ASK THE EXPERT
Packers beat writer Ryan
Wood answered questions from readers Monday, following Green Bay’s loss in the NFC Championship Game. Read the transcript at jsonline.com/packers.
Q: Is the problem Capers’ D or Thompson not being able to draft defensive players? I know Rodgers makes players better but the D is ridiculous.
A: I don't see a lot of talent on this defense. I see an aging pass rush that was ineffective. I see wide-open receivers on the perimeter every week. I see a defense with major holes at the two most important positions: edge rusher and cornerback. Shadow Julio Jones with LaDarius Gunter? Seriously? That's never going to work on a big stage like the NFC championship game, but Dom Capers didn't have a choice. Damarious Randall, the first-round draft pick last season, wasn't a real option for the job. So I'd argue a lack of talent is the biggest problem for this defense, not scheme. Where are the difference makers? The game changers? Ultimately, that falls on Ted Thompson.
Q: Think we'll hear within the next couple weeks of Dom Capers firing? By mid next month Ted Thompson should follow.
A: There are real problems on that defense, but I don't think anyone is getting fired. Certainly not Ted Thompson. I certainly understand the frustration on a day like this, but you don't make firings after eight straight playoff trips and two conference championship game appearances in three years. That's not to excuse what happened. This defense needs to be rebuilt during the offseason, and I don't think the NFL draft is enough to do it. But don't expect firings. Q: Who is re-signed among Lang, Cook, Tretter, Hyde, and Starks. Does Cobb have to take a pay cut and what are top two draft priorities? A: Haven't heard much on some guys. I expect Jared Cook to be back for multiple years. I think they need to bring back Micah Hyde; he does too many things for this defense. Hyde is especially important if they want to play Morgan Burnett more at linebacker in their subpackages. It's just a guess, but I would be surprised to see James Starks back, despite another year remaining. I think Nick Perry is back. Don't know about Datone Jones, but it would have to be for the right price. As for T.J. Lang, that may be the toughest decision. I think the wise move is to bring him back, even if that risks keeping Jason Spriggs as a backup. You can replace a guard, but Lang is important to the fabric of that locker room. With that said, you can replace a guard. So Lang's return would probably have to be at the right price.