While hiring new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine could help the Green Bay Packers improve on that side of the ball next season, they need to make considerable improvements to the defensive roster as well. The pass rush, a strength for the Packers during their Super Bowl run in 2010, has regressed considerably in recent years and needs an influx of talent. Likewise, the secondary might need another starter or two, especially if safety Morgan Burnett departs in free agency.
But how should the Packers prioritize those needs, especially when the offense requires some maintenance as well? While reasonable minds can disagree, adding some juice to the pass rush seems the most effective way to jumpstart an ailing defense.
The Packers have multiple holes to fill on defense, but the roles and types of players the team will seek out have to adjust for what new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine needs for his scheme. Still, finding a player (or possibly multiple players) that can add to the pass rush remains the top priority on that side of the ball. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry will likely return, but their injury histories suggest neither will play all 16 games. Expect Green Bay, armed with an unusually early first-round selection and plenty of cap space, to attack this area of the roster.
Though the changes on the offensive and defensive coaching staffs garnered most of the attention, the Packers have also made adjustments to special teams. Maurice Drayton will work under special teams coordinator Ron Zook after spending the previous two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, the same team from which Green Bay hired receivers coach Jim Hostler.
Packers team historian Cliff Christl asks several questions from fans, including one regarding the famous “Ice Bowl” game in 1967. Christl wonders whether the result would have changed had Lambeau Field’s electric blankets, a new technology at the time, had worked differently. More interestingly, the Packers’ current field manager believes even the current heating system could create problems with such intense weather. While football continues to evolve, something as seemingly simple as turf remains stuck in the past.
The Packers learned firsthand what happens when you don’t have a quality backup quarterback this year, and the New England Patriots might discover the same if Tom Brady’s ailing right hand prevents him from playing on Sunday. While that doesn’t appear likely at this time, the NFL might be one injury setback away from Blake Bortles starting in a Super Bowl.