Chat with Rob Demovsky
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN NFL Nation Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky drops by to chat and answer all of your Packers questions.
Following 16 years covering the Packers for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Demovsky joined ESPN in 2013 as the Packers beat reporter. He is a two-time Wisconsin Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Send your questions now and join Demovsky Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Rob Demovsky (4:00 PM)
Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'll try to get to as many questions as I possibly can. If I don't get to yours, don't worry because we're going to make this a weekly affair. So let's get started.
Jonathan (Lawrence, KS)
Boy, the Packers needs sure would look different without the two neck injuries to Collins/Finley. Besides possibly re-signing J. Jones and deciding what to do at C that would pretty much do it for offense. How do you think they look to fill TE/S and rank their needs 1-5 please. Thanks!
Rob Demovsky (4:04 PM)
Jonathan: You're right about Collins. They still haven't recovered from that or adequately replaced him. He was a Pro Bowl player cut down in his prime at age 28. As for Finley, it's too soon to close the door on him just yet. Depending what direction GM Ted Thompson decides to go with Finley, tight end could be one of their biggest needs. But given how many other weapons they have on offense, their biggest need has to be safety. So let's put that as No. 1 followed by an impact defensive lineman, a playmaking tight end (whether it's Finley or someone else), an inside linebacker and a center (whether it's Evan Dietrich-Smith or someone else).
People have been saying that the Packers need to be more aggressive in FA but Seattle's victory seems to validate draft and develop. Packers haven't hit as many home runs in the draft as they did 3-5 years ago. I wouldn't mind an occasional FA where it makes sense but the Packer's main issue has been in the execution of draft and development but the idea is still the right one.
Rob Demovsky (4:07 PM)
Seamus: Looking further at the Seahawks' D. Six of their 11 starters were drafted by them in the third round or lower. They obviously did a great job evaluating there, and it also allows them to spend a little money in free agency, which they did with Bennett and Avril. Ted Thompson has had plenty of swings at the plate with defensive draft picks. The problem is not enough of them have worked out yet.
Evert Geerlings (Kentwood Michigan )
Hey Rob,Is it possible the Packers actually take another look at Nick Collins? Of course being medically cleared is most important, but I have an itching suspicions that Nick has stayed in phenomenonal shape waiting for this day to come. Thanks Rob
Rob Demovsky (4:10 PM)
Evert: I can't imagine that they would, but that's something I'm looking into. Ted Thompson's statement at the time was pretty strong. He said: "In the end, we were not comfortable clearing him to play again." Not sure what could possibly have changed.
Freddie (Salisbury, UK)
Hi Rob, with more games coming here to the UK each year, could you see the Packers playing a road game here. 2016 away game against Jaguars springs to mimd, they've committed to play here and the Packers could shift a lot of tickets.
Rob Demovsky (4:11 PM)
Freddie: I actually would've thought the Packers would have played overseas by now, given their worldwide popularity. It wouldn't be one of their home games. I don't think the NFL would take one of those away given how important they are to the local economy, but I wouldn't be surprised if they make a trip there soon, possible the next time they play the Jags.
i am a lifetime packer fan growing up in the 60's. i think (barring injuries) our offense can be awesome next year but why is thompson unable to build a defense?
Rob Demovsky (4:16 PM)
Dave: It looked like Thompson was off to a good start with that when they switched to the 3-4 in 2009 and he drafted B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews but then when the defense needed another infusion of talent after the 2011 season, he went heavy on defense in the 2012 draft. Look at those first six picks -- Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillian and Terrell Manning. Last season, only Daniels gave them anything. Now, Hayward should be a player again if he comes back from his injury, but Perry and Worthy, first- and second-round picks, haven't done enough.
Do you think there is any chance we get lucky again in the draft and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix drops all the way to #21? And if he does, is it almost a guarantee that we would take him?
Rob Demovsky (4:19 PM)
Kevin: It's so early in the draft evaluation process that it's still tough to get an exact feel on players who might be there in the back half of the first round, but at this point, it looks likely that he will be the first safety taken and likely will be gone by the time the Packers pick at 21.
Katie W (Chicago)
Hey Rob, hope you are well!You think TT addresses the safety position in the 1st or 2nd round?
Rob Demovsky (4:20 PM)
Katie: Unless he makes some kind of significant move in free agency, say signing Jairus Byrd, then I don't see how he can't address that position in one of the early rounds.
Douglas (Cambridge, MA)
Hi Rob, Why do you think coach McCarthy didn't crack the top 10 of coaches to play for? He seems like a good guy, trying to emphasize the positive and not dwell on the negative. Maybe the player don't see it that way. The voting, if done by at least 10/team would indicate, at the minimum, some of his own players would rather be coached by someone else. This is not a good sign, is it? (Do you know if Packer players participated?)
Rob Demovsky (4:22 PM)
Douglas: Packers players did participate, and I was the one asking them the questions. They were granted anonymity but were encouraged not to answer every question by picking someone from their team, whether it be a player or a coach. One Packers player picked Rex Ryan, which surprised me a little bit. He's more or less the opposite of McCarthy from a personality standpoint. McCarthy doesn't end up on the highlight shows for his outlandish statements, and that's by design, but I think if you asked football people (scouts, coaches, etc), he would easily be in their top 10.
Many packer fans see Jermichael Finley as a guy who drops passes and has a big mouth. My guess is that ppl in the know see him as a matchup nightmare, especially in the red zone. The packs red zone offense changed significantly when he got hurt. Making a huge assumption he gets medical clearance, don't you think he becomes a huge priority, maybe at the expense of James Jones?
Rob Demovsky (4:24 PM)
Beau: People in the organization say Finley really cares about football and doesn't mean to be a distraction. He certainly curtailed that at the start of this season before his injury and perhaps not coincidentally, he was playing well. It's all going to come down to what the Packers' medical people think. I know Finley has stated that his doctor expects to clear him soon, but that's not to say that the Packers doctor(s) will do the same.
John (Upstate New York)
Hi Rob. I think free agency signing begins 3/11. When will we start to see how Ted Thompson will play his hand this year? How much contact occurs prior to that date?
Rob Demovsky (4:26 PM)
John: The first indicator will be what, if anything, Thompson gets done in the next month or so in terms of signing any of the Packers' own free agents to be. That will help set the course for what happens in March and beyond. This, there's a three-day period prior to March 11 when teams can make contact with agents and begin the free-agent process but no deals can be signed until March 11.
Rob, I'm a huge Packers fan and have really been enjoying your work all year, thank you!!! Also one player that I thought had real merit this year that has not been talked about much is Lattimore. It seemed to me every time he was in the game he was making plays. What are the chances of him becoming an every down lb playmaker?
Rob Demovsky (4:28 PM)
Thanks Nick. Lattimore played better earlier in the season when Brad Jones but didn't play as well late in the season when he played against the Steelers and Bears. He was out of position too often in those games. However, he does have the kind of speed and hitting ability that may make him a candidate for a starting job next season.
James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Jonathan Franklin. Who is the odd man out next year?
Rob Demovsky (4:29 PM)
Brian: Would have to believe it's Starks, especially given that he's a free agent. They really wanted to develop Harris as a counter punch to Eddie Lacy's bruising style, and that still seems to be their plan. Franklin needs to develop but it's too soon to say that he won't. The guess here is that Starks, who had a fine season in a part-time role, would rather seek a chance for more playing time elsewhere.
Tolzien looks like a promising prospect. How much more to they believe they can develop him. And how early to you believe Ted Thompson would draft a quarterback this year. . . If he decides to.
Rob Demovsky (4:32 PM)
Eli: Tolzien has a couple of things going for him -- his size (6-2, 213) and his arm strength. He's also been lauded as a studious player who is eager to learn. We'll have a better feel for how much he can improve after he goes through the offseason program. Think about it, he pretty much had to learn on the fly after not getting to Green Bay until September. Now he has a chance to settle in and really develop under Mike McCarthy and his offensive coaches. That said, don't be surprised to see Thompson take a quarterback beginning no earlier than the fourth round.
Chris White (La Mesa)
Rob, do the Coaches think that Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward are limited to the slot, or can one or both be projected to the outside as well? Seems like House will never be as consistent as he needs to be.
Rob Demovsky (4:33 PM)
Chris: I asked cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt that exact question about Hayward after the season. He believes Hayward can play on the outside and may get that chance next season. I didn't ask it of Hyde because he probably doesn't have the speed to do so. The better question about Hyde, given his ability to play the ball and make sure-handed tackles, is whether a move to safety might be in the words.
Thomas (Carlsbad CA)
Rob is it bad news that we haven't heard anything to this point on Sam Shields getting a new contract? Do you think the Packers are going to let him get to free agency?
Rob Demovsky (4:34 PM)
Thomas: Not necessarily. There have been talks between the Packers and Shields' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. There's still plenty of time (more than a month) to get a deal done. I would be surprised if they let him walk.
Can the Packers upgrade their LB position enough to compete with Seattle and SF QB's next season?
Rob Demovsky (4:40 PM)
Nathan: Not sure that can happen overnight (i.e. i one NFL offseason) but if there was any question about where the Packers differ from the Seahawks and 49ers, that should have been answered this season. And it's more than just the linebackers. It's the front seven and the safeties up the middle.
Ted (Columbia, MO)
I know the adage goes "you can never have enough linemen," but can we expect a pass on drafting another high round tackle this year? After all, the edges could be sealed for years to come provided Bulaga comes back strong. Or will the Bulaga uncertainty cause TT to go OT high again?
Rob Demovsky (4:41 PM)
Ted: I don't see tackle being a high priority this offseason. Even though Bulaga is coming off his second injury in as many seasons, they like what they have in David Bakhtiari and still have hope that Derek Sherrod will be able to play.
OK, I haven't seen an injury question yet. I know they affect all teams but it seems like GB has been on of the hardest hit teams over the years. McCarthy, et. al. said they took a long, hard look at this issue last offseason yet we still suffered major injuries. What else can they do?
Rob Demovsky (4:44 PM)
Jason: McCarthy admitted after the season that they still haven't been able to get a handle on why they've had a high volume of injuries. I don't believe you can chalk it up to one thing. Sure, muscle injuries might be caused by something in their training methods, but what about broken bones? They had three major ones this season in Aaron Rodgers' collarbone, Randall Cobb's tibia and Clay Matthews' thumb (twice). How can those be explained other than they were flukes?
Billy F (New Jersey)
Why does McCarthy constantly get passes by the media for his constant "Coaching 101" coaching blunders? He constantly mismanages the clock, timeouts, questionable play calls but yet no media ever call him out on his constant costly mistakes.. why?
Rob Demovsky (4:46 PM)
Bill: I respectfully disagree that he doesn't get questioned. Off the top of my head, I can recall from this past season that McCarthy was questioned about his decision to go for 2 early in the fourth quarter against the Vikings, about why he had Eddie Lacy in the game late in the first half against the Falcons (when Lacy sprained his ankle) and I'm sure there were a few others. Not sure what else you want us in the media to do?
Billy F. (New Jersey)
Do you foresee Aaron Rodgers take more of a command of calling plays in the huddle like Manning/Brady since McCarthy has issues of questionable play calling especially in the red zone?
Rob Demovsky (4:47 PM)
Bill: I see them getting back to more no-huddle, which gives Rodgers a little more freedom. That's one thing they could not do as much of after Rodgers' injury and it hurt their offense.
John (Old Forge)
Rob - McCarthy doesn't shy away from mixing it up on the coaching front. Now that coaching staples K. Greene and B McAdoo are gone. Do you see any coaching maneuvers this year?
Rob Demovsky (4:48 PM)
John: Alex Van Pelt, as I'm sure you know, is going to be the quarterbacks coach. Not sure who's going to replace him as the running backs coach. Outside linebackers coach is a key position. The Packers have to get someone who can develop the likes of Nick Perry into a regular playmaker.
What can Dom Capers change so we become a top 10-15 defense this year?
Rob Demovsky (4:51 PM)
KT: He needs playmakers. Other than Clay Matthews, name one impact player he had on his defense last season. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields made some plays here and there but other than that, Capers didn't have much to work with. Sure, it's his job to develop and get the most out of players. If he's failed, maybe it's in that area. But the scheme doesn't appear to be the issue.
How much cap space would we save by releasing Brad Jones and/or Morgan Burnett?
Rob Demovsky (4:56 PM)
Marc: As far as Brad Jones is concerned, they would wipe out his $2.5 million base salary this year and his $3.25 million base for next year, but they would still have to count $2 million of his prorated signing bonus. Burnett would be worse because they would still have to count $6.6 million of his prorated signing bonus because his original bonus was $8.25 million.
If the Packers decide not to bring Finley back, do you see them going for a TE in the 1st round, or going for their obvious need at DB?
Rob Demovsky (4:57 PM)
Hector: It would have to be high, maybe not necessarily in the first round, but in the early rounds. They badly need that threat Finley gave them both down the seam and in the red zone.
Not really a question but I hope you see this...thanks for the work that you do! Reading your Packers blog is a daily ritual & I enjoy your work
Rob Demovsky (5:00 PM)
Thanks much, Jason. I'm going to end on this, not because I needed some praise but because it's an opportunity to thank everyone for reading and interacting during our first season at this here on ESPN.com. If you ever have any ideas, suggestions, comments, etc, please feel free to reach out to be on Twitter (@RobDemovsky) or email me at Robert.Demovsky@espn.com.I hope everyone enjoyed our first Packers' chat of the offseason. We'll be here every Tuesday, barring something unexpected. Thanks again.