Another week has transpired since the Green Bay Packers bowed out of the quest for the NFL championship and most of the sting is starting to dissipate. Last week it looked like there would be a raid on the Packer coaching staff, but events have slowed some and it now looks like Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin might just be the single coaching exit. Rumors are flying that Mike McCarthy will be replacing Philbin from within, which is good news for Cheeseheads as we donít need major adjustments on the offensive front.
McCarthy and his staff just got through coaching the National Conference team this past weekend in the Pro Bowl, which they lost. The Pro Bowl is a football game, but game is hardly a word to describe what annually takes place in Hawaii. Joke might be a better description. Watching these great athletes play at 50% effort just doesnít make much sense. I likely will watch it again next year, but I donít know why.
McCarthy and Packer General Manager Ted Thompson have some significant work to do this off season. After evaluating the performances of the coaching staff and the players, Thompson must set a course to upgrade the team. Free agency starts in March and then the collegiate draft will take place in late April.
Everyone knows that Thompson doesnít dip into free agency too often, but this year might be an exception. With the perhaps career-ending injury to safety Nick Collins and the general collapse of the Packer defense, I think Thompson will be looking for three and possibly four new defensive starters next season. That is two or three too many to expect from the collegiate draftÖ thus my reasoning on the potential signing of a defensive player in free agency.
Even if the Packers find help in free agency, look for a heavy dose of defensive players to be chosen in April. The most glaring need is in the area of pass rush and fortunately for the Packers, there are some good pass rushers to be taken next spring. Much evaluation of the college talent will take place between now and then and some players will gain stature and others will fade after the combine and the interview process.
The Packers will pick 28th in the first round and it will be lots of fun speculating between now and then as to whom they might choose. Here are a couple of names of potential choices to get Cheeseheads thinking about something other than the early exit from the playoffs. Nick Perry is a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid from USC, Vinny Currie is a defensive end from Marshall, Zach Brown is an outside linebacker from North Carolina as is Bruce Irvin of West Virginia. All of the above are speed-rush players with the potential to play outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews III and be a key to resurrecting the Packer pass rush next year.
Next week at this time we will have a Super Bowl winner. In the final column for the season, Iíll try to wrap up the year and hopefully provide Cheeseheads with some renewed optimism as the 2012 season begins.