Packers Stock Report: In Gutey We Trust?

After another dramatic loss, who's hot and who's not for the 3-3-1 Packers?

Frustration has begun to mount with Packers players, coaches and fans. With each successive lukewarm performance or moral victory, the restlessness grows around this team as the 2018 season nears its midpoint.

The problem with a team like this is that the moments of brilliance are so bright, which makes the periodic shortcomings so baffling. Some fans hold totally unrealistic expectations of consistency, and a complete game in which all three phases perform at their best for 60 minutes is more of a Platonic ideal than a standard to which Mike McCarthy’s team should be held.

But it is damn difficult to watch stretches of the 2018 Packers and not feel as if there’s a higher gear that the team has yet to engage. With the departures of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and running back Ty Montgomery at the trade deadline, perhaps there’s a cultural cleansing taking place, continuing a trend that Brian Gutekunst began this offseason by trading former first-round pick Damarious Randall.

By removing dissenters and those unhappy with their roles, can this team gel around a more focused purpose? Could those reportedly negative influences have been the reason that this team’s total performance has seemed to fall short of the sum of its parts?

While NFL coaches will downplay moral victories, the Packers proved Sunday that they can play with anyone in the league. There were so many bright spots and triumphant moments against the Rams, yet the game simply counts as another loss. This is the frustration of most Packers fans, and I imagine the coaches and players feel the same way.

Stock Rising: Buy! Buy! Buy!

Jaire Freaking Alexander: My goodness, what a game by the young cornerback. I can’t remember a game in which the offensive plan seemed so clearly focused to target one particular player, only to have that player rise to the challenge so thoroughly.

Rams coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff must have liked the matchup against the 21-year-old rookie, targeting Alexander nine times. He responded with five pass breakups to go along with his seven tackles.

On a more subjective level, Alexander seems to make the entire defense better. His bravado—along with the play to back it up—appears to rub off on his teammates. The defense played with an energy and confidence that wasn’t quite the same when Alexander was sidelined with a groin injury. It may be premature to declare Alexander a leader on defense, but his energy is contagious and a delight to watch.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Brian Gutekunst’s first draft is looking like a good one early on, as MVS has emerged as a notable weapon well ahead of schedule for the Packers’ offense. The rookie from South Florida has emerged as an athletic deep threat that defenses will have to account for as the season continues.

But as impressive as the 40-yard touchdown grab was from MVS, the number of snaps he played was even more encouraging. Valdes-Scantling played 31 of 52 offensive snaps, second only to Davante Adams’ 40 among receivers. It appears Aaron Rodgers and the offensive coaching staff trusts MVS enough to let his skills develop in live game action. And while Rodgers is completing a modest 54 percent of his passes to the rookie, one would think their rapport would only improve as the season progresses.

Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark: This inside duo was formidable once again, with Daniels playing arguably his best game of the season so far. Clark has been terrific all year long, playing on over 83 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Daniels and Clark have been the team’s two best pass rushers in 2018.

Corey Linsley: Against a dominant interior pass rush led by Aaron Donald, possibly the NFL’s best defender, Linsley was terrific. PFF rated him as the Packers’ best run blocker in the game, and the fifth-year center allowed just one quarterback hurry.

Stock Falling: Sell! Sell! Sell!

Lane Taylor and Byron Bell: Woof. While Linsley played an outstanding game at center, the two men on his immediate flanks were victimized by the Rams’ athletic and dynamic interior linemen. No other team will test the Packers’ guards as much as the Rams did Sunday, but this duo was problematic on a big stage.

Organizational Urgency: While most fans would like Brian Gutekunst to adopt a win-now strategy while Aaron Rodgers still has MVP-caliber seasons remaining, the first-year general manager has demonstrated that he is building toward a long future with the Packers.

Dealing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who was unlikely to re-sign with the Packers, to Washington for a fourth-round pick is just one signal that Gutekunst would rather overhaul the entire roster in his image than push his chips all-in year-after-year. In almost any other case, this would be a tremendous sign for the future of the franchise, but some fans worry that Rodgers may not be quite potent enough in three or four years once Gutekunst’s draft picks blossom into championship-level contributors.

Personally, I think I’d still prefer Gutey’s steady approach, trusting that Rodgers will be able to adjust his game as he ages. But it’s understandable that some fans are antsy to see the star quarterback’s supporting cast improve rapidly.

Safeties: With Clinton-Dix now out of town, the Packers appear to be very thin at the safety position. Just Jermaine Whitehead, Kenrell Brice and Josh Jones remain, and each of those players has had his share of challenges this season.

It has long been suggested that cornerback Tramon Williams could play some safety, as he previously did under Mike Pettine in Cleveland, and perhaps the Clinton-Dix trade will finally force that idea into fruition. A less discussed option, however, would be playing the yet-to-debut Bashaud Breeland at safety.

Breeland played safety sparingly his rookie year in Washington and has always lacked elite cornerback speed. There’s much more to a positional transition than a match of physical attributes, but Breeland has had several weeks to learn the defensive playbook and the Packers may need to think creatively to replace a quality starter like Clinton-Dix in the short term.

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Comments (48)

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Lphill's picture

October 31, 2018 at 01:22 pm

Next moves, Tramon to safety, fire McCarthy after season , the Browns await him .

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Samson's picture

October 31, 2018 at 01:28 pm

Agree. Give MM his bus ticket to Ohio.
Plus, Gute needs to attack free agency in the upcoming off season like it's "do or die". -- Free agency plus the 2019 draft will be GB's ticket to at least the NFC Championship round of the 2019 season.

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Lare's picture

October 31, 2018 at 05:14 pm

If McCarthy does get fired after the season, I just have this really bad feeling that Murphy would replace him with either Pettine or Philbin.

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

October 31, 2018 at 08:45 pm

I don’t think that’s likely. Both coordinators were MM picks, right? Why would Gutekunst constrain himself to pick one of those guys?

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Samson's picture

October 31, 2018 at 01:33 pm

Matt, need to drop the "In Gutey We Trust". (sounds too much like "In TT We Trust").
Try: "Going With Gute" or "We're Good With Gute".
Both are more like season 2018 & beyond.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 31, 2018 at 03:25 pm

"Let the Gute times Roll"

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

October 31, 2018 at 04:04 pm

I like "Were Good With Gute"

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Skip greenBayless's picture

October 31, 2018 at 04:19 pm

I can't think of any offhand that are better. I can only think of one for the end times when everything goes to hell and everyone wants him gone.

"The Packers are finally Guten Free"

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

October 31, 2018 at 04:41 pm

IstanGutekunstantinople.

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 31, 2018 at 01:36 pm

Looking at these trade moves from a stock buy or sell view point, did the Packers change who they are?
Neither Dix or Ty were non replaceable and certainly neither gave so much individual play to disagree,though Dix was able to pad his stats from actual defense of another to earn praise at times however falsely given and accepted.
I have contended for years that the defensive players have been at best C+ with occasional B, though Clark is a steady B+ and A, Daniels becoming more a wavering B- with Matthews and Perry being no more than the grades of their rotation fill ins.
We have a couple of new players that have what's been missing for sometime as in Alexander for example.
But has this team suddenly altered from the trades, I agree with both, to something we needed to have and many ' optimistically ' for years have hoped for , solely on the movement of two players. I don't think so, but is there any bad time to rid your team of non game changing players, no. Just don't fool yourself into believing a new dawn suddenly arrived from it. It may look brighter without them but as always...looks are deceiving.

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Coldworld's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:08 pm

The thing about change is it doesn’t happen unless one takes action. That Gutekunst isn’t just sitting on his hands and looking to UDFAs or sticking with past choices is a change in itself. The step this week won’t get us to the promised land, but it might move us forward either come draft day or through actually testing the young players in the secondary in real games. We should at least get a better idea of whom we should keep and whom we should move on from earlier than would have been the case.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 02, 2018 at 12:24 am

Well said. This time there is reason to be optimistic. I applaud the dynamic proactive approach thus far. Now if we can bring it to the coachng side as well.

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

October 31, 2018 at 08:25 pm

I’m really happy that we won’t be pulling a Perry with HHCD. Buh-bye.

Ty was an unexpected problem that was quickly addressed. And the timing was perfect. Letting that fester might disrupt the locker room. Now, it’s moot...thanks to Gute.

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zoellner25's picture

October 31, 2018 at 01:37 pm

I love what Gutey is doing. He said he's not about sending a message to the locker room, but he sent a message to the locker room, and probably MM too.

Who's next?

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dobber's picture

October 31, 2018 at 01:49 pm

I think this is also the shifting face of the NFL: in-season trades NEVER used to happen. This is MLB or NBA trade deadline mindsets creeping into the NFL. I would argue if you're the team acquiring HHCD or Ty Montgomery...maybe you've played 7 or 8 games...it will take 2-3 games for that player to acclimate and truly be productive. So you're hoping that player gives you a boost for the last couple weeks?

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 31, 2018 at 03:28 pm

I don't see TY struggling to transition from GB to the Ravens. RB is one of the smoothest transitions which is why you see so much success from rookie RBs. I hope the Ravens are able to use him more effectively than the Packers did in 2018.

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Coldworld's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:10 pm

He has the chance to demonstrate whether he is truly NFL caliber by the sound of it. If he does, it will be interesting to see the nature of the role he fulfills in doing so.

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The TKstinator's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:10 pm

I don’t necessarily want the Ravens to get great production out of him.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 01, 2018 at 04:36 am

I agree that the NFL is changing its mindset. I think fan bases haven't nearly as much. There has always been a lot of resistance to signing FAs, often based on the notion that just because Player X was good in KC doesn't mean he will play well for us. Now with these trades, Player X not only has to play well for his new team, he has to do it within a far more limited time frame and without the benefit of a Mini camp and TC. Interesting.

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stockholder's picture

October 31, 2018 at 02:06 pm

I'm not willing to trust Gutey yet. We may have a wolf in sheeps clothing. Or we may just have the 2nd Ron Wolf. While I won't condemn Gute's moves. There still were questions in his last draft. Like a kid not reporting. The second trade up for Burks. And just who got the better players per picking yet. The evaluation is still on going. I TRUST in MM. Years of service, with finding the right players has taken it's toll. We judge on what we read more than take him at his word now. Sides are quickly picked because their our Favorites. We don't trust are eyes and let our hearts rule our mind. We've become Yo -Yos'. And we roll with the ups and downs. It's to rocky to Trust Gute now. But hopefully were headed in the right direction.

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packergal's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:47 pm

You "Trust in MM"?
That is somewhat sad.

He may be a good person but unfortunately, he appears stubborn, resistant to change, unwilling to play select players, not able to impact culture change, seemingly inefficient at coaching prima donna players and so far not very successful at building a high performing, creative support staff with clear accountability.

His time is likely up at the end of this season.

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stockholder's picture

October 31, 2018 at 07:55 pm

It's easy to condemn. It's harder to praise. If MM is so bad in your opinion he wouldn't have a winning record. He does not Flip Flop. He plays the hot hand. Stubborn =. You only have to look at Devante Adams to know that he is not going to judge a player on fan appeal. He is not in charge of changing the roster. He is the coach. Thats it. No apologies. High performing? = out of 5th or lower picks. Look at all the players that have come and gone. The offensive side is his baby. And how many went on to be better. The defense was the problem. And thats what has been wrong in Green Bay. MM has made players better. If MM is done in Green Bay it will be because of the harrasement. He is not Devine, Starr, Gregg, Sherman, Hologram etc. You only have to look at the 2010 champions. Talent? Age ? Contracts? Poor drafts? It wasn't the coaching staff. it was MM beating the odds with a Sharpe armed QB. MM deserves more job appreciation. I still say he's worth a draft pick.

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JimR_in_SoCal's picture

October 31, 2018 at 08:43 pm

A more recent TT draft pick?

MM is good, but somewhat overrated, and he has benefitted tremendously from the two HOF talents he’s had at QB. MM’s had some talented receivers to work with, as well. He hasn’t had as strong a track record with establishing a running game. What’s his track record with backup QBs? With TEs? What’s his post-season winning percentage? One SB appearance/win in how many years? I believe his teams have been worse than average as far as penalties go. How many years too long did he keep Capers & Slocum? And Zook? I appreciate MM but, in my opinion, his freshness date expired a few years ago.

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stockholder's picture

October 31, 2018 at 09:37 pm

Good but, over-rated. That's not bad!! He has benefited from both. This is a pass first offense. Still the run paid big when they found the right runner. Even if they were late picks. I feel if he has failed it was with the TEs and the coaching there. But you can go back five years when he stopped appearing in the draft room. Might have been a warning. I have not liked TTs drafts the last 5 years. MM's followed orders. But I have an answer for you on his coaches. When your a star and people tell you your great. You believe them. Even if your product can't make the top 40 anymore. They were dogs at his feet. The loyalty was unbreakable. But let's not confuse that. MM still will sacrifice anything to get us in the super-bowl. I believe in his Cause.

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WMA's picture

November 01, 2018 at 08:32 am

I agree that MM is better than what most seem to believe. IMHO his play calling has not kept up with the changes in the NFL - that really showed up when Rodgers was out last year. Time to look for a dynamic offensive coordinator and bring them in as head coach.

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carusotrap's picture

November 01, 2018 at 08:36 am

"He plays the hot hand"?

You might want to have a talk with Aaron Jones.

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Since'61's picture

October 31, 2018 at 02:56 pm

I like what I see from Gute so far. He is always looking to improve the team and not waiting around. He needed to move Monty and Dix and he did. He not only has done what is best for his team he may have actually helped the careers of both players.

I may not agree with every move Gute makes or every draft pick but I like that he has demonstrated so far in his tenure that he is willing to try all approaches to improve the team. That is the GMs job. Keep looking for ways to improve the team. Good job Gute so far. Thanks, Since '61

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pacman's picture

October 31, 2018 at 03:15 pm

Gute showing no loyalty to TT's picks. Does that extend to MM? Certainly explains why MM reports to Murphy now. I wonder how much of this is known to the players and maybe that has been a point of contention in the locker room too.

Maybe Gute can answer why MM is limiting AJ!
Maybe Gute can answer why MM's play calling is antiquated and sometimes just stupid!
Maybe Gute can shake things up enough in this tired franchise to win a SB!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 31, 2018 at 03:31 pm

These last 2 trade moves made me think about what ALP said before the season started. The Packers are building for 2019. I still think we could turn 2018 around but am looking forward to the 2019 draft.

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Coldworld's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:13 pm

I think you are right: this shows that 2019 is higher priority if push comes to shove. That is not to say that Gute has surrendered this season, but I think it does signal that it is not going to make him surrender the chance to be better next season without a very strong reason to do so.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 01, 2018 at 04:58 am

I wonder what happened to ALP? Did he get banned? He might have been correct. I expected more out of Perry, CM3, McCray and Graham. OTOH, we are getting more out of Alexander than really anyone could have banked on, more out of Bulaga (I figured missing 6 games while on PUP just for starters), Allison and Linsley, and about what I thought out of Tramon. We got what I thought we'd get out of Brice and HHCD, which was being bad and something less than mediocre to begin with, respectively, and less than I thought we'd get out of Monty.

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Razer's picture

October 31, 2018 at 03:34 pm

Sometimes all you can do is play the cards dealt to you. Gutekunst didn't create the Montgomery situation but he dealt with it in a decisive and appropriate manner. McCarthy created the Montgomery mess by not having a running game, slot receiver game or out-of-the backfield game. So instead of getting something out of a talented player he wasted him and then stuck him into a returner role. But then again I forget that a RB is primarily a blocker for our long developing vertical passing game.

The Clinton Dix situation should have been taken care of before this season began - including getting a replacement. We saw all we needed to see from him last year and needed to move on. This may have been a case of no buyers until now, in which case we got our best value for Dix. I would have preferred to have a real safety in place before the season began.

Ultimately, Gutekunst shows that he isn't afraid to make changes and go in a new direction. This is a heads up to McCarthy and some of his coaches as we get into the meat of the schedule - as it should be.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 01, 2018 at 05:00 am

"I forget that a RB is primarily a blocker for our long developing vertical passing game."

LOL.

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The TKstinator's picture

November 01, 2018 at 06:57 am

MAYBE they wanted to see how 21 looked under Pettine?

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jh9's picture

October 31, 2018 at 07:25 pm

“But it is damn difficult to watch stretches of the 2018 Packers and not feel as if there’s a higher gear that the team has yet to engage.”

“By removing dissenters and those unhappy with their roles, can this team gel around a more focused purpose? Could those reportedly negative influences have been the reason that this team’s total performance has seemed to fall short of the sum of its parts?”

Although these two quotes are linked, the solution isn’t about player attitude. There are fifty-three players on every NFL roster. If you take fifty-three employees at any organization or workplace, not everyone will agree on everything or have the ideal attitude. But that’s why leadership is so important. Good leadership takes varying personalities and focuses them to be productive. The better the leadership, the more effective production.

Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, and Damarious Randall have all flourished after they left the Packers. I expect Ty Montgomery and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will do the same.

This isn’t a player issue, it’s a leadership issue. And the Packers performance will not improve, regardless of any new players, until they have better leadership. Specifically, a better HC.


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Johnblood27's picture

October 31, 2018 at 05:19 pm

Leadership can also come from the players and in many instances it should begin there.

AR needs to do a much, much better job of rallying the troops and getting everyone pulling in the same direction instead of creating factionalization.

His "circle of trust" thing smacks of segregation and distrust moreso than leadership.

His eyerolling and gesticulations at players does not help.

His "Take a f**king knee scream doesn't help.

...and Im certainly no MM fan.

AR is more of a leadership problem than MM.

Fix that and the team will soar.

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jh9's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:02 pm

And I would argue that a better HC would have better control of Aaron Rodgers.

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Coldworld's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:16 pm

Or a better roster. TT did not give MM what he wanted. A bad roster kills any coaching record.

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jh9's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:24 pm

Hyde, Hayward, and Randall lack talent? Please... What do you need for proof?

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Leatherhead's picture

October 31, 2018 at 04:51 pm

Gute deserves to succeed or fail on his terms. I didn't like the Jordy move. I liked the Wilkerson move. I was neutral on the Graham move. I was neutral on Burnett. I was happy about the Randall trade. The Monty trade was necessary and I just think Dix fell into disfavor with Pettine.

I think he had a pretty good draft but time will tell. Personally, I wanted Lamar Jackson but Alexander is doing pretty well.

The defense is improving as the season progresses. I kind of think this might have been a good time to get people upset. There's nothing worse than having to play against a bunch of angry guys.

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Coldworld's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:18 pm

I like your thinking Sir. I differ only on Burnett, who I think had reached a point where it made sense to go younger.

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Lphill's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:29 pm

I think he could have gotten a higher pick for HA Ha , or maybe even another player to contribute it seems that Packers defensive backs thrive when the leave GB . I think Ha Ha will be productive.

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4thand1's picture

October 31, 2018 at 06:38 pm

HaHa had 4 and half years to prove he was worthy of a 1st round pick, he didn't. Perry has to be the next domino to fall.

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HankScorpio's picture

October 31, 2018 at 07:48 pm

"but some fans worry that Rodgers may not be quite potent enough in three or four years once Gutekunst’s draft picks blossom into championship-level contributors."

Last Sunday may have been a fluke but the "other 52" were championship level in that game, IMO. If the highest paid player in the league performs at a level worthy of that status, that game is a laugher.

Elsewhere in the article, the snap count on offense was given at 52. That's pathetic. And it's not like that was because the defense wasn't getting off the field. Blame MM or the poor OG or whatever else all you'd like. Rodgers has to shoulder some of it, too.

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Packer Dave's picture

October 31, 2018 at 08:52 pm

I think Gute puts a super bowl team together in two years. We've had AR and crappy drafts for several years - a recipe for an average team.

Give him one more year and we'll have a better LB core, OG, safety and slot receiver to get us over the hump. The team is essentially in disarray now and should have beat an undefeated team.

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Samson's picture

October 31, 2018 at 09:44 pm

Correct on all counts. --- One more offseason for Gute in the draft & especially free agency & the Pack will be back in the elite category in the NFC.

"We're good with Gute."

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stockholder's picture

October 31, 2018 at 10:20 pm

And who will be the coach.? looking at history. What 1st year coaches won. (Steifert) And the team was not rebuilding.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

November 01, 2018 at 12:23 pm

a non fan view of the reality of Ha ha
"Clinton-Dix has a grade of 83.5 and is currently the fourth-highest graded safety in the NFL, just two spots behind fellow Redskin D.J. Swearinger. His 82.7 coverage grade also ranks fifth among the active safeties who have played at least 300 snaps this season. Like Swearinger, Clinton-Dix has been an extremely valuable safety due to his ability to force turnovers, as his four turnovers forced is tied for the second-most among players at the position

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