher, CB, Iowa is worth a look. If he's undrafted, I'd bring him in as a street FA. Tough nosed competitor. Sees the football. Typical Iowa DB. Good size. Big 10 CB. I don't see his name on draft sites.

Mitch King is a productive, undersized DT. A fighter. Reminds me of Chris Hovan. He'll slap you around. Plays to the whistle.

More to come...

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Other things that stand out to me as *, New Year's Day football, Bloody Mary's, and delicious food describe my life:

- Asher Allen, CB, Georgia can play football. If he comes out, he's projected as a late 2nd/early 3rd round pick. For me, he's a steal at that spot. Short in size, he makes up for it in heart. Fast. Physical. Gets in your face. Anyone that plays CB and puts #2 on his chest, must be able to play with a pimpin' limp. Allen can.

- On Stack's recommendation, I've kept a healthy eye on Otis Wiley, S, Michigan St. Moreno runs him over 2 plays in a row. The next play he responds with a forced fumble that State recovers. Gotta love when you see a DB stick his shoulder pad on the ball. Textbook. It should be noted that when their punter downed the ball inside the 5, Wiley was the 1st guy off the bench to celebrate and congratulate the punter for a job well done. Teammate. Leader. He was aggressive in coverage. Tries to jump routes in hopes of making a big play, which occasionally puts him out of position and vulnerable to giving up the big play. Thinks turnover.

- Clemson has 4 players that I have high interest in: CJ Spiller, James Davis, Michael Hamlin, and Aaron Kelly. I don't buy the hype on Cullen Harper. Spiller, a Junior, is the Home Run type runner. Quick as a cat. Ready to bust off the big run. No matter where he is on the field, he's thinking TD. James Davis pounds away at you. Hard runner. Delivers punishment. Can also run by you. Aaron Kelly has all of the tools to be a big time WR in the NFL. Wants the ball. Has the size. Height creates mismatches.

I have to admit that I've got a closet love for Brian Dawkins. He amazes me. Because of that, I've always had an interest in Clemson DB's. Often times, Michael Hamlin looks like a man among boys in the ACC. Has the speed and the size. He's also got the stats to give him street cred. Attacks the line of scrimmage. He has major ability.

- One last thing, even though he isn't playing today, he's on my mind...Todd Reesing! He's only a Junior. Have had my eye on this guy for two years. Reminds me of Doug Flutie. Plays are never over. Always thinking big play! We don't need a QB, but he excites me!

Stack said...

I'm sitting on the floor of my filthy apartment in true new years fashion. It looks like I've been partying for a week. Which is ironic, I guess.

I watched Michael Johnson yesterday, paid special attention to him. Like the guy as an athlete, guy has a giant upside. He looks unpolished to me. Guy gets run over when they run at him, which again, he'll add strength as he ages. But when they run away from him, he fails to come down the line. He did not flow with the play and failed to be a factor on plays to the weak side. That worries me about him. All these guys, Harrison, Ware, Porter come down the line and make plays in the backfield against the runs to the weak side. To not see Johnson do so makes me wonder about his football instincts, his desire, and his small space agility. He's 6'7" and looks like he's still growing into it. Admittedly have not seen enough of him, so call it my initial impression. I'd be in favor of drafting the guy at 9, if he's there. I believe he stands to improve physically into a freakish athlete at his size, which in itself can be dominant. I also feel that his technique can be cleaned up, but he's got a way to live up to expectations.

But it's me, I'm Stack, and if you're telling me you're drafting this freak DE at 9, I'd sign up for that every time.

Stack said...

For the record, let me say that I am still fascinated at the prospect of Rey Maualuga in Green and Gold. He would look good in our jersey in December. You don't know how good that feels just to think about...

We need our Polamalu!

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Back-to-back, I watch Hamlin & Wiley take bad angels to the ball which lead to big plays...

By the way, right now, if I'm Ted Thompson and I'm watching bowl games, I might be thinking about utilizing every pick in this year's draft on a defensive player.

Although CJ Spiller is nice...

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Excited to see Maualuga today. Cushing as well. Taylor Mays is a freak! Do we consider S with our 1st round pick? Mays is deserving of a look.

Talkin' S-Mac said...

What I don't like about Hamlin is that he plays too high. Runs straight up. At times he looks like Rouse. Physically gifted, but he tries to tackle around the shoulders. Wrestles people to the ground instead of tackling them. Doesn't consistently take good angles towards the ball.

Stack said...

Some notes on Utah...

#10 Stevenson Sylvester, a.k.a Sly, definitely passes the eye test. Saw him sniff out a run and blow up the fullback, also saw him get caved. Looks like a guy who drops into coverage a lot. Moves around in the formation, sometimes in the middle and sometimes outside. Flashes pop and athleticism. Junior from Las Vegas. Has exciting stat totals in his collegiate career.

#12 Joe Dale. SS. Listed at 5'11 197, but looks more like 205 to me. Looks bigger than that. Plays like a LB. Has good breakdown. Met Coffee at the corner a minute too late, yielding the first down while delivery a stiff hit. Haven't been able to determine if it's a lack of pop in the first step, if he's flat in acceleration or if he was just a step slow in diagnosing. Promising finish to the play, Coffee was punished. Guy really plays downhill. Would like to see more. Junior from Irving, TX, I believe...

#92 Kenape Eliapo, DT, Jr, San Francisco, CA. This guy was the revelation of the third quarter. Was dominating his matchups on the interior line. Flashed a nice spin move. The big man is a dancer!! But dominating with the bull rush, getting the coveted 2-3 yard push every time. Every time I see him, he's getting a push. Still, I didn't see him in the game on some of the short yardage plays. Probably needs to see limited snaps.

Stack said...

Eliapo stuffing Bama's last run of the third quarter for no gain...this guy is the real deal. Immovable.

Stack said...

Jim Leonhard is having such an impact on this playoff game, it is amazing.

To think that this guy was on the street and Baltimore just worked him out and signed him.

180-some pounds.