Eight straight playoff years with one of the best quarterbacks in the game and yet the Pack has only been to one Super Bowl which they were victorious in. Otherwise, it’s been a series of early flameouts and conference final flops.
2016 was one of the latter, the second time in three years as Green Bay was blown out by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game.
It was literally an up and down season for the Packers. A midseason swoon had the team losing 5 of 6 games – including four in a row – before they pulled out of the slump to finish 10-6 by running the table with a six-game winning streak to steal the division title from Detroit.
Leading the charge as always was superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers who played his ass off during the winning streak. He had a huge year with 4,428 yards, and 40 touchdowns against only 7 picks. At one point he went 318 consecutive passes without an interception.
It isn’t an overstatement to say that Green Bay would probably be a losing team without the passing wizardry of Rodgers but that is, unfortunately, a fatal flaw because the lack of a consistent running game has absolutely killed the Pack who haven’t had a reliable ground threat since Ahman Green.
Eddie Lacy’s production dropped off in 2015 after two strong seasons and he was injured early on last year forcing the Packers to scrape by with converted receiver Ty Montgomery carrying the load.
The Packers said goodbye to the disappointing Lacy in the offseason along with his weight problems and drafted three running backs in the later rounds. Unless one of them shows signs of being ready to start, it’s going to be Montgomery again.
But running is always an afterthought for Green Bay and that is one of the reasons why they are unable to win Super Bowls.
Rodgers will be filling the air with bombs once again in 2017 and the receiving corps should be better. Top target Jordy Nelson should finally be healthy again and he is joined by speedy Davante Adams and Randall Cobb as well as two free agent tight end acquisitions in Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks.
All should combine with Rodgers to once again make the Packers a potent albeit one-dimensional offense that should put plenty of points on the board.
There’s no way of sugar coating the fact that one of the Packers’ biggest problems is their defense.
Even a quarterback as great as Rodgers shouldn’t have to rely on winning shootouts every week but that is what he has often been forced to do.
In 2016, the Pack ranked 22nd in total defense which is another damning indication of why they keep coming up short. Atlanta destroyed them in the NFC Championship as Matt Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns while charging to an insurmountable (even for Atlanta) 31-point lead.
That just isn’t going to do it if you want to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Green Bay did devote their first three draft picks to bolstering the D but the loss of aging pass rusher Julius Peppers and the iffy injury status of linebacker Clay Matthews doesn’t bode well that this unit will be able to keep opponents off the scoreboard.
Mason Crosby will once again provide quality kicking while head coach Mike McCarthy will be the man driving the train.
So, what’s it all mean?
Barring an injury to Rodgers or another midseason losing streak there is no reason to believe that Green Bay won’t easily win the NFC North. The problem is what happens after that.