Packers 2013 Season Preview: Q&A With Football Outsiders

Jonathan Daniel

As the Packers' first preseason game draws near, some great football minds took some time with us to answer a few questions we had about our beloved Green and Gold.

As part of SBNation's season previews, we at Acme Packing Company were invited to trade some questions and answers with the great minds over at Football Outsiders. Each year, the tireless workers there put together their season almanac which is chock-full of fantastic football analysis. Go check it out here, and read on below for a sampling of their thoughts on the 2013 edition of the Green Bay Packers.

APC: With the switch on the Packers' offensive line dominating headlines this off-season, why should we believe that putting Bulaga and Sitton on the left side will help keep Rodgers on his feet better this year? (EDITOR'S NOTE: This Q&A took place a few days ago, well before we learned of Bryan Bulaga's apparent ACL tear.)

FO: The anecdotal reason is that you want your best blockers on your quarterback's blind side. Marshall Newhouse and T.J Lang were both complete sieves in 2012. Statistical reasons? We don't have many. There's not much of a history of this kind of switch. Most offensive line switches come when teams try to adjust for injuries. Personally I kind of see it as Thompson doing his best with limited resources - they weren't going to draft another high-round tackle and are trying some new things to make do.

APC: Randall Cobb broke out in a big way last year, but looks to become an even bigger part of the Packers' offense in 2013. Is it crazy to think that he can catch 100 passes this season, or are there just too many capable bodies for Aaron Rodgers to spread the ball to?

FO: We project him with 90 catches. I see no reason that he couldn't snag 100 as the featured slot receiver in Green Bay's offense. Really, I think he and Jermichael Finley are competing for about 225-250 targets down the middle, and the outcome there depends on how much you expect of Finley. I think Finley has a bounce-back year in him given his production down the stretch in 2012.

APC: We have to ask about the running game. Do you see any of the Packers' backs as three-down players in 2013, or do you think that they'll be limited to situational roles? And how much does the running game really need to produce in order to get defenses to stop playing the 2-deep coverage that has been frustrating the Packers' deep passing game?

FO: Assuming Lacy is healthy and in-shape, he is a three-down player. Unfortunately, those are a pair of assumptions nobody should be prepared to make at this point. Statistically, there hasn't been much of a drop-off in passing DVOA for Green Bay without a good running game. My personal guess is that after Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, and Dujuan Harris pass the torch around a bit early on, Lacy emerges as the full-time back in the second half of the season.

APC: The consensus is that getting Nick Perry back should help the Packers' pass rush this season - how much of a difference did he really make during his limited action last season, and what do you expect from a healthy Perry this year?

FO: Two sacks and five hurries in 200 snaps projects to roughly 12 and 25 in a full season, which is nothing to scoff at. I am a little conflicted on Perry. His lack of quick-twitch movement makes him sort of misplaced at outside linebacker, but he's such a good pass rusher he can get away with it most of the time. I don't think 12 sacks are happening, but I could see eight if he is healthy and plays full time.

APC: The Packers love their nickel and dime packages, and with the depth at cornerback and tendency to play with a lead there's good reason...but do you think there would be any benefit in Dom Capers using the base 3-4 personnel groups with greater frequency this season?

FO: I'm not saying that it's never wrong to question authority or worry about the general direction of a coordinator, but I'm willing to give Capers the benefit of the doubt at this point. We had Green Bay with a -8.9% DVOA in base formations and a -14.5% DVOA in nickel formations. The dime formation, though, allowed a 5.0% DVOA. I think the real answer here is that the nickel is the best fit against most NFL offenses at this point, but I can't blame Capers for experimenting with the talented DB's he has on the roster.

There you have it folks - hopefully that gives you a little more insight into how the Packers might function this season (or at least how some of the best football minds think they should function). We extend our sincere thanks to Football Outsiders for their work, both in answering our questions, in their NFL Almanac, and on FootballOutsiders.com.

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