The full-length transcript for the press conference held by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert has not been released yet, but I still wanted to get some of my thoughts out as soon as possible. Here are several takeaways I had from the season-concluding press conference:
First, let's get to the quarterback situation. You can twist and turn what Holmgren said however you'd like, but the fact of the matter is this: other than the fact that Colt McCoy won't be anointed the starter at this point in time, we don't know what the team's quarterback situation is going to be next year. Holmgren went as far as to say "competition will take place" in training camp at the quarterback position, meaning that even if McCoy and Seneca Wallace remain the two most experienced guys on the roster, reps will be split up near the beginning of camp. Holmgren said that a starter should be in place prior to the third preseason game.
Holmgren said the team will bring in another quarterback, simply because that is something he likes to do every year with a team. Whether that quarterback is a free agent, a draft pick, or an undrafted free agent, we'll have to wait and see. Heckert was asked about the possibility of bringing in a free agent quarterback, to which Heckert responded, "It's probably not the way we're gonna go, but you never know." I don't think you can rule out the possibility of a Matt Flynn (or Peyton Manning, heh) coming here, but it was surprising to hear Heckert lean toward the direction of "no" versus just being vague.
Don't try to fish for any news or nuggets on free agents. Due to league rules, neither Holmgren nor Heckert could really comment on their interest in free agents or the status of their own free agents. When asked about Jackson, Heckert said the following:
"We'd like to have all our good players back. We have numerous free agents, and we like a lot of them. We're gonna try our best to get most of these guys done. But time will tell on that."
Don't overreact to the comments which emphasized that the team plans on continuing to build more through the draft than via free agency. That is the case with almost every team, unless you're the post-Heckert Eagles (and we all saw how that turned out). Still, based on what was said, I feel confident that the team will sign two premiere players. By that, I mean I think they will sign two position players who are anticipated to start. One of those could be a right defensive end. Another one could be a linebacker. I think the team wants to build on offense in the draft, and whatever needs remain defensively, they'll take care of in free agency.
I don't get the feeling that Holmgren has had any second thoughts in his decision to hire Shurmur. Maybe that is because Shurmur is not an experienced coach and can be "molded" the way Holmgren wants him to be. Says Holmgren:
"I know this about the man who's coaching this football team: He is good, he is smart and he will do what he has to do in a very unselfish way to get the team going in the right direction. And if that means hiring a coordinator or giving up the play calling, whatever that means — and I'm not telling you right now how that's all gonna come down — but I'm just saying Pat is very willing to do whatever it takes. Now that in itself is a healthy, good sign to me."
They don't want to narrow the field of candidates by saying Shurmur will exclusively call plays, and that is another good sign. You get to a point where you want a certain philosophy in place. Even though the offense sucked, the players on offense should have a much greater level of familiarity with the style of offense Shurmur intends to run. Now you are at the point where a different playcaller can do that role, freeing up Shurmur for more important in-game decisions and strategy.
Holmgren also stated that the team did not interview Brad Childress last year, but that he would not comment on who the team would be interviewing this offseason.
When asked about trading up or down to acquire draft picks, Heckert seemed to be against that. They made a point to say that their philosophy was to do that last year (which they did), in order to use those picks in 2012. They currently have nine draft picks, and they are content with them. Having the fourth overall pick in the draft, Heckert said, "It's gonna be tough to screw that one up, I think." I think whoever is available at pick No. 4 will be someone they have rated extremely high on their draft board.
Lastly, here is a good one from when Holmgren was asked about the Super Bowl. He also seemed to stress the importance of having a certain year in which you definitively find the quarterback who is "the guy:"
"It’s one of those things like trying to find a ceiling on a player. I can only tell you based on my experience. In Green Bay, it took us five years but we found a quarterback in the first year. In Seattle, it took us 7 years, but we didn’t find a quarterback until year three. Every place is different. What I expect is to be a much improved football team next year, record wise and everything. When we get into the playoffs then you can make a better timetable to get to the Super Bowl. You want to develop a playoff caliber team."