The 2012 Packers offense was not abysmal by any means, finishing as the thirteenth ranked offense in the NFL, averaging 359.4 yards per game.One thing that is certain, the Green Bay Packers 2013 offense will be different.
But this was clearly a fall-off from the 2011 season in which the Aaron Rodgers-led offense finished third in the NFL at 405 yards per game. But at the end of the day the Packers were not Super Bowl champs in either season and in both of the previous years they had a bad showing in the playoffs.
In the ever-evolving NFL, change is constant and Coach Mike McCarthy understood adjustments needed to be made.
To some degree the Packers offensive attack over the past three years has been boom or bust. Most of the boom came from the passing game. It’s hard to fault McCarthy for building around Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in the game with an arsenal of receivers at his dispense. As a whole, the receiving corps was deep and talented. The problem was the offense’s predictability and the offensive line’s woeful showing.
In 2011, the Packers clearly benefited from the talent at wide receiver and Rodgers’ ability to get them the ball. But other teams caught up to their scheme in 2012. They defended the pass and came after Rodgers fast and furious, sacking him 51 times on the year. The running game was irrelevant and the offensive line was clearly not functioning as a well-oiled machine.
The offseason moves and the draft indicated the Packers are working to bring balance to their offense in 2013. From a financial perspective it was not a big surprise that wide receiver Greg Jennings was not signed. But the talent of the receiving unit does take a hit. With that said, most teams in the NFL, and especially teams in the NFC North, would be happy to have Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley at their disposal.
The subtraction of Jennings was balanced by the addition of second round draft pick Eddie Lacy and fourth round selection Johnathan Franklin at running back. The logic here is undoubtedly to create a more balanced attack. In theory, by upgrading the running game, defenses will no longer be able to disregard the Packers rushing attack and key in on the passing game.
Taking things one step further, Coach McCarthy recently announced that the offensive line would be getting a bit of a make-over, same faces really, just in different places. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga will flip-flop to left tackle and the same for right guard Josh Sitton, who will move to left guard. Last season’s left guard T.J. Lang, of course, is set to move to right guard. It seems the Packers are comfortable with Evan Dietrich-Smith at center. Right tackle, on the other hand, is an open competition between last year’s left tackle Marshall Newhouse, second year man Don Barclay, 2011 first round pick Derek Sherrod, and rookie David Bakhtiari from the University of Colorado.
The moves on the offensive line indicate the Packers are wisely looking to protect the blind side of franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers and look to run behind a mauler of a guard in T.J. Lang on the strong side. The competition at right tackle will be interesting to watch develop.
On paper, which of course is not where the games are played, the Packers looked to be improved from an offensive perspective. If injuries hit the receivers, depth could be an issue. If the rookie running backs flop, then it’s back to square one in that department. And if the offensive linemen can’t make the adjustments, then that could be disastrous. But all of it is speculation and that is why the games are played.
In the end, the 2013 Packers season should be a fun one to watch unfold.
Of the changes made, which do you think will have the largest positive or negative effect?