The money being paid to college football coaches is crazy. Michigan State’s Mel Tucker just signed a 10-year deal worth $95 million. He’s been a head coach for three seasons and has a career record of 17-14. Bill Belichick has won six Super Bowls with the Patriots and is making roughly the same $9.5 million a year for comparison’s sake. Anyway, here are some Packers-related thoughts that ran through my mind in recent days:
1) The Packers just can’t get through a game this season without suffering an injury to a key player. The latest to fall is Randall Cobb, who hurt his groin in Week 12 against the Rams. According to coach Matt LaFleur, the veteran wide receiver will be out for “a while.” Despite his relatively modest numbers (28 catches for 375 yards), the offense will miss Cobb. His five touchdowns are tied for second-most on the team, and he’s been playing his best football since tight end Robert Tonyan went on IR. Ideally, Amari Rodgers would be able to step in, but the rookie has shown no indication that he’s ready to take on a bigger role. So Green Bay will have to make do without a legitimate slot receiver until Cobb is healthy. Expect numerous players to fill that role, including Equanimeous St. Brown, who’s picked up his game recently.
2) Brian Gutekunst has made a concerted effort to get faster on defense since taking over as general manager in 2018. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary, safety Darnell Savage, corner Eric Stokes, and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell all have above-average speed for their respective positions. Now it’s time for Gutekunst to focus on the offense. Of the 14 skill players on the current 53-man roster, only St. Brown and soon-to-be free agent Marquez Valdes-Scantling possess above-average speed. That’s one of the reasons why the Packers have only 60 explosive plays in 12 games. For comparison’s sake, Arizona has 82 and Tampa Bay 77. Also, the best way to avoid struggling in the red zone is to score before entering it, but that’s hard to do with so few true gamebreakers on the field.
3) The Packers figure to be about $60 million above the cap in 2022, but at least they’ll be saving some money when it comes to bonuses. Eight players (safety Adrian Amos, left tackle David Bakhtiari, nose tackle Kenny Clark, kicker Mason Crosby, running back Aaron Jones, defensive end Dean Lowry, and outside linebackers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith) have Pro Bowl bonuses in their contracts totaling $2.25 million. Due to injuries and/or down seasons, only three have any chance of achieving the honor (Amos, Clark, and Preston Smith). So the Packers will pocket at least $1.5 million. By the way, we should all want someone to have the faith in us that Lowry’s agent has in him.