With the NFL Draft about a month away and free agency still dribbling bits and pieces of news our way, it’s time we concentrate once more on the future exploits of the Green Bay Packers and even more specifically today – Aaron Rodgers.
Sans his broken collarbone last season, Rodgers was probably on his way to another top-notch season. With Rodgers under center, the Packers were just beginning to get their game together when he landed on and snapped his collarbone. Enter mediocrity in the form of Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien, and yes, even Matt Flynn. The Packers’ musical chairs at quarterback last season was a major distraction and a major downgrade for the team at the most important position.
But despite the fact that the team lost its best player, they still hung on and eventually came out the back end with a third straight NFC North Division championship. Granted, it was purely a miracle that it occurred and the Packers can surely thank the annual implosion of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears for
their late-season good fortune.
However, we all know that the Packers were once again one-and-done in the playoffs, which raised red flags about where this team stood in the power rankings. By season’s end, were they that far away from a Super Bowl bid – even with their star quarterback under center? Yes.
We all know that Aaron Rodgers is one of the best in the NFL, but the ingredients that make for a Super Bowl-winning team simply weren’t in place. Ted Thompson knows this. Mike McCarthy knows this.
Fortunately for the team, the past dollars saved added to the additional salary cap dollars awarded this spring gave the Packers a nice cushion of bills to not only sign the important free agents on their own team, but to bring in a couple of new players from outside Green Bay.
That has been a good start to a productive offseason.
Surrounding the league’s best quarterback with quality players on both sides of the ball will make Rodgers’ job much easier when the team hits the field come September. That means drafting at least one solid safety, an inside linebacker, an offensive lineman, and maybe even a wide receiver. And of course all this needs to be done without breaking the bank because Thompson has to come up with enough money to re-sign both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Because if the Packers are going to continue to improve enough to be considered elite, they have to continue to evolve … the roster needs continuous fluidity to make it happen.
The Packers demonstrated improvement in the run game last season. That all came about with the additions of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin and the emergence of James Starks. Without a quarterback who could carry the team last year, the Packers relied more heavily on the run game. There’s no reason to
believe they won’t continue to do so in 2014.
But continuing to improve the defense will go a long way in improving the team’s offense and allowing Rodgers to go about his business like he has in the past. Stopping teams, forcing punts, utilizing field position and special teams and allowing the Packers to chew up the clock with their run game will make Rodgers more effective and efficient.
So, the Packers make Rodgers a better quarterback by improving its defense, special teams and running game. They control the line of scrimmage and they win.
Sounds like a simple strategy … and it really is. But what’s the key to making it happen? Managing and reducing the number of injuries that have hamstrung (sorry for the descriptor) the Packers in several of the most recent seasons.
Let’s make Rodgers better by improving the players around him.
Stay tuned …
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