Mike McCarthy Speaks at Owner’s Meetings

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Mike McCarthy
McCarthy spoke about the current state of the Packers at this week’s Owner’s Meetings

As I have been doing for the past few press conferences by Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, I am sharing highlights of his comments along with some of my own thoughts.  As always, enjoy the read and feel free to agree, disagree, cheer or jeer.

Credit for this recap goes to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause for his great coverage of McCarthy’s comments today via Twitter.

On the offensive line situation heading into 2014: Bryan Bulaga moving back to right tackle. MM likes Bakhtiari at LT. Derek Sherrod will be swing tackle, start out on left side

The return of Bryan Bulaga from his ACL injury last year means more shuffling on the outside.  I have always thought putting Bulaga back at right tackle made the most sense, after watching David Bakhtiari hold his own at left tackle during his rookie season.  Bakh has plenty of room to improve and certainly needs to as he matures, but I have no qualms about his being the starting left tackle heading into this season.

As far as the departure of Evan Dietrich-Smith, the Packers will enter their fourth consecutive season with a new center.  The popular theories on who the current front runners have been second-year man J.C. Tretter and current guard T.J. Lang.  Lang stepped in at center last season in emergency relief and quickly made a case for himself to remain at guard.  Lang wasn’t horrible, but he’s been effective at guard and the Packers don’t need to tinker with a good thing there.

Simpy handing the keys to Tretter is risky for a guy who hasn’t played a single down yet.  McCarthy will need to closely evaluate what he has in Tretter throughout the offseason program.  Pre season game action will tell the biggest tale, as that is obviously the closest look to an actual game that they will have to go on.  Still, Green Bay would be wise to exhaust all remaining avenues to add some talent to the competition at center.  They have the draft in early May, undrafted free agency, and the current free agency period at their disposal.  There will also be roster cuts this summer and we never know who might be on the move.

On the role Julius Peppers will play in the defense:  Julius Peppers will serve in an elephant role, playing both OLB and D-line. Will bring lots of flexibility to defense.

Since Peppers joined the Packers over a week ago, a lot of discussion has been had about what his role will be in the defense.  Peppers has spent his entire 12-year career as a 4-3 defensive end.  While he has said on a few occasions throughout his career that he would enjoy playing in a 3-4, he has yet to actually do it.  Peppers isn’t quite ancient, in NFL terms, but he is certainly at the point of the valid question “can you teach an old dog new tricks?”

The Packer want to do some different things on defense to improve their productivity and keep opposing offenses guessing.  Peppers seems to help add this dimension merely by his being on the field.  At least he does on paper.  Aaron Kampman and Julius Peppers are not on the same par, but we saw what happened when the Packers attempted to move Kampan to outside linebacker in 2009.  It wasn’t pretty.  I wouldn’t put it past Peppers to be effective, but it’s far from a certainty.

Peppers is said to be “motivated” coming into this season.  He gets to face both of his former teams and we know football players love to show their old employers why they should still be playing for them.  If that alone can make Peppers effective enough to elevate the defense through his play or the play of others, then he will have done what general manager Ted Thompson likely hoped for when he signed him.

On Micah Hyde: Wants Micah Hyde to be every-down player, whether it’s safety, slot, CB, dime. Wants him on the field more.

The safety position has been the hot topic this offseason after watching last year’s unit produce paltry numbers.  Many are speculating that the Packers are hoping to land one of this year’s top safeties in the draft.  With many other teams also needing a safety, the guy they want may not be on the board.  This year’s class is said to be deep at safety, but the further from round one, the less likely it is that Green Bay would be drafting a sure-fire starter on day one.

Here, we see McCarthy alluding to the idea of Hyde at safety so it’s now officially being discussed at 1265 Lombardi Ave.  McCarthy prefers versatile athletes on his team and guys who can play multiple roles.  Whether they see Hyde as an occasional fill-in at safety or something more, this is now more than just some grand idea floating around the Internet.  It’s a very real possibility that Hyde is the safety opposite Morgan Burnett in week one.

On B.J. Raji: B.J. Raji will play over center, tailor him more to his skill set and “cut him loose.”

More validation from McCarthy about what has already been speculated: that Raji will return to nose tackle in 2014.  After Raji turned down last year’s extension offer from the Packers that was reportedly for $8 million per season, he went on to post one of his worst seasons.

As McCarthy would say, “stats are for losers”, but Raji just looked flat.  The Packers pulled that offer and allowed Raji to test the free agent waters when that time period began a few weeks ago.  They clearly knew what the rest of the league must have already been thinking, because Raji received little to no interest on the open market.  He re-signed with the Packers on a one-year “prove it” deal worth about $4 million.

Raji’s comments last season indicated that he was trying to be a good soldier and play his role in Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense, which was to occupy blockers up front and create opportunities for the linebackers.  Still, it was evident that Raji wanted more freedom to rush up field and create pressure.  The Packers were listening and will give Raji some of the same opportunities that helped him earn 6.5 sacks in 2010.  It could be Raji who may benefit from the presence of Peppers up front but either way, Raji should enter 2014 motivated and mad.

On Jermichael Finley, Johnny Jolly: Finley looks to be in great shape. Would like Johnny Jolly back but will have to clear medical hurdles first. Hasn’t ruled out Ryan Pickett coming back.

No surprises here.  It was reported that the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t pass Finley during his recent visit with them and therefore, did not offer him a contract.  The Packers already knew this to be the case and presumably will proceed as if Finley won’t be returning to them.  As a result, tight end is a position of close watch as we near the draft.  The Packers may feel like they are OK with Andrew Quarless and may draft a wide receiver or they may decide that another young tight end is worth an earlier pick.

Jolly is not getting any younger and still has to wait for his hip to heal.  Bone was grafted from Jolly’s hip to help fuse his neck during a recent surgery.  Jolly has been cleared for light workouts, but he has not been fully cleared to resume football activity.  Any defensive line would benefit from having a healthy Jolly on it, but the key there is “healthy”.  Determining that is a process that the Packers will likely a very conservative approach to, if they take one at all.  I would assume that they will at least give Jolly a workout to determine where he is at.  If they are confident enough, Jolly could be added and they may let one of their existing guys go, including recently signed Letroy Guion.  If Jolly remains available throughout the summer and an injury strikes, the Packers may elect to bring him back at that time.

On the quarterback situation:  My personal preference is to have 3 QBs on roster and another on practice squad. But he’s a realist. Would like 4 QBs in camp.

McCarthy isn’t in complete control of the player acquisition process and he understands that.  Currently, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers and Scott Tolzien under contract this season.  Matt Flynn remains unsigned and a free agent.  That we are a few weeks into the free agency period likely means that Flynn’s best shot to get on a roster is for an injury to another quarterback somewhere.  Or to re-sign in Green Bay.  Sounds simple, but at this point, we have to wonder what Green Bay’s true interest is in bringing Flynn back.  They could have signed him by now and likely to a very cap-friendly contract but they haven’t.

Nothing is out of the question when it comes to Ted Thompson and the draft.  I’m never surprised when the Packers draft a quarterback and this year is no exception.  It won’t be in the early rounds unless something very mysterious happens to a top prospect.  A sixth or seventh rounder is very possible to come in and compete for a back up spot and give the Packers a better option than they see in Flynn.  Still, it’s hard to argue with the results that Flynn produced last season after he was signed.  Besides the Thanksgiving Day debacle in Detroit, Flynn was more than serviceable and would seem to be Green Bay’s best option to back up Rodgers this season, if healthy.

 

For a complete recap of McCarthy’s comments from today, check out Mike Vandermause’s Twitter timeline or check out PackersNews.com.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • Pete Kliman

    All of this info will make for a very interesting draft with a heap of mystery.IMO Tolzien will be the backup with a rookie very much in the mix.Would not be surprised if a QB was drafted as high as 4th round.

  • JimR_in_DC

    MM also said he thought about giving up calling the plays on offense, but he’s going to continue doing that. Pity.

  • http://grizzlymitch@bresnan.net grizzlymitch

    We keep avoiding the inside linebacker position. We need to find a player that can make plays at the line of scrimmage. Hyde or not, we need a safety. Last, but not least, there are a few tight ends in the draft that can help us out. I do believe that barring mass injury again this year, we will be a much better team. I’ll bet we will find out real quick as it looks like we will get the Seahawks in week one.

    • Dobber

      Barring one injury last year, they were en route to winning the NFC Central and competing for a bye.

    • Pete Kliman

      I just don’t feel comfort with a safety in the first round when we have Hyde. Linebacker for sure and/or a young corner that could backup many positions. Remember Williams is at the end of contract,Rouse shaky,Shields a bit delicate. A young D lineman should be another top chice for obvious reasons.

  • GBPDAN

    “My personal preference is to have 3 QBs on roster and another on practice squad. But he’s a realist. Would like 4 QBs in camp.”

    Looks like the blunder at backup QB from last year has hit home with MM. I was completely uncomfortable with the backup QB situation heading into the season, and was also uncomfortable the year before. I guess it took losing 4 games in a row ,when Rodgers went down ,for our leaders to realize the importance of the backup QB position.

  • James David

    If FS Clinton-Dix and ILB Mosley are gone, I would trade down for extra selections. Team needs include ILB,OLB,TE,FS,SS,OC, and depth.

  • Big T

    It’s time to suck it up and let Sherrod go. Don’t care how gruesome the injury was, after 3 years if he isn’t ready, he is never going to be. Literally a tough break for Sherrod. Get someone else that will actually play. Maybe TT can get Newhouse to come back with a megamillion dollar contract. TT loves that guy…

    • JimR_in_DC

      No, it’s time to see if Sherrod can contribute in a meaningful way this season, and whether he’s worth hanging onto next season.

      • Dobber

        Absolutely. He’s on the last year of his rookie contract. If he’s got it in him to be a good backup swing tackle or even to displace someone and improve the line, even better.

  • 1stngoal

    “Still, it’s hard to argue with the results that Flynn produced last season after he was signed. Besides the Thanksgiving Day debacle in Detroit, Flynn was more than serviceable and would seem to be Green Bay’s best option to back up Rodgers this season, if healthy.”

    I have to agree. Flynn’s experience and familiarity with the system makes it a no-brainer for him to be the back-up. I’m hoping they bring him back and add another development prospect to compete for a spot on the roster…

    • Shavager

      I’m with you, NOBODY not named Favre or Rodgers has played as well under McCarthy’s system as Matt Flynn. The Packers really only lost one game with Flynn at QB last season–the Lions Turkey Day game that McCarthy should take the blame for allowing the Lions to tee-off his offense by not giving Flynn the no huddle offense to keep them from substituting defenders, keeping their players on field for Packers advantage on different plays. The defense cost the tie to Vikings, and the Steelers game was a winnable game till the end. Pack had a legitimate shot at 4 wins, one loss with Flynn at QB had defense been good enough last year.

  • 1stngoal

    As to what Green Bay does at center, I’ve seen a report that Green Bay had Mike McGlynn in for a visit and he will make a decision after visiting with Tennessee, so I guess we’ll have to wait see how that plays out…

    • Dobber

      I saw that, also, but I thought McGlynn was a pure OG, though. Bringing him in might signal that they want to slide Lang over to OC.

      • JimR_in_DC

        I read somewhere that McGlynn was a better C than G, and that while he was playing G most recently, he was better (as a C) than the C he was playing next to.

    • Shavager

      McGlynn signed with the Redskins if I’m not mistaken.

    • Shavager

      McGlynn signed with the Redskins if I’m not mistaken.

  • Archie

    Good to see the Packers changing so many things. Going from 2 to 4 QBs may be an overreaction. I’d be happy with a solid #2. As much as I like Micah Hyde, I doubt he brings enough juice to the party to be a starting S. Good to see revamping of defense. Essentially MM is saying Capers didn’t deploy his guys properly. Hence all the position switches and new position inventions. To me that was reason enough to fire Capers but apparently not to MM.

    My wish for Packers in 2014 besides a healthy #12 and #52 is that Tretter is this year’s Bakhtiari. After that, I’d like to see a return of effectiveness for D Sherrod. Those two things should result in a sucessful OL in 2014. A dark horse pick in the draft remains – Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, 6-4,307,5.04 UCLA JR. He just may be the BPA at pick 21. However, he is a luxury that GB may not be able to afford given all its shortcomings on defense. Heck, they could be faced with a choice between Zack Martin and Su’a-Filo.

    Picks off the board before Pack picks:

    (1) Top two CBs;
    (2) Top two S (5 teams in front of them have major needs at S);
    (3) Top three pass rushers (Clowney, Mack and Barr);
    (4) Top 3 OTs;
    (5) Top TE;
    (6) Top three WRs (who is #3?);
    (7) top three QBs if we are lucky.

    That’s the 17 best guys in the draft. Add to that Aaron Donald (DT) and Dee Ford (OLB) and you are up to 19.

    The next group includes many:

    (1) the two OL mentioned above, as well as Yankey, the G from Stanford;
    (2) any of several CBs;
    (3) any of several WRs;
    (4) any of several DL including Ealy, Hageman, Nix, Truitt, Crichton, Jernigan;
    (5) Shazier or Mosely at ILB.

    The thing is, the guy picked at 21 could be still on the board early in R2 so a couple of small trade downs could be the winning strategy this year UNLESS, a top 17 guy falls through or we trade up.

    What if TT goes WR in R1 or R2?

    R1 – Odell Beckham, LSU, seems to fit TT’s style, though I’d like somebody much bigger; and,

    R2 – Paul Richardson, Colorado.

    What if WR Mike Evans, T A&M, fell to pick 21? In a heartbeat? Or would he pass on him like he did Crabtree for Raji in 2009?

    There are so many quality WRs this year teams may pass on them in R1 more than would be warranted by their value. This means WR could make juicy picks in late R1.

    • http://grizzlymitch@bresnan.net grizzlymitch

      Conjecture. Safety, Linebacker or Tight End will be on the board at 21. We will get what we need at 21. You make it sound like the draft will be over by 21.

    • Pete Kliman

      Great job charting the possibilities. IMO a speedy rec. especially with downfield ability would be tempting. It just brings back memories of what we had with Jennings and Nelson. However, that can be had in the second round.

  • Since ’61

    Looks like Burnett and Hyde at Safety. This concerns me. I would prefer Hyde with a veteran FA Safety. But we’re paying Burnett so we have to play him. I’m sure we’ll draft a Safety but he won’t be ready for another season or 2. As I’ve mentioned before I would like to the Packers draft a true center, put him in the job and leave him there for the rest of Rodger’s career. As it is we’re going into the 4th consecutive season with a different center. Trettor, Barclay or Lang can be backups but no converts as the starter. ILB and TE are still big needs. Jones regressed as the season went on and Hawk is reaching the point of decline in his career which probably can’t be much worse from where he’s been for most of his career. Quarless is a good player, when healthy, but I don’t think that defenses are very concerned about stopping Quarless. As for the QBs, I would prefer Flynn and a rookie versus Tolzien and a rookie. We just have to wait and see on the draft. It’s all speculation at this point, but Safety, ILB and Center need to solidified based on where we are today. Thanks, Since ’61

    • Anonymous

      And TE. Would like to keep Tretter as the initial back-up for all 3 interior OL spots. At least untile he can get some experience. We also need an OLB if Perry is going to play the hybrid DE/OLB (elephant)position with Peppers.

  • JimR_in_DC

    Since ’61 says: “Looks like Burnett and Hyde at Safety. This concerns me. I would prefer Hyde with a veteran FA Safety.”

    I’m concerned, too. Hyde may turn out to be great (or at least good) at S, but I’d sure like to see the Packers hedge their bet this season with either drafting an early round S, or signing a decent veteran FA S.