What’s Next in Green Bay?
The Green Bay Packers wrapped up their season against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday with an abomination of a game. The Falcons poured into the Packers for a full 60 minutes, to finish with a 44-21 victory.
Even though that is a three possession game, the game was even more lopsided than what the score shows.
Being a proud Wisconsinite, and fan of the Packers, it was hard to watch. However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have doubts going into the game or through the entire playoffs for that matter.
This had to do with the numerous injuries that have accumulated for the Packers, the swiss cheese that they call a defense, and the lack of motivation in clutch time.
As my social media filled with fans who were in “disbelief” at how this mighty team had fallen so hard, I just sat back and tried to figure out why everyone thought they were so mighty to begin with.
This team has provided so much hope and even more disappointment in the last eight years.
Sure they won a Super Bowl in 2010, but we are talking about a team that has been to three Conference Championships in seven years, and been a perennial pick to have a chance to raise the Lombardi Trophy.
They have had the benefit of having a possible top-5 all time quarterback, who can wear down a defense like no one else can.
Yet, they have fallen short time and time again. So what exactly needs to change?
Let me give you some ideas:
Since 2009, the Packers have played in 16 playoff games, and they are 9-7 in those games. In those 16 games, the defense has given up a total of 6,190 yards (386.9 YPG), and 423 points (26.4 PPG).
To put those numbers in perspective, if you put those as their numbers this season, they would rank 28th in YPG and tied for 26th in PPG. Simply put, these are awful numbers.
All year, Packer fans rip on Mike McCarthy and call for him to be fired, but he is not the one calling the defense. Dom Capers is running a defense that is far beyond what his team is capable of at times.
To his credit, this defense loses an unfathomable amount of starters each year. However, that is not an excuse enough to play the way they are/have.
This postseason, the Packers drew one of the worst draws of Wide Receiver talent possible. They faced off against Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, and Julio Jones. With all of the injuries in the secondary, especially to Sam Shields early this year, that left LaDarius Gunter as the top cornerback. So the second-year, un-drafted player had to face off each week against some of the top receivers in the game. Beckham had a very quiet game, but Bryant and Jones lit up Gunter. Bryant finished with 9 catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Jones followed that up with 9 catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Then there is the other option at corner in Demarious Randall. He constantly is playing well off his man and looks like he is unsure of what to be doing.
Capers either needs to tailor his defense to fit his player’s skill sets or the Packers need to get rid of him.
2. Free Agency
These two words almost seem to be taboo in the Green Bay Front Office. You could count on one (maybe two) hand(s) how many key free agent signings the Packers have made. Two big ones that come to mind are Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson.
However, each year, they seem to lean towards picking up a gaggle of un-drafted free agents to back up their starters or even to fill holes where their stars aren’t. This has also been a part of the constant disappointment the team causes its fans.
Julius Peppers was part of the answer to requests fans were making for the team to add a pass rusher opposite of Clay Matthews. With Peppers set to be a free agent, it should be time to let him go and bring in some new blood.
The secondary has had some good drafted players, but one or two key free agents to provide veteran presence could take them to the next level.
3. The Jugular
The Green Bay Packers have a nickname, “The Heart Attack Pack”, and as fans in Wisconsin know, they sure live up to it.
The Packers have a nasty habit that has separated them from the being as great as they could be. That habit is hitting the cruise control when they get up by 14 or more points. The most recent version of this was against the Cowboys. A 21-3 lead in the second quarter seemed to be enough for them as they settled into a run game.
For those that are unaware, the Packers run game was surviving on a heavy dose of Ty Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, and some Christine Michael and Aaron Rodgers. So it leads to a lot of three-and-out series.
Thanks to this coasting style of offense, the Packers blew the lead and narrowly escaped Dallas with a win.
The Falcons showed Green Bay what a team should do with a lead this past weekend, as they continued to score even after a 31-0 start.
Perhaps they can take some of this information into account this upcoming season.
Malachi David is a contributor here at MFST, you can follow him on Twitter: @SportReportMD