To refresh Ted Thompson's memory, the Packers' offense last season was dreadful. With the opponent's entire defensive focus on stopping Donald Driver, and the rest of the Packers' pathetic receiving corps unable to beat the most pedestrian of defensive backs, Brett Favre threw interceptions the way a politician makes promises he/she won't keep. The running game was inferior. Samkon Gado showed promise when he wasn't fumbling, but too often found running behind the Packers' offensive line akin to running straight into a bulldozer.
So here we are, on this first day of May and nearing the start of the first minicamp, and the Packers' offense is better in what way?
Favre's back, which is a good thing, but he'll be throwing the ball to a receiving corps that's actually worse than it was last season. Say what you want about Antonio Chatman, but he was one of the Packers' most dependable receivers, for whatever that's worth.
Chatman's now in Cincinnati, joining Javon Walker (traded to Denver) and Terrence Murphy (injured) as receivers who were expected to contribute in 2005 but will be nowhere in sight in 2006.
Driver presumably will be joined in the starting lineup by Rod Gardner, a former first-round pick who's had one good season in his five years in the NFL, or Robert Ferguson, a player who's been so disappointing that he deserves no further comment.
If you think free-agent signing Marc Boerigter (39 catches in four seasons in Kansas City, including eight in the last two combined) or rookies Greg Jennings (second round) or Cory Rodgers (fourth round) will be difference makers this year — if ever — then you'll be sorely disappointed. The Packers actually drafted a third wide receiver, Will Blackmon, in the fourth round, but apparently the team's receiving corps is so strong that Blackmon can be moved to defensive back.
To be fair, this year's wide receiver draft class — like the free-agent class — was weak. Some experts called this the weakest draft class at the position in more than a decade. And, with Gado, Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport under contract, the Packers probably didn't need to draft a running back, either.
Still, Thompson missed some opportunities to give the offense a shot in the arm.
Of course, his biggest opportunity came in the first round, when he could have selected tight end Vernon Davis, a player who would have instantly upgraded the passing offense and probably will become an impossible-to-cover, perennial Pro Bowler. Instead, Thompson drafted linebacker A.J. Hawk, an outstanding player who fills a big-time need.
With the second-round pick acquired in the Walker deal, the Packers could have selected Florida's lightning-fast Chad Jackson, who generally was regarded as the second-best receiver in the draft. Instead, Thompson traded down, and with his next pick, grabbed offensive lineman Daryn Colledge, a tackle who the Packers think will be an outstanding guard. Too bad he can't catch a 50-yard touchdown pass with a highlight-reel grab.
Other productive big-school receivers Thompson could have selected in the second day include Michigan's Jason Avant (fourth round), LSU's Skylar Green (fourth), Wisconsin's Jonathan Orr (sixth) and Auburn's Devin Aromashodu (seventh),
And then there was the opportunity to move up in the first round to draft Reggie Bush. The Packers reportedly offered their first- and third-round picks, along with Walker, to get Bush. The Saints were interested, but wanted a different player thrown in. Favre. Thompson said thanks, but no thanks. So much for you conspiracy theorists who said Thompson was trying to drive Favre out of town.
Regardless, there should be no more confusion about Thompson's plan to turn the Packers into winners. Beyond simply building through the draft, Thompson — as Todd Korth wrote in his commentary earlier today — is building a strong defense and offensive line. In other words, he's building the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's all well and good, but even a sledgehammer offense could use a bolt of electricity.
Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to email@example.com.