Blog Entry

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

Posted on: March 18, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 10:35 am
Posted by Andy Benoit

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In the postseason, this 10-6 number six seed got white hot and wound up bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home. Aaron Rodgers played the quarterback position as masterfully as anyone in the last five years. In three of Green Bay’s four playoff games, Rodgers threw three touchdowns and posted a passer rating above 110. The offense was aided by the emergence of running back James Starks, who helped lend balance to Mike McCarthy’s de facto spread West Coast system. But with the way Green Bay’s passing game was clicking, a backfield feature Gilbert Brown Frank Winters probably could have sufficed.

It’s easy to play offense when you have a defense that surrendered more than 20 points in only three games all season. Dom Capers was brilliant in concocting a byzantine 3-4 scheme built around the versatility of rover Charles Woodson, pass-rushing prowess of Clay Matthews, athleticism of corners Sam Shields and Tramon Williams and strength of the B.J. Raji-led front line.

Success, depth
NFL Offseason

Backup receivers Jordy Nelson and James Jones both had 45-plus catches and 550-plus yards in 2010. Don’t expect that to be the case in 2011. Tight end Jermichael Finley will be healthy and once again manning the slot in three-and four-receiver formations. Finley, the team’s most lethal weapon, will be priority No. 1. (Note: With Nelson and Jones both on the rise, it’s possible that veteran Donald Driver could become the forgotten wideout.)

With Finley being versatile enough to line up anywhere, we’ll likely see more formation shifts from Green Bay before the snap. For a defensive coordinator, that’s a terrifying thought given how shrewd Rogers is already in the presnap phase.

Not to cop out, but there aren’t any. When you lead your conference in injuries, all holes on your roster will be exposed. Unless, of course, you somehow plug them again and again. That’s exactly what the Packers did in 2010. Consequently, this team is now two deep at every position.

Of course, if you want to push the issue, you could argue for:

1. Backup interior lineman
The Packers brass is said to be high on Marshall Newhouse, but the fifth-round pick from a year ago is yet to see the field. Veteran utility backup Jason Spitz is injury prone and not likely to be back.

2. Outside linebacker
Snatching someone who can start ahead of Clay Matthews wouldn’t be a bad idea if the right player is available. Because of injuries, Brad Jones, Brady Poppinga, Frank Zombo and Erik Walden all started games at this spot last season. The athletic Jones was the best of the bunch, but even he did not shine as a surefire first-stringer.

3. Defensive rover
Charles Woodson isn’t going to live forever. And the 34-year-old is somewhat injury prone, anyway. Replacing the über-versatile veteran is next to impossible, but if Ted Thompson sees a safety he likes (and Woodson is more of a safety than corner these days), he could give his likely future Hall of Famer an understudy. Jarrett Bush, of course, filled in admirably when Woodson was out during the second half of Super Bowl XLV, but Dom Capers still had to trim his playbook.

Anything short of a Super Bowl repeat would be a failure. Every time a team wins a title, scores of hackneyed pundits squawk about how we could be seeing the beginning of a dynasty. That sentiment actually feels true with these Packers.

Rodgers is in his prime. So is the rest of the offense, which happens to be stacked at all the skill positions. Defensively, Dom Capers is the best in the business when it comes to in-game adjustments and variations of 3-4 blitzes. Capers has all the pieces he had in 2010, which includes four Pro Bowlers plus ascending NT B.J. Raji.

The lockout helps the Packers more than most teams because they’re deep and their core has been together for three years now.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:30 pm

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 4, 2012 3:28 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:58 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:27 pm

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

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Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: April 15, 2011 10:47 am

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

Jesus christ man, there's a thing called the enter key..

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:26 am

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

 Come on, guys...please edit your work.

2. Outside linebacker
Snatching someone who can start ahead of Clay Matthews wouldn’t be a bad idea if the right player is available. Because of injuries, , , and all started games at this spot last season. The athletic Jones was the best of the bunch, but even he did not shine as a surefire first-stringer."

Getting a guy who can start "ahead" of Matthews would be one hell of an accomplishment.  Obviously, you mean opposite from Clay.  Easy mistake, I guess, but that's something you should catch. 

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 19, 2011 2:33 am

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

shame on me... the guy scores 2 TDs in the SB and I don't even mention him in that novel of a post.  Newsflash... This just in. Greg Jennings is a pretty good WR

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 19, 2011 2:18 am

Offseason Checkup: Green Bay Packers

I understand the Packers completed an unlikely Title run given they had 15 guys on IR, but it irks me that writers on sites like this write this stuff without thinking:
Rodgers is in his prime. So is the rest of the offense, which happens to be stacked at all the skill positions.

First sentence, true. Second sentence, not.  Here's why, without even trying that hard.
Skill Positions:RBs - Ryan Grant coming off a season-ending injury. What guarantee is there that he'll make it back 100%.  James Starks, while a nice story duirng the post-season was injured basically the whole regular season and spent signifcant portion of his college days on the sidelines nursing injuries.  Brandon Jackson is a role player. He can help in pass blocking and catch a screen pass. Not much threat rushing. Plus he's a FA. John Kuhn, while a nice hometeam hero type guy getting goal line carries and short yardage to pick up a 1st down serves no purpose when an actual RB is needed. Case in point, he made it on the field in the SB for the Victory formation plays at the end, and that was it. He's simply too slow to get much of anything vs a strong run D like Pittsburgh's and obviously Packers coaching/mgt knew it and didn't play him.  And after considering all these RBs, who's the star. there isn't any. Of course there doesn't need to be. This team is gonna pass a lot and everybody knows it...
WRs - As the article says, Donald Driver is nearing the end (umm that means not anything close to "in his prime" right). James Jones seems to be wanting to leave if any other team will pay a lot for plenty of potential, signs of nice talent, and somewhat regular case of butter-fingers including on big play opportunities.  TT wont pay big bucks for that.  Jordy Nelson could probably be the Packers #2 WR, but I don't expect he'll ever be a #1, which may bode well for the Packers keeping him long-term actually.  Jordy had a great SB, but clearly as a number 2, 3, or 4 WR depending upon what part of the game and what formation the offense was in (i.e. before or after DD went out  and whether or not JJ was on the field too).  In a normal 2 WR set, I wouldn't expect Jordy to get open nearly as much.  In fact he would probably do a disappearing act vs teams with decent corners. Perhaps he's still getting better. Perhaps once given a chance to be a #2 he will prove himself.  I hope so. Brett Swain, simply not going to become a major player here. Late draft picks sometimes do, but if it was gonna happen for him, probably would have already. 
TE - Finley is nimble like a WR, but also more injury prone than the avg TE because of that. I just get this feeling the guy will average like 10 or 12 games a season in his career.  Even at that, we'll take the upside, and hope there's no career-ending injury.  When TT drafted Andrew Quarless in the 5th round a lot of PAcker fans were dumbfounded and lashed out about why the heck a TE was drafted when we had plenty already.  Turned out to be a good move, including for the reason the article touched on.  Finley "might" have to exercise a little restraint when it comes time for a new contract considering the team has won it all without him.  Plus Tom Crabtree performed ok as a rookie TE and should come back better for having seen meaningful snaps this past season.
Linemen:OL - Hardly a group in its prime, and really a mix of well past prime and newer guys we're hoping will make good replacements (probably sums up most teams' O-lines in a way).  Vet T Chad Clifton miraculously made it through the season without injury. That won't happen again next year.  Vet T Mark Tauscher suffered his second season ending (and most likely career ending) injury in 3 yrs.  T.J. Lang enters his third season and we still wonder whether he can be relied on to start - at G or T. 1st Rd draft choice Bryan Bulaga enters his 2nd yr pegged to be a starter and cornerstone of this unit going forward. But saying he's in his prime is premature. Some of the other guys, ie those that have been starters are either past thier prime or there was no "prime" at all really they were 'aequate' once Aaron learned to get rid of the ball a little quicker - (recall in Aaron's first season as the starter he took like 50 sacks, majority, but certainly not all, were on the O-line).
Of course I'm not complaining, just pointing out some reality as compared to what was in this article.  This team does look poised to stay strong in years to come, but will need to continue making (mostly) good decisions in the draft to replenish depth and keep developing young players.  To remain an elite team there will be a need from time to time (we Packers fans dont expect this very often) to trade for or sign a marquee FA like a Charles Woodsen.  Heck, once every 5 or 6 years or so will do... 
And yes Defense - Dom's group will be stout with a little depth added in the draft too...  

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