How Did the Packers Get Here?
I'm still numb from the ass-kicking the Packers received this afternoon. Even though it was pretty easy to see it coming, it's still hard to take.
In order to make sense of it all, I arose from my fetal position and decided to investigate how things really got this bad. I started looking at drafts from the past 3 years, to see what exactly the Packers have been doing to build their team. As you can see, not much. Here are the drafts from 2003-2005, with the players currently on the active roster in green. I left out the 2006 Draft, since the jury's still out on a lot of those guys - they haven't proven that they can't play - yet.
1 Nick Barnett Oregon State
3 Kenny Peterson Ohio State
5 James Lee Oregon State
5 Hunter Hillenmeyer Vanderbilt
6 Brennan Curtin Notre Dame
7 Chris Johnson Louisville
7 Deandrew Rubin South Florida
7 Carl Ford Toledo
7 Steve Josue Carson Newman
1 Ahmad Carroll Arkansas
3 Joey Thomas Montana State
3 Donnell Washington Clemson
3 B.J. Sander Ohio State
6 Corey Williams Arkansas State
7 Scott Wells Tennessee*
Round Name School
1 Aaron Rodgers California
2 Nick Collins Bethune Cookman
4 Marviel Underwood San Diego State**
4 Brady Poppinga BYU
5 Junius Coston North Carolina A&T
5 Michael Hawkins Oklahoma
6 Mike Montgomery Texas A&M
6 Craig Bragg UCLA
7 Kurt Campell Albany
7 Will Whitticker Michigan State
* - Drafted by the Packers, released, and acquired via free agency
** - On Injured Reserve
That's 8 out of 25 players acquired via the draft that are on the active roster after three years. Of those 8, three are first-rounders: Nick Barnett, who is a quality linebacker; Aaron Rodgers, who has yet to play any meaningful downs; and Ahmad Carroll, who has proven that he has about as much business on a football field as I do performing open heart surgery. Of the remaining five, Nick Collins looks like he has potential, but the rest would have trouble making the roster of an arena league team. Keep in mind also, that in 2004, the Packers were in the bottom three teams in total defense - yet they spent their first round pick on a backup quarterback and a second round pick on a wide receiver (Terrence Murphy).
So while the Packers were cruising along during the Sherman era, buttressed by All-Pros like Brett Favre, Ahman Green, Donald Driver, Bubba Franks, and William Henderson, the infrastructure was crumbling underneath them. Now that all their talent is aging, and they let Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle go, they have replaced much of that talent with low round draft picks and waiver wire trash. If you can't build a solid core of players through the draft, you essentially become an expansion team, starting from scratch. And it appears that's where the Packers are now.
What's also disturbing about the list above is how many picks they're missing - due to trades or otherwise. Every round they're missing a pick is a round that they could have had someone helping them right now. And I haven't even mentioned trading up to draft a punter (Sander) who was unable to handle the small detail of actually kicking the ball. If the Packers truly were looking for their "quarterback of the future," they could have drafted a guy like Matt Schaub the year before, who was taken after Sander. Schaub, who backs up Michael Vick in Atlanta, has played exceptionally well when forced into duty, and will be a starter for some team soon.
Add this all to the fact that you just hired a head coach with no head coaching experience, who was the offensive coordinator for a 4-12 team that finished 31st in the NFL in total offense last year. Oh, and by the way, the 49ers scored 27 points today in their first game without Mike McCarthy.
Maybe this is all just me trying to rationalize the inevitable 3-13 season. It certainly doesn't make me feel any better. I've never taken drugs, but if anyone wants to suggest some, I'm taking recommendations. And I also want to announce that I have a Packer jersey for sale - it's in good condition, except for being thrown to the ground and stomped on repeatedly.