Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–In Mike McCarthy’s first 12 years as head coach, general manager Ted Thompson largely ignored the free-agent market and built his team with a “draft and develop” philosophy. Brian Gutekunst replaced Thompson in January and took a more aggressive approach to free agency. “Any time you can add experience and let’s not forget about the way these men fit into the locker room, their reputations, what they bring, that’s all part of it,” McCarthy said. “Because you’re always focused on the chemistry and the culture of your locker room and it’s just an opportunity to improve.”

–Aaron Rodgers’ contract ends after the 2019 season, although the Packers could place the franchise tag on him for two seasons. With the deal nearing an end, most expected the Packers and Rodgers to sign a long-term deal this offseason. That hasn’t happened, though. “I think we both want the same thing,” Packers president Mark Murphy said. “Those things have a way of working themselves out. I’m confident we’ll get something done.”

–Packers’ new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had extremely successful stints with the New York Jets and in Buffalo. But Pettine knows turning Green Bay’s defense around will be a work in progress. “I’ve been pleased,” Pettine said. “The mistakes we’re making are ones that hopefully you tuck those away and you learn from them and you don’t repeat them. You’d much rather make the mistakes in the spring than on Sunday in the fall. I feel good about where we are, but it’s very, very much in the infant stages for us.


–Finding two starting corners. Green Bay set franchise marks for futility in 2017 in opponent’s passer rating (102.0) and completion percentage (67.8 percent). So the Packers drafted cornerbacks Jaire Alexander of Louisville in Round 1 and Josh Jackson of Iowa in Round 2. Veteran corners Tramon Williams and Davon House were signed in free agency, and second-year man Kevin King could be poised for a breakout year. The Packers need some combination of this group to step up and help fix a pass defense that’s been dreadful the last two years.

–Develop wide receiver depth. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb – Green Bay’s starting wideouts – form a solid tandem. After that, though, the Packers have little proven depth. Green Bay drafted rookies J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown to potentially fill the void. The rookies will battle holdovers Geronimo Allison, Michael Clark, Trevor Davis and DeAngelo Yancey for roster spots.

–Identify a right tackle. Bryan Bulaga is the preferred starter, but he suffered his second torn ACL last year, missed the final eight games and his return date is unclear. Kyle Murphy was off to a solid start in 2017 – even playing left tackle in a Week 2 loss in Atlanta – before a foot injury ended his season after Week 3. Jason Spriggs, a second-round draft pick in 2016, has been a bust his first two seasons. He gets one more summer to show he’s worth his salt. Veteran Byron Bell, who has started 74 games in his first six NFL seasons, was signed on May 30 as a veteran insurance policy.


–Both cornerback jobs, the right tackle position and the second safety job are all wide open. But keep on eye on the Brett Hundley vs. DeShone Kizer battle at No. 2 quarterback. Hundley, Green Bay’s No. 2 quarterback the last two years, started nine games last season after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone. Hundley failed to take advantage of his golden opportunity, though, throwing more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (nine) and finishing with a paltry passer rating of 70.6. So the Packers traded for second-year man Kizer this offseason. Kizer went 0-15 as a starter for the winless Cleveland Browns last year, led the NFL with 22 interceptions and completed just 53.6 percent of his passes. The Packers desperately hope one player emerges.




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