2013 in REVIEW: GOOD
There was a lot to be happy about this year. We integrated a new rookie class, rose above adversity and saw silver linings for the future.
EDDIE LACY – No rookie made a bigger impact on the Green Bay Packers this year than Lacy. With a dynamic passing game behind Aaron Rodgers, we needed a big back that could carry the offense and open up the passing lanes.
Lacy was above and beyond what the Packers were expecting by taking him in the second round of the NFL draft. After his week 1 jitters and his early concussion that sidelined him until after the week 4 bye, Lacy found his place among one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. His 1,178 rushing yards, 4.1-yards per-carry average and 11 touchdowns put him in at the top of the conversation for Rookie of the Year honors.
When Rodgers broke his collarbone, the team leaned heavily on Lacy for that eight-game stretch. Even when opposing defenses stacked eight and nine defenders in the box, Lacy ground out yards and kept the Packers in contention. With a healthy roster and a year under his belt in 2014, expect even more growth and production out of this Packers’ workhorse.
JAMES STARKS – Packers Nation had all but counted Starks out of the mix of running backs when the season began. With an emergent Lacy and a young Johnathan Franklin waiting in the wings, many thought that the 2010 Super Bowl run would be Starks’ finest hour as a Packer.
However, when DuJuan Harris was injured early and Franklin exhibited growing pangs, Starks got the call and answered it – vehemently. He proved himself to be the perfect complement back to Eddie Lacy‘s rough-and-tumble disposition. Starks has the change of pace look that McCarthy was talking about in his 1-2 punch desires for this football team.
He is fast … man, is he fast. He has showed a lot of maturity over this offseason and has developed into a patient, forceful runner. The combination of Starks and Lacy bodes well for the Green Bay Packers moving forward.
JARRETT BOYKIN – With the losses of Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Jones (for two games), Boykin was thrust into a larger role than he was accustome, his second year in this high-flying offense. Against the Ravens, he showed little to be excited about. He dropped passes, looked uncomfortable and doe-eyed.
However, he had a breakout game the next week against the Cleveland Browns and proved to be a real threat in this offense with or without Aaron Rodgers under center.
With James Jones and Jermichael Finley set to hit the free agent market this offseason, look for Boykin to be a true silver lining in this rollercoaster season. With a full offseason to prepare for his increased role, I have no doubt that he will continue to incur favor in the eyes of Rodgers, the coaches and the fans.
BACKUP QB – Everyone berated Ted Thompson for the way he handled the QB situation in the offseason, cycling through B.J. Coleman, Graham Harrell and Vince Young. Seneca Wallace aside, the Packers actually stumbled upon a very fortuitous backup QB situation as the season unfolded. Scott Tolzien is a diamond in the rough. With a year in McCarthy’s QB school and an entire offseason to learn the ins and outs of the offense, he will be a very solid backup QB to Rodgers in the future.
Our adversity at the position also brought Matt Flynn back to Green Bay where he learned that … the league is cold and harsh and that he fits this system perfectly. He won’t be going anywhere else as a starter. With Tolzien developing, Flynn is a capable backup who knows the offense and can lead it if necessary. We should be set at the backup position for years to come.
MICAH HYDE – With the defense in complete shambles, one good thing that came out of all the injuries and shifts was the installation of Micah Hyde. He stepped up and played beyond his experience when needed this year. He was initially used in the nickel package as Casey Hayward when he was put on injured reserve.
We discovered his coverage abilities, while raw, are very good. He matches up well with receivers and has great vision, though he needs to learn the schemes and gain some experience. In the future, he may be a permanent fixture in the secondary, maybe as a stable safety. With another year of experience in the return game, Cobb may be officially retired from the special teams and able to focus solely on his offensive duties. His presence was felt this season and I foresee good things from him in the future.
MIKE DANIELS – Daniels was arguably one of the most unsung heroes of a depleted Packers defense, all season long. In just his second NFL season, Daniels doubled his tackles from 2012 and tripled his sack totals. He was a consistent playmaker at the defensive end position. He recorded 6.5 sacks and made a lot of noise on the defensive line, even without the likes of Clay Matthews, Nick Perry and Mike Neal for extended amounts of time due to injury. He was healthy, productive and looks to be a star on this defense going forward.
MASON CROSBY – Crosby retaining his job through the offseason was a surprise all by itself. But the way he was able to perform and get out of his own head was the biggest surprise of all. I, for one, am glad that the Packers decided to stick with Crosby through his mess of a 2012 campaign. He has a monster leg and is a consistent kicker, overall. It’s good to have him back on the right track. Maybe the game will be decided on his right foot instead of the opposing kickers’ next year.