28

October

Packers Rookie LT David Bakhtiari Masters the Metrodome

Packers LT David Bakhtiari

Packers rookie LT held Vikings DE Jared Allen without a tackle or sack on Sunday night.

It was Oct. 4, 2009. My wife and I got married two days before and to kick off our honeymoon, we had tickets to watch the Packers play the Vikings at the Metrodome in Brett Favre’s first game against his former team.

We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to start our new life together than by watching the Packers stick it to Favre under the giant Teflon egg shell that somehow passed for a professional sports venue.

Well, things didn’t work out as planned. Favre was the one sticking it to the Packers and the Vikings rolled to an easy victory that soured our first few days of marital bliss.

Obviously, things have turned around since then for the Packers, but one thing has remained consistently shaky whenever the Vikings visited the Humpty Dumpty Dome: Green Bay’s left tackles always struggle.

On the night-to-forget in 2009, T.J. Lang and Daryn Colledge combined to allow four sacks, six hurries and one QB hit from the left tackle slot. Aaron Rodgers was often doomed before he was able to set his feet as he tried to out-duel Favre.

Lang and College might have turned in one of the worst left tackle performances in Packers’ history that night, but they’re not the only left tackle’s to struggle in the Dome.

According to Pro Football Focus, Packers left tackles allowed six sacks, five QB hits and nine hurries in five games at the Metrodome from 2008-12. The collective pass block rating of anyone who lined up to protect Rodgers’ blind side was a paltry -8.2. Run blocking from left tackle wasn’t much better — a collective -4.1 over the same time period.

Much of that damage has been caused by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Allen has eaten up many left tackles over the years, not just left tackles wearing green and gold. In addition to the god-awful horn and piped in noise, one of the most annoying things about the Metrodome is Allen’s calf-roping sack dance, a dance that Packers fans have seen far too much of over the years.

Thanks to Bakhtiari on Sunday night, though, the only thing Allen was roping were a couple of giant goose eggs in the sacks and tackles column.

The rookie allowed just a single hurry against Allen and didn’t allow a sack for the third straight game. Bakhtiari had another penalty, the sixth straight game he’s been flagged for something, but that’s going to happen to a lot of rookies. When the fight between the young Bakhtiari and the all-pro Allen was over, Bakhtiari was the clear winner.

When Bryan Bulaga went down during training camp, I thought Bakhtiari would struggle with power rushers and be a liability in run blocking. So far he’s had his moments of rookie struggles, but he more than holds his own against power rushers and fights like hell run blocking. He plays like he belongs, and his quarterback and coach have taken notice.

Eddie Lacy is getting most of the attention as the standout of this Packers rookie class. Much of that attention is deserved, but let’s also save some love for Bakhtiari, an obscure fourth-rounder who is opening holes for Lacy and doing a fine job of keeping Rodgers upright.

If Bakhtiari continues improving, I’m going to think of him as a (very) late wedding present to make up for what my wife and I had to endure on that miserable October night back in 2009.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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63 Responses to “Packers Rookie LT David Bakhtiari Masters the Metrodome”

  1. GBPDAN says:

    BAK has been impressive. For a 4th rd rookie that was thrown to the dogs from game 1, you can’t help but to like the guy. What a find for TT. This guy should have been a 1st rd pick. With a off season in the weight room, and a years experience under his belt, this guy could be considered for the pro bowl next year.

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  2. GBPDAN says:

    I like Barclay, hes been holding up ok at RT, but, he is somewhat inconsistent. We most certainly could be doing a lot worse at RT, but, im curious to see how Sherrard is coming along. It would be great to see his 1st rd status show up on the field. Probably won’t be this year, maybe he’ll make the 53 and be a backup, but it would be great to see this guy make a move.

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    • nick perry says:

      IF Sherrod could come back this year he’s the one I’d love to see at RT. Of coarse it’s a big if. I think next season he’ll be one of the Packers tackles.

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  3. GBPDAN says:

    Switching gears, Greg Jennings has to be upset with his on field situation. Greg is a good receiver playing on a poor team. For the difference in pay, between what the Packers offered and what he was payed by the Queens, he could have made it up in endorsements. No more old spice commercials for Greggy

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    • Wagszilla says:

      He pulled himself from the last series. I don’t care that his team is garbage. Play it out like a professional being paid $9 million dollars a year to do your job.

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      • Two Bears, One Cup says:

        Did Jennings take himself out? I hadn’t heard that. Maybe he needed time to re-write his post-game speech to Rodgers. . . .

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  4. John Zoul says:

    Jennings is not on any fantasy teams I’ve seen this season…At this stage in his career, I prefer Boykin, who has come on strong in the past two games…Great hands, a clutch receiver, and he blocks much better than the much smaller Jennings…

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    • bubbaloo says:

      I agree John, I like what I’ve seen from Boykin lately. The only problem I see is: Will Boykin’s recent performance make TT and McPuffy think they don’t need to pay Nelson and Jones to stay?
      I hope not, maybe Jennings’ experience will also help to keep some of these guys around.

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      • Ed Schoenfeld says:

        I could stand it if they let Jones go and drafted a WR high. Depends on what else is going on, esp at TE with Finley, and how much interest Jones gets in his second taste at UFA. Jones is good and made himself more reliable as a pass catcher, but don’t overpay, especially not for a player who can be replaced.

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  5. aaronqb says:

    Great article!

    When you look at the contributions of the rookie class, you first think of Eddie Lacy and what he has done for the running game. But, I’m not sure that what Bakhtiari is doing is any less impressive. He has taken on the best pass rushers on the teams the Packers has faced and has held up wonderfully.

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  6. James David says:

    It takes more time for some players to switch gears from the college level to the higher NFL level of play than it does for those chosen few who get it right away. Lacy, Bakhtiari, and Hyde seem to have “gotten it” sooner while we hope that Jones, Franklyn and the rest of the draft class will eventually get it.

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  7. Mojo says:

    They seem to be run blocking to the left better this year also. Could be the Sitton-Bakh combo has good symmetry. They actually look better than running to the right, which until this year, had been the better side.

    Wonder if the artificial surface holds better for someone like Bakh, who works hard to stay in front of the defender. At Lambeau, I’ve noticed a lot of players slipping and sliding on that GrassMaster hybrid real grass – fake grass surface. It looks great, especially in the winter, but doesn’t seem to hold well for sharp cuts.

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  8. Archie says:

    In BAK, we are looking at our LT for the next decade i.e., rest of AROD’s career.

    I’d rate his value above that of Lacy given his draft position and the position he plays. That’s no knock on Lacy who I love.

    Hyde has been fantastic as well.

    Expected more of Datone but he will take big step forward next year.

    EDS exceeding my expectations but I’m looking forward to competion from JC Tretter next year.

    Bulaga will compete with Barclay next year.

    Sherrod will be swing tackle.

    Loser of Barclay/Bulaga will be T/G back-up.

    It looks like we will finally have a quality OL in GB.

    Add D Harris to our RB group and we are off to the races.

    Need a two way TE and a speed WR. Jones might leave in FA. Still leaves us w Jordy, Cobb and Boink.

    On D we need a big time S ala Nick Collins. Is Sean Richardson that guy? Maybe.

    Future is bright for GB. Next big game on horizon is Turkey Day rematch with DET. If we win that, we win the division.

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    • BZ in BA says:

      I agree with what you are saying about BAK, and also about Lacy (whom I think is AWESOME, and a GREAT TT selection as well). Regarding Jones: I recently read that DL is one of the positions where it takes players longest to adapt to the pro game, since most of them were able to get by with strength and athletic ability when they played in the past, but now they actually need to learn a variety of moves in order to be successful. Most of them seem to take a big jump in their 2nd and 3rd years. Let’s hope that Jones does!

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    • Stroh says:

      Richardson is nothing like Collins… More like McMillan actually. Both Rich and McMillan are box safeties who struggle in coverage. That isn’t going to change sitting on IR for the last year and half.

      The Speed WR is Jordy, don’t need another! Probably draft another WR in the 2nd or 3rd and develop him. But don’t count on a rookie WR being an instant contributor.

      Bahktiari is a good player, but no way they hand him the LT job over 2 1st round picks! At the very least there will be a 3 man competition for the LT job in the offseason that might extend into training camp. Bahktiari is as likely to be the backup swing OT than he is a starter.

      Lacy is every bit as valuable as the LT blocking for him. Right now Lacy is well on his way to Offensive ROTY.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

      • Archie says:

        I strongly disagree.

        #1 – When you find a highly competent rookie LT like BAK, you don’t put the job up for grabs just because you have other guys who were drafted higher. Trust me, BAK is our LT going forward, period. Bulaga will probably be our RT but if Sherrod comes on, Bulaga will not be extended and Sherrod will be our RT. Barclay will be 3rd in line because he is not playing at a high level as a pass blocker.

        #2 – Have you noticed teams much prefer LTs to RBs at the top of round 1? Me too. Thus, I rest my case as to BAK being more valuable to the team than Lacy. Of course, the two together have been a godsend.

        #3 – I don’t know what Jordy’s exact 40 time is these days but I’m sure it’s 4.5 or higher. When I say speed guy, I’m talking 4.3 type. It is a waste of AROD’s talent for him not to have a full time deep threat ala Megatron, Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald etc.

        #4 – Richardson is very much like Collins in terms of being big and fast. Can he cover as well in man? No but he could be a significant overall upgrade to what we have now in terms of speed and physicality.

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        • bubbaloo says:

          Gotta agree with Archie on Bakhtiari, you don’t switch because someone was drafted higher, it’s his job to lose! If one of the others beats him out, then OK, but I strongly doubt draft position plays any part of it. The kid is doing a great job as a rookie at LT, and who’s the last on to do that? Maybe Clifton, or Tauscher?

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        • Stroh says:

          No trust me! Ghere is no way thry hsnd the LT job to bahktiari. There WILL be a competition for that job as well as RT! He’s playing well but those are 1st round picks! Teams will ALWAYS give 1st rd pick the chance to win the job AND the benefit of the doubt in competition.

          Your way over-stating how good he is. He’s being helped a lot by the offensI’ve changes since last year and a quality running game!

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        • Stroh says:

          Except Bahktiari wasn’t a 1st round pick was he? He was a 4th, and he’s playing well, but he is not a stud LT your making him out to be!

          Fitz ran over 4.4. And Bryants and Johnson’s don’t fall to the end of the 1st round do they? Bryant fell cuz he’s a fuckin headcase, as he proved again last week. Johnson and Fitz were drafted in the top 3 picks in their drafts. Are you proposing the Packers trade their entire draft to get someone like that?

          Jordy is more than fast enough and speed alone rarely gets you open deep! If you knew anything about football you might realize that!

          Collins was 5’11, Richardson is 6’2, their games are NOTHING alike. Collins was an absolute ballhawk in college and ran just over 4.3 and had terrific instincts in coverage. Richardson is a good athlete that played in the box in college. He and Collins have next to nothing in common in their games.

          Just stop already! Your Em Bare Assing yourself!

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          • nick perry says:

            Haven’t you been schooled enough on your referrals to 40 times in spandex shorts? You seem to leave out the most important fact, are they football players? All you’ve done this season when taking about Hyde and Bak is talk about where they were drafted and 40 times. Hayward ran a crap 40 time too, does he suck too? Sam Shields, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner are all guys that went undrafted. All we’re saying is while combine times are a indicator, it measures nothing of a mans heart and how he plays the game.

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            • Stroh says:

              He’s the one who brought up needing a deep threat not me or haven’t you been paying attention again?! Nobody has proven a thing to me! I never said a 40 time is the end all be all. Its a tool that is more important to SOME postions than others. Like I’ve said REPEATEDLY quickness is always more important than 40 times! Or haven’t I schooled you on that enough?!!!!

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        • Stroh says:

          BTW… Bryant ran a 4.52 40 and Jordy ran a 4.51 at the combines. Jordy is 6’3 217, to Bryant 6’2 224.

          Now if you ask me who is more gifted, talented player, I’ll say Bryant. But if you ask me which I would rather have on my team, I’ll take Jordy! Dez Bryant is pompous, me 1st headcase, who’ll probably end up like Randy Moss and never be on a team that wins a SB.

          http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=12364&draftyear=2008&genpos=WR

          http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=68811&draftyear=2010&genpos=wr

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  9. BartySmith says:

    Very good article and excellent point. Really impressive performance for a rookie, again.

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  10. tim says:

    Nice article. Jerrod Allen is a beast, but was a non-factor last night in a big game on his home turf. Bahktiari’s play last night was an easy to overlook gem because no one noticed that Allen was on the field.

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    • Savage57 says:

      Q: The BEST part of watching the Pack demoralize the Queens?

      A: None of Jared Allen’s stupid ‘calf-roping’ sack celebration.

      Q: The 2nd best part?

      A: Everything else.

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  11. Alex Parkhurst says:

    Two Stats reported by Collingsworth and Michaels last night

    The announcers made a very interesting point last night during the game. They said that BAK was the only starting left tackle in the NFL drafted at the 4th round or lower. They also couldn’t believe that GB was starting an O-line of (3) 4th round draft choices and 2 undrafted free agents.

    The other stat they mentioned was that every other NFL team had 40 or fewer home grown players or putting it another way all other teams had at least 13 players from other teams. Green Bay had only 3 but I think it is 4): Pickett, Seneca Wallace, Bush and Kuhn.

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    • BZ in BA says:

      I heard that as well – that FIFTY of the players on the roster have never been on another team. That’s amazing! If ever there was a team with a D&D (draft and develop) philosophy, this has got to be it! That said, wasn’t there a receiver that we picked up recently off of the waiver wire?

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      • Gary says:

        There comment regarded players that played in reg season games for other teams. That was why Starks wasn’t on the list. It also excluded preseason and practice sq. players like Harper that the Packers just picked up from SF.

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      • Archie says:

        I can think of some great FAs in GB over the years, including Reggie White, Charles Woodson etc. I suppose now that AROD and CMIII have broken the bank in GB, we can’t afford top ranked FAs. Heck, most years we can’t afford to keep our own e.g., Jenkins, Wells, Jennings etc. We even let Crabtree go rather than pay him a puny raise. I think Packer fans will be shocked to see the FAs the Packers let go over the next two years. I’m talking Raji, Shields, Finley type players. Even TW will probably have to go. Pickett too. Maybe even James Jones.

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        • Ed Schoenfeld says:

          The Packers are in pretty good cap position, because they have not overpaid for FAs from other teams. They currently are rolling about 12-13 million in Cap space forward to next season, and can probably afford at least 2 priority free agents. Personally I think the most likely signings are EDS and Raji, both hard to replace (they have FOUR ufa on the defensive line next year). Shields will be too expensive (Rosenberg is his agent) and they have House/Hyde/Hayward to replace him. Finley is up in the air because of his injury, but I don’t expect him back.

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    • Chad Lundberg says:

      I actually pointed that weeks ago, lol. Jersey Al can verify for me.

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  12. Razer says:

    No doubt Bahktiari is a good luck story. Good luck that we got him at the bottom of the fourth. I think that he will only get better. Not to diminish his development and contribution but one factor in his favor has been the emergence of Lacy and the running game. Yes, Bak is a contributor to this ground game but with the Packers building this aspect of the offense, the LT can benefit from this mixed attack. Jared Allen could not pin his ears back and keep bringing the heat. The new Packers are a far more dangerous cat.

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    • Stroh says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Bahktiari has been playing very well, but make no mistake, he HAS benefitted from some other aspects of the offense that has helped him succeed. The running game being the primary factor, but there are other subtle things that have helped to. Bahktiari will still have to beat out both Bulaga and Sherrod next year, and personally I don’t think it happens.

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    • Archie says:

      I’m hoping we get just as lucky with JC Tretter at C.

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  13. Icebowler says:

    I hope TT keeps on drafting offensive lineman in the forth round. It’s been our lucky OL round so far. Let’s keep on milking that cow until it runs dry. Just like the second round has been our magic round for WR’s.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    • packett says:

      TT seems to do better in mid-late rounds, getting above average ‘journey men’, who fit a good system…and the system/scheme helps them develop and look better than they might otherwise. TT seems to be mediocre on 1st-2nd rounds, though injuries has unfortunately limited a lot of his 1st-2nd rounders from really showing potential. I’m not inclined to blame TT for that either (as if he could be blamed for drafting fragile players…which I don’t think is logical).

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      • SchenySchen says:

        Mediocre 1st and 2nd round choices? Rodgers, Matthews, Raji, Nelson, Cobb,Hayward, Bulaga (hurt),Lacy, Nick Collins, Jennings, Hawk (dependable if not spectacular). — that’s a pretty good list. — I agree the jury still out on Jones, Perry, Worthy, Sherrod — Picks Brandon Jackson,Harrell, Pat Lee, Brian Brohm and Daryn College were bad or certainly not worth the position. GoPack!

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    • BZ in BA says:

      Tauscher was selected in the 7th, as was DD and KGB. So maybe we have moved up in the world (from 7th to 4th as our “lucky” round)….

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    • Stroh says:

      He’s been doing it as long as he’s been in GB. Its not about to change now. Draft the OT in the 1st like he did Bulaga and Sherrod, and use mid/late round picks on the OG and Center. It started w/ Colledge and Spitz in the 2nd and 3rd because Thompson needed OG’s that could start immediately if needed, but since then its been a regular every year taking college OT’s and turning them into NFL OG.

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  14. larry valdes says:

    Bahktiari is beast havenot see a rookie left tackle like him.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    • Charlie says:

      How recently have you started viewing pro football?

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      • Ed Schoenfeld says:

        There are people who have been watching pro football for 40+ years as scouts and media people who also say Bakh is the real deal.

        Of course there will be competition because TT and M3 ALWAYS have competition. But Bakhtiari has as good a chance as anyone of being the starting LT for the next 10 years.

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        • Charlie says:

          Not trying to take anything away from him. Stellar performance for a 4th round rookie. Was referring to the “best rookie LT ever” comment.

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          • Ed Schoenfeld says:

            OK. Though one guy I read was talking up Bakh as the ‘best rookie since Tony Boselli.’ That’s rarified air, even if it ias just an opinion.

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  15. tim says:

    It’s really fun to watch the ever evolving Packers under TT, MM and AR. They keep on winning despite losing key players. They don’t overspend and don’t keep players on high salaries if they stop producing. I think they are able to go a long way this year, and are well poised for several years to come if AR stays healthy, and they continue to be wise in where they spend big money. I agree with Archie, they need to have one of the safeties other than Burnett step up (Richardson is an interesting thought, or Hyde maybe), EDS has to stay in there, and Kick-off Return and Kick coverage needs to be worked on. Other than that, they look really good, especially in light of the great talent getting healthy down the stretch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  16. nick perry says:

    This draft class has been amazing and I have every reason to believe that Datone and Franklin will turn out to be excellent choices too. I admit, I’ve been very critical of T.T., his reluctance to sign FA, and his 2011 draft with the exception of Cobb wasn’t great by any means. But this draft, this draft may be the one that really sets the Packers for the coming years. Bakhtiari has been exceptional as have Hyde and Lacy. Ted has built this team with guys that are football players, not the guys that run the fastest 40 or jump the highest. Bakhtiari, Lacy, and Hyde are the perfect examples.

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  17. Archie says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  18. David says:

    I must respectfully disagree, Archie. As a GM and I think, as a fan, one needs to look at a longer time schedule. TT is keeping his team competitive each and every year. Acquiring the three players you mentioned is unrealistic because it cripples the team for years following you superbowl. Except that superbowl isn’t guaranteed. Players get injured. Things happen during the football season, as in life, and the future can’t be counted on. TT doesn’t trade back in the draft at every opportunity. You may have heard of CMIII? TT does what is required to maintain quality in the organization season after season. Regardless, I believe TT is the type of leader the Green Bay Packers need to have sustained success in the NFL.

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  19. Archie says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Ed Schoenfeld says:

      Most teams that load up and then need to make cap cuts take 4-5 years before they are competitive again. We have Rodgers for maybe 8-10 years. Do yoy really want to be rebuilding for half of them.

      Also, its not true that TT doesn’t address weaknesses. Why else did he draft Perry, Datone, and Lacy over the past 2 years and load up on OL that whole time as well? Getting veteran free agents is a patch, not building, look at what Saturday did last season. Most veteran FA work out about as well as Saturday, or Jennings in Minnesota (they thought they were building on a 10-6 season when they signed Greg. What really happened? They didn’t have the base of drafted players to win by bringing in FAs.)

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  20. David says:

    Totally right, I think that likely is how the system is designed. Makes me think of Luck and dealing Manning to Denver. No one enjoys those things happening, because Peyton clearly can still play, but it’s all done in the name of future success beyond the present year.

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  21. tim says:

    Archie, you’re right that the Packers will be losing big names in the next year. But that’s not really necessarily bad. I think they will lose Raji unfortunately. But is his play that much better than Pickett, Jolly, Daniels etc.. ? All of these guys will cost much less I believe, and the extra money could go to signing Jones or Shields, who I would rather see them go after. Tramon Williams departure wouldn’t surprise me a bit either. He’s paid very highly, and Shields, Hayward, House, Hyde and more new guys next year will be pushing for playing time. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to see all the guys return, we just can’t afford them all. Picking and choosing who to pay and who to let go is painful for fans who get attached to their players, but its inevitable. I think its why tt is so reluctant to bring in the Fitzgeralds of the world. Too darn expensive. It’s the tt/mm way and it has been working well I think. We’ve won more than our share of hardware, just ask Vikings, bears and lions fans.

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  22. Alex Parkhurst says:

    Want to guess who is the top scorer in points per game so far in 2013?

    10.6 points per game – Mason Crosby – NFL stats – all players, not just kickers – link too big.

    Nice change from last year when we couldn’t look when it was field goal time.

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  23. Charlie says:

    Wouldn’t mind a bit if he scored a few less points and changed the 19 FG attempts to 23 XPs ratio.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Ed Schoenfeld says:

      With whats going on with injuries and rooks like Lacy learning how to be pros, 5-2 is the only number I really care about. If it takes GGs to get there, fine by me. The TD offense will get rolling when the team gets healthy.

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      • Charlie says:

        Oh, I understand the ‘a win is a win’ viewpoint, I just don’t subscribe to it. Was never a follower, and 2011 pretty well sealed the deal for me.

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        • Stroh says:

          What do you subscribe too? A loss is a loss. Or a win us loss?

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          • Charlie says:

            Nope, I’m more of “glad we won, but I’d sure like to see them fix…”. In this case, score more TDs and thus kick fewer FGs.

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            • Ed Schoenfeld says:

              I’m not saying they shouldn’t ‘fix’ the offense, though I kind of wonder how 4 offensive TDs is somehow ‘lacking’ in success. I’m saying that everyone watching already knows what the fix will be — a healthy James Jones and Randall Cobb on offense, and a healthy Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Casey Hayward on defense to grab some turnovers and generate better field position.

              Where I disagree with you is looking at a team that is missing 7 starters and apparently thinking that will not affect the offense’s success at all. I prefer to regard a team that is missing 7 starters as a team that is missing 7 starters and adjusting my expectations to meet reality. We expect them to overcome, sure, and they are overcoming — right now overcoming means Field Goals. Back in 2010 they scored something like 9 points in the Jets game. They still won, and got better as the season went along, scoring what, 4 tDs against the Falcons in the dividional round? Same problem, same effect, same solution. Hope for the same end result.

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  24. aaronqb says:

    Here’s what Vic Ketchum (packers.com) said about him today …

    He is without question the steal of the 2013 NFL draft. We’re talking about a player at the most premium of positions, possibly as challenging a position for a rookie to play as quarterback is. Every week pits Bakhtiari against the opponent’s best pass rusher: the Smith Brothers, Brian Orakpo, Michael Johnson, Terrell Suggs, Jared Allen. Bakhtiari is playing at a level at which I saw Tony Boselli play when he stoned Sean Jones in Boselli’s first-ever game. Consider this: The first two picks of this year’s draft are left tackles, and Bakhtiari has outperformed both of them as a fourth-round pick. The Packers would not be where they are if they had not drafted Bakhtiari.

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