Letters To LeRoy Butler


What do you think the Packers should do from here? Should they focus the off-season on their defense, drafting some help for their receivers, or something else? Finally who was the MVP of the Packers this year: Favre, Walker, Green, Rivera, or someone else? - Aaron (Brandon, SD)

First off, the MVP of the Green Bay Packers in 2004 would have to be Javon Walker. He was the most consistent player the whole season. From day one, he was the guy and he just had a phenomenal year.

As for the offseason, I think the Packers will focus on reworking the defense in free agency and in the draft. They've got to get the defense together because it's been a long-term problem throughout the season.

I think an impact player or two on the defensive side of things could make a big difference for the Packers in 2005.

LeRoy, it seemed that KGB was most effective this year on third down where he created all sorts of havoc. Would it make sense to play him mostly on 3rd down or maybe 2nd & 3rd? - Teddy (Brimfield, MA)

I think the more opportunities Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila gets, the more sacks he will get. I think he should be on the field until he gets tired. I don't see any reason to making him a third down specialist because he is an every-down player.

A guy like him can go off at any time and get you three or four sacks in one game. I think you should leave him in until he raises his hand and asks to come off for a rest.

Hi LeRoy, I would like to have your opinion on an issue in the NFL. It seems that the players in the NFL that seem to cause the most "trouble" are wide receivers. Examples: Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, Joe Horn. Why do you think it is those folks at that position and not those at other positions? - Derek (Negaunee, MI)

Well, wide receiver is a flamboyant position by nature. It's always a "me-first" attitude that the top receivers bring to the game. Receivers thrive on catching passes and getting into the heads of the defensive backs that they're going up against.

Half of the battle in those positions is mental. You have to have a certain cockiness and belief that you can go out and make a big play at any time in order to be among the best receivers in the business.

However, even though the Packers have some of the best receivers in the game, you haven't seen Javon Walker and Donald Driver do the things that some of the guys you mentioned have done, they have been known for some great celebrations after they score or make a big play.

Hi LeRoy, I just wanted to thank you for all your insight during the year. Also, I wanted to congratulate you on predicting the keys to winning the Viking playoff game. I read your thoughts (after the game) and you were right on target. You said that turnovers were going to be the key to the game and boy you could not have been any more accurate. Take away the 4 interceptions and it's a different game. However, what do you feel is the starting point for re-building the defense? The Packers can not go into another season having to rely on shootouts to win games. Thanks for your thoughts!! - Scott (New Haven, CT)

I would definitely start by being a big player in the free agent market, as well as by focusing heavily on the defense in the draft. I would try to sign some of the top free agent safeties and linebackers, and I would also bolster the depth by bringing in some more defensive backs to compete for spots.

This is going to be a very important offseason for the Packers as far as getting things together on defense. I agree with you - I got tired of saying every week that Packers might have to score 35 or 40 points to win. It's tough to rely so heavily on one part of your team and still expect to win.

Free agency is going to be critical for the Packers in 2005. If you look at some of the top teams, not only do they draft well, but they make important signings that fill out their rosters.

Every young aspiring athlete has role models and favorite teams as they grow up. As a professional athlete do you find it hard to compete against a team that you were loyal to as a child? I know that as long as you are getting the experience to play sports as a job anything is amazing but does that loyalty from childhood carry over and how does it affect players? - Katie (Dubuque, IA)

Growing up I was a big, big, big Dallas Cowboys fan. When I got drafted by the Packers and we went to Texas Stadium to play the Cowboys in 1993, I was in awe of the place where so many of my heroes played when I was growing up.

But later on in my career, the Cowboys were the team that I wanted to beat the most. It's always fun to play against the team you grew up rooting for, but your allegiances change a lot when you're actually part of a team, especially a great one like the Green Bay Packers.

Hey, LeRoy! Thanks for keeping us informed all season! Question for you: What the heck happened to the Pack's offense Sunday? Why did they feel the need to move away from what has worked for them all along (short passes, first downs, clock management) when there was so much time left in the game? It seemed like they were trying to chuck it for a quick score constantly. - Matt (River Falls, WI)

When you get behind 17-0 in the first quarter, you have to make some changes to the gameplan. You feel like you have to score quickly and get back into the game.

I wouldn't say the Packers totally went away from running the ball and throwing short passes (Ahman Green ran the ball 20 times and Brett Favre completed nine passes to the running backs), but once you're down you've got to score as quickly as possible.

Hey LeRoy, In the upcoming draft we all know we are going to go straight for defense. Where do you think should be our first move? And also we haven't picked up any big free agents in the last couple years besides big Grady do you think we should look into that this year? - Eric (Lakewood, WA)

As I said before, I expect the Packers to be heavily involved in the free agent market this offseason. I think the Packers should be looking at safety and linebacker with their top picks in April and in free agnecy, in that order. I would go safety first and linebacker second.

I think the safety position is a place where you need to have depth. Bhawoh Jue is going to be a free agent and who knows what other changes are going to be made in the secondary.

Linebacker depth is something the Packers definitely need, as was shown when Hannibal Navies and Na'il Diggs had injuries this season. If they can get an impact linebacker - inside or outside - they would definitely have to take a look at them.

It would be great to get a linebacker with speed, size, and quickness and a safety with range, great ball-skills and that can tackle. Like I said, this team is just a few impact players away on defense from being a serious contender.

I've really enjoyed your column and have always found it to be educational and interesting. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective with all of us. Will you be writing it again next season? - Peggy (Bloomer, WI)

I really hope so. I love doing it. I love expressing to the fans why the Packers win and I even like helping you all see why they lose. I love being able to give a little bit of insight from a different perspective.

I also really enjoy reading your e-mails every week. I get to see how happy or how frustrated you are and it's a riot. I'm definitely looking forward to doing this again next year and I'll talk to you again when the preseason starts in only seven months.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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