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Thinking Long Term, Packers Fans Should Be Optimistic

Okay, a broken collarbone fractured Green Bay’s hopes and dreams for 2017. While the Packers are left trying to eke out a win here and there over teams with losing records, let’s not overlook the many positive developments that suggest a bright future for the franchise.

Aaron Jones. Two-thirds of a season is plenty of time to realize he’s an unusual talent. That one game-winning play against the Bucs solidified everything we thought we knew: fabulous instincts, great quickness, run-to-daylight vision, big play ability, and a flair for the dramatic. Did you notice how un-overwhelmed he was by the touchdown? He’s been doing this stuff at every level of competition since he first laced up the cleats. The only remaining question: will Mike McCarthy know what to do with such a quick and explosive running back?

Zach Brown 117, Bobby Wagner 113, Joe Schobert 113, Blake Martinez 111. Yes, Martinez is in the hunt for being the league leader in tackles. He’s having a fabulous second season. The Packers finally have the tackling machine they’ve lacked for so long. And he’s not near to being in his prime yet.

Davante Adams. Two consecutive strong years, and he’s still getting better. Never mind the modest combine numbers, he’s a striver, he goes all out, and Aaron Rodgers has utmost confidence in him. With his contract about to end, it’s going to cost the Packers, but there’s little doubt that he’ll be a key component of Green Bay’s pass attack for years to come.

David Bakhtiari. Here’s another guy from the class of 2013 who just keeps getting better. More and more people are coming around to the belief he’s the best tackle in the NFL.

Kenny Clark. The second-year man is a consistent and stalwart run defender. Now that he’s gotten his first two NFL sacks against Tampa Bay, he’s becoming a dual threat. He’s barely 22, and will undoubtedly add more strength to his 314-pound frame.

Jake Ryan. Another young guy (25) who’s gotten better each of his three years. His 50 tackles are dwarfed by Martinez, but he’s done it in only 360 snaps versus Blake’s 730. It’s taken a while to earn a starting job, but he’s made the most of his opportunities this year – while also being a key special teams player.

Josh Jones. He showed his potential, with 12 tackles, when he spearheaded the nitro formation against the Bengals in week 3. Though the nitro has been largely abandoned, his tackling remains a plus (56 on the year). Though his pass defense has been ordinary at best, he’s gifted athletically, so I expect big improvements there next season.

Kevin King. Injuries have caused him to play just under 50 percent of the defensive snaps on the year. His coverage has been way too loose and his tackling has been hit-and-miss. However, I don’t hear anyone saying he’s a failure, as opposed to saying he needs more time to adjust to a higher level of play. He’s only 22, so there’s ample time for him to become a fixture in the Green Bay defensive backfield.

Jamaal Williams. The rookie got his chance against the Bucs and he responded. On his touchdown run, safety Chris Conte had him dead to rights at the 3-yard line, but Jamaal angled his body and drove him right into the end zone. Of his 113 yards on the day, about half came after initial contact. He can go inside or outside, and his power belies his 213 pounds. The team should have a dynamic one-two punch at running back for years to come.

Kentrell Brice. The 23-year-old had earned a majority of the defensive snaps when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in week 7. He’s just the kind of gifted athlete and hard-hitter this team needs to transition to going into 2018.

Damarious Randall. Yes, he’s had an up-and-down pro career, but – along with suffering yet another injury – he again showed flashes of his upside against the Bucs. As they did with Davante Adams, the Packers will give this first-round draft pick every chance to develop into a good cornerback.

Josh Hawkins. He missed half the season last year solely because Big Mike exiled him, but he’s just shy of taking one-third of the defensive snaps this year. He’s been filling in for Kevin King, and has outperformed him of late. The 24-year-old is a sub 4.4 dash man, a tremendous leaper, and he hits hard for his size.

Jermaine Whitehead. In his third year with the team, the undrafted safety got 23 snaps against the Bucs. Like Hawkins, he also spent half of last year in McCarthy’s dog house – due to a mistake on a kick return. At age 24, he still has time to develop.

The offensive line. Jahri Evans was a flat-out great acquisition. Okay, substitute Justin McCray has been a work in progress, but the five current starters are healthy, steady, and reliable – and one of them is Jason Spriggs. Spriggs might yet justify his being the 48th overall draft pick a year ago. Corey Linsley and Lane Taylor each should be capably manning their positions for several years to come.

The defensive line and pass rushers. Buoyed by a strong game on Sunday, Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, and Mike Daniels now have respectable sack numbers of 7, 6, and 4 respectively. Would you believe the team’s 42 sacks is second-best in the NFL? Clay can still perform when healthy, and Daniels and Perry are in their prime. Dean Lowry, only 23, just had his best game. Rookie Vince Biegel is in the wings, and Kyler Fackrell keeps teasing us by displaying flashes of talent.

Summary

I’m not seeing near the number of holes that need filling by the next draft as existed eight months ago. Tight end and wide receiver look to be the biggest needs. Remember, Green Bay expects to have 10 or 11 draft choices in the 2018 draft.

Big Mike likes to say that he’s committed to having young teams, and Green Bay’s rosters are typically among the youngest in the league. The difference this time around is that these young players are more talented than those of the past.

Go get yourself some shades – the future is bright.

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Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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9 Comments

  1. DanM December 6, 2017

    Now if we just had good coaching to go along with all the good talent.

  2. PF4L December 6, 2017

    First Rob, lets get some clarification, accuracy matters. If the Packers have 42 sacks, i have a 10 inch co**…..and i make a coke can look skinny. We are 15th in sacks with 29. 19th in interceptions. 24th in total defense. Lets not pretend we have something special on our hands regarding this defense.

    So..let me see if i got this right….Mathews, Perry, and Daniels now have respectable sack numbers?

    Not a bad ROI for over 35 million a year. Ted should probably sign Mathews to an extension, make sure he doesn’t go to another team and get 6 or 7 sacks. Wouldn’t we look foolish if we let him go?

    Without the Bear and Buccaneers game, Mathews has 3 sacks, Perry has 4 sacks, and Daniels has 2 1/2.

    It’s a shame these guys can’t play the Bears, Tampa Bay, and a turnstile Seattle O line 5 times a season.

    Keep the faith brother.

    1. PF4L December 6, 2017

      I think the 42 sacks you speak of Rob, are sacks that Rodgers and Hundley and our O line have given up, no doubt leading the league, or damn close to it. But those factual realities are not in accordance with the narrative of the article so let’s not even bring it up.

      Kool Aid…..Stay thirsty my friend.

  3. Cheese December 7, 2017

    “While the Packers are left trying to eke out a win here and there over teams with losing records..”

    That pretty much sums up everything.

  4. KILLER December 7, 2017

    “Would you believe the team’s 42 sacks is second-best in the NFL?”

    Well, now that you mention it… no, I would not believe that. Why not, you ask? Because… it is not true.

    Packers are 15th in the league with 29 sacks. They are only that high because they faced a hapless injury depleted Buccaneers offensive line.

    Speaking of hapless and injury depleted, the Packers offensive line has ALLOWED 42 sacks which IS 2nd most in the NFL. Colts are #1 with 51 but the #3 team is a full 3 sacks behind the Packers.

    Another correction would be on David Bahktiari. Hey, good player. Real good player. Not great but very good. You wrote “More and more people are coming around to the belief he’s the best tackle in the NFL.” Look, Rob Born + Rob Born again does not qualify for “more and more”. The best? You’re saying he is better than Joe Thomas, Taylor Lewan, Tyron Smith, Trent Williams, Donald Penn, and Jason Peters. What do all 6 of those players have in common? They made the original pro bowl rosters last year. Who did not? David Bahktiari. The pro bowl is not perfect but, if anything, the Packers get a big advantage in votes due to a bigger fan following. Their ballot box to some degree is stacked and also with more national appearances and more media attention. Yet Bahktiari was not voted in. Fortunes change — for instance Penn ha snot played well this year. But, on the other hand, Riley Reiff has played lights out and far better than Bahktiari this year. So you can’t even excuse it with arguing at this particular moment in time. So, whether in the short term recent past or the long term over the past few years, no way is Bahktiari the best tackle in football. Very simply, quite ridiculous.

    Every team has a group of bright-future players. Browns do to. So do the Giants and the 49ers. Three of the players you named are fringe players who the team will cut in one or two years. A few more we know little more now than when they were drafted (King, Jones) and Adams may be lost in free agency. None of these guys are core. \

    By “core” I mean players who have proven at least some better than average things and are certain to be on the team — via contract, at least three more years after this one. Take the Vikings. Who on them would qualify? Adam Thielen. Dalvin Cook. Latavius Murray. Pat Elflein. Riley Reiff. Mike Remmers. Danny Isadora. Kyle Rudolph. Everson Griffen. Linval Joseph. Harrison Smith. Xavier Rhodes. Mackensie Alexander. Jaleel Johnson.

    If you did want to include good young players who either haven’t blossomed yet but could, or regardless of length of contract then the Vikings would also include Tashaun Bower, Danielle Hunter, Shamar Stephen, Kentrell Brothers, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, Anthony Harris, Jayron Kearse, Trae Waynes, Rashod Hill, Nick Easton, Jeremiah Sirles, Stefon Diggs, Laquon Treadwell, Stacy Coley, CJ Ham, and so on.

    You also failed to note that “long term” and “optimism” is not in play for the QB position. Aaron Rodgers will turn 34 before the start of next year and Hundley is not the future obviously.

    Long term optimism does seem like a tough sell. I guess you had a job to do and did the best propaganda you could. Sort of reminded me of how Kim Jong-il scored 11 holes-in-one in his first ever round of golf. Did you work on that team that made that announcement?

    1. PF4L December 7, 2017

      Try to come up with your own thoughts asshat, instead of repeating what i wrote at the beginning of my post.

      1. PF4L December 7, 2017

        #SKOLTIME
        11/29/2017 at 8:27 am

        Side note from a Vikings fan, KILLER stop being such a douche.

      2. KILLER December 7, 2017

        You wrote that Rob Born would have done well as a North Korean propagandist? Somehow I missed that.

        Well, no wonder. I don’t often read what you post.

        1. PF4L December 8, 2017

          #SKOLTIME
          11/29/2017 at 8:27 am

          Side note from a Vikings fan, KILLER stop being such a douche.