Monday, September 3, 2007
These guys might have come up with a running back to carry the ball in '07
Why, exactly, has Ted Thompson received a complete pass from the media and most Packers fans for the roster he has assembled prior to the 2007 season?
With the news that Noah Herron was placed on IR today, Green Bay goes into the season with the following at running back: Brandon Jackson, Vernand Morency, Deshaun Wynn and some Grant guy they just picked up from the Giants. Let's examine these players.
Jackson: Has the most potential of the four. Was a part-time player at Nebraska. Wasn't durable in his college career. Has already suffered a concussion in the pre-season.
Morency: Was productive as a change-of-pace back last year when he wasn't hurt. Is an absolute china doll. Missed all of camp with an injury.
Wynn: A top HS running back, had a reputation for being lazy in college, causing him to fall to the 7th round. Was hurt most of camp.
Grant: I have no clue - except I know that he spent his first two years in the league hurt.
How are we feeling about that group? Three players spent significant time hurt in camp, and the fourth just arrived with the Packers after spending two years hurt. If Jackson and Morency can stay healthy all year, maybe this is OK. But given their histories, I think that's a huge assumption. It is an indictment of this group that I feel terrible about losing Noah freaking Herron. At least that guy could be trusted to pick up the blitz, and knew his assignments. This group has disaster written all over it for poor Favre in pass protection.
Ted Thompson could have opened his wallet and signed any number of players in the off-season to avoid this debacle. Travis Henry would have seemed to make sense - he's gone to a zone blocking scheme in Denver and has been a 1,000 yard back for two teams. He does enjoy procreating, however, so perhaps Ted was attempting to spare the state from Travis further spreading his seed across the U.S. Other backs that were available include Willis McGahee, Jamal Lewis, Ahman Green, Domanic Rhodes, Chris Brown...all would have been viable veteran alternatives. But it appears that Ted trusted that he'd get a back in the draft. When Peterson and Lynch were both gone, he was stuck picking from the second tier of backs, which apparently included Brandon Jackson. So here we sit.
It doesn't end at running back, sadly - although that is the position with the most glaring weakness, because there is no solid starter from that group. I would argue that fullback, tight end, linebacker and quarterback are all positions where the Packers are frightfully thin.
At fullback, we apparently are content with a rookie who played linebacker last year. I think they signed a backup from Pittsburgh today, but that's all we've got. Ugh.
The tight ends are Bubba Franks and Donald Lee. That's it. Now, I'm actually OK with that combo as a starting group, comparatively, but what happens if one gets hurt? Ted drafted a TE in the later rounds, but he was an unmitigated disaster and was cut.
At linebacker, I dare you to name a backup at this position with Hodge now on the shelf. You might be able to name Desmond Bishop, because he blew up that guy from Jacksonville, but unfortunately he's not very good. So hopefully none of the starters go down here.
Finally, there's no third-string QB. With Favre at the helm, this wouldn't seem to be a problem, but you never know. Rodgers got hurt last year during his only action, remember.
At least the Packers have 11 defensive lineman. Good thing they blew a first round pick on a tackle that will spend the season inactive because of the positional depth there.
So instead of making some real moves in the offseason to shore up the depth of the team, Ted Thompson collected mid to late round draft picks. This left the team dreadfully thin at several key positions, because the late draft picks were either cut loose completely or put on the practice squad.
Despite all of this, many fans, including some whose opinions I respect, think this team is going at least 8-8, and perhaps competing for the playoffs. If absolutely nobody gets hurt this year, maybe that's a reasonable guess. But we all know that people get hurt, and if the Packers suffer a few injuries at some of these key positions, this is going to be a 3-13 team.
Posted by Matt at 12:08 AM