When fans hear the team name Green Bay Packers, they immediately think about one man. That man’s name is Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, the face of the franchise since he took the reins back in 2008, is still running the show in Lambeau.
As long as Rodgers is under center, the team will be seen as a pass first type of offense. Let’s just take a look at some of last year’s rankings to prove that point. In terms of total offense, the Pack ranked eighth in the NFL. Passing saw them rank seventh in the league, while they sat at twentieth in rushing. Their best ranking, however, comes in terms of scoring, as the club was ranked fourth in the category.
As we get ready for the start of a new NFL season, that appears to be the case once more. The club added two tight ends that will help on both sides of the offense, while they changed things around with the running backs. Put it all together and you get the outcome of Aaron Rodgers once again being the sheriff in town.
Let’s take a closer look at how the positions break down.
This team will live and die by Aaron Rodgers. The signal caller will enter this season at the age of 33, turning 34 a day before the team takes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 13. A season ago, he completed 401 of 610 pass attempts. 40 of those completions went for touchdowns, while seven were picked by the other team. At the end of the day, his yardage total fell just shy of 4,500, as he ended the season with 4,428 passing yards.
Last year saw the man who made the Discount Double Check famous start a bit slow. He did not have all of his favorite weapons and also dealt with his fair share of leg issues. But he ended the year on fire, as he threw nearly three touchdowns (on average) in the last 10 games. Despite the leg injuries, he still ran for a career high 369 rushing yards. But that was mainly because he was scrambling so much trying to find an open receiver.
With everyone entering this year healthy, the Pack will hope to have that momentum carry over. Rodgers can still do damage in the air and on the ground. And if he were to go down, look for Brett Hundley to enter the game as Packer fans hide their faces in their hands.
Eddie Lacy. Gone. Christine Michael. Gone. Don Jackson. Gone. James Starks. Gone.
The Green Bay Packers does return their leading rusher from a year ago, however, Ty Montgomery. Montgomery is a converted wide receiver who can be described as shifty and elusive. As a result, he ran for 457 yards on only 77 attempts a season ago. But as hard as he is to catch and tackle, he still has his flaws. Mainly, that comes from his size.
Since he is a smaller back, and as a result, is certainly injury prone. He suffered from a few bumps and bruised last season, and did miss one game against the Atlanta Falcons. As a result, the team went out and drafted three backs. Despite the heavy draft class, head coach Mike McCarthy has given Montgomery his vote of confidence as the team’s starter. For now.
Those three rookies include – Jamaal Williams (BYU), Aaron Jones (UTEP) and Devante Mays (Utah State).
Williams, a fourth round selection, is the prototypical physical runner. He projects to be the perfect complement to Montgomery’s speed, and could easily work out a nice role in the offense alongside the converted receiver. Jones, a fifth rounder, has a higher upside. He is more of a complete package, and could easily leapfrog both Montgomery and Williams at once. As for Mays, the seventh round pick thanks to a 2016 injury, is more of a power runner who has drawn comparisons to the likes of Chris Ivory and Brandon Jacobs.
The Green Bay Packers will once again have the same top three receivers. After missing the 2015 season and starting a bit slow in 2016, Jordy Nelson rounded into form at the close of last season. At the end of the day, he finished as the team’s leading receiver with 1,257 yards and 14 TDs on 97 receptions. He will once again be Rodgers’ go to target.
Davante Adams will return as the team’s number two outside threat and Randall Cobb will look to regain control of the slot. Adams has had his ups and downs in his short career, but there is no denying when he is on, he is really damn talented. He will look to become more consistent as he tries to reach that 1,000-yard mark after missing by only three yards a season ago.
As for Cobb, last season saw his stock drop a bit. He battled injuries, missing three games. His consistency was also an issue. He will need to re-prove himself, as the Green Bay Packers have a handful of younger guys trying to work their way up the ladder.
Geronimo Allison showed he is a capable NFL receiver last season, although his upside is limited. Jeff Janis will look to improve his game, after a down season. DeAngelo Yancey, a fifth rounder from Purdue, could emerge as a downfield threat, which could allow the team to play Jordy inside more. Malachi Dupre, drafted in the seventh round from LSU, is a bit of a project but has some upside. Finally, Trevor Davis is a player who tries to make plays with his speed.
Jared Cook left for Oakland, but the Green Bay Packers did not waste time in replacing him. With Richard Rodgers still in tow, the team went out and signed both Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. So for starters, you can probably expect a number of two tight end sets from the Cheeseheads this season.
Bennett has the potential to be the best tight end in town since Jermichael Finley about five seasons ago. He has had his shares of ups and downs in his career, but the talent is certainly there to be a solid weapon.
Not only will he prove to be another target for Rodgers, but he, along with whoever wins the two spot between the other two, will help in the blocking game. This should help open things up some for the run game. As a result, the club can be a little more reliant on both offensive threats.
The offensive line is likely to make or break the offense this season. They have battled their fair share of issues in the past, and they will look to overcome the odds once again. The unit will enter the season as a bit of a question mark.
Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari remain as the club’s top two linemen. Both men are coming off strong seasons, but one has to question is Bulaga will be able to get through the season healthy given his long list of injuries.
T.J. Lang and JC Tretter are both gone. Jahri Evans, who was almost set to retire, signed a one year deal to replace Lang. The Green Bay Packers appear to be set to lean on a sixth round draft selection, Kofi Amichia to fill in for Tretter. Jason Spriggs, Kyle Murphy, and Lucas Patrick are three other names that are likely to factor in on the line this season.
Until Rodger’s arm falls off, expect the Green Bay Packers to ride him. The freshness in the backfield may help them become a bit more balanced, but by no means will the club result to the run more than the pass. The wide receiver corps will once again be led by the same core group, but there are some interesting names to watch for the future. The two new tight ends should help give Rodgers more pass options while also opening up some running lanes. But all of this is moot if the offensive line can’t hold strong.
Editor’s Note: This article can also be seen in our upcoming NFL Preview Edition.