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Confessions of a Polluted Mindset: A Packers Brain Drain

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Confessions of a Polluted Mindset: A Packers Brain Drain

Mason Crosby: Our own Jason Perone brought up the topic of Mason Crosby earlier this week. Mason and I have a long history, starting with my 2010 piece "Mason Crosby - Mediocrity Rewarded" and a year later, my "Mason Manifesto." Ah yes, good times...

I loved proving to people why Crosby was being overrated by the Packers. They kept giving him raises & new contracts and handing him the job when his field goal average was firmly in the 70s percentage wise. To this day, people still throw "Crosby!" in my face when he makes a field goal and still accuse me of having hated on him and wanting him cut, but all I ever said was that he should have competition for the job.  2012 rolled around and he dropped to 63% - pretty horrendous for a kicker on almost any level. Only then did the Packers bring in camp competition, albeit perfunctory, in Giorgio Tavecchio. But it did the trick - it forced Crosby to re-focus and he responded with an 89% kicking percentage in 2013, the best year of his career.   
 
Over the last two seasons, Crosby has averaged roughly an 80% kicking percentage, which is firmly mediocre in today's NFL.  Complacency seems to have set it again. With one year left on his contract - is it worth bringing in competition next camp to "incentivize" him or do they just cut ties now, save a little money and move on? 
 
 
Mason's Mom: A few years later (2014 or 2015) I was catching a connecting flight from Detroit to Green Bay for Throwback Weekend. It was a cozy four-seats-across plane and I'm sitting in my usual aisle seat. Across the aisle from me sits a rather friendly blonde woman. We strike up a casual small talk conversation, which evolves into her telling me she is Mason's mother flying in for the weekend. I start to squirm a bit uncomfortably in my seat. Next thing you know she is telling me about Mason as a child, all about their family and this is obviously one of the most lovely women I've ever talked to. The entire time I'm consumed by the irony of this situation and feeling so guilty I ever said anything bad about her son. If she only knew who chance had sat her next to. 
 
Mark Murphy: You get the feeling Murphy pays close attention to the overriding sentiments of Packers fans. Seems to always be responding to the narratives being thrown around in Packer Nation. Recently it was Murphy feeling the need to reiterate that he's not looking to be involved in football decisions. Of course, he has been - he hired a new GM, fired a coach and hired a coach. But that should be the extent of his involvement. He can go back to snow tubing, shaking hands and cutting ribbons. 
 
Running Game: Was thinking about examining the LaFleur running game philosophy, but Peter Bukowski over at Acme Packing Company beat me to it. I recommend giving the full article a read, but here's an excerpt:
 
Unlike McCarthy, who often telegraphed playcalls with personnel and formation, this offense flips that idea on its head, actively working against type and tendency. For example, the Falcons played with two tight ends on 20% of plays, but were successful on 59% of those plays, the best rate in the league that season according to Sharp Football Stats. (For an explanation of success rate, go to this site.) That success rate jumped to 63% when throwing out of that formation, with a passer rating of 132.6. In other words, Atlanta took a formation generally regarded as a run formation, and found outstanding success throwing the ball out of it. This is working against tendencies and type in the NFL.
 
When LaFleur became the offensive coordinator of the Rams the following season, he brought that success in 12 personnel with him. Los Angeles led the league in success rate with two tight ends, and even bested Atlanta’s success rate at 60%. When they threw in those situations, Jared Goff’s passer rating soared above 122. It’s likely not a coincidence LaFleur’s Titans team used two tight ends even more often than the Rams and Falcons had when he was there: he saw the value of creating matchup advantages against traditional defensive personnel.
 
Le'Veon Bell?   No expensive malcontents, thank you.
Antonio Brown?  See Bell.
Trey Flower? Oh yes.
Landon Collins? yes, please
Cole Beasley? yes, yes, yes.
Golden Tate? My head would explode, but, um, um... oh all right.

 

__________________________

"Jersey Al" Bracco is the Editor-In-Chief, part owner and wearer of many hats for CheeseheadTV.com and PackersTalk.com. He is also a recovering Mason Crosby truther.  

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (58) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

"Recently it was Murphy feeling the need to reiterate that he's not looking to be involved in football decisions. Of course, he has been - he hired a new GM, fired a coach and hired a coach. But that should be the extent of his involvement. He can go back to snow tubing, shaking hands and cutting ribbons. "

Yes please...The real question is can he or will he? I think Gutekunst can be an excellent GM but Murphy needs to let him be one...Not Micro Manage him from the next office.

Yes, Crosby NEEDS competition when camp starts this season and hopefully into the preseason. This time lets make it a kicker who will actually challenge Crosby.

IF the Packers were able to sign Flowers, Collins, and Beasley or hell just Flowers and Collins I'd consider that a HUGE coup by Gute.

Not No but HELL NO to Bell & Brown. Let them go start this same crap somewhere else while destoying that teams cap.

RCPackerFan's picture

"Trey Flower? Oh yes.
Landon Collins? yes, please
Cole Beasley? yes, yes, yes. "

My hope is they resign Breeland, Wilkerson, Campbell. And for myself I would like to see Mathews return.

Breeland when healthy was a difference maker for the defense. Wilkerson was really coming on until he got hurt. Campbell was one of the better pickups until he got hurt. He'd be a great #3 Safety.
Myself if I can get Mathews at a lower price I bring him back. Just my feeling.

For Free Agents my hope is they can come away with a starting OLB and starting S. Collins and Earl Thomas are a couple of the big name guys to really keep an eye on at safety. OLB there are some big names that could be available. Clowney, Flowers, Lawrence, Ford, Frank Clark, Preston Smith, Ansah are all set to be free agents.

I would love a starting RG also. I also would like to see them maybe go after a slot WR. A guy like Beasley, Jameson Crowder or Justin Hardy.
Crowder and Hardy make sense since they played in systems that LaFleur has been in.

My ultimate hope is that they can sign 2 starting players. Safety is the one position we really need a starter from FA. The draft isn't as deep at Safety.

dobber's picture

The three signings you point to are solid additions that raise the talent level on the team...and all should be within the team's budget for players of that type. I think Breeland is a solid player who will elevate the talent-level in the secondary, but I don't think he's in that 'difference-maker' group based on his past and what he did in 2018. I'd love to see him back. I think they can get him back at a reasonable cost. If they DON'T get him back (there will be other teams bidding), it creates a need.

The safety market should be flush with players. Eric Reid just resigned at a reasonable rate (3 yr, $22M) with Carolina. After last year's market was awful, it's a sign that they should be able to land a credible safety without breaking the bank.

Given a choice between Cole Beasley and Adam Humphries, I'd take Humphries. He's going to have more suitors on the open market (Beasley will be pretty inexpensive), but I think he'll pay back at least as well and is only entering his prime.

RCPackerFan's picture

Breeland when he was on the field and healthy (which wasn't much), made an impact. I'd love to see our CB's being Breeland and King outside with Alexander in the slot. Jackson playing a hybrid S/CB role.

If Breeland does leave I do think we are sitting good still if everyone stays healthy. We have Alexander, King, Jackson. Jackson really came on late in the year. Also they have Tony Brown who I really like. Williams who I think will be more of a Safety can also contribute at CB.
One guy to keep an eye on in the preseason is Natrell Jamerson. He was signed late in the year. I can see him being a hybrid type of player also. But he played in a similar scheme at UW. He is a guy to pay attention to.

I do think we should be able to get a Safety in FA. I hope we do. The draft isn't strong at S, so I'm hoping we don't wait until then to add talent.

I hope they add a quick/fast slot WR in FA. I don't think Cobb will be back. They need a quick twitch guy with speed and can make people miss.
Maybe in the draft they can draft Thanos or I mean DK Metcalf.

holmesmd's picture

Thanos!!! Hilarious but very true! LoL

RCPackerFan's picture

Have you seen the pics of him?

Dude is HUGE!

holmesmd's picture

Indeed, that’s why it’s funny! Well played!

Doug Niemczynski's picture

I would rather have Tevin Coleman RB and draft Andy Isabella than get FA Beasley

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dobber, that's a very solid contract Reid landed. 46% guaranteed, 10th highest paid safety, good cash flow. Carolina doesn't have a ton of cap space ($15.6M after signing Reid). Maybe Reid played better than has been reported - I didn't watch very much of Carolina.

PeteK's picture

Agree , don't love any of the S in the draft. Thomas is my call, 10 mill guaranteed, 30 for 3yrs.

RCPackerFan's picture

I would take Thomas. I have a feeling he ends up in Dallas.

As for Safety's in the draft. I like Adderley. I'd consider Thompson but probably in round 2.

A little later in the draft Hooker from Iowa and Dixon from UW are a couple of guys I'd consider too.

Like Jamerson who is with GB now, Dixon plays in a similar system and could do well in GB.

croatpackfan's picture

Regarding slot WR I would like, if there will be opportunity at draft, to draft Isabella. I believe with Isabella Packers would solve the slot WR receiver for long time...

RCPackerFan's picture

yeah, I would take Isabella.
Also Deebo Samuel, Hunter Renfrow, Penny Hart are a few others to watch.

Now I don't know exactly what LaFleur is looking for as far as a slot WR, but I wouldn't be surprised if EQ gets used in the slot more this year.
But in terms of the shorter, quick twitch/fast type of guy these are some guys to consider for it.

Minniman's picture

He certainly garnered attention after the senior bowl game.

An interesting quote from his profile:

"Andy Isabella is a player who has a much more prominent pathway to NFL success after the rule changes in recent seasons. A diminutive, non-physical player, Isabella wins with quickness and thrives in space."

dobber's picture

" I start to squirm a bit uncomfortably in my seat....this is obviously one of the most lovely women I've ever talked to. The entire time I'm consumed by the irony of this situation and feeling so guilty I ever said anything bad about her son."

It's not as if you were accusing him of running dog-fighting rings or trafficking illegal substances or the like. You were on job performance. Our world is loaded with wonderful people with wonderful families who aren't necessarily great at what they do. There's a difference between the personal and the professional. Unfortunately we live in a world that increasingly doesn't get that.

Coldworld's picture

In a world where knee jerk reactions rule and the instantaneous need to opine trumps the concept of engaging the brain before opening one’s virtual mouth.

As to Crosby, I’ve wavered on his value. He kicks outdoors at home and that impacts comparatives. Moreover, I wonder to some extent if he is impacted by the chaos of ST around him. A kicker shouldn’t be perhaps, but with such incompetence I have to wonder.

Given the 50 yard points kicks, was it Crosby failing to get a touchback so often or team strategy? if he can regularly convert from 50 yards, he should have a much higher kickback percentage. These stats don’t obviously add up for me.

Finally, I am aware that new is not always better. Perhaps Gould is a good example. A rough patch but still consistently better after that than the replacements that followed him.

I don’t believe that salary is that significant to tip the balance meaningfully with Crosby, though I don’t think he deserves to be paid at the level he is. If I had an answer to the cause of the low kickback percentage I think it would sway me. If his leg were weakening, he is not a kicker for GB. If it was a team driven stat, then replacement would be foolish and thank the stars the people who would have set that approach are gone.

Jersey Al's picture

"He kicks outdoors at home and that impacts comparatives." Not asking you to go back and read that old article, but I did pretty thoroughly debunk that argument in my "manifesto."

Coldworld's picture

I read it and recall it. I also recall agreeing with much of it but still believing it is something of a factor if not the game changer sometimes assumed.

Swisch's picture

Even if Crosby isn't as good as gold, he may be as good as Gould, and better than anyone who would replace him.
Didn't we have a new snapper and holder last season? I wonder if this was a factor.
I know Crosby had a terrible game against Detroit last season, and missed something like a 49-yarder in bad weather at the end of another game -- but he seemed just fine overall.
Also, I just don't remember him missing big field goals for the Packers over the course of his career.
It would be interesting to compare his makes in big situations (including playoff games) with his misses.
My hunch is that he comes out way ahead. Crosby has been really good for us, maybe even great, and I'm beginning to wonder if he is underappreciated.

CheesyTex's picture

Well said, dobber.

I live in Georgetown, TX, Crosby's hometown. His Mom is a tremendous person who actively leads community improvement initiatives and "people support" activities. Truly beautiful person both physically and spiritually.

It's easy for me to see why Jersey Al would feel a bit of compunction during a chance meeting with her.

Jersey Al's picture

Yeah, even though I really did nothing wrong, she was so nice she made me feel really guilty! Oh, and nice use of "compunction."

Doug Niemczynski's picture

over 50% is the snapper and the holder.

stockholder's picture

"Trey Flower? Oh yes.
Landon Collins? yes, please
Cole Beasley? yes, yes, yes. " Dreaming Big never hurt. Just not going to happen. Gute's job is to secure. We still need more then a couple of hits on draft Picks. He must be judged on this draft. He must be judged on the depth of the roster. The packers MUST start to stock pile positions. And find the next Qb for the future. Throwing money at washed up veterans is not the answer. It's only a Temp. fix. Holding hands with each other is not leadership. He must address the failure of last years draft. The Trenches need players! The holes need starters.

PatrickGB's picture

“Two tight end set”. Not a bad idea, but we don’t have two decent tight ends to make other teams think we are going to run out of it. And I say yes to a good FA safety. I really don’t have a clue on fixing the right side of the Oline. I don’t know who is available or if that person is already on the team.

Coldworld's picture

Not sure that’s true. I think we have TEs that are adequate if used effectively. It’s the last part that has been utterly lacking in recent years.

This though is, for me, the lesser of the issues raised. The point is the seemingly not radical concept that you don’t telegraph everything. Uncertainty in the opponents expectation of what you are going to do is a key weapon. Yet MM seemed to completely reject it.

All NFL players are really good athletes and football players. The difference between the exceptional and the marginal NFL player is slim. However, uncertainty in the defensive call is amplified by that in the minds of players when they do not know what is coming. That uncertainty levels the field. I can’t understand how that hardly novel concept could have got lost, but it did.

I think there is a lot more to be got out of our offensive skill players if we stop relying on them to show individual brilliance to beat opponents who know what to expect in most cases. For goodness sake, most of the time we knew what a formation was going to result in unless the play broke down!

Tundraboy's picture

"For goodness sake, most of the time we knew what a formation was going to result in unless the play broke down!"

So true. I truly hope that that nightmare is over with and I'm very optimistic, that we won't see this stale telegraphed approach again. I'm all the more excited to see what many players we have had can really do.

PeteK's picture

Draft Dalton Risner out of K St. That takes care of right side

MarkinMadison's picture

I think you draft Hockenson and pair him with Tonyan. Suddenly you have two tight ends capable of blocking or catching instead of chasing the elusive, never really had a consistently great, pass catching only TE.

PeteK's picture

Mark, I just don't have any confidence in Tonyan bc he didn't play much even in a throw away year and this is his second team. I hope he develops, but have little faith.

stockholder's picture

Let's get one thing straight. Rodgers wants the deep pass and yards! This is on A-Rod, just as much as MM knowing how to use TEs. To much has been made of Rodgers changing the plays now. Draft a TE and he will only be a blocker. Unless he goes deep.

Coldworld's picture

Unpopular though it is, I fear that is true to some degree. That said, part of coaching is to realign thinking. Ironically MM did that for Favre. Perhaps a new coach can do the same for Rodgers. If he is not expecting to have to do some reprogramming, LaFleur is probably the wrong choice.

Coldworld's picture

Unpopular though it is, I fear that is true to some degree. That said, part of coaching is to realign thinking. Ironically MM did that for Favre. Perhaps a new coach can do the same for Rodgers. If he is not expecting to have to do some reprogramming, LaFleur is probably the wrong choice.

Nick Perry's picture

I think this completely changes under MLF. Draft Hockenson or Irv Smith and yes he'll block, but he'll actually be utilized all over the field in the passing game. Even Fant is said to be an adequate blocker but he's nothing like Hock who personally I'm liking more and more each day for the Packers. No doubt about it, Rodgers does like to throw deep. But in THIS offense Rodgers is going to learn to not only throw more short and intermediate passes, he'll learn or trust the TE can be one of his best friends. These 40 yard passes to no one 5 yards out of bounds have got to stop. THIS is exactly where MLF will excel working with Rodgers.

Minniman's picture

Funny you say that Mark.

Reading Jersey Al's re-post from APC it was screaming to me that the Packers would likely draft a TE early-ish (given MLF's proclivity for 12 TE sets).

TJ Hockenson and Andy Isabella would be interesting additions to the Packers O - Graham and Hock as TE's and Isabella as slot WR might change things up appropriately.

Additional o-line help would be mandatory to make this scenario work though (to preserve A Jones).

holmesmd's picture

Noah Fant is a much better receiving TE and would be devastating in ML’s offense. I don’t get all the fawning over Hock. We aren’t going to see a bunch of in line blocking by any TE in this offense. They will all be pass catchers or occasionally blockers lined up in the backfield, not power formation road graters that run block like in 90’s. The ball better come out from #12 in well under 2 seconds. If so, you don’t need TE blocking prodigies for that. Serviceable blocking is adequate. Fant in a much better route runner and athlete than Hock. is IMO.

jannes bjornson's picture

Yes, expect two TEs to be drafted. One with a high pick and one around #5. The double TE formation is sound when you have two receiving threats with one of the guys having blocking skills. Lewis and Hendricks are done.

jannes bjornson's picture

K

PeteK's picture

Unfortunately, Flowers,Lawrence, Jarrett, Ford, Clark, and even Clowney will all be resigned my their current clubs. I would sign Za Darious Smith or Preston Smith. They are both young ,durable , productive, and can be signed to reasonable contracts. Though unpopular with many ,I would bring back Matthews for 6 mill.

stockholder's picture

Preston Smith!

nostradanus's picture

Crosby - at this point let him play out his contract, but it sure wouldn't hurt to bring in some training camp competition.

Murphy - let's all back off Murphy a bit, maybe behind the scenes Gutekunst is an excellent talent evaluator but may want this type of structure.
Murphy has done an excellent job improving the Packers revenue stream and financial security with his Titletown Projects.
Let's give this new regime a chance before we damn Murphy's style of leadership.

Running game & Tight Ends: again lets give this new coach a chance to work with Graham, Tonyan and a few of the new guys at Tight End. McCarthy was just bad at using Tight Ends and it will be interesting to see how they are deployed under a new HC.
If this offense is going to click however the Packers need a true Bell Cow running back, look for Gute to draft one surprisingly high!

Flowers, Beasley, Collins - two out of the three would be a win although slot guys can be found cheap out there or in the draft, no need to overpay a slot guy.

that is all......

Lare's picture

I agree. First of all, I don't think we can adequately assess any of the current players based on their previous performance. Most of the previous coaches are gone as well as the schemes and their coaching techniques. Let's let the new coaches assess the players and see how they'll perform in the new schemes.

Also, I still can't figure out why any fan cares about the role of Murphy, Gutekunst or Ball. What we should be caring about is if they can put a competitive, winning, Super Bowl contending team on the field. Beyond that, the only ones who should care about their roles or performance are the Executive Board and the Board of Directors.

holmesmd's picture

Why isn’t Williams considered a bell cow running back? I just don’t get it. I think he’s quite good in pass pro and certainly can play on all 3 downs! If by bell cow you mean 20+ carries a game, well that won’t ever happen no matter who they draft. If anything, expect to see a lot more of Jones and rightfully so! He’s an actual difference maker IMO!

albert999's picture

I agree that most big name FA will be resigned
Beasley is for sure a solid catch....No pun intended!
Absolutely bring in a kicker to challenge Crosby
Matthews and Cobb have to go....to much money , to injury prone and they’re not what they used to be

Handsback's picture

I can't say I disagree with anything Big Al discussed including feeling like eating my words when you come into contact with the object's relatives. I have a big problem with the 12 lineup....does Green Bay have 2 blocking TE? Can one block and the other catch be good enough? Lastly...agree 1000% about ML's running game philosophy and hope that Jones can hold up over a season. I also hope they grab a good RB in the draft as well.

Since '61's picture

Bring in competition for Crosby. It never hurts and that is what TC is all about. If the Packers can sign Landon Collins I am all for it. He would immediately solve our safety concerns.

As I have posted previously, I would put Murphy in charge of all non-football operations and give Gute complete control of all football operations.

Running game needs to solidify the OL and draft an RB with speed and power. An Ahman Green/Dorsey Levins type of back. Then Jones would be the prefect change of pace back to that type of RB. Regardless of what happens at RB it all starts with the OL and that needs help via FA and the draft. Thanks, Since '61

PeteK's picture

Absolutely 61, I don't agree with the many writers who rank our O line . At RB, I like Miles Sanders from Penn St. He should be available in later rounds.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

TJ Hockenson TE at #12 or #30

holmesmd's picture

Noah Fant!

Tundraboy's picture

 "Le'Veon Bell?   No expensive malcontents, thank you.
Antonio Brown?  See Bell.
Trey Flower? Oh yes.
Landon Collins? yes, please
Cole Beasley? yes, yes, yes.
Golden Tate? My head would explode, but, um, um... oh all right.'"

My sentiments exactly. Could we get rid of the McCarthy photo, please. Gives me agida.

Jersey Al's picture

That's the point of the photo. #NeverForget

Oh, and it's "agita" although I know it's widely written as agida, but that's incorrect. Form of the Italian word "agitare." #FunFacts

Tundraboy's picture

Ha ragione. Mi scusi. McCarthys image unsettles me so. Didn't see the never forget angle. Like it though.

Packer Fan's picture

Agree with Tundraboy except for Golden Tate if you have Beasley or someone like the guy from Tampa Bay. But I am not sure Flower will be available.

Also, resign Breeland and Wilkerson. We need a deep DL for I think they overused Clark and Daniels.

Also sign two FA OL plus a high draft pick. Depth is important. Just look at the two superbowl teams on Olines.

Need two FA OLB plus a high draft pick. Depth is currently depleted.

There have been recent articles about the lack of development of GB's draft pick which resulted to holes in the roster. Beyond the obvious of OL, OLB & Safety, ILB and TE's are close to holes or future holes. The Pack has four picks in the first three rounds. Would be nice to get one or two more. And also have the hope that BG can draft guys like Alexander, rather than Jackson or Burks.

Swisch's picture

When I think of Mason Crosby, I think of those two amazing plus-50 yard field goals against Dallas in the playoffs that were absolutely clutch.
Over the course of his career, my impression is that Crosby seems to come through almost always in big situations. The stats may not tell his story very well.
All kickers, all players at all positions, have their misses -- but it seems to me Crosby has had a truly great career with the Packers.
At some point, he'll need to be replaced. I don't know when, but I'd be very careful not to rush Crosby out of Green Bay.
If we want top players and quality guys as Packers, he's the kind of guy for us fans to genuinely appreciate for years of excellence.

fthisJack's picture

draft BPA at #12. someone will slide to 12 that is a really good football player.... The top 2 edge rushers will be gone and then its the second tier guys who i don't think are worthy of the twelfth pick. Maybe Oliver, White, Williams could slide and i don't think you could go wrong with any one of those guys. don't reach for an edge rusher that you could grab later in the round.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Appreciate the article. Well done

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Any thoughts on giving up our 30th pick in a trade with Arizona for QB Josh Rosen?

Skip greenBayless's picture

With Boyle on our roster you want Rosen for a 30th? Shirley you can't be serious?

Dash

holmesmd's picture

“I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley” LoL

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"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
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