How Does the Pack Look? Who the @#&% Knows?

The 2020 opener is just days away and never have we known less about what this team is shaping up to look like than this year. The combination of the pandemic wiping out the preseason and the Pack’s mandate that beat reporters not provide specific information on where players are lining up, has us completely in the dark.

We know that the national media is down on the Pack because of their unexpected draft strategy. On paper, they did not significantly upgrade the lineup anywhere via the draft and free agency. They’re the popular pick as the team that will regress in 2020. I think they probably will take a step back, to 10 wins, maybe 11, if the chip on Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder is as big as I think it’s going to be.

I think Rodgers is on a mission to make a point that they could have waited a year or two to groom his replacement. By all accounts he’s had a great camp and is in step with the scheme in year two of the Matt LaFleur system.

Let’s start with the offensive line. The biggest question mark is who will replace Bryan Bulaga at right tackle? Ricky Wagner was the presumed guy, but he’s missed a lot of camp: injuries have always been an issue with him. Billy Turner may be the answer, especially with how well Lane Taylor has reportedly looked this summer at right guard. If Turner is the opening day starter, we’ll know very quickly if he is up to the task, as he deals with Danielle Huner and or Yannick Ngakoue. Gutey might want to keep Jared Veldheer on speed dial. The backups figure to be Alex Light, Lucas Patrick and the two rookies, Runyan and Hanson.

Safe to say the Pack will keep all three quarterbacks. Tim Boyle knows the system infinitely better than Jordan Love, who needs this to be a redshirt year. The loss of OTAs and minicamps hurt him more than anyone else.

The running game better be dominated by Aaron Jones. Now, does Jamal Williams spell him or does AJ Dillon get those snaps? It’s going to very interesting to see how that plays out, with Williams in a contract year. My guess is that it’s Williams early and Dillon gets worked into the mix as the weeks go by.

And what do we make of Tyler Ervin. He earned a spot on the roster as the return guy, and showed to be a nice gadget piece in the run game late in the season. Word is, he’s been working as a wide receiver at camp, so it looks like LaFleur is going to get his speed on the field.

I think the Pack keeps five wide receivers (with Ervin also getting snaps there). Adams, Lazard, MVS and ESB are locks. The fifth spot is likely Kumerow’s to lose, but Darius Shepherd may steal it. I’d still prefer to see the Pack find a veteran on the street–one with some speed.

The tight end spot is the biggest concern on this side of the ball. By all accounts, Jace Sternberger has had a very quiet camp. Robert Tonyan will likely be the opening say starter, with Marcedes Lewis joining him on running plays and rookie Josiah Deguara playing a fullback/H-back/tight end hybrid role. I’m really interested in how Ervin and Deguara are worked into the offense.

The biggest change on the defensive side of the ball is the addition of Christian Kirksey to replace Blake Martinez. If Kirksey can stay on the field, the former defensive captain in Cleveland under Pettine could make things a little more difficult for opposing tight ends and backs to feasted on the Pack’s defense last year. The inevitable knee injury to Kamal Martin dampens what was one of the fun stories of camp–it looked like he was in line to start alongside Kirksey. The torn meniscus will likely land him on the PUP list to start the season.

This is a touchy spot, because I, like many of you was yelling the name Patrick Queen when I found out the Pack had leap-frogged the Ravens in the first round. That kind of player is the missing link to Pettine’s defense. If they don’t find a veteran like Nigel Bradham to step in, we’re looking at Oren Burks or Ty Summers. Yikes.

We’re all anxious to see the Smith brothers in year two and whether Rashan Gary can take a massive year two jump. It would have been fun to see him in some preseason action to see if he’s noticeably slimmer and quicker. Up front, Kenny Clark rightfully got paid. Now can Dean Lowry look more like the 2018 version rather than the 2019 version? Can Kingsley Zeke take the jump that we keep waiting for Montravious Adams to take?

The secondary looks solid with nice depth at safety for the first time in forever. Adams, Savage, Greene and Redmond are locks and rookie Vernon Scott will also probably claim a roster spot. The return of Greene should give a shot in the arm to the dime defense. When he was lost for the season, Pettine lost the only guy who could step in at linebacker and roam sideline to sideline.

Kevin King needs to stay healthy if he wants to get paid. He does get torched from time to time, but he and Alexander form a top ten pair of corners. The Pack is betting that Chandon Sullivan can replace Tramon Williams. Let’s hope so, because Josh Jackson has yet to show he can handle things and youngsters Ka’Dar Hollman and undrafted rookie Stanford Samuels will be counted on more for special teams than in the secondary.

With no preseason, it’s hard to gauge how the front office feels about its undrafted guys. The extended practice squad is likely where virtually all of these guys land.

The initial 53-man roster comes out on Saturday afternoon, with the practice squad to follow. Will the Pack snatch a couple of guys cut from other teams? I always feel bad for the guys who make the roster on Saturday and then are cut a couple of days later.

The next blog will come out on Monday morning with my thoughts on the roster. In the meantime, I have some exciting news about year #25 of “Packer Preview” on KFAN. This year, we’re back to 8am on Sunday mornings. The Gophers’ lost season is our gain. If the Big Ten resumes in the fall, I’ll be bumped back to 7am, but until then, we’re back at 8.

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9 Responses to How Does the Pack Look? Who the @#&% Knows?

  1. Cane says:

    MVS and ESB are locks? Good God, how is that a good thing? They are terrible. King and Alexander are a top 10 pair of corners? What are you smoking, THC?

  2. Greg says:

    I’m hearing the rookie qb has looked putrid in camp. Is this true?

  3. Packerlifer says:

    Covid 19 hangs over the season like a threatening black cloud as it does over everything this year. It’s probably inevitable that teams will change as members get infected and are lost to quarantine or worse. The only real question is how bad will it get. That aside, however, I think there are plenty of reasons to be excited and optimistic about the Pack this season. There’s been a lot of chatter about them regressing but they are better stocked and ready than many realize. It’s possible Matt LaFleur won’t see his second year go as well as his first. We’ve seen previous “wunderkid” first year coaches struggle in season two or three: Matt Nagy(Chicago,) Sean McVay (LA,) Frank Reich (Indy,) Dan Quinn, (Atlanta) come to mind. The exceptional run of long playoff streaks we had with “the Mikes” will be difficult to duplicate. But those dismissing the Packers, mostly because of one bad day in San Fran. last Jan., haven’t really been looking at them. I’ve heard “regression” projected before and the Pack has exceeded instead. In 1995, after losing Sterling Sharpe, the Packers weren’t supposed to have any weapons and they went 11-5 and reached the NFC Championship Game. One year later they were Super Bowl Champions. They were supposed to be done as a contender after Holmgren left and Rhodes flopped but then went on a four year playoff streak with Sherman. No one saw the Packers going 13-3 and reaching the championship game again in 2007, when they supposedly had no running backs. And remember all the “pooh-poohing” last year about a rookie head coach, whether he could get along with Aaron Rodgers, etc. etc. and they were just one game away from the Super Bowl with 14 wins in 16 games. I’d count on the Pack being back since for the last 27 years they’ve never really gone away.

  4. Elroy from Elroy says:

    Greg I’m hearing Cousins has looked putrid his whole career,is that true,you’re still an idiot,Go Pack Go!!

  5. Larry O Kobs says:

    Good to have Football back boys and girls, but for how long as Packerlifer said. Let’s hope and pray there safe and well out there. I say it every year. It always comes down to health. The Packers were the Healthiest team last year.. I don’t know why though, they don’t go after O.J. Howrd from the bucs, they have 4 te’s there and gronk to top them off. 12 would love him and he can run. Only other guy I wish they would pick up is Todd Jones, LB ,a tackling machine, that Denver let go. He is not good against the pass, but kirksey can do that. With 50 gone, I think were going to miss him badly. I don’t care if he made tackles 5 yds, behind the line, he made them, some body has too. Who in hell knows what will happen, but fun to predict right? Packers 11-5. lions 10-6, vikings 8-8 bears 7-9, Go Packers

  6. Greg says:

    How do NFL referees call games with no fans. I’m actually hopeful the Packers will have to earn things more. We shall see.

  7. Chris says:

    I don’t know how people buy the take that Rodgers will be more motivated and a fire has been lit. The guy’s competitive and to think he wasn’t motivated or inspired before doesn’t make sense. If it’s true. I wouldn’t want that guy leading the pack.

  8. Elroy from Elroy says:

    Good God Greg,the season hasn’t even started yet and you’re looking for excuses,Do the referees watch the fans or the game? There is so much instant replay and the ability to challenge you couldn’t even screw it up,what a Fu&;)ng Loser!!

  9. Purple troll says:

    After further review the call stands,still whining Greg,grow up and get used to the choking!!

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