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 (3:59 PM)
Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for joining me. Let's get started.
Mike G. (Grand Rapids, MI)
Rob. Morgan Burnett seemed to flourish when he wasn't relied on to be the leader in the secondary. When Collins and Woodson were here, he seemed to play well but when the veterans left and he was relied upon, he did not perform up to snuff. This is why I don't think the Pack should target a saftey in the first round but instead another impact defensive player like a lineman or linebacker. I think the Pack should bring in a veteran safety like Jarius Byrd so Burnett does not have to worry about being the leader but can go mack to making plays. Any thoughts on that?
Rob Demovsky (4:02 PM)
You're first up, Mike. You make a good point. There's no question Burnett seemed to be more effective when he had a veteran by his side. Byrd would be an expensive option, that's for sure. We'll find out early on in free agency whether GM Ted Thompson plans to alter his course of building the roster. The high-priced free agents tend to get done early. The safe money says that Thompson won't go for a big-money free agent, but perhaps this year will be different.
Dominic Riverside , Ca [via mobile]
Where do you see Dujan Harris stacking up vs Franklin and Lacy?
Rob Demovsky (4:04 PM)
Dominic: Based on what the Packers had planned for Harris last season, the educated guess is that Harris would get the first shot at being the main complement to Lacy. They wanted a one-two punch last season. Could that change because of how effective Lacy was? Sure, he could end up being a three-down back, especially if FB John Kuhn isn't re-signed.
Michael (from Winnipeg)
Hey Rob, from what you say, did Kevin Greene ever look stressed out from being a coach?
Rob Demovsky (4:07 PM)
Michael: Kevin Greene ran hot all the time. There was no slow-motion in his game. I could see how that could burn a coach out. But no, I did not see any signs of unusual stress or burnout from him even late in the season. I probably talked to Greene more this past season than in recent years and didn't notice anything out of sorts.
Thomas (Carlsbad CA)
Green Bay has so many holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball. However, it seemed like the lack of a big target TE hurt the Packers towards the end of the season and in the playoffs. Do you think they will put defensive needs ahead of TE in the draft?
Rob Demovsky (4:08 PM)
Thomas: You're figuring that Jermichael Finley is done here, I presume? That's probably a safe assumption. If Eric Ebron of UNC were available at No. 21, would Ted Thompson pull the trigger? There's something to be said for making your strength (which is the passing game) even stronger.
Brennen Rupp [via mobile]
Hey Rob, always enjoy reading your stuff. The Packers need an upgrade at the safety position. How likely is it that the Packers move Micah Hyde to safety? He seems to have the perfect skill set to play the safety position and he played a little in college. Thanks Rob.
Rob Demovsky (4:12 PM)
Brennen: Hyde proved himself to be a more than capable as a nickel defensive back. That could lend itself to making a transition to safety. Either way, Hyde is going to be a player. However, it would be a mistake to ignore the safety position and just figure that Hyde will be effective there. He probably could be, but they will need some insurance in case.
John (Baldwin, WI)
any word on Clay? is the thumb healing nicely?
Rob Demovsky (4:12 PM)
John: Matthews had the pins removed (again) last month, and there's no reason to think it won't completely heal with time this offseason.
John A. (Tyler, Texas)
Is the hire of Ron Zook an ultimatum to defensive coordinator Dom Capers? Do you think the Packers would promote Zook as defensive coordinator if the defense has another sub par season?
Rob Demovsky (4:14 PM)
John: If anything, it might be an ultimatum to special teams coach Shawn Slocum, although Mike McCarthy clearly believes in Slocum. If McCarthy brought in Zook to be an eventual defensive coordinator, why is he working with the special teams this season?
Susie (Two Rivers, WI)
I thought listening to Gash, he had a good take on Lacy and he is a great addition. Having been there, he can talk to Lacy about what to expect 2nd year, keep him grounded. Lacy seems to have a good outlook but accomplishing so much his 1st year can get overwhelming! I like the coaching changes and putting all the LBs in one place not a bad idea. Zook on special teams might light a fire under Slocum!!! :-)
Rob Demovsky (4:15 PM)
Susie: Gash was impressive in his session with the media yesterday.
Any truth to the rumors floating around about Jim Leonhard coming to the Packers? They need help in the secondary and Jim Leonhard is a hometown favorite.
Rob Demovsky (4:17 PM)
Ryan: I believe Jim said in an interview that he would like to play for the Packers. That's far from a rumor that he's coming here. He's awfully small to be a full-time player.
No one seems to want to answer my question so I thought perhaps I'd give you a try. The NFL seems committed to going international, so why do they continue to look across the pond as opposed to looking to the south? It seems that Mexico, central America and South America would be legitimate venues for an NFL franchise. The time zones match up to those in the US and travel times would be shorter that travel to Europe. This appears to make more sense.
Rob Demovsky (4:19 PM)
Mike: The national -- or in this case international -- issues aren't necessarily my area of expertise, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about expansion into those regions during his news conference at the Super Bowl and he said there haven't been any talks with those areas. They seem committed to London at this point. I couldn't tell you why that is.
On a scale of 1 (least likely) to 5 (most likely) who will be on the Packers next year: James Jones, Sam Shields, BJ Raji, Dietrich-Smith, Finley, and a free agent safety (Byrd, Ward, Whitner)?
Rob Demovsky (4:20 PM)
Rob, here you go:James Jones - 3.5Sam Shields - 5B.J. Raji - 2Evan Dietrich-Smith - 3Jermichael Finley - 1Free agent safety - 2.5
Booner (Peoria IL)
Hey Rob 10 Below here in Illinois this morning good Packer weather!Our Defense needs a lot more talented players to compete for another title. Jones ,Perry and Worthy have done next to nothing since drafting them! Which one of them in your opinion has a chance to be a difference maker? Or is it timre to cut bait we these guys? Thanks
Rob Demovsky (4:23 PM)
Boon: All were high draft picks, and it's imperative the Packers get some production out of at least two of them. Worthy seems the least likely to develop into a major playmaker. Jones looked so dominant during training camp that you'd have to think there's some big-time potential there if he's willing to work at it. Perry just needs to stay healthy.
Would adding a 8th round in the draft give teams a stronger base.(Keeping the compensary picks). There is too many underclassmenentering the draft.
Rob Demovsky (4:24 PM)
Ken: I don't think so because you have undrafted free agency. Most teams sign a dozen or more of those guys immediately after the draft. In fact, there are some who believe players are better off going that route than getting taken in the 7th and final round of the draft because they can pick and choose their spots where they might have the best chance at making a team. The signing bonus money is less than being drafted but the long-term gain might be better.
What are John Kuhn's chances of getting resigned this offseason? His odds are looking worse with the signing of Liaina. I would hate to see him leave Green Bay. Where do you think he would go if he left?
Rob Demovsky (4:26 PM)
Stephen: I still think there's a decent chance Kuhn could be re-signed. You know Aaron Rodgers will lobby for him. If I were Kuhn's agent, I would put that block Kuhn made on Julius Peppers on the game-winning touchdown pass Rodgers threw to Cobb on a constant loop.
Ethan (La Crosse)
Following up Ken from Middleton: how about an increase in the roster size? Teams have been suffering so many injuries lately and don't have enough quality players to fill their roles. Of course, if the roster size increases, the players either take a pay cut or the league raises the cap. What's your take?
Rob Demovsky (4:30 PM)
Ethan: That's an interesting question. Roster size hasn't been a hot topic of discussion in recent years at the owners meetings. Adjustments would have to made the salary cap because players are never going to agree to pay cuts.
Jamie Longmont, CO [via mobile]
With all 3 starters on the D-line UFAs, as well as backup Wilson, and Raji seeming to make it clear he does not desire to return into this defensive scheme, doesn't it seem more likely that d-line will be targeted early, and perhaps often, in the draft? Especially with the hints that Micah Hyde could fill the open safety roll
Rob Demovsky (4:32 PM)
Jamie: According to ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr, if you're going to get an impact defensive lineman in this draft, you're going to have to pick him early. It's not a deep draft at either defensive end or defensive tackle, Kiper said.
Ralph OKC [via mobile]
Do you think TT would draft Sam if available? What are the coaches thoughts on this brave young man?
Rob Demovsky (4:34 PM)
Ralph: McCarthy and two of his assistants -- Winston Moss and Alex Van Pelt -- said basically the same thing yesterday: if a guy can play and can be a good teammate, they'll take him regardless of anything else. McCarthy is very conscious of the pulse of his locker room. If he feels like Sam would be a good fit, then I wouldn't see any reason they wouldn't take him if he were the highest-rated player on their board at that time.
You are very confident that the Packers will resign Shields. Do you think that means they will release Williams? Keeping them both would amount to $18 to $20 in cap space in 2014. I would be all but certain that they would not resign Williams the following year.
Rob Demovsky (4:35 PM)
Ted: It might not necessarily take up that much cap space in 2014. Most likely, a deal with Shields would include a sizable signing bonus, which could be prorated over the length of the deal for cap purposes.
When are the packer's going to stop trying to make defensive lineman into linebacker's
Rob Demovsky (4:36 PM)
Steve: Great question. The problem is there aren't a lot of natural outside linebackers to choose from, so many 3-4 teams have to convert undersized defensive ends.
So MM is planning to make changes to aspects of the defense. He says they werent as variable last year because of all the injuries...we don't seem to have a promising track record there. More importantly, using more schemes and calls and groupings to maximize the massive Capers playbook is fine and dandy but at what point are we just trying to get too fancy? Seattle just whupped Denver with great players and a basic scheme. Are we the opposite, trying to use a great scheme and basic players to be a good D? With the frequent talk about mixed calls, miscommunication, bad fits etc., more complicated would not seem to be a good thing for us.
Rob Demovsky (4:38 PM)
Mark: I get your point, but I do think you're underselling Seattle's scheme. It's hardly basic. What they do, however, is get pressure from their front four that the Packers rarely get. It is worth wondering if more, more, more is really the answer to their defensive problems. Now, if they add some key playmakers, then more might be better.
Piero (Lima, Perú)
Hi Rob, many times you wrote that with regard to the defense of GB, the problem is not the schema, are the players, which is why Dom Cappers is guilty of not develop players. In soccer everyone knows that if the player did not learn the technique before 17 years old, they will not improve as a proffesional, is the same in football?, at the end I think DC is guilty because he did not rise his hand and told TT that these players that you take in the draf will not improve, we need to go to the free agency a take 2 o 3 players.Un abrazo
Rob Demovsky (4:40 PM)
Piero: I do think players can improve when they get to the NFL. The Packers spend a lot of time in practice working on individual drills designed to improve technique. If there's a failing on the coaching staff, perhaps it's that they haven't developed players enough.
Rob, why can the Packers not convert ILB to OLB? I think Perry and Neal looked exposed in space. Is it because ILB are lighter and cant hold the edge or support the run?
Rob Demovsky (4:42 PM)
Aaron: You're right about Perry and Neal in space, especially Neal. While he was solid against the run and better than average as a pass rusher, he did not look natural in coverage. Now, it was only his first year playing the position, so there's reason to think he could improve if he is re-signed. Which Packers' ILBs could be converted to the outside? None of them is a good enough pass rusher to do so.
I know this is a sensitive issue, but a smart young man like Michael Sam had to be aware of the positive consequences of coming out publically and when he did. From the accounts I've read, Sam had a mediocre to poor Senior Bowl, racked up most of his sacks against bad competition, and fits into that squishy tweener role most scounts aren't fond of. Moreover, I've heard it suggested that scouts probably knew he was gay. So if they already knew he was gay, doesn't it help him by announcing it. The NFL doesn't want to be seen as bigoted and now Sam has put the burden of proof on the NFL to explain why he might fall in the draft, or not make a team. I'm not questioning his motives as such, just suggesting it might not have been an entirely selfless decision and I don't think it's unfair to suggest that. Thoughts?
Rob Demovsky (4:44 PM)
Mike: It's hard to disagree with anything you wrote. But that doesn't take away from his courage in making his announcement.
When can we expect to see free agents signed or released?
Rob Demovsky (4:46 PM)
Stephen: Teams don't have to release any of their pending free agents. They simply become open property on March 11. I would expect the Packers to make a deal or three at some point here in the next couple of weeks to keep some of their impending free agents off the market, but most deals probably come in the hours immediately before free agency.
Can the Packers get James Jones to stay? He makes plays and I hate to see such a player leave.
Rob Demovsky (4:47 PM)
Alan: Like most things, that one is going to be all about price. It depends on what Jones thinks his value is. If he's looking for a bigger contract than he signed last time -- three years, $9.6 million -- then he's probably not going to get it from the Packers. But if he's willing to take a similar deal, he could return.
The Packers' window is getting smaller- Rodgers may have 305 more monster years left in him. Over-simplied: 1. Sign Brian Orakpo -OR- Greg Hardy (Ted won't do it) 2. Draft the best defensive player available regardless of DL, OLB, or S (or should I say most NFL Ready). 3. Re-sign Shields. The offense is good enough with what they have, but you need decent coverage, tackling, and most important these days---pressure on the QB. Hyde to Safety? Datone, Worthy, and Daniels get more PT? I know this (spending big on 1 guy) wouldn't fit Thompson's MO, but don't you think it's time to give the Packers another proven pass rusher---even at big $$$? I'm not saying that solves all the problems, but with a little luck, good health, and a star pass rusher - I think GB becomes legitimate contenders again.
Rob Demovsky (4:48 PM)
Eric: Your thinking is sound, except for this: what if you throw, say four years and $50 million at one of those big-name free agents and he can't play? Then you're in real trouble not only this year but for the future, don't you think?
Do you think Sean Richardson did enough to merit a starting job next year for safety along side Burnett?
Rob Demovsky (4:51 PM)
Luke: In short, no. Now, do I think he could become a starter? Absolutely, but to bank on him being such would be a mistake. That's where the Packers went wrong at too many spots last offseason. They overvalued their own players and in some cases they didn't perform (see M.D. Jennings, Brad Jones). They would be wise to learn from those mistakes.
So is James Starks as good as gone this offseason?
Rob Demovsky (4:54 PM)
Nick: Again, it depends on money. No way would the Packers give Starks any kind of guaranteed money or bonus, not with his injury history. But other teams might feel the same way so in the end, Starks could end up returning for a minimum-type contract. He would still need to make the team, however, which is no guarantee with the backfield that includes Lacy, Harris and Franklin.
Wouldn't asking Tramon Williams to take a pay cut be too much of a risk? Good corners are more valuable than ever and why make a solid starter mad?
Rob Demovsky (4:55 PM)
Ed: There are tactful ways to do it. He would have to get something out of it, like say more up front money. Sometimes players are willing to reduce their base salaries in exchange for bonuses that are paid right away.
Ross (Georgetown TX)
Is Lattimore a better option at ILB than Jones?
Rob Demovsky (4:56 PM)
Ross: If he plays like he did earlier in the year when he filled in for Jones, yes. If he plays like he did later in the year, no. He was not as good late in the season.
alan l (chicago)
The Packers seem to have a nickel package where they remove a D-linman, instead of a LB. On top of that, they bring in 2 undersized DT for pash rush, and then they have their 2 OLB's. This is sort of an undersized 4-3 front. If I'm an opposing OC, I would run on that all day, and it seems like they do. How much of the Packers' run defense yardage is given up in this configuration?
Rob Demovsky (4:58 PM)
Alan: The Packers use their nickel when a team deviates from its standard base offense, so typically if there are more than two receivers on the field. It's a defensive that's obviously designed to stop the pass. That said, sometimes they would use their biggest two DTs -- Raji and Pickett -- in what they called their "big nickel" package to combat exactly what you said.
Jon (Tulsa, OK)
If CJ Mosley is there at 21 TT has to take him, right?!
Rob Demovsky (4:59 PM)
Jon: It doesn't sound like Mosley will be there at 21.
John (Eau Claire, WI)
Rob, what do you attribute to Raji's drop in performance, and chance of leaving the team.
Rob Demovsky (5:00 PM)
John: That was a real head-scratcher last season. Was it scheme? Was it performance? A scout I talked to late in the season questioned Raji's desire. In talking to him, I didn't get that sense at all during the year.
Rob Demovsky (5:02 PM)
Thanks everyone for the questions. That's all the time we have today. We'll do this again next Tuesday before I head to Indianapolis for the Combine on Wednesday. If I didn't get to your question this week, you can always Tweet it to me for our weekly Mailbag. Use the hashtag #PackersMail.Have a great week.