Injuries... Injuries can be seen as one of the main issues that caused the Green Bay Packers to have such a roller coaster type season. The off-season was mainly spent on improving the defense, after being torn apart by Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers even brought in Vince Young to be the backup, but released him in favor of Scott Tolzien. This move caused some concern among fans in case of the worst possible scenario (Aaron Rodgers getting hurt) occurred.
Green Bay started off the season slow. They had a 1-2 record heading into a bye week on week 4, and then facing off against Detroit in week 5. The Packers beat Detroit, leading them into a four game winning streak. The Green Bay Packers were riding the four game winning streak, while heading into a game against the Chicago Bears on a Monday night. That night changed the course of the season for the NFC North, well, except for the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers went down early in the game, and all of the Packers fans’ nightmares came true. Seneca Wallace came in to the game to replace Rodgers, and the Packers could hardly do anything on the way to a 27-20 loss. The Packers lost that game, and could not manage to win an entire game in the month of November; going 0-4-1, including the heartbreaking tie against the Vikings. The Packers bounced back from the month of November with good games, including a comeback from being down 23 points against the Dallas Cowboys. Heading into a "win and you're in" game against the Chicago Bears for the final game of the regular season, the Green Bay Packers pulled off an amazing win thanks to a touchdown pass from Rodgers to Cobb on a 4th and 8 play in the final minute of the game. It was quite the story; having Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb come back from injury and help fuel the Packers to the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Green Bay Packers once again came up short against the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card game, losing only by a field goal. The Packers' performance was better than expected from most people, and even a lot of the fans. Despite the defense playing surprisingly well against the San Francisco 49ers this time around, there was still problems that had occurred in the playoff game against them last year. The final offensive drive for the 49ers was highlighted by a dropped interception from Hyde, and a broken containment from Jarrett Bush that led Colin Kaepernick to the back breaking run.
This Green Bay Packers team has its flaws, and needs some changes. When Dom Capers first came to the Packers, they saw tremendous improvement in their defensive rankings. This season, the Pacers finished 24th in opposing passing yards and 25th in opposing rushing yards. After an off-season spent on improving the defense, many fans and media members feel that this is unacceptable, and should cost Capers his job. In the dreaded playoff game against the 49ers, Capers failed to study, and prepare for Kaepernick’s play style, and also failed to make any in-game adjustments. Many fans feel that this is cause for a new Defensive Coordinator. Not just promoting an assistant coach within the Packers’ system, but adding new blood and likely remain with the 3-4 base defense.
Another coaching change that fans feel that needs to be made is with the Special Teams Coach. Although they would get a decent punt or kick return once in a while, their unit as a whole has been mediocre for many years now. The game against the Steelers this weekend should be enough cause for a change in the coach. The Steelers converted a 30 yard pass on a 4th down, and to add insult to injury, a boneheaded roughing penalty added 15 yards to the play. The Steelers scored right after that play. Mason Crosby’s 23 yard Field Goal attempt was blocked for goodness sake! Although this worked in favor of the Packers due to an illegal batting penalty, and later a scored touchdown for the Packers, a blocked Field Goal attempt is terrible. The Packers’ Special Teams also gave up a 41 yard punt return, and a 46 yard kick return. And let’s not forget the encroachment penalty on a 4th down Field Goal attempt. Instead of the Steelers getting 3 points, they got a touchdown. Had that penalty not occurred, the Packers would not have been forced to go for a touchdown with the clock ticking down to the final seconds of the game. The only improvement seen in the Packers’ special teams is the return game. The coverage team has been suspect, and proved against the Steelers that it is prone to give up big returns. A Special Teams Coaching change is needed because this unit has been mediocre for far too long.
Now, are the Packers a train wreck? No. Things could be a lot worse. They just have flaws that have been around for a while, and some new coaches would likely help bring in new life and new ideas. The Packers have been strong in finding and developing young talent. Ted Thompson has found talent in the mid rounds of the drafts. The development of players had highlights this season, the main one being Jarrett Boykin. He came on and contributed well while Cobb was injured. Andrew Quarless (who may replace Jermichael Finley) also showed some flashes. Nick Perry and Datone Jones showed signs that they could be big contributors next season with an off-season to develop more. Franklin showed potential against the Bengals, but needs work on ball control. Micah Hyde did well, and will hopefully improve on coverage skills.
The Green Bay Packers will have an interesting off-season with 17 players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents. Maybe through player personnel or coaching changes, some form of change will come for Green Bay this off-season. One thing is for sure, this off-season will be one to watch closely for everyone.
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