Here we are heading into another offseason. Now that the Combine and the Draft are next up, I'd like to ask....
Fellow NFL nutballs...if you could bend your GM's ear for just a few minutes...what would you say? If you could run into them at a social gathering, or in line at the grocery store, or somesuch...say you had two or three minutes...what would YOU ask?
I'm curious how fans of various clubs will answer this.
My own bit, for Ted Thompson. I went with a letter format as its easier for how I think to go 'at' rather than 'when talking to' with any accuracy, since I've never met the man and I have no idea how he's react to my thoughts.
Dear Mr. Thompson;
I'll get the intro out of the way real quick and easy. I was born in Marathon County. Went to school at DC Everest. Did some college work at UWSP. I've been a Packer fan my whole life. I live in Florida now. I'm a stockholder and long-time resident of the 'wish for a lottery win or season ticket' list.
That aside, sir, I would like to take a minute to compliment your 'draft and develop' way of doing things. There are times I disagree with it a bit. There are more times that I like it quite a bit. It's a bit unusual in the modern NFL, and while I do eat a bit of flak from folks for defending it on occasion, you've occasionally gone outside your comfort zone when the right situation appeared and lit up a Grand Slam.
Think Charles Woodson.
(Incidentally, as sorry as I am to have had to see him go, once again you made the correct call. I'll always think of Wood in Green and Gold, but he wasn't worth that much cap/cash any more)
So, here we are with a new off-season staring us in the face. There are two things that I'd like to briefly bring up to you, and I will do so as quickly and succinctly as I can.
1.) The times in the last 25-ish years that the Green Bay defense has been worth a shit was when, and really ONLY when, you had an absolute stud at Strong Safety.
LeRoy Butler was a HUGE difference maker in the 90s. Mike Shanahan said on the sideline while the Super Bowl confetti was raining down that his plan to beat the Packers was to 'put a hat on 36 on every play'. LeRoy should be in Canton, and when his shoulderblade detonated, the defense was almost immediately fell to mediocre. Or worse.
Then, for a while, you had another pretty damn good safety in Collins. Not worth carrying Butler's jockstrap, but a damn fine SS.
The strong safety has been, and always will be, the lynchpin of the defensive scheme run in Green Bay. The northern weather and 'Black and Blue Division' running game require a safety that can single out a big back and take him down. The guys you're trying to plug in now cannot and this has been repeatedly demonstrated.
Morgan Burnett might turn into a fine free safety...he has the speed, the range, and usually takes good angles. He can help out the back end or the edge runners. But plugging the other guys in at SS has been a dismal failure across the board.
I bounced several items off my TV screen last year when you passed on Harrison Smith. Hell, even Kenny Vaccaro would be an upgrade at this point and you passed on him.
You've shown that you can take chances in Free Agency. Either draft high or take an FA prize, but if you're keeping Capers and losing Greene (there was much gnashing of teeth and wailing at the clouds when that news broke), you will not find defensive success trying to play strong safety by committee.
When Collins was in and playing well, the Packers defense was feared, was a turnover machine, and really the only 'weakness' was right up-the-gut running. Notice that in games since Collins' injury with the same coaches, same scheme, and almost identical personnel, the entire unit his been either bottom-10 or middle of the road at best.
Now you have some truly high end talent in the division...Megatron. Reggie Bush. Stafford throwing for 5K annually.
Cutler and Jeffery and Marshall. And Forte. And Hester!
Oh, and Greg Jennings in your own division. And another running back, kinda good, named Peterson? You might have seen him running an awful lot right at your SAFETIES in the last two years and making them look even more foolish than normal.
Please. PLEASE please please. Send your scouts out, scour the free agency wire. Spend some money but dear lord please get a stud strong safety. Every other part of the defense gets better if you do, because they can all stop picking up for the safety's poor play and just do their own jobs again, like the last time they were top ten ranked at anything besides yards and points allowed. Let Finley and Jones go if you have to. Hell, even Starks and Newhouse if you must. But clear some cap and get a stud strong safety.
2.) Michael Sam. There aren't many places in the NFL that have the backbone to not only allow such a bright and courageous young man to play to his potential, but to have the stones to cut him is he isn't good enough.
Green Bay is one of the places.
And, if you're keeping Capers, his 'tweener size and athleticism will allow for an interesting pairing across from Clay Matthews. Consider this player, please. Don't take him because he's gay. LOOK at him because he's the best defensive player in the best division of college football that will likely been on the board in the third or later rounds. You drafted Aaron Rodgers because, even though you had Favre and some years to play with, he was an off the charts talent available as a QB at 25th. You don't pass on that.
How have the last 20 years of 'best in the SEC defensive players' panned out? Most went in the first round, and most (not all!) were darn fine players.
Yes, its a risk. But in round two or three, I think the overly footballish Cheesehead nation will agree that he's worth a try. That's he got enough spine, courage, AND flat out meanness to be the best defensive player in the SEC *while* he's openly gay is just a bonus, frankly.
P.S. Please tell me you're in touch with John Schneider about returning to Green Bay and taking your place when you retire?