I think it safe to say most Packer fans are very concerned about the defense. We are looking for answers, I know I am conflicted. I am thrilled with the hire of Bates yet cannot quite understand the lack of addition of personnel (free agents, even with the cap issues we should have been able to add more and better).
I still question the draft as regards to how much any of them could contribute this season, if ever. I am encouraged by what I hear about the injured players coming back but just don't know what to think. Just about every "expert" I have seen so far figures it will be tough for the Pack to even make the playoffs, let alone win the division. What is your honest assessment of the defense at this early stage? Are there things as fans we don't know about that will make us better? Will we add any free agents? Do we just go with what we have and hope they hold up and that Bates can make the difference?
Thanks, I will look forward to your insight all summer and into the season!
Jeff D., Kearney, NE
Jeff my honest assessment is that the offense must score tons of points because this defense didn't improve, it got worse. It lost its only Pro Bowl player in Darren Sharper. The secondary is average at best even with Al Harris. Nick Barnett is playing out of place. Kabeer's a pass rush specialist that they are playing on every down. Grady Jackson is hurt and wants a new contract and Aaron Kampman is a hard-working, high effort guy but if he's the savior they are in trouble.
Jeff, I wish there was something I could tell you to help you out. Oh, there is Jim Bates, and they will be a better coached team. But the problem is he's trying to make chicken salad out of chicken ---- if you know what I mean. They have no choice but to go with what they have. No one is coming to the rescue.
As a fan, I too am tired of reading about Mr. Hunt, who shows no interest in bettering himself as a defensive player. I keep remembering the fact that Corey Williams, who is my player to replace Mr. Hunt, ran out to the practice field before he even signed his contract during his rookie season. What a contrast in the willingness to play!
I know that other players such as Cullen Jenkins can replace Hunt, but what are your thoughts on the defensive nose tackle position?
(Also, I want to say that I have the utmost respect for Harry Sydney,
not only as a former player and coach, but as a gentleman. In early August of
last year, he took the time to chat with me and my daughter at the concession stand during a practice. I felt like I knew him for many years. I appreciate that time. I am a huge Packer fan and having a guy like Harry Sydney as part of our great football organization, reflects my passion for this team!)
Dave, I'm like you. If Hunt doesn't want to play, get rid of him. Take the hit and move on. The problem is that what Bates wants are big physical tackles that are big enough to eat up blockers so that the linebackers can run and make plays. Only time will tell, but they can't be any worse. I'm like you let's have open competition and let the best guy play the game.
Realizing that these days are somewhat different than when you played, and also you knowing both sides of the story having been a coach and a player, what would you suggest as a "happy medium" solution for these holdouts? I believe that the Packers need ALL of their players UNDER CONTRACT to work as a group if they hope to continue their success. Not just one or a few players, ALL of them. Chemistry suffers when holdouts occur. We don't like to see anyone leave the team but it isn't hard to be disappointed in them when they seem to think only of themselves. Yet, if they all leave then we will have our mediocre Packer team like we had in the 80's. Do the coaches and/or players want things to go back to those days? It seems like the losers in this scenerio are the fans and the players that honor their contracts.
Most fans shell-out astronomical amounts of money for season tickets or tour packages to see their beloved Packers and then you see the players hold out when they already make MILLIONS of dollars. Thank God for players like Brett Favre! I know he makes a mint, but he doesn't squawk when Payton Manning gets a bigger contract. Those players have to feel a little betrayed. Thanks for your time and good luck with your column.
P.S. – I really enjoyed watching you play. You gave it everything you
had on every play. Thank you!
Brad Miller, Cedar Falls, IA
Brad, I wish there was a happy medium but there really isn't because this has changed from a game to a business, and the players and the organizations have lost the idea of loyalty. They do what's best for them based on the bottom line - MONEY.
Teams cut players with contracts to save on cap relief and players want new contracts for ego or greed, or to "take care of their family and future." Like I said earlier, it's about winning but there is a price that goes with winning. Do you really think the players care about the fans, or the price of tickets? Don't get me wrong, some do but it's about the mean, mean GREEN!
What's the latest on the health of Chris Johnson? Does he have a chance of making the final roster?
Jacques from South Bend, Ind., originally from Milwaukee
Jacques, Johnson, from all my reports, is coming along well. Things are just getting under way so only time will tell. He had a lot of potential before he got hurt so a lot depends on what he lost.
I have four questions for you:
1) Is Mike Sherman going to remain with the Packers?
2) Is Jim Bates the "real deal" and can he turn the defense around with the players he has?>br> 3) Are there any players left on the free agent market that could help - that the Pack can afford?
4) What is your take on Javon Walker's holdout and do you think T.O. is a bad influence on him? Will he play for the Packers this season?
Marilyn from Brooten, MN
Marilyn, I think everything will depend on how the Packers do this year. Unless they are working on something behind the scenes, I'd think Ted Thompson is waiting. Why else wouldn't they have done something by now?
Jim Bates is the real deal, but can he turn this defense around? I don't know. He's a great coach, but a miracle worker he's not. You have to have play-makers to make plays and the Packers don't have them. Who on this defense can start on another quality team? NO ONE! There is no one out there that can help this defense, sorry to say.
T.O. is only a bad influence on Javon if Javon let's him be a bad influence. Javon's a grown man and he's responsible for this holdout. NO one else, not his agent - him. I think Javon is out of his mind. He's a victim of the can't wait generation. He doesn't seem to realize even if the Packers wanted to give money they can't because everyone else will be standing in that same line. And yes he will play. Remember this is business even though the fans get hurt they also will forgive the first time he scores a TD and helps the Packers win. Sad but true!
Editor's note: Send any questions for Harry to PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at email@example.com.