Packer Update

Ted, just sign a damn returner!

It’s usually pretty hard to pay attention during a Mike McCarthy press conference. That’s because – as is the case with any coach not named Rex Ryan – he seldom says anything interesting. But that changed on Monday when McCarthy mentioned Greg Jennings and Tramon Williams as potential punt returners for the season opener at Philadelphia. In fact, I was so shocked I had to read the transcript to make sure what I heard was what I thought I heard. It was. Here’s what he said: “[Jordy] Nelson, [Brandon] Jackson are kickoff options. Tramon Williams and, yup, Greg Jennings options on punts.”

You have to believe McCarthy won’t actually use Jennings on returns, but just the fact he’s even thinking about it tells you how badly this team needs to sign a specialist to replace Will Blackmon. Former All-Pro Clifton Smith is available after being released by Tampa Bay. If healthy, he’d be a great acquisition. So what’s the problem? I’ve long believed Thompson doesn’t want to waste a roster spot on a player who can’t contribute at a position. That makes some sense until you really think about it. Breno Giacomini was a position player who didn’t play for two seasons, and Nick McDonald is a position player who almost certainly won’t play in 2010.

If the goal is to win this season, wouldn’t a quality returner help more than a 10th lineman? Unless Williams is the second-coming of Deion Sanders, he has no business returning punts. On second thought, even if he is the next Sanders, he still has no business returning punts. Not when an undrafted rookie is the No. 3 cornerback. I’ve been ranting about the need to acquire a quality returner since Blackmon got hurt last season. It apparently isn’t going to happen, so rather than continuing to bang my head against the wall, I’m going to give this topic a rest (until, of course, Williams turns an ankle returning a punt and the Packers are forced to play both Shields and Jarrett Bush in the nickel).

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27 Comments to "Ted, just sign a damn returner!"

  1. Jay says:

    Wow. Agreed. Thompson is usually a genius, but he can’t be serious about Jennings or Williams back there. Wow. Just plain wow.

  2. marc says:

    I think Clifton Smith was in GB for a visit with the packers today. Via his twitter page, said he came in for a look. Don’t know much about him, but would rather see someone expierenced talking punts and kickoffs, and not Jennings or Tramon.
    His latest twitter post said something about option #2, ( second team) he loved the GB tradition, but had another stop first………

  3. Cocoman says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I just don’t get this situation at all. Even a guy like Dennis Northcutt, who was released by the Lions and is clearly on the downside of his carrer would make more sense than this situation. Normally I get what Thompson is thinking and even if I don’t agree, it makes some sense – this doesn’t.

  4. Richard says:

    There are rumors flying around at timesfour.com that Clifton Smith “tweeted” that he is going to Green Bay today to speak with the team.

    Agreed. It is asinine to have starting players returning punts. As much as I think Thompson does a good job, things like this leave me scratching my head.

  5. Packx4 says:

    Clifton Smith was in GB today and while he has had some fumble issues and a concussion history X2, he was also named to the Pro Bowl team and made the AP’s All Pro status.

    And he’s just 25. He was released from a crowded field of returners in TB and Tampa’s head coach said the following about him:

    “There is no doubt in my head that he will definitely be one of those guys to go stick somewhere else and find a way to get back here and do something that I am going to regret,” said Morris

    Hopefully he’s a Packer by tomorrow.

  6. Archie says:

    Maybe Thompson/McCarthy announcing to the world that Williams/Jennings are the new punt returners is a smoke screen while they scurry around for one. Even Thompson can’t be stupid enough to lose these two guys and send the whole team into a tailspin it will never recover from.

  7. Michael Rodney says:

    I just got home from work, so all of this is news to me. Signing Smith would be a great move, but I’m not holding my breath. If the Packers were going to sign him, I think he’d be signed by now. The fact that he’s leaving Green Bay – assuming these reports are true – suggests that the Packers didn’t make him an offer. Players on the street don’t usually turn down firm offers.

    Using key starters to return kicks has been one of my biggest pet peeves for years. I know some people argue that you can’t worry about injuries, but I don’t buy that. Take a look at which players return kicks and punts in the NFL. There’s a reason why 90% of them are backups or specialists. Most coaches simply aren’t willing to use a key starter in that role.

  8. P@cK Att@ck says:

    Why does TT not use Jarret Bush\pat lee?… Seems like stupid idea in getting our only deep threat(greg jennings) hurt

  9. lars says:

    God, give it a rest nervous Nellies. Woodson was back there returning punts in 2006 and ’07 and Williams in ’07 or ’08 and the world didn’t come to an end. In fact the Packers were one Favre pick from the SB in ’07.

  10. nerdmann says:

    I’d put Jennings back there instead of Williams. Much more depth at WR. Be nice to see them sign someone tho.

  11. P@cK Att@ck says:

    Let’s not forget what took blackman out of action… Returning is the most injury causing position

  12. Grave Digger says:

    Isn’t Percy Harvin the Vikes primary returner and also a starting WR? What about Josh Cribbs? Wes Welker? Desean Jackson? Fred Jackson? Eddie Royal? Darren Sproles? Johnny Knox? Jamaal Charles? Felix Jones? Steve Breaston?

    Plenty of starters in the NFL are also returners. In fact some of the best returners are also starters at other positions. And it’s not like those starters I listed are at positions of incredible depth…any of those players go down and that position on their team is hurting bad. If Greg Jennings goes down then we are plenty deep at WR. If Tramon goes down then yes we will be hurting, but if he’s the best PR on the team then that is that. It’s called gambling and the rewards are huge if you win. You put your best players on the field and you put the ball in the hands of your playmakers. That’s how you win.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      I was aware of those players, but I didn’t include them for various reasons. Some only started a few games and others started the season as returners and didn’t become starters until later in the year. Only a few are really comparable. Anyway, it’s safe to say the majority of coaches prefer to use backups to return kicks and punts. I strongly feel that’s the way to go, but that’s simply my opinion.

  13. Haunchie says:

    I would be scared if Ted Thompson or any other GM were to start taking orders from websites on personnel matters. If they deem it necessary to bring in someone to return punts/kicks, they probably will. If they decided Spencer Havner’s worth @ TE was inflated last year with 4 td’s and only 7 total receptions, but can’t play anywhere else (which he can’t), then that’s their decision.

    • P@cK Att@ck says:

      I think if TT read this website blog we would have beat the vikes as they predicted last years o-line was a suspect. Most websites last year questioned TT decision not to resign clifton and start barbre. If ted were to “take orders” from website greenbay might have atleast won the nfc north and who knows maybe more.

      • Michael Rodney says:

        Ted forgets more about football in 30 seconds than I’ll ever know, but he’s not always right. I thought he was foolish to go into last season without a proven backup tackle and with Aaron Rouse as the No. 3 safety. I feel the same way this year about the lack of depth at outside linebacker and cornerback. I hope I’m wrong. I’m a fan and all the people who read this site are fans, so nothing would make me happier than to see the Packers win the Super Bowl.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Of course he’s not going to take orders from a web site, but giving opinions and analysis is what I do. Fortunately, I’ve been right a lot more than I’ve been wrong over the years and that’s why people keep reading.

  14. Monty says:

    Ted lives by the dollar he’ll die by the dollar or lack of. It is not rocket science that championship football teams do all they can to win. having two of your talented starters also do ST duty, especially return duty is insane. Ted seems to be a slow learner, he is one of those that needs to be shown, just like last year when they made Barbre the starting right tackle and MM kept saying that Barbre was his starting right tackle even though Barbre was giving up sacks by the buttload. Then Ted’s plan to use Daryn Colledge to play left tackle to handle Jared Allen, that went over really well too. So what does Ted do this year, sign Clifton and Tauchser and drafts a sweing tackle number 1. So this year when one of his stars gets hurt like jennings or Woodson or Williams and there is no fall back plan for CB (at least at receiver we have other talent) and the secondary gets lit up like a pinball machine, then next year Ted will make sure he drafts or signs a vet CB/returner. Michael, I think you should NOT stop speaking of the weaknesses of GM Ted Thompson. If this were Indy, their GM would make the moves to make his football team better, to put the best team on the field every sunday. The fact we have 3 fullbacks AND 4 Tight ends is insane as well and only two running backs. You can only get 2 or 3 of those guys on the field at any one time, why do we need 7 skill players none of whom can return the football on special teams. So its time to quit armchair GMing and let the team play, the truth will be played out and then Ted will get it finally and make the correct moves necessary to make the team more competitive. Why do you think the man is unmarried? He is too cold and calculating……

  15. Cocoman says:

    KFFL just reported that Smith signed with the Dolphins.

  16. DaveK says:

    Here is my take – MM has contractual control over which players play on Sunday but he doesn’t have final say on the roster. Telling the world that he plans to use Jennings on punts is a sly way of putting pressure on Ted to sign a KR. i.e.- Ted, sign us a damn KR or when Jennings blows out a knee on a punt return the fans with the pitch forks will go to YOUR house and not mine.

  17. boonedigg says:

    I think this has something to do with just week 1, if a player is on the week 1 roster his contract is guaranteed. I think they are gonna make due against the Eagles and then find a returner that is easily replaceable if he can’t get it done, so they don’t have to guarantee the $$$ all season.

    • TRK says:

      I think this is one of the most sensible answers yet. I sort of expect the same thing for the same reason.

    • nerdmann says:

      That’s a good point. Nice to see they’re at least looking at some guys, though.

  18. Bill says:

    who needs a returner,as long as whoever they pick can get the ball cleanly and return it to the twenty the Packers can score,dont need fancy pants,slick returners one bit,returners are overrated.

  19. Haunchie says:

    I recall this was the website that thought it wasn’t worth the time to trade a pick to the Giants for Ryan Grant…then of course when he broke out, the post was erased.

  20. Michael Rodney says:

    You recall wrong. That post was up for four months – from the beginning of September until early January – before it and dozens of other posts were accidentally deleted when we moved to a new server.

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