Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Offseason Thoughts

Greetings, G-Force.

Dewar's. Ice. The Gladiators "Father & Sons" album in the speakers. Packers football. Who's with me?

There's a human element to Football. Often, we forget. We imagine the players as robots. They're expected to be perfect. When they do not perform with excellence, fans can often move into attack mode.

There's also a human side to playing GM. Sometimes you're the aggressor. Other times, you are reactionary. In his previous 9 years as GM, Ted Thompson showed very little emotion. Then, he met 2014.

To review the recent past, in 2010, the Packers hosted the Giants & the Bears in Weeks 16 & 17. Must win contests. We won. They went to Philly. Left victorious. We headed to Atlanta. We won convincingly. We went to Soldier and left with Trump Card Forever. After the game, Bears fans were burning Ray Nutler jerseys in the parking lot. We were World Champions after a hard found battle against Pittsburgh. 2011 was a high-flying year. 15-1. Division champs. An offensive explosion. But, due to injury, there were severe scars placed on the Packers defense. Nintendo Nick was gone forever. As was Desmond Bishop. Both were pillars during the title run. DJ Smith was a promising back-up. He, too, was lost to injury. The defense still hasn't recovered from these losses. In 2012, the Packers were, once again, Division Champs. Once again, winning a title in Chicago. The 2012 Packers were more gutty than pretty or forceful. 2013 was a struggle. It had tons of drama, but significant frustrations as well. Still, the Packers prevailed and won the Division title. Notably, the title was won in Chicago. Yes, that's three titles won at Soldier Field in 3 calendar years.

Over the last 4 seasons, the Packers have won a Super Bowl & three consecutive NFC North crowns. Yet, suddenly, on paper, the Division seems to have tightened. The Bears, Viqueens and Lions all were aggressive in Free Agency and added key elements. Packers fans bit nails. So, I assume, did Ted Thompson. After all, he's human.

In nearly merciful fashion, against his character, Thompson has reacted in grand fashion. JULIUS PEPPERS! Ryan Clark posted a telling tweet: BEWARE: NFC North QB's.

Here are a few other rumblings that have flowed thru my mind recently:

* The Letroy Guion signing hasn't made much noise. He'll make an impact this year. He'll be disruptive. He'll be complimentary to those around him.

* I never like to see a piece of the XLV leave via Free Agency. James Jones was a fun Packer. I loved the bright yellow wrist bands or yellow tape along with the yellow gloves. Due to cap restrictions, it was time for a change. Hard as it may be, at times.

* Initially, I thought Chris Harper would play a role similar to what the Packers tried to do with DJ Williams. Not really a blocking TE, but a player that roamed in a variety of spots on the field. Sometimes in the slot. Sometimes in motion. Sometimes in the backfield. But, he is not tall enough. Coming out of college, I saw Harper as a steady, consistent player. I was convinced that he'd come to have a solid 7-10 year career as a possession WR. With James Jones gone, I'd give Harper #89. They're similar players. Both professionals with natural leadership skills. Both are largely possession WRs with an ability to occasionally win a deep ball. Both will fight for jump balls. Both will show bicep-infused emotion. While I believe the Packers will draft a WR, Harper will be given an opportunity to win the job as the #4 WR. And, I'm really excited about it. It's also noteworthy that Harper went to Kansas State, which is Jordy Nelson's alma mater. Nelson is a proud alum. Harper was a vital payer during Kansas State's exciting 2012 season.

* Speaking of Nelson, can we please sign him to a lifetime contract? I want an autographed Nelson photo in my basement. I'm holding out until he signs.

* Chase Thomas is on the 2014 roster. I might be crazy, but I'm calling it. He knows the 3-4 OLB spot. He knows zone coverages. He can drop in coverage. He can compete at the point of contact. He is a try hard man. He is more athletic than Frank Zombo. He is a competitor. He's a natural leader who can also play the role of follower. He is respected by past teammates. He loaded box scores at Stanford. He's a classic Ted Thompson "football player."

* The Eddie Lacy & James Starks Love Fest on twitter was epic. So was Mike Daniels kindness towards Julius Peppers.

* Compensatory picks are a part of the TT puzzle. James Jones & EDS should net the Packers draft picks. Marshall Newhouse signs with Cincy! Let's hope that he's active for 16 games. Hopefully, he'll play on special teams. CJ Wilson's future could net the Packers compensation as well. Wilson can play the run. He might fit in nicely in Oakland. With that said, I'd love 11 picks heading into the 2015 Draft.

* Owen Daniels was crazy to sign anywhere other than Green Bay.

Dear Owen, you should have done as Martellus Bennett did. Sign a 1-year deal in a super friendly TE environment. Stay healthy. Play as you do. Get rich somewhere else. But, first, prove yourself again. Show you can stay healthy. While Baltimore is TE friendly, they also have good depth. If the Packers were not aggressive in their approach, please ignore this message. Cheers, the BuzzBoy.

On a side note, Daniels is a Midwest man. From the 'burbs of Chicago. Went to school in Madison. He should've come home. He was a perfect Red Zone target for Rodgers. He would have instantly improved our TD efficiency. But, who knows, maybe the Packers weren't interested after visiting with him.

* I really hope Jerel Worthy can find his form. He was so good at Michigan State.

* If, in the future, I'm partial to the PAC-12, I'm sorry. I'm not really sorry, but I thought I'd apologize anyways. As people, we are a product of our environment and my life is committed to PAC-12 land for the foreseeable future. They play fun football out here. I promise to still keep up with the SEC, ACC, and Big 10. I know my roots and I'm proud of them.

* One of my favorite tweets ever comes from Lil Wayne: @LilTunechi: Eddie Lacy rookie of the year! Well deserved The green & yellow bumble bee bekuz if he hit ya it's gon sting!Green Bay all ****ing day!

* There you have it. Eddie Lacy = The Green & Yellow Bumblebee!

* Welcome back, Matt Flynn.

* I'm beginning to wonder if Free Agency has eliminated the notion of drafting the Best Player Available. The window for winning a Super Bowl is smaller than ever. GM's are forced to plug holes on the roster early in the Draft rather than taking the highest player on their draft board.

Heavy draft vibes are coming soon. But, to close, here's where I'm at in my Mock Draft. Admittedly, I'm unlikely to get any picks right this year, but if I were in charge I'd go heavy on players who force turnovers early in the Draft. I'd target the Forced Fumbles category.

One noteworthy item: Last year, the Packers traded down twice as the 49ers wanted to move up. Once again, the 49ers are littered with picks. They have two picks in the 2nd & 3rd rounds and 3 picks in the 7th round. A trade I could see happening: The Packers trade a #1 and a #5 for a #1, a #2 and a #7. The deal works with the draft chart and the Packers would have 5 of the first 100 picks. Thompson would be stoked!

As always, I use the CBS DRAFT SCOUT as my guide for which round to pick a player unless I want to draft higher than he is rated. And I only comment if I have watched him play. Further, it is rare for me to draft an OL as I do not follow the position as heavily at the college level. My mock:

Round 1: Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State.
Round 2: Troy Niklas, TE, ND.
Round 3: Chris Borland, ILB, WI.
Round 3b: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU.
Round 4: Christian Jones, ILB, FSU.
Round 5: Kenny Ladler, S, Vandy
Round 5: Deandre Coleman, DL, Cal
Round 6: Aaron Lynch, OLB, South Florida
Round 7: Bene Benwikere, CB, San Jose State

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

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