The Green Bay Packers came far closer to the Super Bowl than anybody could've imagined. It didn't matter that they had a first-year starting quarterback and the league's youngest roster. They proved they were good enough to compete with the NFC's best.
But the real challenge starts now. The days of playing with house money are over. The Packers must sustain success and build on what they accomplished this year. Nobody expected a playoff run from them back in September. Now, they do.
Green Bay has the building blocks of a roster ready to make another deep playoff run, but there are areas they must improve with tough decisions to be made.
The players Green Bay adds this offseason will be important, but Brian Gutekunst must also determine who to move on from.
Anders Carlson's rookie season was disappointing but, unfortunately, also predictable.
His lack of consistency didn't start in the NFL. Per PFF, Carlson converted only 45 of 76 kicks of 30 or more yards in college. That's 59.2 percent. Carlson spent five years at Auburn but only converted more than 72 percent of his kicks in one season.
The Packers hoped he could improve his consistency in the NFL, but it didn't happen in year one. Carlson missed 11 kicks in the regular season—six field goals and five extra points—before missing another PAT in the wild-card round and a costly field goal attempt in the divisional round.
Packers fans feared he would miss a kick at the worst possible time, and it happened. Carlson's 41-yard attempt went wide left, with Green Bay missing a chance to go up by seven points against San Francisco. The Packers would lose by three.