Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media following Thursday’s OTA practice and as I have been doing with his major pressers, I break down some of the comments he made. These quotes are courtesy of Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
“We want to operate on lower volume of scheme. Went after scheme evaluation with focus of doing less, with more people available.”
This mostly applies to the defense. Dom Capers’ scheme is not an easy one. With various formations and personnel groupings, there are a lot of moving parts and things for players to keep track of. With as many younger players as the Packers have on the defensive side, McCarthy has said that he wants to simplify the scheme and let the players play. Back in 2011, many wondered if the Packers were playing vanilla defense throughout the season so they could “open up the playbook” come the postseason. We found out very quickly that was not the case. As the season progresses and these players become more familiar with each other as well as the different responsibilities, don’t be surprised to see Capers toss in a few old wrinkles along the way.
“Regarding Peppers and Matthews, the more a player can do, brings value to football team, utilizes creativity as football coach.”
We have already heard about some of the things the Packers may do on defense with these two imposing figures on the field. While Julius Peppers has aged and some question how much he can really add to the Green Bay defense, expect to see the Packers find out in every way that they can. An effective Peppers opposite a healthy (fingers crossed) Clay Matthews means some homework for opposing offensive coordinators. It should also help the other nine guys make a few more plays than they did last season.
“Peppers moves like a young man. Impressive person from all angles. Very professional in his approach. Takes care of himself…looks awesome, very natural at OLB position.”
Every coach is going to talk up his veterans and key players both to instill confidence in them and provide some bravado to the outsiders. Still, with McCarthy having seen some prime examples of veterans who had long careers and played well late, this gives reason to believe what he’s saying. As mentioned above, the questions about Peppers’ age as well as his drop in production last year with the Chicago Bears has many wondering how big of a boost he can really give the Packers. He hasn’t missed many games in his career due to injury. Two to be exact. A guy doesn’t stay that healthy by chance. The Packers, at the very least, have a pro’s pro in Peppers and a guy who knows how to prepare for the rigors of a full 16-game season.
As far as Peppers at linebacker, this goes along with preparation and approach. Ability is essential too and I’m not discounting that but Peppers has played enough football in his lifetime that his learning curve at outside linebacker should be relatively short. With 118.5 career sacks, we know that Peppers knows what a quarterback looks like and he’s also long enough to disrupt passing lanes. Players make plays and that’s what I expect to see out of #56 in green and gold.
“Rookie premier camp is part of CBA contract, so missing two draft picks isn’t ideal but I won’t touch that.”
As I alluded to in my earlier post about yesterday’s OTA practice, Davante Adams and Khyri Thornton were not at practice due to their commitment to being at the rookie premiere camp. Both players were invited by the NFL, who tend to pluck the top rookies for this event. How they decided on Thornton over, say, Clinton-Dix is beyond me but it’s the NFL so we can just chalk it up to that. On the one hand, part of this event is teaching these young men how to handle many of the aspects of life as pro athlete, most notably avoiding off-field drama and managing their money. On the other hand, there is a huge marketing aspect to it as well. Players sign autographs and pose for pictures. As the NFL continues to grow into its popularity and demand from fans, things like this will become more commonplace. Seems as though the league is taking some of the control out of the team’s hands when mandating player appearances. Let’s just hope they don’t start double booking during games on Sundays!
“Lyerla feels like he’s got a little rust to knock off…Lot of conversation prior to signing Lyerla. I’m personally excited about having Colt here. Everybody excited about helping young man…Credit to our program, resources we have to give Lyerla a chance.”
Are we on Lyerla overload yet? Well, if we are, expect to see and hear more. The small crowd at yesterday’s practice reportedly gave him the biggest ovation of any player on the field. No surprise there. Packers fans support the green and gold. It’s truly an ideal place to go if you want crowd support. The team obviously did some homework on him and hopes he can reach his potential. Still, I have questions about how this experiment will end when I am hear reports of coaches having to ride him to hustle in practice and his dropping easy passes.
“Hyde can definitely be 4-down football player. Very good player, whether nickel or other position. Give him opp to be on field.”
More about Micah Hyde and wanting him on the field, in some capacity. It’s a good problem to have that the Packers have several talented cornerbacks. Prior to the draft, the team seemed to be penciling Hyde in at the other safety spot in the event that they weren’t able to land a free agent or rookie safety to the mix. Now with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix competing for a starting spot and the team having used a first round pick on him, Hyde’s role is a bit more in question. He’s not ready to move outside and press Tramon Williams for a starting spot and unless he is unable to play, Sam Shields is entrenched as the other outside corner. Oh, did I mention that the Packers are also getting Casey Hayward back after his stellar rookie season in 2012? Yes, McCarthy and Capers will have some work to do in order to get all of these playmakers on the field at one time. When they are, I like the chances of seeing more turnovers from the group than in recent year’s past. At the safety position, one interception is already 100% better than last year. I’ll bet my house that we’ll see at least one in 2014.
“Been impressed with Tretter. I like what I’ve seen.”
In his time in Green Bay, McCarthy has seen Jason Spitz, Scott Wells, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Jeff Saturday at the center position. Not a bad group of names. Only Saturday was a disaster and proved to have nothing left in the tank. Based on that, I’d like to think that if McCarthy likes what he sees so far in J.C. Tretter, that the second-year man out of Cornell has a real legitimate shot at being this year’s starting center. It was no surprise that he lined up with the first time at the outset of OTA’s but there are still question marks about how well Tretter can transition inside after playing tackle throughout his college career.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: