Thoughts on the Pack's Moves as the Trade Deadline Dust SettlesPosted:Oct 31st, 2018 3:57 pm
This is now clearly Gutey's team.
The march continues to move on from many of Ted Thompson's marginal draft picks, but this narrative that the Packers were sellers on Tuesday is flawed, in my opinion. As Brian Gutekunst met the media on Wednesday, his message was clear: "Football is the ultimate team game and taking individual pieces out doesn't necessarily weaken the team," he said.
This speaks to the chemistry in the locker room. Clinton-Dix was vocal in recent weeks, speaking out that he didn't expect to be back next season. Those kind of comments don't do much to embrace the mission in the defensive team meetings. Most players keep those comments to themselves until after the season.
Clinton-Dix was the epitome of an average safety in his time with the Pack. He was durable, played nearly every snap every week and was prone to pick off a pass here and there. But he also was a missed tackling machine, was slow to react and didn't embrace the role of being a big hitter. He was looking at a potential $8 million/year payday after the season and the Pack had no intention of retaining him.
If you look at Mike Pettine's defenses with the Bills and Jets, they weren't constructed to pay big money to their safeties. They had studs on the line and at linebacker, along with great cover corners. The Pack will look at the linebacker position in free agency next season, along with someone to replace Muhammad Wilkerson. With Daniels, Clark and the impressive young corners, there are significant pieces already in place.
As for the idea that the defense has taken a step backward this season with HHCD's departure, let's see how things unfold. They clearly like the intelligence and energy that Jermaine Whitehead brings to the table, and will likely mix and match some corners in that spot against past happy teams (like this week). I'd think Bashaud Breeland and Tramon Williams will get some run at safety. Last year's #2 pick Josh Jones also has a big opportunity to step up, though he's reportedly been slow to pick up the schemes (something that slowed Morgan Burnett's development in his early years too).
Ty Montgomery's departure was inevitable after the reports surfaced about how the final few minutes of the game played out, with him throwing a hissy fit when he was pulled on the Pack's last offensive drive and then ignoring the coaches' pleas to take a knee on the fateful kickoff return. Even if he was worried that he was too close to the goal line, he had one job: to get the ball back to Rodgers. He failed. He also was adding very little to the Pack's offense of late. His conversion to running back has been a mixed bag, but it's abundantly clear that this offense runs much more efficiently with Aaron Jones leading the way. Jamal Williams is a capable change of pace back. That's all they need--Montgomery is another guy who would not have been re-signed.
By trading him rather than cutting him, the Pack didn't allow mad scientist Bill Belichick to scoop him up this week and do a brain dump to learn whatever he could about the Pack's offensive tendencies leading up to Sunday night. Getting a pick, even a seventh rounder, was a win for the Packers.
I like what Gutey's doing. I mean, swinging hard for Dante Fowler or Landon Collins on Tuesday would've been fun. And maybe they did go down those roads a bit, but didn't like the asking price.
Big picture, Gutekunst is moving this roster further into the 21st century. His 2018 draft class has added a number of big-time athletic players to the roster and he has an extra #1, #4 and #6 in next year's draft, along with an estimated $43 million in cap space to beef up the front seven on D in 2019 free agency, where he has already said he plans to be active.
Sure, the Pack appears to be a step behind the Rams and the Saints in the NFC right now, but it doesn't look like anyone will run away and hide in the North. Having cleaned up the locker room, now they must build on their defensive performance in LA, give Aaron Jones and that running game a chance to do its thing and squeeze at least two wins out of the next four games. Accomplish those things and the Packers will be in the thick of the North race when the schedule eases up in December.