Injuries and missed potential
Injuries play a part of every team, every year, but the injuries the Packers had kept them from rising above Rodgers’ broken collarbone.
When has Bryan Bulaga played a full season at tackle? Arguably one of the most important positions along the offensive line and he is out of the lineup. Bulaga is a good tackle but if you can’t be in there to cover Rodgers, then he is subject to more sacks, hastened throws and unprepared hits. It forces a backup to come in who isn’t as good. It is time to move on from the injury-prone Bulaga.
Clay Matthews, Morgan Burnett, Ty Montgomery, Nick Perry, Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Davante Adams and Davon House were all starters who missed time this year. Again, it happens to every team but it is hard to be using second- and third-string players at key positions.
The Packers were expecting big things from a few guys this season. Montgomery made a full transition to RB and bulked up. He trained and practiced as the team’s starting back, but got hurt early and was outplayed by two promising rookies in Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.
The Packers were expecting cornerbacks Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall to make strides. Too many times the Packers gave up big plays to receivers and tight ends. Too many times they got beat. Too many times they missed tackles.
Then the Packers had star players, who are paid to play well, who failed to make an impact especially when the team needed them the most.
Where was Clay Matthews this year? He was absent most of the season. The furious Matthews pass rush that has stymied opposing offenses for over a decade seems to be waning.
Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson did not step up to make life easier for their abruptly inserted backup QB. Yes, it was Hundley who had to get them the ball. But both Cobb and Nelson had very subpar years. Maybe they are in the twilight years as NFL player. Perhaps they had undisclosed injuries. Maybe Hundley killed their production. Both are entering contract years.
Safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett had off-years.
I will give them this: the Packers defense was on the field a lot this year. The loss of Rodgers not only hurts the offense but it forces the defense to be on the field more. They were forced to play more minutes which eventually caught up with them.
The once ball-hawking secondary struggled to keep opposing offenses at bay, which led to more given up third down plays, more yards and more mental lapses in coverage. Dangerous situations for any defense.