Bill: It's kind of looking that way. Got to get through Week 8; he could be brought back for Week 9. I don't have that on any authority but Will is healthy and ready to go, is what I've been told. Think they need a kick returner? Sarcasm intended ...
It's apparent to me, this team even with their starters can't win games. In your estimation, how bad would the Packers have to perform (record-wise) for the top management to get rid of TT and MM. And not use injuries as an excuse to keep them around.
Bill: I don't think the record is as relevant as much as are they putting forth the effort. As long as the players keep playing for McCarthy, I think that's all you can ask. There's a track record of some success with this group. I'd be surprised if they tossed them overboard during a season in which they lost Grant, Finley and Barnett for the season. That's three of their 10 top guys, give or take on your rankings. But if they're playing like dogs at the end, then I think those odds increase dramatically. But let's not get too far ahead of things. They were 4-4 last year and I was answering these questions then, too.
Hey Bill,...Did we make any trades today?
Bill: No trades made by anyone in the league. Not one. Kind of what I expected. There's not that many teams that are just hopeless to the point of getting rid of guys. I think the vast majority of teams think that they're either in the chase yet or they're happy with how they're building for the future. So, why deal guys? This isn't baseball when teams just dump salaries. Plus, trade deadline is so early in the NFL compared to baseball.
Any chance that Al Harris will be activated this weekend?
Bill: Yeah, definitely a chance, but he hasn't practiced either. We'll see how he looks tomorrow, along with the other guys. Fortunately, and this is what I'm writing now but didn't get it finished, they really don't need those guys to play right away, which is good. A lot of inactivity. Bigby since the playoff game and Harris for 11 months. Not even one practice during that period.
Bill, In the upcoming game on Sunday night what are your storylines gonna be?
Bill: Favre, obviously, but moreover, special teams vs. Harvin and can they pressure Favre, because they sure didn't last year and they got destroyed. And can they block Jared Allen. I think he had 7.5 sacks in those two games.
I hope that Neal and Pickett will be ready to go come Sunday Night..
Bill: No kidding. I'd think Pickett will play. He had a chance on Sunday. Neal, not so sure. Not that a sprained ankle is a picnic, but a bad shoulder isn't conducive to playing defensive line. But at least if Pickett's back, they'll have their big three in place.
Bill, why has the offense been non-productive to this point?
Bill: Do I have time to get to all of this? Seriously ... where to start? It's just a bunch of little things. It's one thing on this play, another thing on the next play. Clifton and Tauscher/Bulaga have been inconsistent. Not having Grant takes away the running game and the play-action stuff, where you suck in the linebackers and open up throwing lanes. Ten drops in the last two games. Rodgers hasn't been on top of his game. No Finley, obviously.
I believe that Ted Thompson gets a bonus every year, for keeping the pack under the salary cap
Bill: I don't know about that. Last two years haven't exactly been banner years for profit. Generally by the end of seasons, they've taken up a lot of that cap space by re-signing guys. So, the money gets spent. Just nothing splashy in March.
Bill, does it seem to you that this season especially there is a lot of teams with the same record as the Packers?
Bill: That's one reason why nobody was making a deal today. Too many teams look at their division and think they've got a chance. In the NFC that's especially true. At one point, the Rams were thinking of moving Steven Jackson. Well, they're 3-3 now in a lousy division.
On the controversial call that Ed Hochuli made was it the right call or was it another bad call?
Bill: Horrible call. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion. I turned on my DVR recording of the game that night to look and there's nothing there to call. The rule is 1 yard and it's not even close. They've really been hosed a few times this season.
I'm interested on your take of our head coach. The stat that he's 1-11 in close games as our coach is very telling. It's a loaded question but can you give me your overall opinion of MM.
Bill: You know, I almost always come down on the side of the players. They deserve the credit and they deserve the blame. Look at the Washington game. Did McCarthy drop seven passes? Did McCarthy blow a blitz that they've seen a million times from their own defense? They blew a blitz in OT against Miami this week. Nothing they haven't seen before. They run the 3-4, just like Green Bay. But 1-11 has to mean something. A lot of those were in 2008. Rodgers screwed up some. Rodgers also should have been the hero only for the kickoff unit to give up a big play or the defense to blow it. I think McCarthy has blown it by sticking with Campen, for one. When I learned of the coaching changes after 2008, I asked, "did you forget about Campen?" And Slocum seems in over his head. I like the guy personally and he's super bright. But, after a strong start this year, it's not working.
It's amazing how Denver over the years would just plug in a back and ultimately the back would rush for 1,000 yards.
Bill: Good point on Denver. When McCarthy came, Jeff Jagodzinski was his OC and he was going to teach the zone game. Jags learned it while in Atlanta, where he worked under Alex Gibbs, who was the maestro of the zone schemes in Denver. Jags left after a year. Philbin was the OL coach at the time and he replaced Jags as OC. Campen was an assistant OL coach and became the main guy. So, I'm not sure they're being trained right.
If you were a gm of a team which NFC north coach would you have as your head coach?
Bill: McCarthy seven days a week in the North. No contest.
Bill, With Jermichael Finely out, which player do you see becoming the safety valve for Aaron Rodgers?
Bill: That's a great question. I don't think they have that guy. I think that was part of the problem on the sacks last week, when Rodgers seemed indecisive. Maybe Quarless can be that guy. They sure were working at it during practice last week. But that's going to take some time. It could be Jackson, but now that he's the "starter" he's not always in on passing downs. I think that's a big blow and a good point you raised.
Will we see Nance sometime soon? I doubt Starks will be an asset. He hasn't played in 2 years.
Bill: I've asked that question two weeks in a row about Nance. He's playing on most of the special teams. Big thing is the pass protection part. At this point, you begin to wonder if he'll amount to anything other than an emergency player. And you're right on Starks. He practiced for two days in the rookie camp (hurt for the third if my memory is right) and two weeks of OTAs. That's it. So you're right. Unless he's worth a look as the kickoff returner. I could see that.
Do you think in the game against the Vikings what kinda game plan do you think Dom Capers will have against the Vikings offense?
Bill: He's got to pressure, and I think he likes his cover guys a lot more now than he did last year, so that'll help. Then again, the Vikings' OL has struggled and maybe you don't need to blitz. That would be ideal, of course.
What are your thoughts on Brad Jones?
Bill: Disappointed. I was really high on him coming into this season. Four sacks in seven games is good work. Put that over 16 and you get nine sacks. Who wouldn't take that? But he's done nothing against the pass and I don't think his run defense is as good as last year, either, but I don't think he's been bad by any stretch. Would be nice to take part in a training camp after injuries last year and this year. But he's the best of what they've got. Poppinga, who's out anyway, doesn't do much for me and Zombo was a nice story but has vanished.
Do we need a offensive coordinator?
Bill: I think the OC is fine. Under Philbin, they've been top five in points all three years and have scored more points over a three-year span than any Packers team ever. I don't think he or McCarthy got stupid all of a sudden.
Is our special teams so bad because of the scheme or the players?
Bill: That's where I put it on coaching. Though, maybe now, it's different with all the injuries. But I think their depth has been fine and depth should mean quality special teams. So, I break from my usual and say that falls on the coaching.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.