If one thing is for certain, there will be plenty of newness on the Green Bay Packers in 2019.
The Packers will sport a new head coach and offensive philosophy, in addition to a defense that received a serious makeover throughout free agency and the draft. With plenty of new starters on that side of the ball, especially ones that can bolster their pass rush, the Packers spent big to address the positions that have ailed them most in recent years. Still, what kind of change will those additions make and how effective will Green Bay’s offense and special teams, a weak point a year ago, be under new direction?
Perhaps its little wonder that the initial NFL power rankings provide mixed reviews on the Packers’ upcoming season. While one writer went out on a limb to designate Green Bay as the team to beat in the NFC, the jury is still out for many others. Fortunately, the wide variety of opinions put the Packers in the upper-echelon of the league once again.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com
Prisco thinks highly of Green Bay’s splurges this offseason, their first round selections, and Jace Sternberger’s potential to work the middle of the field. There’s only one potential weakness he envisions.
Green Bay still needs some young players to step up at receiver, but I think the talent is there. The offense will be dynamic again. And I think the improvements on defense make Green Bay the team to beat in the NFC. ... What they’ve done to their defense this spring -- combined with the fact they still have Aaron Rodgers on offense -- makes them the team to beat in the NFC.
ESPN NFL Nation
ESPN projects Green Bay to win 8.6 games with a 46.8% chance of making the playoffs. Rob Demovsky believes the team got faster on the defense, especially the back end.
Speed on defense. The Packers got younger and quicker at the edge position by signing Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, and by taking Rashan Gary at No. 12 in the draft. And then on the back end, the addition of first-round safety Darnell Savage Jr. (4.36-second 40-yard dash at the combine) and sixth-round cornerback Ka’dar Hollman (4.36 at his pro day) made them faster there, too. They might also have helped their defensive speed in the middle if seventh-round inside linebacker Ty Summers (4.51 at the combine) can make the team.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
Despite being ranked below the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay got a solid review from Iyer heading into the season.
Meet your new NFC North favorites, led by early coach of the year frontrunner Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers will be rejuvenated for a big season, and all the major defensive upgrades will pay off to give coordinator Mike Pettine more of the impact he wants.
Nate Davis, USA Today
As has become a theme from Mel Kiper Jr. to Prisco above, the Packers’ decision not to add another wide receiver weapon appears to be a deal-breaker for many writers.
Given offseason focus slanted toward defense, apparently they’re comfortable QB Aaron Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur have sufficient weaponry.
Scott Bair, NBC Sports
And more wide receiver doubts.
The Packers didn’t add a big-time receiver at any stage of the offseason. It’s hard to say the offense got better, and it is once again completely reliant on Aaron Rodgers to do Aaron Rodgers things all the time. That’s a tough way to win consistently, especially with first-round edge rusher Rashan Gary as a question mark heading into his rookie year.
MMQB Staff, Sports Illustrated
The Packers moved up from #19 in SI’s previous poll as they find themselves in the middle of the NFC pack.
The Packers made a big jump, likely because our panel views them as a good team that should bounce back from a disappointing 2018. Sound familiar?