The Packers didn’t come away with the victory they needed on Sunday to clinch a first-round bye and, as a result, will host the surging Vikings in the wild card round of the playoffs. Multiple changes need to be made on both sides of the ball before the Packers take the field against the Vikings for a second week in a row. To no one’s surprise, those changes start on defense.
Absences on defense are clear against the league’s best running back. With a weak interior presence in the linebacker corps, the Packers amassed 11 missed tackles on this year’s expected MVP, Adrian Peterson. Green Bay could surely use the services of veteran inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, who was injured during the preseason.
The Packers have a capable return specialist on the roster not named Randall Cobb. With only a handful of returns since taking over for Cobb, Jeremy Ross has done nothing but impress. If Ross doesn’t take over on one or both return units in the postseason, he’ll surely get his opportunity next season. Ross’s emergence comes at a convenient time as coaches and fans worry about the risk of injury to Cobb.
A typically strong Packers secondary is becoming suspect at the wrong time. Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Sam Shields made a pedestrian quarterback and his less-than-stellar receivers look good on Sunday. The return of Charles Woodson will certainly provide aid but the secondary must become more opportunistic and force turnovers in their second go at the Vikings.
DuJuan Harris is the hot hand in the Green Bay backfield. Harris has displayed impressive quickness and a better ability to cut runs upfield than his veteran counterpart, Ryan Grant. Despite his late-season success, it remains unclear if Harris can handle the workload that comes along with playing in cold weather, postseason conditions.