It's not something any coach or general manager would care to admit publically. Namely, they're responsible for a team that's gone soft and small. But some people close to Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson say the Green Bay Packers' football leaders have freely acknowledged that perception in private over the past three months, and now are bound and determined to do something about it. Finding bigger, more physical players for their 53-man roster should be the overriding theme for what the Packers attempt to accomplish in the upcoming draft. One look at the schedule should tell you that. Heaven help the Packers if they think their finesse offense and underpowered defense will enable them to win road games against San Francisco, Baltimore and the New York Giants in the first 10 weeks of the season. There's just one way to beat those teams. You either get bigger, get stronger and get tougher, or you take your whipping and head back home. It was no surprise that the Packers did little to their roster in the off-season. But two of the players they did add, and another they appeared to want but weren't able to secure, suggest that McCarthy and Thompson are serious about making changes. In early March, defensive end Johnny Jolly's suspension was lifted by the league and the Packers took him back for the one-year minimum. Three years away from football is an eternity, especially for a player who's 30 years old. Long shot though Jolly might be, his physical dimensions and characteristics make him a gamble worth taking. Jolly, 6 feet 3 inches and 325 pounds when seen last, had his best season in 2009 before his drug demons knocked him from the game. The Packers haven't stopped the run worth a darn in the last three years, but in his 835 snaps at left end in the first year of the 3-4 defense Jolly played an integral role in the team's No. 1-ranked run defense. For too long, Dom Capers has been asked to operate with too-short defensive linemen. The Packers still need five-techniques stretching 6-4 or 6-5, but Jolly is a giant compared to the squatty likes of Ryan Pickett, Mike Daniels, Jerel Worthy and B.J. Raji. Equally as important, Jolly brought attitude. He was fierce on Sundays, an unsmiling butt-kicker with a snarling demeanor that his old defense seems to have lost along the way. Two weeks ago, McCarthy flabbergasted me by agreeing to add a base-blocking tight end in Matt Mulligan. Now Mulligan might not even make the team. It's a crowded field, and he probably wouldn't be needed if Andrew Quarless' rebuilt knee holds up and he can regain his aggressive run-blocking form of 2010. But kudos to McCarthy for giving a non-athletic tight end like Mulligan an extended look. The coach probably got sick of seeing his sleek tight ends get beat in short-yardage and some base runs. He also is more than aware that a key reason why the offense took off late in the year was the rise of the run game. There are few, if any, true blocking tight ends in this draft. It's much more difficult than you might think to find a tight end that can block the defensive end one-on-one, but that's what Mulligan (6-4, 260) has done. There's nothing more invigorating for an offense than to smash-mouth it successfully on third and 1. On the other hand, there's nothing more deflating than getting stuffed on a short-yardage run or having to admit weakness and line up in spread every other time.
Packers still too soft to be favorites
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Apr 21