Two stars struggled to play together early last season
The United States Postal Service doesn’t deliver on Sunday, but Packer Update now does. Send me your questions on the Packers or the NFL and I’ll answer a few of them at this time every week.
Greg Jennings didn’t catch many balls prior to Jermichael Finely’s injury. In fact, didn’t he start screaming on the sidelines during a game early in the season? What will Mike McCarthy do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? I hope he remembers how great Jennings was late last season and doesn’t get mesmerized by Finley’s unique talent again. -Stevie
What happened last fall wasn’t all McCarthy’s fault. Aaron Rodgers was the person throwing the football, and he was clearly focused on getting it to Finley. Can you really blame him? It had to be very tempting to throw just about every pass in the direction of the one receiver who was almost always significantly bigger and faster than the player defending him. (By the way, don’t pay attention to the number of passes targeted to each player. I counted at least seven passes “targeted” to Jennings during the first four games that were more throwaways than legitimate attempts at completions). Look, McCarthy and Rodgers are too smart not to figure out a way to keep both players happy in 2011. They’ve always known just good Jennings is and just how important it is to spread the ball around. They simply got a little too enamored with a fancy new toy at the beginning of last season. It won’t happen again.
Dom Capers is obviously one of the best defensive coordinators in the league. Where was he before the Packers hired him and why was he available. It’s hard to believe that any team would let him get away? -Sal
Capers spent the 2008 season as a “special assistant” with the Pats. He had been Miami’s defensive coordinator the year before, but he lost his job when Dave Wannstedt was fired. Amazingly, there was very little interest in Capers back in January 2009. In fact, three other candidates turned the defensive coordinator job down before Mike McCarthy finally granted Capers an interview. Mike Nolan preferred Denver, Gregg Williams opted for New Orleans and Jim Haslett simply wasn’t comfortable working for his former assistant. Why wasn’t Capers a hot commodity? Probably because of his birth certificate and his four-year struggle as the Texans’ head coach. At a time when every team was looking to find that next up-and-coming assistant, hiring a low-key 58-year-old didn’t appeal to a lot of people. And fair or not, Capers took the blame for never being able to fix Houston’s problems on defense. That’s why he was still available in the middle of January – long after most teams had already found their man. Truth is, all he needed was another chance and some better players. McCarthy gave him both, and the rest, of course, is history.
I’ve always been a big Nick Barnett fan. Is there any chance he stays with the Packers this season and regains his starting position? -Carson
Barring an injury to either A.J. Hawk or Desmond Bishop, I don’t expect Barnett to be a Packer when the season opens against New Orleans on Sept. 8. You don’t see too many backup linebackers making almost $6 million. Plus, Barnett isn’t going to be happy as a part-time player – and why should he be? The guy is in the prime of his career and he could probably start for over half the teams in the league. All that said, I don’t expect Thompson to make a move right away. He’ll probably hold on to Barnett through training camp. This would keep the team protected should something happen to either Hawk or Bishop. It would also allow a potential trade market to develop. The odds are good that some team will lose a linebacker and/or won’t be satisfied with one of its projected starters. That might allow Thompson to get something in return for a player who was an alternate to the Pro Bowl just two years ago.
Any truth to the rumor Brett Favre will sign with Philadelphia? -Jon (one of many friends who called me last night after hearing the report on local TV)
Howard Eskin, whom I interned under many, many years ago, reported that the Eagles have some interest in signing Favre after they trade Kevin Kolb. Sounds plausible when you consider that Philly will be in the market for a backup quarterback and that Favre is very close to head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Here’s the problem – there’s no chance a man with an ego the size of Howard Green’s post-lockout belly will return for a 21st season to carry a clipboard. Look, I don’t doubt someone in the Eagles organization told Eskin of the team’s interest in Favre. It makes sense from that side of the equation. It doesn’t, however, come close to adding up on the other side. If the
old decrepit gunslinger returns – and I don’t think he will – Seattle and Tennessee are far more likely destinations. Both teams are very unsettled at quarterback and both teams have general managers (John Schneider and Mike Reinfeldt) who know Favre well from their time together in Green Bay.