Better ‘D’ best bet for Packers

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Michael Hunt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Monday, April 30, 2012
— In the 16th hour and third day of a three-day, 16-hour NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers acknowledged their offense.

Why, I’m not sure.

“Clearly, it was the best offense I’ve ever been a part of,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

So how is it possible to tweak, upgrade or otherwise advance the state of the 2011 juggernaut that broke things with extreme prejudice and created absurdly wide swaths?

“Run the ball more,” McCarthy said.

Like a standup comedian awaiting the punch-line response, McCarthy paused long enough to say, “That was a joke.”

Yes, we get it, the passing is great… great... great … great … great.

“Great” became the byword of the day after the evangelistic seventh-round draft pick, quarterback B.J. Coleman, used it about seven dozen times in five minutes to describe his new employer.

“He was clearly the most excited of the eight young men on the phone,” McCarthy said. “He said he was going to be the best pick ever made in Green Bay. I told him there have been some pretty good ones.”

It was good to see the coach in one of his happy moods, the one he typically reserves for behind the scenes. And why shouldn’t he be ecstatic?

Even if he is an offensive guy who calls the plays, McCarthy lost the chance for a second consecutive Super Bowl last season because the defense was as offensive as the offense was … well, you know.

Take it away, B.J.

For the better part of three days, McCarthy watched his general manager actually trade up to draft six consecutive defensive players. What coach could ask for more? All fit obvious holes, no matter what Ted Thompson offered for public consumption.

“It’s not a reflection of needs,” Thompson said. “It’s just the way things shook out.”

That’s CIA Ted for you. Under duress, he might admit to darkness at midnight.

OK, then what about trading up this year?

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I’m ashamed. I’m not my father’s son anymore.”

Of course, no one will know for some time if any of those six defensive picks can play. Point is, the league’s worst defense has only one possible direction to go. Thompson’s intentions were spot-on before he used the back end of the draft to throw the offense a couple of bones.

And even offensive tackle Andrew Datko and Coleman blend well for the losses of Chad Clifton and Matt Flynn. Outside of maybe another running back, which is what free agency is for, what more could the Packers possibly need on offense?

The only real question is whether Donald Driver’s football career is over just as he is cultivating new professional opportunities on the dance floor.

“Oh, I’d never speculate on something like that,” Thompson said. “He’s dancing, and doing good, too.”

After initially offering a “ditto” to his boss’ comment, McCarthy couldn’t help himself. His spirits were right up there with fourth-round pick Jerron McMillian’s vertical leap.

“I don’t know why it’s so hard for a man to admit he watches ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” McCarthy said.

Unless Thompson whiffed badly, the Packers are going to get a new outside rush linebacker opposite Clay Matthews to get to quarterbacks who were largely untouched last season. They got a lot of interior defensive bulk to help stop teams from running over them. They may have found a safety to step in for Nick Collins.

Naturally, these are all theoretical fixes at the moment, but the Packers will have the rookie camps the lockout denied them and 31 other teams last season. At least the six defensive newcomers will have a better chance to fill massive gaps in a defense that was light years south of Coleman’s favorite adjective.

“Our off-season program is the foundation of our success,” McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, the two offensive picks just might provide depth at the only real areas of semi-concern on that side of the ball.

On paper, the coach of a team picking from the Packers’ portion of the draft couldn’t ask for a whole lot more.

Last updated: 8:02 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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