10-
-
-
-
-
20-
-
-
-
-
30-
-
-
-
-
40-
-
-
-
-
50-
-
-
-
-
40-
-
-
-
-
30-
-
-
-
-
20-
-
-
-
-
10-
-
-
-
-


















































Green Bay Packers

Columnists: Brian Maafi

Offseason Review

The Green Bay Packers have had a crazy offseason to say the least. It started out slow and quite not much news, not many free agent interests. They fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell because of the defenses breakdowns during the season and playoffs, they also fired Tight Ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski, Assistant offensive line coach Joe Phillbin replaced Jagodzinski as Tight Ends Coach and Bob Slowik replaced Donatell. They only had one big free agent, Chad Clifton so he dominated most of the offseason talk for the first few weeks or so for Packer fans. A lot of fans wondered if he would stay a Packer, would he leave for big money? Would the Packers over pay for him? Would he get franchised and sit out the whole year without a contract? or would he get the transition tag? Before Packer fans found out what was going to happen with Clifton they signed Steve Morley a offensive tackle who was the top pick in the CFL draft one years ago who has great size at 6’7 335 he was signed for insurance for Clifton and also just to give the packers depth along the offensive line and he will probably end up at left guard, he is pretty athletic but does not have the feet for left tackle in the NFL, he may battle with Tauscher for the left guard spot of Wahle isn’t retained. Well the answers came early on. He was given the franchise tag at the beginning of free agency. So now the questions were, would he resign? would the team trade his rights for a draft pick? or would a team be willing to give up a 1st and a 3rd round draft pick for him? well those questions were soon after answered as well. Then March 3rd came and Packer fans were delighted Clifton had resigned for six-year, $32.4 million deal, including an $11 million signing bonus, so all packer fans let out a collective sigh of relief because they had their left tackle back and the team didn’t over pay for him. Now that Cliffy was resigned what were packer fans to talk about? free agency, the only problem with that is the packers now didn’t have much cap room so they didn’t show interest in any big names and only had a few players in for visits which included Billy Volek, William Bartee, Mark Roman, Toby Gowin, and restricted free agent Bryce Fisher. The Packers only signed one free agent in the offseason on March 22nd they signed Mark Roman to a three year deal. Roman is a player that fits the packers very well, he’s a safety that can also play corner back and has very good coverage skills for a safety and that was one of the packers weakness’ on defense last year, beyond McKenzie, Sharper and Harris the packers coverage wasn’t very good, especially at strong safety with Edwards for about half the season and Anderson for the second half. In free agency the packers lost Antuan Edwards and Josh Bidwell to Miami and Tampa Bay respectively. Edwards wasn’t much of a loss since he had been pretty much a bust since he was drafted, he’s battled inconsistency and injury his whole career, he’s a corner back safety tweener who is not physical enough for a safety and doesn’t have the cover skills for cornerback. Bidwell was a loss though because he was Green Bays only punter and had a solid year, the team actually offered him a bigger signing bonus than Tampa but Bidwell chose Tampa where he can punt in better weather in hopes of cashing in when he becomes a free agent in ’06. During all this in late March Eric Crouch decided to come back to football for a third time. He has speed and talent but will he be able to turn that into production? he is being tried as a safety and also getting snaps as a punt returner. The Pack also resigned Michael Hawthorne in late March to a two year deal while he hoped on cashing in on free agency, he didn’t find the interest or money he wanted so he decided to resign with Green Bay who was the only team showing real interest in retaining the versatile defensive back. He can play both cornerback and safety but somewhat like Edwards is a little bit of a tweener, he doesn’t have great speed or quickness but is 6’3 with long arms. There was also good news coming out about the Packer rookies who ended up on the IR last year, James Lee is over the pinched nerve in his back and has dropped some weight and gotten stronger, and has rededicated himself this offseason. Chris Johnson one of the fastest cornerbacks in the draft looked really good in pre-season and looked to have the dime spot locked up until his hurt his knee and ended up on IR, he still hasn’t been medically cleared to play yet but is getting there and should give the team some more speed in the secondary. Carl Ford who looked to have the #4 receiver spot locked up ended up spraining his MCL late in the preseason and the prognosis was 10 weeks and Sherman decided he couldn’t wait that long so he put Ford on the IR. Ford was pretty much ready to play by week 11 or so, so he just worked hard to gain weight and get stronger in the offseason and also studied the playbook, he looks to have added 10 pounds of muscle this offseason which should only help him this season and has a very good shot at landing the #4 spot this year, he will also get a look at punt returner in training camp. Also in late March the Packers started talks with the Browns about acquiring Tim Couch the former #1 overall pick in ’99, with Favre entering the twilight of his career the packers are looking for a future replacement to him and Couch has a lot of talent my only problem with him is he seems to have a problem with pressure and he is a little old to be the ‘heir’ to Favre since Favre will probably play at least two more seasons and Couch would be under immense pressure being Favres replacement and I feel he would crack under the pressure, with that being said I think he would be a good back up for Favre but I just wouldn’t want him replacing Favre. Then in early April it was discovered that Mike McKenzie desired a trade and didn’t want to come back to the team. He said(through his agent) that it was a number of things one was that he felt he was under paid with all the cornerbacks in free agency getting big deals that he felt he was better than he thought he deserved to get paid the same, the second reason was the packers passing assistant defensive back’s coach Lionel Washington over for the open defensive backs coach job vacated by Slowik who is now the defensive coordinator, instead Sherman hired former Detroit defensive coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer. He also didn’t really like former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell’s defense and felt that switching Donatell for Slowik was just a facial change and nothing was really going to change with the defensive system. He has said he would rather retire than to play for the packers again. Sherman has attempted to bridge the gap but McKenzie seems set on his plan as of right now things have not changed and some teams have contacted Green Bay about McKenzie but so far it seems Green Bay is set on standing their ground with McKenzie who has three years left on his contract. Then the Packers went into the draft with eight picks and with no real big holes except at defensive end and corner back they could just let the draft come to them. Sherman chose not to let the draft come to him, and reached for Ahmad Carroll a speedy, explosive corner who is only 5’9 1/2 and has to play against Moss(6’4), Rogers(6’2), Williams(6’2), and Terrell(6’3) in the NFC North. They also have to play Mushin Muhammed(6’2), Amani Toomer(6’3), Tyrone Calio(6’4), Rod Gardner(6’2), Andre Johnson(6’2), Terrell Owens(6’3), and Reggie Williams(6’3) and with Carroll being a underclassman I don’t feel he is ready to be a starter let alone take on all these tall receivers and I don’t feel he’ll ever be more than a nickel back in the NFL, I will admit though if I am proved wrong. The packers than traded down in the 2nd round when there were plenty of good players there at #55 they could have taken(Odom, Hill, Ware, etc..) their next pick was in the 3rd round at #70 and Green Bay selected Joey Thomas, a very talented but sometimes cocky cornerback from Montana State. He has size(6’1 195) and speed(4.4). Competition is a bit of a question for him but he showed very well at the senior bowl against some of colleges best players. The packers next picked at #72 in the 3rd round and selected big talented Donnell Washington from Clemson a junior defensive tackle, who is known for having 1st round talent but 4th round work ethic and play. He also scored a eight on the wonderlic so that also raises red flags about his smarts. He is known to have a lazy attitude and even his college coach berated him for declaring and not staying for his senior year. The packers next made the biggest reach and dumbest move of this draft by trading up to the end of the 3rd and taking Punter BJ Sander from Ohio State who by most accounts was a 5th-6th round player, he only started for one year at OSU and isn’t anything special talent wise so it makes you questions Sherman’s drafting ability. Sander now has more pressure on him than Brett Conway did four years ago being a 3rd round pick himself. The packers traded their 4th and 5th round picks to trade up into the 3rd for Sander so now the Pack only has three day two picks one in the 6th and two in the 7th. Now Packer fans had to wait awhile before the pack picked again then all the sudden in the 6th round the packers traded up in the 6th using their original 7th round pick and selected defensive tackle Corey Williams from Arkansas State, he showed well in the 40 and bench press at the combine but his vert and broad Jump were weak showing he lacks explosiveness and there were some medical red flags on him as well, he had a ankle problem all the way through his senior year that he had actually gotten late in his junior year as well. He has good size but would probably be best if he lost 10 pounds so he could play three-technique tackle. The Packers have said that both he and Washington will see playing time at power end but I can’t see either being an effective power end and both will be limited to defensive tackle. The Packers then selected Scott Wells, center from Tennessee with pick 251. Wells has a good shot at making the team with Grey Ruegamer as the only center on the roster and he is a center/guard tweener and Wells is a fighter and actually reminds me of Frank Winters and looks similar to him in body shape. Overall a questionable draft but I like the Thomas and Wells picks. Now on to after the draft there has been rumors from mini camp that ’03 3rd round semi bust Kenny Peterson has dropped from 310 to 289 and has looked faster and quicker and will probably get moved to power end and has looked good in camp so that may help fill the hole at power end, Kenny has a lot of talent he just needs to develop it. Going into the ’04 season the Packers have a great shot at winning the North and getting into the playoffs and should fight for home field advantage, the other teams in the North have helped themselves but rookies usually only contribute so much in their first year so the Packers should be ok but with Favre’s retirement coming up soon and the other teams in the North’s good drafts the Packers need to watch their back the next few years but even without Favre the Pack does have talent on offense and defense. So far its been a offseason of peaks and valleys like an EKG machine. Here’s to hoping for more peaks than valleys during the regular season and playoffs.



©2004
Sideline Scouting Services

-10
-
-
-
-
-20
-
-
-
-
-30
-
-
-
-
-40
-
-
-
-
-50
-
-
-
-
-40
-
-
-
-
-30
-
-
-
-
-20
-
-
-
-
-10
-
-
-
-