Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

19 Jul 2011

ESPN: Packers Will Own 2014-2016

ESPN asked a bunch of us ESPN-associated writers which team we picked as the most set up to win from 2014-2016. After consulting with the FO staff, I went with Green Bay, which has a lot of young talent and has younger players in line to replace its most important older players (Shields for Woodson, Nelson for Driver, Sherrod for Clifton). We also thought about the Rams, Patriots, and Bucs, who all get votes from others. John Clayton goes with the team Ben Muth wanted me to pick: "Whoever gets Andrew Luck."

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 19 Jul 2011

23 comments, Last at 26 Jul 2011, 7:12pm by tuluse


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 4:35pm

Interesting that no-one considered New England. The best run franchise of the past decade and they've been stockpiling draft picks these past couple of years. If those guys come through they'd all be in their prime and just at the end of their rookie contracts.

Possibility that Brady will have retired but could still be hanging in there, and the Pats didn't seem to do too bad when Cassell stepped in at QB having not played since high school.

Basically if Belichick is still there, I rate him good enough to keep the Pats contenders.

by tuluse :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 4:58pm

Following the "well run franchise" rule what about the Steelers? Roethlisberger will be 32-34 which should be right on the end of his prime and the beginning of his decline which should make him still a fine QB. They've had a good defense forever and probably will continue to have one. Finally, I think Mendenhall is going to be really good and he should still be effective.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 6:59pm

Both the Steelers and Patriots got votes. The 24 vote panel only gave 6 votes to the Packers. The Steelers got 3, good for a tie for 4th place. The Patriots got one vote. There were only 9 teams that got votes so I guess that tie them for 9th. :)

by tuluse :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 7:58pm

I assumed this was an insider only piece since it had the "ESPN" label, and was just conjecturing.

I like all the top 5 except the Falcons. I think the kings ransom they gave up for Julio Jones is a huge misstep and I don't see the foundation in place to build a reliable defense there. Plus, I don't think Matt Ryan is Peyton Manning where he can just carry the team.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 3:28pm

Yup - you're right ... I missed that one vote for the Patriots ... KC Joyner picked them.

Agree about the Steelers particularly as Roethlisberger should have matured a little further and be in his prime.

by Elroy44 (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 4:56pm

I remember prior to the 2001 season, Joel Buchsbaum(friend of BB's) surveyed NFL insiders and declared the Patriots least likely to have any success in the near term future.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 7:39pm

In 2001, no one expected Kraft to use his KGB connections to cheat his way to three Super Bowls.

by i-says-to-maybel (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 5:16am


by justanothersteve :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 8:05am

Who knew Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had anything to do with the Patriots? Talk about connected!

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Tue, 07/26/2011 - 7:09pm

KGB's tell is when he eats the oreo.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 07/19/2011 - 5:02pm

The fact that Sam Bradford and Andrew Luck (regardless of how good he looks to be) beat Josh Freeman in the QB votes makes my mancrush-saturated heart weep with manly tears. OK, well, maybe "reasonably manly" tears.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 3:33pm

Yeah, Bradford and Luck might do it someday, but Freeman is doing it right now. As we speak. Seriously, if I had to bet on which team will ascend most remarkably in the next few years (ascend, not continue to be good) I would bet on TB just because of Freeman. That's a losing team without him - if they get more pieces in place, they could do some real damage...

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 07/21/2011 - 2:15pm

It's not just about the quarterbacks, though - also worth considering are the likely ongoing strength of the Saints and Falcons, and the question marks over the extent to which the Bucs are willing and able to give Freeman the supporting talent he needs. I like the Rams to win their division year in and year out. I can't say the same for the Bucs, however good Freeman is.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 1:24pm

Tampa does have some interesting young players, but people are way too high on them. Their record was inflated by playing the terrible AFC/NFC West's last year and by 2014-2016 their Best Defensive Player may be sitting in Jail.

In reality, the entire NFC South is being overhyped based upon their easy schedules last year.

-Other than Ryan, Atlanta only has 1 known player maker on Offense (White) and their best Pass Rusher might be reitred by 2014 (Abraham).

-By 2014 Brees will be starting to get old (35) and they still lack true stars on Defense.

by Joseph :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 2:20pm

Um, didn't the Saints win the SB TWO years ago, not because of an easy sched. LAST year??
Re: ATL--what about Michael Turner? Julio Jones (I know he's a rookie, but if he pans out, he'll be entering his prime in 2014)? And who says that they have to have "known play(er--sic)-makers"? Other teams' players are more well known because they're either in bigger markets, or their teams have made deep playoff runs, or they've played on national TV more. Doesn't mean they're better.
RE: TB--Freeman played great last year--with ROOKIE WR's, and an UDFA carryng the running game. As a Saints' fan, it pains me to say it, but barring injuries, they will be good together for a long time.

BTW, QQ, you must be a Skins fan, because Snyder has proved that getting a bunch of "names" and "stars" together is the way to go. Or was that Jerry Jones?

by chemical burn :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 3:30pm

I'm actually interested to see what happens with the NFC South this year because I really did feel like TB, NO and ATL had their records inflated by an exceptionally easy schedule that included the NFC West and Carolina twice. They didn't just play a slew of mediocre teams, but 5 games against notably awful teams. And then NO getting bounced by Seattle in the first round just made the whole situation look worse.

I THINK NO, ATL and TB will all have good teams this year, but how good? That 5 game swing makes it seem tough to tell if ATL is really 14-2 good... or a more reasonable 10-6 kinda good? TB seems like a .500 team but who knows - Freeman is good enough they could make the jump to bona fide playoff contender. NO has been unpredictable basically since Payton took over...

by trill :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 3:53pm

It's true that the NFCS didn't play a tough slate last year, and ATL squeaked out some close wins over teams that should have beat them (GB and BAL especially). But 1. injuries were a major factor for TB (on defense) and NO (running backs), 2. all three teams addressed needs well in the past two drafts; even if you think ATL overpaid for Jones, they needed help at WR, 3. CAR still sucks and I don't know that the NFCE or W will be strong enough to send two teams to the playoffs.

I think this is a serious bounce-back year for the Saints; Brees was dealing with a knee injury in 2010 that gravely affected his downfield accuracy, they should have at least one healthy RB, and 2010 1st rounder Patrick Robinson will hopefully step in for Jabari Greer as #2CB. TB and ATL will duke it out for second place, but both could end up with 10 wins and wild card spots. NFCS and NFCN are the class of the conference, IMO.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 9:05pm

Do RB injuries really affect NO? They pass 64% of the time, and that includes when Brees scrambles and accidentally creates a rush.

by trill :: Thu, 07/21/2011 - 11:46am

They probably would have called more runs in 2010 if they could hand the ball off to someone who wasn't a street FA or Julius Jones. In 09 they were top 5 in DVOA rushing; they take a lot of deep shots and use a ton of funky formations, but when everything's clicking they're a pretty balanced squad.

Having #'s 1-3 on your depth chart injured (plus your starting FB), regardless of position, is a huge blow for any team. They were playing Chris Ivory (rookie UFA), Julius Jones (cut by the Seahawks!), and DeShawn Wynn (street FA) late in the year, with LaDell Betts in on most passing downs. Didn't just affect their play-calling and results on standard runs; also limited screen game, pass protection, and production on checkdowns.

Nobody likes Reggie Bush except the Saints coaching staff, but dude is important to their scheme. Maybe not $8m/yr important, but one could make the argument. Thomas is the same deal, except much more consistent and less explosive. Without a back that can do a little bit of everything, their offense sputters.

by mm (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2011 - 12:41pm

The Saints' rushing DVOA:

2009: 17.6%, 1st in the league
2010: -5.9%, 25th in the league.

The running back injuries had a huge impact on the team.

by trill :: Wed, 07/20/2011 - 3:29pm

Neat idea but a little silly. 2014-2016? We don't even know where 2011's FA class will land, what draft picks will hold out, who'll tear an ACL in training camp. The entire complexion of the league could be different by 2014; this article is just speaking to which franchises seem to have the best managerial/organizational structure, or which ones appear to be building for the future.

And since when is 6/25 a consensus?

by PantsB (not verified) :: Mon, 07/25/2011 - 10:04am

So John Clayton is an idiot. The team in best position is the one that drafts a player who not only has never played a snap in the NFL, but who has a grand total of 2 collegiate seasons under his belt. This is a QB who is consensus #1 pick next year, so the team he goes to will be terrible and he'll be unproven.

by tuluse :: Tue, 07/26/2011 - 7:12pm

Aren't most draft picks players who haven't played in the NFL?