The Green Bay Packers head into 2014 having won the past three NFC north titles, and making the playoffs for five consecutive seasons going back to 2009. They have arguable the best quarterback in the game in Aaron Rodgers, an up-and-coming superstar in Eddie Lacy, and insane talent at the wide receiver position. They added a huge pass rushing presence on defense with their Julius Peppers signing and drafted the best safety in May in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Both men should factor in quickly to help improve the Packers 24th ranked defense. With a top tier offense and a defense on the rise, what do the cheese heads have to look forward to in 2014? Let's check it out in the Green Bay Packer addition of the good, the bad, and the ugly!
THE GOOD: Wide Receiving Corps
After the Denver Broncos, the Packers have arguably the best stable of receivers in the league. Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, and Jarrett Boykin could all go to another team an immediately improve the wide out squad. Not only do they have a top three to be feared, but then the Pack added in Davante Adams in the second round and a dark horse in the seventh round in Jeff Janis. When Randall Cobb was injured and missed a majority of the 2013 season, both Nelson and rookie Boykin -and former Packer and now Raiders number one James Jones- stepped up and combined for 1455 yards and 8 touchdowns. Oh yeah and aisde from no Cobb to roll
coverage, the best quarterback in the NFL Aaron Rodgers, was out because of injury as well in 8 out of those 9 games. If Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy, last year was his first season missing time since becoming the starter in 2008, then watch out for Green Bay's receiving machine in 2014.
THE BAD: Backup Quarterback
When Aaron Rodgers did go down in that broken clavicle on Monday night against Chicago, you could have heard a pin drop anywhere in Wisconsin. Not since pre Brett Favre way back in 1991 have Packers fans had to hold their breathes while a backup quarterback tried to keep their team in a playoff race. In 2013 Rodgers took 592 snaps in his 8 full games, while the three men who tried to replace him -Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, and Seneca Wallace- combined for 549 snaps in their 8. Rodgers threw for an additional 536 yards and 9 touchdowns. Add in the fact that the backups threw 5 more interceptions and were sacked an additional 3 times and it's easy to see why losing Rodgers for any period of time is the worst thing that can happen to the Packers. I mean when you bring in Vince Young for a try out as the number two you know you're in big potential trouble.
THE UGLY: Tight End Situation
For as solid as the Packers are at every offensive skill position, Rodgers at quarterback, the receiving corps, and 2013 offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy running the ball, it's hard to believe they have a flaw on that side of the ball, but that's exactly what the tight end situation is. Since Rodgers became the starter in 2008 the Packers have had a tight end finish in the top 10 only once, Jermichael Finley finished 9th in 2011. There could have been worse options in the end game than Finley, but after his scary neck injury in 2013, his career was in jeopardy. Although he is trying to make a comeback the Packers more than likely will move on, but on to who? Profootballfocus.com had both Finley (-2.8) and his replacement Andrew Quarless (-5.1) ranked in the bottom half of their tight end overall rankings. Only the Baltimore tandem of Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark scored worse as a team duo. The Packers drafted tight end Richard Rodgers out of Cal, but he looks to be just another average at best tight end in this league. If the Packers invested in a great tight end then this offense would be damn near impossible to stop. Just imagine a Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski on this team. Packers fans will just have to dream for now.
The Packers have many strengths. Many more than they do weaknesses. If this team can stay healthy and players like Boykin and Lacy can step up and take that next step in their sophomore seasons than the pack should have no problem putting up points and moving the ball down field. Even in a stacked NFC north, the Packers are still the favorites to win the division and should be in line for a deep playoff run and real shot at a second Super Bowl championship under coach Mike McCarthy and the elite Aaron Rodgers.