Category Archives: Mike McCarthy

3

March

The Green Bay Packers Are At A Fork In The Road

NFL, Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson

What Ted Thompson is currently looking at–metaphorically speaking.

Imagine this scenario: you’re traveling with your family on a vacation.  You mapped out the route you would take and foresaw smooth travels ahead.  What actually happens, however, is road filled with bumps and potholes and you suffer some damage and keep getting detoured from your ultimate destination.

For Ted Thompson, with perhaps his legacy as general manager for the Green Bay Packers in the balance, such a moment is at hand.

Ever since the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, Thompson’s ultimate destination has been a return trip to the title game.  Many, including Thompson himself, thought the Packers were in prime position for multiple Super Bowl runs and some even uttered the word “dynasty” when looking at Green Bay’s long term prognosis.

Instead, Thompson’s team has suffered through multiple injury plagued seasons while the defense continues to suffer blowout after blowout like a cheaply made tire on an RV.  The offense is the engine that keeps the vehicle moving at a decent speed but what good does that do with consistently flat tires on defense?

Heading into the 2014 offseason, Thompson has to put solid rubber underneath the Packer vehicle in order to take some pressure off the offense and keep that engine from overheating. The defense must get better (and fast) if the Packers want any chance of returning to the Super Bowl.

Aaron Rodgers was dead on when he said one window has closed for the Packers and another has opened.  The franchise quarterback is 30 and will turn 31 late in the upcoming season. The clock is ticking.

Thompson has relied heavily on drafting talent and developing it along to replace aging stars.  This method has worked well in spots, the wide receiver position is a case in point.

It has been an utter disaster on defense. The Packers have yet to find a suitable replacement for Nick Collins and also haven’t fully replaced Cullen Jenkins either. After both these players left the team via injury and free agency, the performance of the Green Bay defense has gone into a tailspin.

That is why this off season is crucial for the Packers. The Packers managed to stay afloat without Rodgers for half of 2013 but they’d have been in even better shape had the defense even resembled competence. Thompson has not been the best in terms of drafting defensive talent and that was on display for all to see in 2013.

2

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Foo

The WWE Network debuted on Monday and my wife immediately began filling out divorce papers.

I try to limit my classic wrestling viewing to the television in our room before bed or my iPad if I have a free minute or two in the living room. With WWE Network, I can now literally watch old (and new) wrestling whenever I want. On my phone, in the car, at church, during family dinners, or waiting to check out at the grocery story. Thousands of hours of wrestling footage is at my fingertips.

There is no way my wife is going to be able to deal with me watching wrestling when we’re supposed to be having a serious conversation about buying a new house or finding a good school for our kid.

While I’m reliving classic moments like this, my wife will be packing up her things and relocating as far away from me as possible.

I wonder if the NFL would ever give something like the WWE Network a try? On the surface, it makes sense that they would. But if you really think about it, you realize how silly the league would be to abandon the golden goose it currently has with its traditional television package.

In 2013, the WWE made about $168 million from its television deal. That’s a great deal for the networks that air WWE programming like Monday Night Raw and SmackDown, and not all that great of a deal for WWE.

Ninety-percent of WWE viewers watch shows like Raw and SmackDown live or less than a day after airing. That’s on par with professional sports like football or basketball. The majority of WWE viewership is also under 34 years old and ethnically diverse, two key components that prominent advertisers are looking for. Networks are also looking for more “DVR-proof” programming, or shows that are watched live instead of recorded and watched days or weeks later.

So why doesn’t the WWE have a more lucrative TV deal? Because it’s professional wrestling, duh! Nobody — especially fancy schmancy television executives and big corporate advertisers — has ever taken professional wrestling seriously. Sure, they might back-handedly acknowledge its solid track record of reliable TV ratings and a dedicated and loyal fanbase, but they’re not going to back it up with dollars.

24

February

James Starks Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB James Starks

Packers RB James Starks

1) Introduction:  James Starks was, if anything, an afterthought prior to the Packers’ 2013 season. After Ted Thompson spent a pair of draft picks on Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, the thought was that the rookies, along with a returning DuJuan Harris and/or Alex Green would make up the Packers’ backfield rotation. But that was not the case, as Harris didn’t play a single snap this season, and Green was cut before the season began. Starks was back. And he was pretty good, too.

2) Profile:

James Darell Starks

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 2/25/1986 in Niagara Falls, NY
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 218
  • College: Buffalo
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Slim to none. Two roster spots were claimed by rookies Lacy and Franklin, while DuJuan Harris was expected to play a major role after coming on strong late in the 2012-13 season as the feature back. Starks was very much on the roster bubble headed into training camp.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight of Starks’ season, individually, was undoubtedly week two against the Washington Redskins. After Lacy suffered a concussion on the game’s first possession, Starks was thrust into the starting role and responded with a 132-yard day on the ground. Starks’ performance against the Chicago Bears in week 17 (88 rushing yards) is worth an honorable mention. As far as low-lights, it’s hard to really pinpoint anything in particular. He exceeded expectations and tied a career high, appearing in 13 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Lacy’s physical running style leaves him susceptible to hits like the one he suffered against the Redskins, so having a capable backup is essential for the Packers. Starks stepped up to the plate whenever he was called upon, and the offense really didn’t miss a beat. His 5.5-yards-per-carry average was easily the best on the team.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Starks was good, not spectacular in the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He totaled 42 yards on six touches in relief of Lacy.

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B

23

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived (Bonus Edition)

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

So yesterday I accidentally scheduled my Surviving Sunday post to run on Saturday. It was a brain freeze similar to what happens when Mike McCarthy calls for the fullback dive on 3rd-and-short.

Hopefully you enjoyed your Saturday edition of Surviving Sunday. Now that it actually is Sunday, here is a bonus Sunday edition of Surviving Sunday.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Reports surfaced on Saturday that Packers free agent cornerback Sam Shields is seeking a deal similar to the 4 years, $22.4 million contract signed by the Bears’ Tim Jennings. If that’s truly the case, then the Packers need to get this deal done ASAP. I’m guessing the overall guarantee on Shields’ deal would be bigger than Jennings’, but even if that’s true, that’s a perfectly fair deal for both sides and still leaves the Packers salary cap room to make other moves this offseason.
  • Might new Giants offensive coordinator and former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo try to sign James Starks and Evan Dietrich-Smith away from the Packers? It’d be nice to keep Starks around, but with Eddie Lacy on the roster and DuJuan Harris and Jonthan Franklin returning from injury, Starks is more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, Starks ran at turbo speed last season. Given his injury history, a part-time role is probably best for him and he sure excelled filling in for Lacy. I don’t like playing musical chairs at center, but is Dietrich-Smith worthy overpaying if another team dumps a big offer on him? I don’t think so. I’m willing to see what J.C. Tretter can do at the position.
  • According to a study from Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News, the Packers have lost a league-high 153 games by injuries to preferred starters over the last two seasons. So what are Mike McCarthy and the Packers going to do about it? Who knows. In this interview with Jason Wilde, McCarthy vowed to figure out what’s going on and make changes. He said the same things last offseason. The most logical change at this point might be to just hire the training and medical staff from Stanford University.
  • If you’re still holding out hope that the Packers will sign Jarius Byrd to fix their issues at safety, this Tweet might squash that hope.

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

22

February

Johnathan Franklin Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

1) Introduction:  Coming into the season, Franklin was expected to handle some return duties and play second fiddle to starter Eddie Lacy. But after an unspectacular training camp, Franklin was buried on the depth chart behind Lacy, James Starks and an injured DuJuan Harris. Franklin’s opportunity would come, but overall, it was a quiet rookie season.

2) Profile:

Johnathan A. Franklin

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 10/23/1989 in Los Angeles, CA
  • Height: 5’10″
  • Weight: 205
  • College: UCLA
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Although he was a fourth-round pick, Franklin was expected by some (including himself) to be selected in the second or third round. So from that standpoint, much of Packer Nation was excited about the eccentric rookie runner. However, training camp proved to be a quick drizzle on Franklin’s rookie parade.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight and low-light of Franklin’s season was Sep. 22 in Cincinnati. Filling in for an injured Lacy and a hobbled Starks — who left the game earlier — Franklin burst onto the scene with 126 total yards and his first career touchdown. “That’s the Franklin we thought we were getting,” Packers fans said. Then, on a crucial fourth down in crunch time, Franklin fumbled, which was recovered by the Bengals and returned for a touchdown. It was the best of times, then it was the worst of times.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Realistically, Franklin had very little impact on the Packers’ season. He was on multiple special teams units and had the big day against the Bengals, but that’s it.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Franklin finished the 2013-14 season on injured reserve and was inactive for the Packers’ wild card playoff game against the 49ers.

Season Report Card:

(C-) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D+

Note: It was a rough year for Franklin, but I still think he has something. After all, I had him ranked ahead of Lacy (as the No. 2 back behind Gio Bernard) prior to last year’s draft. And yes, I was dead wrong on that.

22

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Note: Relax, no need to go check your calendar – it’s not Sunday. Just a little scheduling snafu. Look for a bonus edition tomorrow, though…  

I’m going straight to the Packers news and commentary this week. No time for a long intro rant or rave. There is snow to shovel. More and more snow to shovel. 

By the time this winter is over, my back is going to snap in half from shoveling and Dr. Pat McKenzie will refuse to clear me in time for training camp.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Tyler Dunne at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked to a bunch of folks about Sam Shields. Is Shields worth a mega-contract? You might not find a faster corner in the league. But Shields also has missed games every season with various injuries. And he has a little ways to go before truly being one of the league’s top corners instead of having the potential to be one of the league’s top corners. As with any free-agent decision, it all comes down to value. I’d like to see Shields re-signed, but if he walks, the Packers still have Tramon Williams, a returning Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House at cornerback.
  • Mike Mccarthy sounded optimistic in an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine that Jermichael Finley would play again. Finley had the same two vertebrae fused that ended Nick Collins career. I’m rooting for Finley to make it back, but I still have doubts that, if he does return, it’ll be with the Packers. Either way, I’m curious what kind of offer he gets in free agency if he is cleared.
  • Ted Thompson also spoke at the combine. As usual, he said nothing.
  • I agree with John Rehor over at Packerstalk.com: Let’s calm down about Ted Thompson preparing to go all nutso in free agency. I don’t see it happening. I do think Thompson will sign a few guys. There has been value in some under-the-radar veterans in recent years that don’t completely blow up a team’s payroll. Thompson has missed the boat on some of these guys and won’t want to miss it again. At least I hope he won’t…
  • As always, when you’re at Packerstalk.com, check out the latest podcasts from this week.
21

February

Dissecting Thompson, McCarthy’s Words at NFL Combine

Mike McCarthy & Ted Thompson

Thompson and McCarthy both spoke during Friday’s media session at the NFL Combine

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy both spoke to the media on Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.  As usual, both were short and did not offer a lot of substance to what they had to say.

With three straight disappointing appearances in the postseason now behind them, following their Super Bowl championship in 2010, Thompson and McCarthy have many eyes trained on them during this offseason.  There has already been speculation on what they might do to address the needs their team has heading into the 2014 season.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport created a stir when he reported that the Packers plan to be more active in free agency than they have in years.  His report stated that the Packers could add “up to five” new players.  This raised many eyebrows, as it goes against what Thompson has done year in and year out during his time as GM:  build and develop, largely through the draft.

With Friday’s media sessions, there was hope to gain some insight into what Thompson and McCarthy said.  The Journal-Sentinel’s Packers blog provided a recap of Thompson’s comments.  Our friends over at Acme Packing Company laid out a nice recap of McCarthy’s comments.

I have the snippets below with some of my own thoughts on what was said.

 

THOMPSON

 

On cornerback Sam Shields:  “I think Sam’s been a good player for us.  He does a good job and he’s one of the fellas that we’d like to have back.” 

Shields definitely was a solid fella last season.  He led the Packers with four interceptions and was their best defensive back overall.  There have been no rumblings about a new contract for Shields yet, and with each passing day, it appears likely the team will let him hit the open market.  Thompson likely has a figure in mind for Shields but may be concerned that he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are looking for an inflated amount.  If Shields truly wants to break the bank, he’s not likely going to do so in Green Bay.