A look at the positives and negatives for the Green Bay Packers in the 2019 regular season.
The Packers just finished up a crazy regular season en route to a 13-3 record.
Here are some positives and negatives from the season:
Positive: Aaron Jones
The Packers’ third-year running back has enjoyed one of the best seasons ever by a Green Bay running back. A remarkable 19 touchdowns and over 1,000 yards on the ground is the best season by a back during the Aaron Rodgers era. Jones has one year remaining on his deal after this season, giving the Packers another big contract to think about during Rodgers’ final years.
Jones has proven his worth both as a runner and receiver who has given the team so much to work with under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur. Jamaal Williams has also done some nice things as a complementary runner, but Jones has been the workhorse for the offense. The Packers finally have a running back they can trust handing the ball to 20 times a game.
Negative: Kenny Clark
The additions of the two pass rushers and the new safeties were only going to matter if Kenny Clark and the other mainstays stepped up defensively. Clark, apart from a couple decent games in December, hasn’t done that. The Packers have been incredibly poor against good offensive lines, and it starts with Clark.
The Packers let Mike Daniels go as part of an effort to get younger and better against the run. Dean Lowry has been up and down and Kingsley Keke has barely seen the field. The Packers badly need to be better against the run and Clark’s lack of resistance is hurting the Packers considerably.
Positive: Allan Lazard
Brian Gutekunst indefensibly didn’t trade for a wide receiver at the deadline despite there being multiple effective receivers available and with an extra three draft picks to play with. While even an average secondary can handle Green Bay’s receivers, Lazard has come through with several clutch performances, notably two against the Lions.
The Packers unquestionably need to add receivers to the offense both through free agency and the draft going forward, but Lazard looks like a keeper. At 6-foot-5, Lazard has provided some size and thickness to a receiving corps that doesn’t have much size, speed, or hands for that matter.
Negative: Jimmy Graham
Part of why the Packers felt so comfortable abandoning the receiving corps was understanding that Graham was effectively a receiver. But it’s gone from bad to worse for the veteran tight end. Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger both should see the field in the playoffs more than Graham, who has been invisible during his two years as a Packer.
Graham was once an absolute monster at tight end for the Saints. In Seattle, his time there was much more turbulent, but the production was still there. In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers and the coaching staff have praised him for his selfless attitude and preparation, but at some point the lack of involvement for Graham is becoming more and more disappointing. The Packers need a new tight end, again.
Positive: Elgton Jenkins
Gutekunst hit the jackpot with his rookie left guard in the second round. Jenkins has been unspeakably good all season long and unusually consistent for a rookie offensive lineman. The Packers appear to have found a generational player who will be an anchor of their offensive line for years to come.
The future of the right side of the line is a little bit less clear. Bryan Bulaga is a free agent after this season, and with big contractual decisions looming for several core players, it is worth wondering what the Packers may do with their aging tackle. But Jenkins looks like he will be one of the best offensive linemen in football for a long time at this rate.
Negative: Rashan Gary
The Packers swung for the fences with the 12th pick in the draft by picking the extremely raw pass rusher out of Michigan. Gary has mind-blowing athleticism but has a long way to go before he is a consistent every-down player. The Packers will look to get Gary much more involved next year in all likelihood, but just two sacks and 13 tackles in his rookie season isn’t encouraging.
Should the Packers find themselves with the opportunity to draft another pass rusher in one of the first two rounds, they should do it. With a number of contracts already committed to the defensive line, re-signing Kyler Fackrell might not be worth it. With Gary’s promise still unrealized, the Packers should keep adding to the position.