I have watched player after player come and go during free agency, and each time I say to myself, ‘Could they help the Packers get to the next level?' Then I realize that so many people think the Packers were one bad throw from getting to the Super Bowl. That might be true, but getting to the Super Bowl would have meant what, exactly? To me it would have meant that the Packers would have been the team that the Patriots would have beat and have placed them on the mantel as the greatest team to ever play in the NFL, as they would have went 19-0. Of course, you know I must explain:
The Green Bay Packers are a good team, but they are players away from being a great team. As good as Ted Thompson has done in getting players for some reason, he won't go get that guy that takes them over the top, and it puzzles me.
On my radio show I've said that Ted should pursue Jason Taylor because of what he could do for the defense, but so far nothing has happened to improve the defense. I believe Ted Thompson just visited the school of Mike Sherman. I remember when Mike Sherman thought that keeping the same players intact, even though they weren't really good enough, would improve the team. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works, especially when everyone else in the NFL is trying to get better.
Last year, Ted Thompson missed out on obtaining Randy Moss in a trade. He wouldn't pull the trigger maybe because of how well he knew Green Bay's wide receivers played the game. If it was a hunch it worked because the receivers played incredible, leading the league in yards after the catch. Randy Moss would have made the receivers maybe 10% better.
Now ask yourself what would make this defense better right now? I'm not talking about drafting someone that just might go through growing pains and maybe turn into something good like everyone is hoping in Justin Harrell. This defense could use a shot in the arm right now and Jason Taylor would be that guy for all the right reasons.
Taylor would have an impact on every player on that side of the ball because everyone would get better. The Packers would have a better pass rush because now offenses would have to account for him. If they do that Aaron Kampman becomes that much better, and the linebackers' coverage skills would improve because they wouldn't have to cover the tight end all day long because the quarterback wouldn't have all day to throw. Maybe then Bob Sanders might be able to call a more aggressive defensive game plan and turn the defense lose. That's what impact players do for a team.
Besides Jason Taylor, I think Warrick Dunn, who just recently signed with Tampa, is an impact player who would have been a perfect fit for the Packers. As I look at the running back situation I know many want to believe in Brandon Jackson. I say keep him, even though I'm not a fan, especially since it would be nice to have a veteran running back that would relish in the role as the nickel back. Warrick is excellent as a change of pace running back. The Packers could rest Ryan Grant as well as do an outstanding job running screens and draws. Dunn is excellent in pass protection, which is always a friend for a quarterback. He would have done everything for the Packers that Kevin Faulk does for the Patriots.
I know that Ted Thompson has done a very good job in building this team but just getting close isn't good enough for me. This team still has holes to fill. We can't let the 13-3 record fool us into thinking that the Packers were that close. Were they really?
Please, fans, don't think that the Giants beating the Patriots was luck because it wasn't. They had the ingredients necessary. As a matter of fact, the only thing the Giants had on defense was a pass rush. Ted Thompson for the most part has hit on a lot of players, such as Atari Bigby, Aaron Rouse, Scott Wells, Ryan Pickett, Charles Woodson, Ryan Grant, A.J. Hawk, Greg Jennings, and James Jones. We will see if Aaron Rodgers passes the test.
Unfortunately, the good teams can't rest if they want to be great teams. I believe they have to be active enough to go get that special piece that could make the difference. Could Jason Taylor be that piece, or could Warrick Dunn have fit in well? I do believe so, but we will never know will we?
As I have said before, the Packers made a great move when it came to trading Corey Williams and picking up another early draft pick. However, it doesn't translate into doing something special with the transaction if the team doesn't get better because of it. Then again, right now is this team any better? Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy please DON'T BE FOOLED.
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.