Packers: Positives, negatives follow Week 16 loss to Vikings

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 23: Jamaal Williams
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 23: Jamaal Williams /

What are the Green Bay Packers’ biggest positives, negatives to take away from their Week 16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings?

Eliminated from the playoffs, the Packers returned home to Lambeau Field only to be shut out again, this time by the rival Vikings.

Here are some positives and negatives from the defeat.

Positive: David Bakhtiari

David Bakhtiari has established himself as the league’s best pass protector. A late-round steal out of Colorado, Bakhtiari didn’t allow a single pressure on Brett Hundley the entire game against Minnesota. He was going up against stud edge rusher Everson Griffen the entire game as well.

Bakhtiari was snubbed yet again from a Pro Bowl appearance. While not the world’s greatest run blocker, Bakhtiari is impenetrable as a pass blocker. The Packers have themselves one of, if not the best left tackle in football still in his twenties, allowing them to begin to devote more resources to other parts of the offensive line.

Negative: Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb is becoming the league’s most overpaid player. After signing a four year, $40 million contract as a free agent to remain in Green Bay, the Packers haven’t gotten anywhere near the offensive output they thought they would get out of their slot receiver. With millions still being given to Jordy Nelson, the Packers would be wise to at a minimum ask Cobb to take a pay cut or cut ties with the veteran receiver.

Cobb’s dead money drops off significantly beginning in 2018. The Packers would save $9 million against the cap by jettisoning him and looking for a new slot receiver. With Davante Adams a pending free agent and Nelson getting up there in years, the Packers need a shake-up at wide receiver.

Positive: Michael Clark

Michael Clark saw time on the field on Saturday night against the Vikings after Nelson left the game with a shoulder injury. The tall, lanky receiver hauled in three passes for 36 yards including a 19-yard reception. While the numbers aren’t spectacular, it gives the Packers confidence that he may become a valuable option in the future should Adams or Cobb jump ship.

Clark stands tall at 6-foot-6, giving him unique size for a player at his position. While clearly not a burner along the boundary, Clark’s hands stick to footballs like glue. This combined with his height makes him a potential Brandon Marshall-type talent at a position where the team has severely lacked height in the past.

Negative: Aaron Ripkowski

Aaron Ripkowski was outstanding towards the end of last season, particularly in the divisional playoff game against the Cowboys. This season, the Packers clearly had no plan whatsoever for Ripkowski. Despite keeping him on board and having a whopping four running backs on the roster, the Packers have been completely imbalanced offensively.

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Ripkowski’s lack of involvement combined with the mixed results from the running backs shows Mike McCarthy and his offensive staff had no pre-determined idea for how to utilize the fullback. There is also no indication whatsoever that McCarthy and Ted Thompson were on the same page upon settling on the final roster.

Positive: Cap space

Once again, the Packers will have plenty of cap room entering the offseason. As of now, the Packers will have a little under $42 million to spend. Of course, this means they really have only about $20 million or so to spend considering alarms go off throughout the team’s facilities if the Packers go $20 million below the cap.

With the franchise tag off the table, Green Bay will likely prioritize Davante Adams first in free agency. After that, it is hard to tell. The Packers may choose not to commit long-term money to Morgan Burnett after this season, freeing up millions for Ted Thompson to once and for all improve his lifeless defense.

Negative: Handling of Aaron Rodgers IR situation

The Packers activated Aaron Rodgers off of injured reserve for their matchup against the Carolina Panthers after the star quarterback became eligible to return after missing half the season with a broken collarbone. They then put Rodgers back on IR after their loss with the Panthers after Rodgers sustained “too many hits” throughout the game.

The NFL does not allow a player to be placed on injured reserve unless he is dealing with a serious injury. Multiple teams felt Rodgers should be forced to be released according to the rule, but there is no indication that the NFL is going to force the Packers to do so.

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If anything, the Packers should have simply eaten the roster spot for two weeks and not even approach the line when it comes to Rodgers. The Packers are lucky that the NFL is taking this one lightly.