Aaron's Answers: Offense will be tough to stop
Throughout the offseason, I’ll be answering reader questions in a weekly mailbag here at PackersNews.com. If you’d like to submit a question in the future, just email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
With a little less than two weeks until the draft, questions remain throughout the Packers’ roster. While it certainly would appear Ted Thompson will wait to do anything further in free agency, there’s always a chance we might see a last-minute signing before the NFL’s prime-time player selection bonanza.
With that in mind, you’ve got questions. I’ll try to answer them. Let’s get to it.
From Steven Botzau:
Do you think Tracy Porter would be a good addition to the Packers? I realize the Packers didn't have the best pass rush but it was all right. I think you're overestimating the abilities of our corners.
Well, it’s really not about what I think of the Packers' young corners. It’s what Thompson thinks. And his history would suggest he’s going to give them every chance to bounce back from their poor 2016 showings. Remember how many fans wanted Davante Adams run out of town last offseason? How did that turn out? Thompson is a patient man and will give his guys every chance possible to show they can play in the NFL.
As for Porter, he’s 31 and battled knee issues all last year. He’s no longer the player you probably remember from his Super Bowl heroics with the Saints, or even the player who played very well against the Packers on Thanksgiving night two years ago. Father Time is undefeated, and while Porter may have enough in the tank to make it through a season or two, he’s not someone the Packers want to bring in. They need some speed and explosiveness in the secondary. Porter offers neither.
From Mark Koditek:
Why would signing Richard Sherman be a bad idea? He obviously has talent and the Seahawks want him gone. For the right deal, this should be a no-brainer. Only flaw I see is his mouth and Bennett can be just as bad.
Wow. A lot to unpack here.
First, let’s start with the idea that the Seahawks “want Sherman gone.” I’m not so sure that’s the case. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that it was Sherman who initially asked to be traded. The Seahawks may be interested in moving on at the right price, but that price is reportedly steep.
Next, saying it’s a “no-brainer” for “the right deal” is all well and good, but what exactly does that look like? What’s the “right deal” for the Seahawks? They’re not just going to give him away. Giving up a quality player and a draft pick, which is what they’re reportedly asking, for a 29-year-old cornerback is just not in Thompson’s wheelhouse.
Finally, I’m not sure what to make of your comment about Sherman’s mouth and that (I assume Martellus) Bennett can be “just as bad.” Yes, the whole reason Sherman is being talked about as the subject of a possible trade is because of the friction he has caused in the Seattle organization. So now you want to bring that dynamic into the Packers' locker room? Doesn’t sound very Thompson-like, does it?
As for Bennett, yes, he is not afraid to speak his mind. And he certainly had his run-ins with coaches and players when he was with the Bears. But I spoke to one of Bennett's former teammates in Chicago just last week about him, and he had nothing but great things to say. Also, as near as I can tell, Bennett was a tremendous addition for the Patriots last season, both on and off the field. I’d suggest giving Bennett a chance (and checking out some of the great off-the-field stuff he does) before labeling him as “just as bad” as a guy whose team is openly shopping him because he’s starting to become more trouble than he’s worth.
From Matt Kronzer:
The frustration we had the first half of last year at the play calling, Mike McCarthy abiding by his 3 WR sets, traditional stuff, etc ... I'm sure you recall. Was it essentially because they did not have Jared Cook healthy and thus were not able to open up the middle of the field, or weren't able to draw attention away from the other guys without Cook? You recall, we were all screaming for McCarthy to get Aaron Rodgers in a rhythm early, firing at the top of his drop back. Quick-fire plays, slants, etc., which helped him out early and got things rolling.
Was that a result of Cook being in and out? With what we have at TE going into this year, do you think we will echo this same frustration the first part of this season as well?
Cook’s absence absolutely played a role in the offensive issues early in the season, as did McCarthy’s rigid adherence to his 11 personnel. (You can find a good overview of personnel packages over at Inside the Pylon.) Rodgers’ sub-par play contributed early on as well. Throw in the injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks, and you had an offense really stumbling along trying to find an identity.
It’s no secret that Cook’s return played a big part in the offense getting on track last season, but don’t discount what committing to Ty Montgomery at running back did to help things out as well. He’s a major x-factor for this offense, and I expect him to be a key component in the offense this year.
As for the shape of the offense, I expect to see a return to lots of varied personnel packages, and no, I don't expect the Packers to struggle out of the gate offensively the way they did over the first half of the 2016 season. The additions of Bennett and Lance Kendricks at tight end give McCarthy a ton of flexibility and give Rodgers some major chess pieces to move around at the line of scrimmage when he sees a defensive set he thinks he can take advantage of.
I’m with Rodgers, who said, “We’re going to be tough to stop.”