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  1. #1
    Benet's Avatar
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    John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    [size=25px]Packers added talent in offseason[/size]
    Clayton
    By John Clayton
    ESPN.com

    GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When Brett Favre said this Packers team is as talented as any he's been a part of, the national reaction was like he had just thrown another crazy interception.

    You'd think after 15 seasons, people would learn to understand Favre, who might be pro football's most honest quote. He releases thoughts as quickly as he releases passes from a three-step drop. Critics jumped on the beginning of the quote and ignored the important ending.

    "I really feel like as far as talent is concerned, this is the most talented team I've been a part of as a whole, but the most unproven and inexperienced team I've ever played on," Favre said Monday. "If we can somehow put it together, there's a lot of talent out there. If you compare us to the year we won the Super Bowl or two years previous to '96, we weren't a very talented team. We weren't under-talented, but we were very experienced."

    At Raiders camp a week ago, former Packers defensive lineman Sean Jones was saying roughly the same thing. Those Mike Holmgren Super Bowl teams had some great players, but they went to Super Bowls because their experience came together to win key games.

    A visit to Packers camp proved Favre hasn't lost his vision. The Packers have a pretty good group of athletes. Second-round choice Greg Jennings should be at least the No. 3 receiver. Guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz may be rookies, but they have plenty of talent. Linebacker A.J. Hawk is already a starter and a fan favorite. Free-agent acquisitions Charles Woodson (CB), Marquand Manuel (S) and Ryan Pickett (DT) should all be upgrades.

    No, let's not start "The Pack Is Back" campaign yet, but it's clear that the franchise isn't dead. First-year head coach Mike McCarthy is restoring life to a proud team that hit the wall last season. Favre's mind wandered as he struggled through a 4-12 nightmare. Lambeau Field lost its ability to intimidate opponents. As the weather got cold, the Packers turned colder.

    McCarthy is warming them with up-tempo practices. Padded evening practices are almost at full speed, missing only the tackling. Drills are lively. Compared to the reduced workload in other camps around the league, the Packers are probably doing as much hitting as any team. There are a lot of talented athletes on the field and it's clear the Packers have gained team speed.

    It's also clear the Packers aren't as bad as those outside Lambeau think. Of course, Bill Parcells said it best: A winning coach has to pick the best 53 players, not the best 53 athletes. The Packers have athletes. McCarthy has to test them to see who the best players are.

    "I saw Brett's interview on TV and everything he said word for word is the same thing I see," tight end Bubba Franks said. "This is the most athletes we've had here, and I'm in my seventh year. If we can get these young guys on the same page with the vets, we're going to surprise some people."

    The biggest if is along the offensive line. College and Spitz may be young versions of Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, but they are completely unproven. Athletically, they are fine. College is a tackle moving to guard and has the athletic ability to be a good pass blocker. Spitz is more of the mauler. With Adrian Klemm and Kevin Barry out for the season, the Packers have to rely on young players to come through to solidify the interior of the line.

    If the offensive line can't come through, the offense could be a disaster.

    What's exciting the Packers the most is the athleticism of the defense. Hawk showed his athleticism at practice, making a Brian Urlacher-type pursuit of a ball carrier to make a tackle. He has the speed to close on tackles and drop into coverage from the weakside linebacker position. Teaming Hawk with middle linebacker Nick Barnett puts the Packers two-thirds of the way toward having a top linebacking corps. The competition on the strong side is between Ben Taylor, Abdul Hodge and Brady Poppinga. Unlike the past couple of years, the Packers have options at linebacker.

    The Packers have enough athletes on defense that they won't fall into the Cover 2 trend that's taking over the NFC North. Cornerbacks will be playing mainly man-to-man. Linebackers will be aggressive. Defensive linemen will fire up the field. The Packers are carrying over the aggressive Jim Bates defense from a year ago.

    "We're using about 95 percent of last season," Barnett said. "It's the defense that allowed Jason Taylor to get all of those sacks [in Miami]. There will be a lot of third-down blitzing."

    The addition of Woodson solidifies the Packers' pass coverage for the first time since the team traded Mike McKenzie to the Saints during the 2004 season. Woodson teams up with Al Harris, moving the oft-penalized Ahmad Carroll into the No. 3 cornerback role.

    "Everybody is buying into everything here," Harris said. "We are going to be better than people think. Coach McCarthy is doing a lot of the things Andy Reid did when he first got to Philadelphia. He practices the same way as Coach Reid. It's fast tempo. Good teams have fast tempo. And I love the chance to man up on everything in coverage."

    "I saw Brett's interview on TV and everything he said word for word is the same thing I see. This is the most athletes we've had here and I'm in my seventh year. If we can get these young guys on the same page with the vets, we're going to surprise some people."
    Bubba Franks, Packers TE

    Under Bates last season, the Packers finished seventh on defense and No. 1 against the pass. The addition of Hawk, Woodson, Manuel, Pickett and others has upgraded that unit.

    "This is going to be an attacking defense," Woodson said. "The defense is going to be man-to-man. I think we've got talent. We definitely have talent. I've been on talented teams that didn't win a damn thing because we couldn't get everybody on the same page all the time. The most important thing here is getting everybody on the same page."

    McCarthy's biggest task -- and one of the reasons he was chosen as head coach -- is to rebuild the confidence of the franchise. General manager Ted Thompson knew McCarthy when he was in Green Bay as the quarterbacks coach. Favre likes McCarthy and vice versa. That was an important element, because it helped in getting Favre back for another season.

    The Packers' offense has talent but the unit lost its confidence last season, scoring less than 20 points a game. Interceptions topped touchdown passes, 30 to 20. The offensive line was a mess, decimated by injuries and players leaving for other teams. The poor play of the line and injuries to Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport took away the running attack. Favre, playing from behind too often, forced too many interceptions.

    Longtime Packers like McCarthy's fresh approach to the offense. In some ways he's giving Favre a little more freedom than Holmgren and Mike Sherman did. Though the system is still the West Coast offense and McCarthy teaches it in its purest form, McCarthy isn't as rigid with the progression system. He's allowing for more playmaking.

    "Now, we are going deep," wide receiver Donald Driver said. "We're airing it out past 20 yards instead of just the short, underneath routes. He's trying to jump on people from the beginning. It's not more one, two, three progressions. Whoever wins against the defensive backs gets the ball."

    One of the staples of the Packers' West Coast offense has always been the decoys. In most routes, one receiver would go deep to clear out an area for the intended receiver. With McCarthy, all the receivers are in play.

    Naturally, the Packers don't have a receiver talented enough to replace Javon Walker, who was traded to Denver for a second-round choice. But his replacement on the roster is Jennings, who has been the early star of camp. He has deep speed and great hands. There's a chance he could challenge Robert Ferguson for starting time once the season begins.

    "He's nice," Franks said of Jennings. "He's picking up the system like he was a veteran. We are going to score a lot of points. Our practices are tough, but what we went through last year, we needed it. We need to get that edge back. We don't lose on Lambeau. Guys were coming in here last year not scared to play on our field."

    An opening home game against the Bears should be the perfect motivation. It gives the veterans incentive against a hated rival. It gives the rookies a quick understanding of the rivalries and tradition that come with playing for the Packers.

    Favre's statement from earlier this week might not be that crazy. The Packers have talent. The challenge will be putting it all together.

    "I think Brett sees some of the young guys and the speed," Thompson said of Favre's comments. "I wouldn't presume to compare us to the teams of the 1990s. You don't see Santana Dotson, Sean Jones, Reggie White and others. But you do see some pretty good players."

    Maybe there is hope.
    Frankly, my respect for John Clayton just went through the toilet. I knew Pastabelli was in the pocket of agents and is too lazy to do any actual reporting, but Clayton has proven that just because you're old and have years experience reporting on the NFL doesn't mean you should stop taking your medication. The guy's obviously lost his marbles.

  2. #2
    Ltrey33 is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    I didn't expect that from Clayton! He usually knows what he's talking about...maybe Favre stole his laptop and did some editing.

  3. #3
    BadlandsVikings's Avatar
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    Alot of these these guys have a hard time getting of the athletes bandwagon and admitting the player is a has been. I always thought Clayton was a little goofy.

  4. #4
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    Pass the pipe please.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  5. #5
    slinkey is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    This gives me a headache....the fudgepackers will fight the lions for bottom of the division....farve blows knobs

  6. #6
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    I'm a day or two late on this, but Clayton is one of the rare gems of ESPN. He's a great football writer. I thought that was a good article as was his preview on our Vikings. The thing I like about his reporting is that's what it is. He isn't a sports personality,(F*ck you Salisbury) he's a reporter.

  7. #7
    BadlandsVikings's Avatar
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    I don't want him telling me about football, I always thought he looked like he should be wearing a white coat in a lab or pharmacy some where.

  8. #8
    nephilimstorm's Avatar
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    I just love Farve people...what are they gonna talk about when he reitres )

  9. #9
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    I guess I did not see what was so wrong with it. He wrote the article to get the packer fans hyped, just like the one he wrote about the vikings a few days ago, and just like the one he will be writing for all 32 teams in the league. Never did he say farve was right and the team was going to the super bowl. I just dont understand why people here get so bent if someone does not bash every team in the league and claim the vikings super bowl champs. Clayton did his job, he is a great sports writer, it doesnt matter if he looks like the village nerd or not. I am not sticking up for the packers because I cannot stand the packers or their fans, I am sticking up for a great un-bias sports writer.
    You republican whore!

  10. #10
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    Re: John Clayton Sucks Favre's.. Well, You Know.

    "westvirginiavikings" wrote:
    I don't want him telling me about football, I always thought he looked like he should be wearing a white coat in a lab or pharmacy some where.
    Actually, he looks kinda like the counselor in South Park. (M'kay)

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