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Midweek Miscellanea: Without Michael Thomas, the Saints Are Vulnerable

Note: Hey TP readers, there’s so much going on in this unprecedented NFL season that throughout the season I’m going to try to provide a midweek post (usually on Wednesdays) consisting of lots of various stats, quotes, and other brief tidbits that might be of interest to Packer fans. By doing so midweek, I’ll be able to take a look back on last weekend’s games and a look forward to the Packers’ (and others’) upcoming opponent.

Saints are minus Michael Thomas. I’m sensing déjà vu. In Coach LaFleur’s rookie season, he got a big break when the team traveled to Kansas City in Week 8 to face the powerful Chiefs. The Chiefs were without the league’s best QB, and the underdog Packers went away with a 31-24 win. On Sunday, the Pack travels to New Orleans, and the Saints will almost certainly be without the services of the league’s top receiver, Michael Thomas. Just a week ago, his injury, reportedly a high ankle sprain, was said to require weeks of rest. . .Besides missing Thomas, the Saints should be without their cherished home field advantage. Though the State of Louisiana said it would allow fans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell is holding firm on her edict of no fans while the city is in Phase 2 of its Covid-19 recovery response. Unlike the bigwigs of the Big Ten, it doesn’t look like she’ll back down.

Saints WR Michael Thomas and QB Drew Brees

Jan 5, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) celebrates with wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) after scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter of a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports

Cousins lays an egg. How bad was it for Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins in Week 2 against the Colts? The QB had a zero passer rating until late in the game when he rallied and finished at 15.9. His line was 11 of 26 for 113 yards and three interceptions. The Colts, by the way, went only 7-9 last year. As Coach Zimmer explained, Cousins “didn’t play very good.” He added “Right now we’re not very good at anything.” Way to rally the Troops, Zim!

Speedy Gonzalez. Last week I reported that four Green Bay players were in the top 16 of Next Gen Stats’ “Fastest Ball Carriers” list of Week 1. In Week 2, a fifth Packer made the list, at number 8: Aaron Jones was measured at 20.66 mph during his 75-yard TD romp. Forget about his NFL Combine dash time of 4.56 seconds – Aaron doesn’t get caught from behind.

Last-second wins. Both Seattle and Dallas avoided losses with game-ending heroics. New Patriots’ QB Cam Newton had his new team on the one-yard line with three seconds to go and down by 5 points in Seattle. They chose to have Newton take the snap from the shotgun in an essentially empty backfield, and Newton was flipped onto his back behind the line of scrimmage. . .In Dallas, the Cowboys needed an on-side kick recovery with under two minutes to go to set up a field goal on the game’s final play for a 40-39 win. The hapless Falcons special team watched as the on-side effort dribbled until it went ten yards, and the Cowboys then fell on the ball.

LaFleur’s fast starts. Some of us predicted that the Packers varied offense wouldn’t be fully operational until Coach Matt’s second season. Two weeks in, the Pack has produced 1,010 yards of offense, which leads second-place Dallas by 60 yards. They rank first in rushing yardage (417) and fifth in passing (593). They also got off to a fast start in 2019 – while facing these same two teams to open last season, they compiled 967 yards, 403 on the ground and 564 in the air.

I’m not joshing you. How high was Ted Thompson on safety Josh Jones, his second round draft pick in 2017, his final year as Packers’ GM? “He’s athletic, he can run like the wind, he can be used in the slot as a cover guy, he can be used in the box as a run defender. He can be in the deep part of the defense and play in the deep middle. I think he’s going to surprise people when they see what he can do,” said Ted after that draft. Two short years later, the team cut ties with the embattled player, releasing him with a non-football illness designation. . .But wait, starting at strong safety on Sunday -but for the Jaguars – Jones recorded seven tackles. I guess it just took a while.

More bad news in Minnesota. That Vikings “new-look” defense is looking worse and even worse. Following their loss to the Colts on Monday, the team announced that linebacker Anthony Barr tore a pectoral muscle and will go on Injured Reserve and miss the remainder of the season.

A reunion in New Orleans. Drew Brees might be throwing to as many as three ex-Packers on Sunday. Jared Cook has 7 catches for 93 yards and one TD after two weeks. Ty Montgomery has two catches for 25 yards. Taysom Hill has one catch for 14 yards, and he’s also rushed five times for 21 yards. Additionally, he’s completed his only pass attempt – on a trick play to Alvin Kamara for 38 yards.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Deepsky September 23, 2020

    The Packers soundly beat one terrible team and one average team with their best player out. I’m not sold on this team yet. The defensive line of the Packers is weak, even with Clark. The safeties have not looked good. The linebackers coverage skills will be tested. I expect the Packers will lose by at least 10.

    1. PF4L September 28, 2020


  2. MMSUCKS September 23, 2020

    Kamara will have an above average day against Green Bay’s porous defense. That will open up the passing game for Breese. If Adams sits, this could be ugly. But that is why you play the game. Either way, I am going to enjoy watching this game unfold. Who knows? Maybe Green Bay Is this good! Time will tell! Looking forward to seeing Barnes against a great RB. I still believe that the Packers have NO ANSWER to their defensive weakness in the middle . . . As we know, they could have addressed that during the off-season! They chose Love and Dillon instead . . .

    1. Skinny September 23, 2020

      Kamara isnt even close to the same guy he was a couple years ago. The Saints are still a pass first team. Which fits perfectly into what GBs defense does have in spades, pass rushers and DBs. Brees is gonna have to have a huuge game for them to pull of a win here and thats going to be hard as hell without Thomas. All the Saints have on defense is a decent DL. Thats it. Unless Rodgers shits the bed theres no way the Pack cant continue to do whatever they want offensively and score alot of points.

      1. PF4L September 23, 2020

        IDK man…scoring over 40 points a game isn’t easy. Which explains why it doesn’t happen with any consistency.
        But i say…..what i said last season…Lets grab an ice cold one and ride this thing out.
        MMSUCKS has the right mindset….”Either way, i am going to enjoy watching the game unfold” (close enough). That’s been my thing for a few years….just chill, kick back….either way…just be entertained.
        It’s gonna be…what it’s gonna be.

  3. JustNorthOfTheWall September 23, 2020

    That onside kick was hilarious! At least now NFL highlights should play that one for a botched play rather than the NFCCG vs Seahawks.

    Just a thought, if the drop kick is still allowed in the NFL why can’t/don’t teams use that for the onside kick? Wouldn’t the collision/impact/injuries be lessened & it would turn the kick into more of a Hail Mary jump ball? – something that would resemble a bit more of a recognised play. Thoughts?

    1. PF4L September 23, 2020

      That offsides play will be in a video compilation of bone head plays. Same video you’ll find Brandon Bosticks…”I’m going to be a hero” play on an onside kick.
      Some may remember that game, the GB defense allowed Seattle to score 15 points in 2:09. Just another special memory for the Packer faithful.

    2. Howard September 23, 2020

      Just North, the Ravens attempted a drop kick late in a game last year or the year before(?) against the chiefs. The drop kick was used by the Ravens as an onside kick. Of course the receiving team can make a fair catch signal and hopefully catch the ball. The Chiefs made a fair catch signal and caught the drop kick. The problem is the league ruled a drop kick on a kickoff is not a legal play, even though the Ravens were not penalized for the drop kick/onside kick. So a drop kick on a kick off is not legal at this time.

      1. JustNorthOfTheWall September 24, 2020

        Thanks for clearing that up. I’m off to petition the Competition Committee to tweak the parts you mentioned ;)

  4. Stephen September 23, 2020

    It would be nice to have Gilbert Brown back about now. It was so great when Burger King named a huge burger after him. With Gilbert ( The Grave Digger ) playing NT on the line, we wouldn’t have such problems stopping the run. A lot of the Packers could have this kind of success this season, if a few of the players tuned up their game. Just think of it, the Aaron Cook’s burger, is probably already coming, and Aaron Rodgers is deserving as well. It only takes a few duds to make this impossible for the rest of the team. Davante Adams is so much more than earning his keep as well, and the great efforts of the offensive line, get unnoticed as well when we got the players that can’t catch the football. Don’t look to see Burger King producing too many burgers for us this year due to dropped passes through. I had high hopes of people being able to order : A Great Catch Stern-Burger this season, but it’s looking pretty glum so far.
    Go Pack Go …🚀😁
    Cheese Is Good … 🐀🧀

  5. PF4L September 23, 2020

    M. Thomas flew/flies into Green Bay this week to have Packer Surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson take a look to possibly clear Thomas for this week. It was Dr. Anderson who initially diagnosed the high ankle sprain through an MRI sent to him after the injury in week one against the Bucs.
    Here’s the thing, he must be close if they feel he has a chance to be cleared. Even if he wasn’t 100%, they could play him as a decoy. If he’s on the field they have to account for him. But who knows if he even plays, we’ll see.
    A lot of talk about how Bree’s has lost it, he’s getting to old. Seems to be the kool aid to drink when a HOF’er struggles. I’ve been watching it on and off since 2015. NO…WE’RE NOT BENCHING RODGERS FOR BRETT HUNDLEY!!….COUGH (SORRY)
    Brady will be fine and Bree’s will be fine. Both are too good, and even better, they each have plenty of weapons,

  6. PF4L September 23, 2020

    Some may think that the Packers will roll the Saints. I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t know who wins, but my money says the Saints will give the Packers all they can handle. Especially coming off a loss and being 1-1.

  7. NobodysBurfect September 24, 2020

    No home field advantage helps us, and I doubt Thomas plays, but this game won’t be an easy win. The Saints run D has been solid but their secondary is weak, so I think if our tight ends have a good day & move the chains we have a chance. Brees is by no means washed up, but without Thomas I’m not sure he can keep up in a shootout with ARod right now. This will be a fun one.

    Enjoy the game & stay in good health all.

  8. Howard September 24, 2020

    I have been cautiously optimistic on Gutekunst, but I wonder who was high on Josh Jones first, Gutekunst or Thompson? A portion of an article from two or three years ago as follows:
    “Jones caught the eye of Gutekunst early in the process. He eventually alerted McCarthy, who found Jones and his unique versatility to be an ideal fit for what the Packers are looking to do on defense.”

    1. PF4L September 24, 2020

      It’s hard to speculate to an accurate degree how much sway Gute had in the draft years before he became GM. But citing Thompson’s failing whatever…a reasonable mind could conclude that it was mostly Gute, or a combination of Gute/Wolf.
      I have also read that because of Big Ted’s failing health, Russ Ball took on a good amount of Ted’s duties. I don’t know about that, and maybe we’ll never know. But i’d welcome any source inside 1265 Lombardi Ave to shed any light on this dysfunctional bunch in the years to come.

  9. MMSUCKS September 24, 2020

    Correct Howard! This is what I have alluded to numerous times over the last few years. I believe that Gutekunst WAS more involved in the actual drafting process than TT (the frugal GM) was in his last few years. It just seems that the same player types that Gute drafts mirror Thompson’s from his last few years as GM. Lots of “project” players, and also players drafted into different positions that they did not play in college much (if any). I do believe that Gute is a micron better, but no more. There continue to be serious “reaches” with DB’s non-stop! His attempts at getting free agents is a bit better, but anyone would qualify as better compared to TT’s last 5 years of ineptitude in the free agency market. Overall, Gute is lacking in filling the same problem spots year in and year out, just as TT failed to do. Coincidence? Time will tell. But the Packers have needed fast ILB’s for a decade! We have needed D linemen for a decade! IMO not much has changed player-wise. I do believe that the new coach is doing a good job (but a HS football coach may look good compared to the Buffoon). I believe that our talent assessment group is seriously lacking in ability and foresight. Finding the “magical” players is tougher than it appears. Finding a great coach and GM is even tougher it seems . . . We may have chosen the correct coach, but perhaps not the correct GM . . .

    1. Deepsky September 24, 2020

      I have decided that it will come down to Rashan Gary. If Gary ends up being good, then I will have faith it Gutekunst, if he’s a bust, then he’s Tom Braatz to me.

      1. PF4L September 24, 2020

        What if Gary becomes All-Pro, but Love is a bust?

        1. Deepsky September 26, 2020

          Bust quarterbacks are common. We’re spoiled. And Gary was a premium pick.

          1. PF4L September 28, 2020

            Any first round pick is a premium pick, especially when you also give up a 4th. There is more riding on the Love pick than the Gary pick. Gute could have drafted players to play now, not sit on the bench during Rodgers last years.

    2. PF4L September 24, 2020

      I’m still not impressed with Gute’s free agent picks. His one almost surefire is Z Smith. After that you have Preston Smith who had a decent first year. But he reportedly came into camp out of shape. Which might make sense with his lack of production. I alluded to the possibility that Gary could send Preston to the bench. If so, how many 13 mill/year guys are bench players.
      Amos is average and has looked pathetic, like in the Lions game. His PFF grade through 2 games is 45.4. Billy Turner was worth 11 million last year, and Amos was worth 14 million last year and i have a 10 inch c……
      We haven’t even gotten to kicking Jordy out the door and signing Jimmy G. Big free agent picture…..Gute hasn’t impressed me much. Where’s Wilkerson? I thought being back with Pettine was gonna be so special. So much for unearned praise for that wasted signing.
      Two things……
      Give me/Packer fans 240 million to spend on free agents, and even we can find some good players with that kind of cash. For the kind of money he gave the Smith Brothers, it shouldn’t be a relief one or both has turned out well. For that kind of money, it should be expected they play well.
      I’m more sure about Za’Darius than i am about Preston. But either way, their success still depends on future performance.
      Over the last couple years, i’ve dissipated more and more blame off of Ted for his last 5 years. First, were not so sure how much control he had. Secondly…if he did have full control, it was obvious to Packer Nation there was something wrong with the man.
      With that said….if he wasn’t fit to be the GM and the team regressed under his watch, whose fault is it if he didn’t perform to expectations? That he wasn’t removed?
      Hint……look at your username.
      If we look at Teds body of work his first 5 years, he was pretty G D good at what he did. Draft picks and key free agent signings. Ted should have had maybe a 8 year career in Green Bay. But someone was asleep at the wheel.
      Maybe Gute turns things around, but he went all in with the Love pick. Who knows…in the meantime as we wait for Love, maybe Gute can draft his first Pro Bowl player….that would be something.

      1. MMSUCKS September 25, 2020

        We are in agreement PF4L. Gute has made some very suspect calls regarding free agency, the draft AND getting rid of a few players that he should have held onto for at least one more season. The Amos pick still does not seem appropriate given the numbers. Preston Smith has been a NO SHOW so far this year. Perhaps it is because he is out of shape? Or perhaps he got his payday and is just mailing it in going forward . . . Time will tell. The more you look at it, the more that you realize that Gute is a lot like TT (the Frugal GM) in his earlier days, a few good players via free agency, and a few decent draft picks. But other than that? He continues to strike out on players that even we can see are blue chippers or NFL sleepers (TJ Watt comes to mind we should NOT have traded our 29th pick away). Still scratching my head as to why they did not draft him.

        I don’t expect any GM to hit home runs on every draft pick, however, I do expect them to SUPPORT HOF QB1’s with procuring the NEEDED position players that are always required to get them to the SB. It also seems to be a foregone conclusion that if your team performs well . . . more people will show up in Green Bay ready to SPEND MORE OF THEIR MONEY on Packer merchandise . . . If you build a SB winning team . . . They WILL COME. I guess that they missed that memo since 2010.

        Regarding Love? I have not read, nor heard much good about him. From what I HAVE read . . . All Tim Boyle had to do was to show up to camp to beat him for QB2. That is not very re-assuring. But then Ted Thompson . . . OOPS! I meant Brian Gutekunst! is the current GM! Right Mark Murphy????

        Fuck MM! He IS the problem in Green Bay.

        With NO’s top WR out Sunday, this will definitely help the Packers in their quest to win their third in a row. Looking forward to that happening. Now if the Defense can just start getting better pressure . . .

  10. Deepsky September 24, 2020

    There is an interesting quote this week where Rodgers said he’s throwing on time more because the receivers are more open. But guys are open because the Packers have played terrible corners. I would have hoped that he said something like he feels more confident in this system or everyone is now on the same page. Open receivers may end this week.

    1. PF4L September 24, 2020

      It might be fair to say that receivers are open, in his mind because he’s confident in the system and players have over a year in it.
      If you listened to Rodgers at pressers and in interviews, he has said those things about the system and the players having more experience in the system.
      Don’t worry Deep, it won’t be long, Rodgers will be gone and you can be happy….maybe.

  11. NobodysBurfect September 25, 2020

    Receivers are getting open because Davante is always open, and LaFleur is scheming the other ones open – something McCarthy used to do with those 5 wide receiver sets back in the days of 2010/2011 (until he derped into a 5 year stage of “HURR DURR WIN YER ONE ON ONES!!1!!”) .They’re just doing it with tight ends, running backs, and big ass receivers now – people who can take on linebackers basically. Watch the pick plays they’re setting in the middle of the field these days, especially on 3rd downs. Also, credit where credit is due – MVS does have the ability to stretch the field & forces opposite teams to not stack the box. Along with motion up front that makes it so defenses can’t disguise their coverages. It’s been fun to watch.

    Go Pack Go

  12. PF4L September 25, 2020

    Lets give Rob credit for some forward thinking concerning having an article midweek about the Packers and their next opponent so people can actually discuss it.
    Currently…posting a game preview article an hour or two before kickoff is nice and everything, but it does nothing for discussion.
    Good call Mr. Born.
    Now…..what the hell is going on with EQ Brown? A guy has a high ankle sprain, and we lose him for a season. Then the following (this) season he has a phantom knee injury and gets put back on IR.
    Week one he was inactive with no injury. Excuse me but…WTF?
    It looks like Adams might not play unless the Packers are just trying to outsmart the Saints. If he doesn’t play, us Packer fans can remember in the 4 games he missed last season, the team went 4-0. So we have that.
    Deguara is another complex injury casuality. Week 2..ankle/shin. Week 3…ankle..DNP. We’ll see where that takes us.
    The good news….Although he was dressed and active for week 2, Billy Turner didn’t play. This week he has had 2 days of full practice so it’s a positive that we have another player to add up front that is ready.
    Reminder…next week i will be writing the 411 about the defense’s shortcomings. Probably 2 or 3 of you may already know what it’s about. Who knows….maybe the defense shuts them out this Sunday and i have egg on my face…that’s ok, i’ll still write it.

    1. PF4L September 25, 2020

      OOPS…almost forgot…2nd round pick AJ Dillion…..bench player/nevermind.
      The more things change, the more they stay the same.
      Oh….im sorry!…that’s for the future?…….My bad
      In related news ….Former 2nd round pick Jason Spriggs (cut by GB) is currently keeping the bench warm for the Bears.
      Former 2nd round pick Josh Jackson currently resides on the bench when he’s not trying to fulfill his quest of being a special teams standout.
      Former 2nd round pick Josh Jones (cut by GB) is currently enjoying life on his 3rd NFL team..the mighty Jaquars.
      Former 2nd round pick Quinten Rollins (cut by GB) is currently looking for employment after stints on 3 NFL teams.
      It’s a damn good thing we didn’t waste any of those 2nd round picks on a receiver, like we did in 2014. Ted’s 2nd round picks? Gute/Elliott?..Gute?
      I’m fairly certain that the 2014 2nd round pick was all Ted, he knew how important it was to have good receivers around when you have a HOF QB. Where would we be now without the Adams pick? I gringe.

  13. Ferris September 25, 2020

    I’m just glad to not be a Vikings or Lions fan. That onside kick…OMG, I really wanted Dallas to lose. They will be one stupid Falcons meltdown play away from 0-3. Seattle will drill them this weekend. The Highly Successful football coach is already cracking.

    1. PF4L September 25, 2020

      Idk…that Dallas team has too much talent not to end up with a winning record, even with McGravy there.
      Put Rodgers under center for the Cowboys and it’s 2011,2014 all over again. Who knows, maybe Rodgers goes there next season.

  14. PF4L September 25, 2020

    There is a semi interesting article co written by Mike Triplett and Rob (homer) Rob Demovsky about why Bree’s and Rodgers haven’t won more Super Bowls. Demovsky doesn’t even off a “snippet” of what went wrong in Green Bay…but anyway.
    There are some quotes from others that are interesting, and accurate.
    “It’s not fair [QBs are judged by Super Bowls]. But we don’t live in a fair world, and playing quarterback in the NFL is not for people who want that,” said ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky. “Listen, this a very black and white and easy statement for me: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are two of the greatest players and quarterbacks that have ever played the position.

    “Do you wish that they won more Super Bowls? As fans, as course. But that will never change the way I look at them.”
    “I’ve heard people talk about both of them in independent conversations as the greatest of all time.” – Ernie Accorsi

    Rob Demovsky brings up the 3 running plays called as Rodgers fault when describing why they lost the NFCCG to Seattle…as if none of the other clusterfuck surrounding him had anything to do with losing that game.
    Demovsky = Packer/McCarthy apologist and all around meathead.
    Rob Demovsky stated that Gute hasn’t drafted a wide receiver higher than the 5th round in his 3 drafts.
    “……..Brian Gutekunst, hasn’t drafted a wide receiver higher than the fifth round in any of his three years running the show.”
    I don’t know about anyone else…but someone who reports on the Packers most of his working life, that does it for a living. Shouldn’t he know they used a 4t round to draft J’ Moore?
    I did. Rob knows ever nuance of the 3 running plays from 5 years ago, but doesn’t know where players were drafted in 2018?
    My bad…maybe i have the bar raised a little too high for career Packer reporters like this D B.
    Here’s the deal ROB….if you want to discuss why Rodgers hasn’t won more Super Bowls. It’s more involved than a shared article. It takes hours, days, weeks, maybe months to discuss.
    I know….i’ve been doing it for years.

    1. Dean September 25, 2020

      It is a complicated subject, PF4L. For example, losing Nick Collins and Tramon’s shoulder injury in 2011 played into the subpar defensive play in the following playoff season(s). Even though the offense was lights out for a few years after Rogers first SB, the defense never really recovered from losing Collins. They tried for several years to replace Collins. Anyway, at the start off 2011, both players were playing at a pro bowl level and they accounted for 1/2 of the secondary….

      1. PF4L September 26, 2020

        Appreciate the input Dean.
        Tramons shoulder injury seemed to have been blown up for a few years. I seemed to hear about it whenever he gave up a play.
        The truth was, he only missed one game and had a pretty damn good season with 4 picks, 22 passes defended and a pick 6 in 15 games. IMO his 2nd best season in his career. It was the year after when his career and production started to downslide.
        I always thought losing Cullen Jenkins up front was the biggest blow, but obviously Nick Collins was also substantial.
        Interesting enough the Packers had 31 interceptions in 2011. But gave up 7 more points per game than in 2010.

  15. Deepsky September 26, 2020

    The more I look at this game, the more I think this is a bad matchup for the Packers. The Saints have good corners, plus combine that with the fact that Rodgers is going to want to outplay Brees on national TV, and I think this we’re going to see Rodgers holding onto the ball for what will seem like an eternity again, taking several sacks. The Saints will put lots of pressure on the inexperienced Packer linebackers, the Saints tackles will easily contain the Smith brothers and Gary, and the ex-Packers will have career games. This game is going to be a huge bubble burster.

    1. PF4L September 26, 2020

      I bet your really good at puzzles.

    2. Ferris September 27, 2020

      Whichever teams scores the most points will win.

      1. KzooPackFan September 27, 2020

        This^^^ 100!

  16. KzooPackFan September 27, 2020

    I think this game is a toss up, shaded to the Pack. If this were a regular game with a full stadium I would say take the Saints and lay the points all day long, but Rodgers with no crowd noise, Jones’ talent, and LaFleur’s schemes is going to be about impossible for any team to slow down much less stop. I think the Saints will still put up points but I’m not sure they will be able to keep up with Green Bay especially without Thomas, who I think is a bigger net loss for them than Adams will be for GB. I like the Pack, even without Adams, to win 38-35, or some similar high scoring total. May even see another 40-burger…

    1. PF4L September 27, 2020


      1. PF4L September 28, 2020

        *2nd quarter score :)