You’ve got a couple of (draft) classes that have never been through an offseason program. This is a big year for us. For the way we’re designed — we’re a draft-and-develop program — this is a big offseason for us. We need to make big jumps in April, May and June because we haven’t had that, just like everybody else, but we really rely on it just because of the way we operate in player acquisitions.
Thus far, the offseason has been somewhat tumultuous for the franchise.
The roster lost center Scott Wells to free agency, compensating with the rare, publicized signing of Jeff Saturday. Saturday is widely regarded as one of the league's most intelligent centers—a general on the offensive line, barking reads to his fellow linemates.
No doubt the team would have benefited from him practicing with those teammates a month ago when offseason programs traditionally began, prior to the league's present collective bargaining agreement.
Furthermore, the status of safety Nick Collins remains unknown. Given Coach McCarthy's comments on the situation and Green Bay's lack of depth and experience at the position, this is an additional cause for alarm. Charlie Peprah offers little reassurance to the position, and the 2012 draft class is believed to feature just one first-round safety of value—Alabama's Mark Barron.
While Barron may fall to Green Bay, the team's draft focus has thus far been on acquiring another pass rushing linebacker or defensive lineman. Green Bay's loss of Cullen Jenkins last season, referred to in some circles as the best pickup of Philadelphia's "dream team," and opponents' focus on Clay Matthews contributed to Green Bay's fall from 47 to 29 sacks between 2010 and 2011.
But, as McCarthy is also quick to qualify, the Packers are not alone; this issue, he argues, is philosophical.
We’re playing with the same rules as everybody else, so it’s not like we’re at a disadvantage. It’s the philosophy that we’ve chosen. We haven’t chosen to be a veteran-driven team and bring in experienced players. We develop our players so the more time that we can have with them the better off we’ll be.
While McCarthy's arguments carry truth, it is important to remember the NFL's 2011 lockout stymied league-wide workouts until mid-summer. Then, as now, the playing field was level, and Green Bay finished the 2011 regular season with a 15-1 record before falling to the Giants in the NFC divisional round of the playoffs.
Perhaps the experience that Green Bay's young roster requires doesn't need to come in the offseason but in the postseason.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!