From R-E-L-A-X to “I think we can run the table”, Aaron Rodgers has shown the ability to say just the right thing at just the right time. This off-season, Rodgers has a message for the fans. I mentioned on Good Packer Nation Morning a few weeks back an interview that Rodgers did with Evan Daniels that was very insightful (big thanks to Phil). But with Rodgers…sometimes you have to read between the lines. Rodgers said that “Green Bay Packers fans should be really excited about the season and the possibilities”. What did he mean by that? Obviously, we can’t know all the nuances but it is a great point of discussion for a Packers fan-base that is closing in on the 2017 draft. Let’s break it down.
The Packers have made the playoffs eight years running and Aaron Rodgers has been a big part of that success. Running the table in 2016 to make the playoffs and then making it all the way to the NFC Championship game was a tall order and Rodgers’ comment did a lot to build the team’s confidence and help them believe. But the defense still did not have enough in the tank to get past the Falcons and the Falcons, even with a remarkable first half, could not get past the Patriots. So is Rodgers excited about the defense?
Rodgers said that the Packers “need a few more pieces” and one can only expect that he was referencing the defense with that caveat. The Packers defense ended Green Bay’s season and the off-season has not done much to change Packer Nation’s thinking about it. The re-signing of Perry and the addition of Francois and House certainly cannot be seen as enough to make up for the loss of Hyde, Jones and (though we spent most of the year without him anyway) Sam Shields. We certainly need more pieces on defense and the draft is the last place we can get it.
On offense, however, the situation is different. The Packers added Martellus Bennett and while TJ Lang went to the Lions and the Packers lost Eddie Lacy, there is still much to be excited about on a Packers offense that (like the defense with Shields) ran the table without Lacy.
The addition of Bennett must also have Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy excited. Remember when McCarthy first came to the Packers and the big story was how they were cross-training fullbacks and tight ends. McCarthy finally has the possibility of a serious threat not just with Bennett, but also with Kendricks who may very well be an upgrade from Richard Rodgers. Creativity on offense in creating sets that maximize matchups is one of McCarthy’s strengths and he is probably already at the white-board scratching out the possibilities.
Reading Between the Lines
So when Rodgers says that the fans should be excited, I believe him. We should be excited about the possibility of an offense that can average 30 points a game. We should be excited about Ty Montgomery with an entire off-season regimen as a running back. We may be better able to “matriculate the ball down the field” this year than we have in the recent past, which not only helps us put points on the board, but also takes more time off the clock. In the not so recent past, the Packers have been reliant on the quick-hit shot plays when receivers were singled up. With great tight end play, the offense can now peel linebackers on passing downs and create miserable matchups for defenses. Also, the addition of Bennett will help in pass protection with chip-blocks and in the running game.
The draft, in terms of the offense, is a matter of shoring up the line and bringing in a back to compete with Christine Michael or even Ty Montgomery (deep class) for the starting role or reps. The line may be a big more of an apprehension because it is hard to believe we can replace a pro-bowler right out of the draft or off the current roster. But the Packers replaced Josh Sitton and Ted Thompson has been able to find late round gems at the offensive line position so the situation is far from dire.
So Rodgers’ comments are pretty spot-on if you believe he is talking about the offense. And his statement that we need a few more pieces is accurate as well. This defense needs work but the draft this year could help us out greatly. Let’s run a live simulator and see if we can fulfill Rodgers’ expectation of a potent offense and an improved defense (against all odds perhaps) and get Packers fans really excited.
Live Draft Scenario
I a five-round live scenario on Fanspeak’s “On the Clock” with fan voted needs using the big board from Walter Football. Here is ow it went:
- With both Christian McCaffery and Dalvin Cook on the board. Forrest Lamp was gone though and the Packers need to address the pass rush early. My pick: TJ Watt, LB – Wisconsin (note: Tyus Bowser was also still on the board).
- Sydney Jones got picked up just a few picks before us to the Raiders in this round and of course, Cook and McCaffery got taken. I am looking cornerback here. At running back, Marlon Mack is still there but so is Mixon. Both Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson are still there, but so is Bowser. My pick: Quincy Wilson, CB – Florida
- Mixon is still on the board but I figure if he lasted this long….My pick: I take Cameron Sutton and go two straight on cornerbacks hoping for a running back or offensive lineman in the next round.
- Samje Perine is still there so I may draw a LOT of hate for this one for several reasons but…My pick: Joe Mixon, RB – Oklahoma
- 5a. In this round, Vince Biegel goes to the Cardinals and Jalen Robinette to the Texans. My pick: Jordan Morgan, G – Kutztown (interesting note: Troy Fumagali is available). OK, OK, I said five rounds but this is too much fun! Here are the rest of the picks as a bonus!
- 5b. Ryan Glasgow, DL – Michigan. With Biegel gone, trying to bring in more big guys.
- 6. Sam Tevi, OT – Utah
- 7. Josh Tupou, DL – Colorado
This draft would hopefully make Aaron Rodgers happy, fill the needs on defense and bring in a potential feature back. A few big bodies shouldn’t hurt either. Hopefully the Packers have a draft similar (better?) to this and Packer Nation will have a lot to be excited about in the draft in a couple weeks.