Sunday, May 11, 2008

Youth Movement!

Greetings, G-Force.

Imagination is required while building a championship caliber football team. Yes, the fantasy element excites me. Ted Thompson's vision is founded upon youthful exuberance, heightened competition and salary flexibility.

Each year, Thompson has taken the approach that the Packers are going to build from within. He has acquired players that were going to develop under the tutelage of Mike McCarthy and his staff. To the average fan, it may even appear that the Packers have adopted the Chicago Cubs "Wait 'Till Next Year" approach. We've concocted a roster that includes hard working yet exciting players. But, as of today, there seems to be a missing ingredient within the roster. The missing component of the recipe is called "The Face."

"The Face" is that player that carries a team through adversity. He makes the big play when the game is on the line. He's your player that is marketed. It's Tom Brady and the Patriots. It's Peyton Manning and the Colts. It's LT and the Chargers. It's Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. It's Brian Urlacher/Devin Hester and the Bears. For the most part, as these guys perform, so do their teams.

I believe that the Packers thought AJ Hawk could become this guy. So far, AJ has let us down in this capacity. We need someone on our team to bring this degree of separation. We need someone to step up as the leader or else this will have to be our #1 priority in the 2009 off-season. Thus far, Thompson's disposition has been to add young, athletic competitors. He's brought in an abundance of guys that are fighting for their football lives. He's loaded up on selfless, win-at-all-costs football players. However, if none of these guys can elevate his game to take us to the next level, then Thompson must reach out to find this guy as a big time FA signing. With Seattle, Thompson acquired an abundance of young talent, but they did not make a Super Bowl appearance until they signed Grant Wistrom & Julian Peterson in FA.

The release of K-Rob is another example of the Packers continued push towards youth movement. To no surprise, Stack was on top of this transaction. Good journalism, Stack! A small piece of me is sad that K-Rob will longer wear the Green & Gold. While I believe that K-Rob was a mere image of his former self, I was pulling for him to fulfill his comeback dream. However, the NFC Championship proved that K-Rob was not the elusive runner that once made him a Pro Bowler. He could no longer evade tacklers to get himself into the open field.

K-Rob's departure also signals a big opportunity for guys like Brett Swain, Shaun Bodiford, Johnny Quinn, Jake Allen, Rod Harper, Chris Francies & Taj Smith. I have to believe that they showed promise during the rookie camp, which helped enable the K-Rob roster move to occur so early in the off-season.

You have to be impressed with what you read and see about Swain thus far. He's shown that he is committed to doing whatever it takes to make the roster. His hard-nosed, tough-minded mentality is a welcomed addition to our locker room.

Bodiford has shown me that his best is not good enough. I'd be disappointed if he makes the roster. His best value is kick returning and his ability is 2nd to T-Man's. Therefore, Bodiford does not have a spot on this roster.

I know almost nothing about Johnny Quinn.

My research on Jake Allen showed a 6-4 WR. I also found this:

Rod Harper is 6-0 and weighs 209 lbs. He played well against poor competition. His highlights show that he will fight in traffic to catch the football and he's active with the ball in his hands. See for yourself:

I am excited to see what Francies can bring to the table. He showed glimpses of promise while healthy two years ago. I'll never forget the slant pass he caught on third down at Miami. A crucial play on the decisive drive in the 4th Quarter. And then one week later, at home against Arizona, he kept a TD drive alive by drawing a pass interference call on Antrell Rolle in the end zone. Since, he's been injured and his durability might prevent him from ever making it in this league. I do not see the difference between Francies & Ruvell Martin. Francies did not drop a game changing pass in the NFC Championship. Therefore, I'll take him over Martin.

Taj Smith is an interesting FA acquisition. He was a topic in the pre-game talk when Syracuse played WVU. WVU blew the Orangemen away and I never heard from Smith. I'm curious to see what he brings to the table in training camp.

Thompson and McCarthy have shown that they like to keep the best 53 players on the roster. Last year they chose to start the season with 11 Defensive Linemen. I would like to see the Packers keep 6 WR's, but it'll be interesting to see whether the Packers keep 5 or 6 WR's. I figure that the Packers will keep 3 Specialists (K, P, LS), 3 QB's (Rodgers, Brohm, Flynn), 5-6 RB's (Grant, Jackson, Hall as locks), 2-3 TE (J-Mike, D. Lee as locks), 9-10 OL (Tauscher, Clifton, Wells, Colledge, Spitz, Barbre, Coston, Giacomini, Moll, and Sitton have all been drafted in the last 3 years as players to grow with the team), 9-11 DL (KGB, A-to-the-K, Jenkins, Thompson, Jolly, Pickett, Cole, Harrell, and Muir should all be on the team), 6 LB's (Hawk, Barnett, Poppinga, Chillar, and White leave Bishop/Hodge/Havner/Riley fighting for one spot), and 8-10 DB's (Chuckie, Al, Ras-A-tari, Nickie C, Patrick Lee, Rouse, and T-Man are locks with others battling for what will most likely be 2 positions). I agree with you, Stack. It'll come down to whether a DB or a WR can perform best on Special Teams unless the Packers only keep 2 TE.

When the Packers cut K-Rob, they also saved $730,000 in cap space. Can we please re-up the likes of Pickett, Kampman, Grant, Jennings, Clifton & Tauscher? Show them the $$$! Give it to them NOW! Let's keep the locker room's attitude healthy. The price of a proven WR & RB will not go down. They are both young enough to invest in them. I understand potential concerns that Grant might be a 1 year wonder, but he showed me enough to bet on him having a successful NFL career.

It's time to spend some of our cap space. It's time to secure our roster through 2011 and plan that we have built an infrastructure that includes a solid, young nucleus. And if one of our young guys can elevate his game enough to become "The Face" of the organization, hopefully youth will be served in the form of a Super Bowl caliber team.

Must Be Spring Time Again,

Talkin' S-Mac.


Stack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stack said...


Good take, I'm with you on our need for that player. And the thing about it is that player need to play in the middle of the field. No doubt that Al an Chuck are leaders, they're faces, but they're out on an island, playing a two man game.

Hawk must step forward in this, his third season. Cameras love him, Tom Jackson loves him, it is time for him to capitalize on all of his tools. He's been in the same scheme, he plays the Will spot, which allows for the most freedome to make plays of any linebacker spot. It's time for a guy who is football all the way through to start translating that into big plays on Sunday. Time to turn it loose.

I look on the offensive side of the ball and I see...Aaron Rodgers? Man, so difficult to imagine. No offense to the young man, and not a lack of support from me, but just tough to put in my head that Rodge is now the guy.

I do believe that our OL will be sorted out. I believe that.

Our WRs are a good group.

My brother, who is a die-hard Notre Dame fan (and alum) still offers me cautionary tales of Ryan Grant stardom. He follows high school into college like we follow college into pros, I have to respect his opinon. But from what I've seen with Grant, he just runs very hard. He kind of bust on to the scene and perhaps we don't know how good he is, but I like the way that he runs, especially given the proliferation of two-back rotations.

As far using the cap money goes, I have to wonder if TT isn't doing this with purpose, and in part to set an example. Look at the guys you named, all worth resigning, right? Of course. So maybe TT wants everyone to be around when he extends them. Obviously, the vets all know what is up with the business side, but they get to grab the guy and tease him when he gets re-upped, but they also get to share a smile and a word of congratulations. This builds good spirit and comradery.

Also it sends a message to the rooks. These are the guys who have made it in our system. This is what were are doing for them. They get the display of well-established guys in their profession getting rewarded, and they get to see how everyone gets a little lift, not just the guy getting the big payday. Cause let's face it, money is great, but you can't buy the appreciation and respect that you get when you go out there and have your teammates' back for season after season. Put that right there in front of them. Show them that, yeah, maybe a guy came on strong last year, maybe a guy knows that he deserves more, but in our building, we do things the right way. You put in the work, you perform, you show up for camp, and we will take care of you.

To be a fly on the wall inside of 1265...

Stack said...

Huge personnel development today.

The Bears lock up Robbie Gould for 5 years at the cost of a mere $14.5 million. I've got to think that this shakes the balance of power in the division, if not the conference, to the core. The gap between 7-9 and 13-3 just got a whole lot tighter.

Inept quarterback play? Eh.

Disgruntled All-Pro linebackers? Eh.

Disgruntled All-Pro DT? Eh.

The 4th overall pick in '05 getting maced and hauled away by the Po? Eh.

Kicker? BINGO!!! Locked up.

Huge move by the Bears. You know other teams wouldn't be looking to rip Urlacher or Briggs or Tommie Harris, but Robbie Gould is coveted.

I can see their offense in '08. Hester returns kick for:

A.) touchdown
B.) field position
C.) insufficient field position

Possession results in:

A.) extra point
B.) a multi-million dollar field goal attempt
C.) a punt

Watch for the Bears to lock up their other key position, the punter, very soon.

TeeRasta said...


Slow news day when you're attacking the resigning of one of the league's most accurate place kickers. Please send over positions that the Bears cannot "tackle" as they don't meet your off season importance-o-meter.

Which is hovering right, for the Pack. Have fun with Aaron.

Guy...still gay?

Talkin' S-Mac said...

Stack - great posts. Classic Chern writing. Trotta, good of you to get yourself involved.

Back to signing Ryan Grant for a second...Stack, I understand that Eric gets ND football like he gets Rocky Movies. I get that. His cautionary tales definitely strike a chord. No doubt. Nonetheless, I still sign Grant and I sign him now. Yes, he disappeared at ND. At times, he was unproductive at ND. He lost out in the RB battle to Darius Walker. But, that might mean his body has taken less of a beaten than other RB's that are his age.

To no surprise, our takes on AJ are the same. Hawk must elevate his game, his stature & his presence. He does not need to be the vocal presence because that is not his nature. Contrarily, he does need to be the guy that dominates at the point of attack. He must force turnovers and he must be the guy at the bottom of the pile winning the fight for the football when the ball is on the ground.

Stack said...


Hey, it is the slow season. All the stories that are being talked about today began as soon as Gholston came off the board. It's so slow that Grossman could probably get through his progressions and make a decision. Maybe.

Which, by the way, brings me to the QB spot. I can understand your baseless stab at Rodgers. After years of being owned by #4, I'm sure you were all waiting for this day. So congrats, after 17 years of shaky confidence on game day and 27 losses at the hand of the Gunslinger, you can reach into your closet and dust off the inevitable "Have fun with _______" comment. Well done.

I'm not an NFL scout, but I think most people would take Aaron Rodgers over Sir Picks-A-Lot Grossman or Boilermaker Neckbeard.

And Robbie Gould, yeah. Good kicker, no doubt. Even seems like a good guy. I'm sure the Bears have made some other great offseason moves, it's just that 7-9 teams don't move the needle on my importance-o-meter.

Enjoy those 3's, 6's, and 9's...