After a disappointing season, here’s the Green Bay Packers’ Christmas list ahead of 2019.
It’s Christmas Eve, which might be a little late to send a list to Santa, but fortunately these gifts don’t need to be wrapped under the tree for Christmas Day, but instead for 2019.
After failing to make the playoffs for the second season in a row, the Green Bay Packers have work to do this upcoming offseason to become serious contenders in the NFC once again.
Everyone here at Lombardi Ave would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas. And as Packers fans, we can all hope for these Christmas gifts:
1. An offensive-minded head coach
The Packers’ next head coach should be someone who can bring a fresh, creative offensive scheme to Green Bay. Someone who is a great fit with Aaron Rodgers.
While there are some excellent defensive-minded candidates out there, I think the way forward is for a coach to come in with the number one goal of fixing the offense.
It’s possible a defensive coach could take over and bring in the right offensive coordinator. The Falcons did that by hiring Kyle Shanahan as OC with Dan Quinn as the head coach.
Shanahan’s offense dominated in 2016, but they then lost him to a head coach job a year later.
Under Shanahan in 2016, Atlanta was No. 2 in the league in total offense, No. 3 in passing offense and No. 5 in rushing offense. The unit averaged a league-high 33.8 points per game. Matt Ryan was named the league MVP and the Falcons made the Super Bowl.
A year later, without Shanahan, the Falcons were No. 8 in total offense, No. 8 in passing and No. 13 in rushing. They averaged 22.1 points per game, good for just No. 15 in the NFL.
In 2016 the Falcons averaged 415.8 yards per game. That was down to 364.8 in 2017.
Hiring an offensive-minded coach doesn’t guarantee the success Shanahan had working as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta. But it’s the direction this team should go in.
As long as Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, the offense will be this team’s strength. The Packers need to find a coach that can help this unit get better in 2019.
2. The Packers to be aggressive in free agency
General manager Brian Gutekunst proved last year he’s not afraid to make a bold move in free agency, and he should do the same in 2019.
According to Spotrac, the Packers will have approximately $37.6 million in cap room to start 2019. That number could jump up if they decided to move on from the likes of Nick Perry, Jimmy Graham or Bryan Bulaga.
It’s way too early to know which free agents will actually be available in March. A number of players will sign new deals between now and then.
But players such a Jadeveon Clowney, Landon Collins and Demarcus Lawrence could all be available if they don’t re-sign with their current teams before the new league year begins. All three players could help the Packers at positions of need, but Gutekunst would need to be willing to spend big money.
And it sure sounds like he will be open to a big move. Here’s what Gutekunst said about free agency last week, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN:
“We’re going to scout the players and if we think that player can help us, we won’t be afraid to spend the money we need to.”
3. Upgrades along the offensive line
Either through free agency or the draft, one of Gutekunst’s top priorities this offseason will be addressing the offensive line, something the Packers haven’t done enough in recent years.
The Packers have drafted four offensive linemen in the past four years, but only one, Jason Spriggs, was selected earlier than the fifth round.
Green Bay is already set at a couple of starting positions. David Bakhtiari is an All-Pro left tackle and one of the best in the league. Corey Linsley has been a consistent, reliable starter at center throughout his career.
Bryan Bulaga still has one year left on his contract, but even if he returns for 2019 the Packers will need to find a long-term replacement.
Gutekunst’s priority should be finding upgrades at guard and adding depth along the offensive line. When injuries hit, the Packers need players who can step up and play well.
4. Better injury luck
Luck hasn’t been on the Packers’ side too often when it comes to injuries in recent years.
Fourteen players are on injured reserve this season, including key starters Mike Daniels, Aaron Jones and Geronimo Allison. You could start a pretty good NFL team just using the Packers’ players on IR.
Aaron Rodgers missed half of the 2017 season with a broken collarbone and played through a knee injury for most of 2018.
If Santa can only give the Packers one gift this year, please can it be a healthy 2019?
5. The Vikings to miss the playoffs
Admittedly, this wish doesn’t impact the Packers that much. We just think it’d be pretty funny.