Five Thoughts After Cutdown Weekend
Now that the dust has settled after last weekend’s cuts, here are a few quick thoughts on how the Packers got to their final 53 man roster.
1 - This is as all-in as Ted Thompson is ever going to be
Thompson shored up his most important position groups by letting several promising prospects walk without compensation, then flipped another young prospect for a draft pick because he wasn’t quite promising enough. This following an offseason in which he brought aboard a bevy of free agents who all happen to be 28 or older. Sure, he didn’t break the bank on any one player or even let anyone approaching a “can’t miss” level out the door, but this is a departure for Thompson and he clearly is thinking more short term than long term with some of these moves.
2 - Quantity better beat quality on the offensive line
Nobody would seriously disagree that the Packers’ starting offensive line is quite talented, perhaps among the best in the league. Likewise, few would disagree that the depth beyond that starting group is quite perilous at best. This is something we’ve been hemming and hawing about for quite some time, and heaven forbid those worries ever come home to roost. Napoleon said quantity is a quality all its own. Let’s hope that maxim applies to reserve linemen as well as armies or the Packers may end up in their own version of Waterloo.
3 - High ceilings outweigh high floors
The Packers’ decision to pursue DeAngelo Yancey and Michael Clark as members of the practice squad rather than Max McCaffrey is a definitive victory for potential over production. It’s hard to think of a receiver more productive in camp than McCaffrey, yet it’s quite possible that what we saw from him this preseason was the full extent of his abilities. This may have been the full McCaffrey experience, and if the Packers were in a pinch at receiver, they probably would have kept him for his short term contributions.
But both Yancey and Clark have much higher athletic potential than McCaffrey, and given the state of the receiving depth chart, the Packers can afford to wait for that potential to pay off. Yancey and Clark may not be better than McCaffrey right now, but there’s a chance they could be significantly better in the future.
4 - Four running backs won’t last
I’ve been on record about this for quite some time, but it bears repeating: it really doesn’t matter who your third string running back is. They rarely contribute to a significant degree, much less an extensive one. If that’s true (and it is), the situation won’t be much better for the fourth running back on the depth chart. How often will the Packers even keep four running backs active? It likely won’t be often, and the number four back on the depth chart could be on the chopping block as soon as Geronimo Allison returns from his suspension.
5 - Roster calculus is different inside Lambeau Field than outside
Bearing all of what I’ve written in mind, here’s my ultimate takeaway from this weekend’s cuts: the Packers clearly go through this process in a vastly different way than fans.
If you thought last Friday that the Packers would come out of the weekend with no connection to Taysom Hill or Max McCaffrey, that they’d ship Jayrone Elliott out of town in a trade, and they’d do nothing to improve the offensive line beyond keeping more of the guys already in house than we anticipated, please raise your hand.
Now take that raised hand and smack yourself across the face, because you’re a dirty rotten liar.
Nobody could have fully anticipated what the Packers did this weekend. Late last week I read a whole bunch of roster predictions from a variety of Packers websites and you know what? Almost all of them were wrong at some key points, from the offensive line to the outside linebacker group to how many receivers the Packers would keep.
We have no true grasp of what the Packers are doing or thinking, and even if they’re ultimately incorrect in some of their moves, it’s worth keeping in mind that they have a methodology and a backing for what they’re doing. There’s a plan in place, and sometimes the best thing to do is to sit back and watch it unfold.