The Only Thing Stopping Green Bay From Being the Undisputed Best Team in the NFL this Year is…

Their inability to maintain a healthy roster throughout a full season. 

 

The 2015 Packers rolled into the Playoffs with 18 players (including 11 starters) on their injury report, and still managed to throttle the red-hot Redskins, and go into overtime against a strong Arizona Cardinals team, with a chance to play for a trip to the Super Bowl.

  

This is one of the most complete teams in the NFL, which was proven by the fact that even though they suffered through a “horrible” season due to injuries, they were still knocking on the door of yet another championship.

What’s scary for opponents, is that even with so much talent on the roster, the Packers still have areas that they can improve greatly.

They need to find a middle linebacker who will allow Clay Matthews to move back to the outside where he is so so dangerous rushing the passer. 

 

They also need to add a big body to the defensive line who will get push up the middle and help stuff the run.

Fortunately for them, this year’s draft is deep at both of those positions, and they have enough picks that they can either move up to get a guy they really like, or use multiple selections to add depth.

Ted Thompson has a great eye for talent, but those two positions have given him some grief in recent history.

One area that he has been very successful at filling is the defensive backfield.

Thanks to a very successful draft last year, and the few years before, the Packers have quite a few very talented and versatile d-backs on their roster.

Even with star cornerback, Sam Shields and strong safety, Morgan Burnett, suffering through injuries last year, the Packers backfield turned out to be one of their strengths. 

 

Rookies Demarious Randall and Quentin Rollins stepped up in a big way to help veteran safety, Micah Hyde, and 2nd year man, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, keep things under control. 

 

As this unit matures, it could be the foundation for what should be a very disruptive defense this upcoming season, and for many years to come.

Considering the fact, that at one point in the season, all 5 offensive lineman appeared on the Packers injury report, stud receiver Jordy Nelson missed the entire season, tight end Andrew Quarles missed most of the season, and numerous other offensive starters, including running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks missed time, Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an amazing season.

Yes, he did have downs, series, and even a game when he appeared completely absent, and sometimes he looked rattled under pressure, and a few of his throws just sailed off into thin air. 

What opponents don’t want you to mention, is that a lot of those throws were made with a banged up shoulder. 

 

Yet he still managed to throw for over 3,800 yards and 31 touchdowns.

The Packers could still consider drafting a quarterback in the mid to late rounds to provide some insurance and competition for 2nd year phenom Brett Hundley.

However, there is no doubt that the quarterback position is one of the Packers biggest strengths. 

With the addition of Jerad Cook, Rodgers and the Packers explosive offense suddenly become way more dangerous.

They now present opposing defenses with a matchup nightmare over the middle.  

 

Cook is too fast for a linebacker, and too big for most corners and safeties.

His presence will create more room for Nelson on the edges, and open up the underneath for Randall Cobb to work his magic out of the slot or as a running back.

Now, as the young players like Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, Jerad Abbrederis, Richard Rodgers, and hopefully, Davante Adams, continue to mature and develop their skills, they won’t have the full attention of opposing defenders.

Montgomery is a bigger and stronger version of Cobb. If his ankle continues to hold up, he should provide another versatile weapon who will keep defenses guessing. 

 

Janis is a bigger, stronger and faster version of Nelson. Now that he has apparently gained Aaron Rodgers trust, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he started to take on the role of a #1 receiver, and eventually became the focus of this offense.

Abbrederis has the potential to be special. He has struggled with injury and inconsistency in his first two years, but he has also shown flashes of the skill that made him a standout in college. When he is on, he is virtually uncoverable.

Richard Rodgers is more of a specialist, but he should continue to develop into a dominant red zone force, and provide a solid outlet for A-Rod.

Adams potential was so built up after his rookie year, that even a solid season as a #3 receiver seemed like a flop. With all the mouths Rodgers has to feed, the statistics probably won’t increase greatly, but I do expect a subtle leap in consistency. 

 

Most common fans are surprised to learn that the Packers were 6th overall in pass defense. Even when they do, they tend to give full credit to the secondary.

However, kudos also need to be handed out to the guys up front who put a massive amount of pressure on the quarterback.

We all know who Julius Peppers is, but few seem to realize that he very quietly stacked up 10.5 sacks this season, and had a number of game changing plays. 

 

Mike Daniels was the 3rd best DE in the league, behind J.J. Watt and Fletcher Cox, and offers a very determined attitude both on the field and in the locker room.

Datone Jones has been largely forgotten after a slow start to his career, but has quietly become a great source of quarterback pressure, and is becoming comfortable with his added role as a linebacker.

Then there is Clay Matthews who is such a dominant force, that opposing fans have stooped to trying to diminish his value by calling him overrated, but there is no doubt that it is  his high energy, and non-stop motor, that have this squad playing at such a high level.

The reason we love the NFL, is because you never can tell what a season will bring.

However, with a superbly talented roster, and the easiest schedule in the league, if they can keep their players healthy… 

 

This season should be a cakewalk for the Pack.

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