As the last echoes of “Auld Lang Syne” fade and we finally take off our gaudy 2021 glasses and put away our novelty noisemakers, it’s time to get down to the real business of the New Year: making resolutions.
Sure, we’re already a week in and most people have probably already dropped theirs, but so what? Here’s what we think the Green Bay Packers should resolve to do in 2021.
Shawn Wagner: Tighter coverage on third-and-short
It seems as if it has been a season-long issue for the Packers playing off-the-line in coverage during third-and-short situations. Most of the time, it doesn’t pay off. That was evident once again last Sunday as the Bears converted a fourth down in the first half with a quick pass into the slot as Darnell Savage played off the line, and then later again reached the line of gain on a third-and-three with Kevin King playing eight yards away from the line of scrimmage.
While that type of coverage is preventing long gains down the field, opponents are getting way too easy of opportunities to sustain drives on critical downs. If the Packers’ defense can make tighter coverage in those situations its New Year’s resolution, it will only help in the playoffs against better passing offenses. A close second resolution might also be Kevin King’s tackling technique - wrapping up versus throwing his shoulder haphazardly into ballcarriers’ legs.
Paul Noonan: Less running against good defenses
The Packers are pretty good at this, but Matt still occasionally gets stuck in the balance trap to their detriment. It happened for a bit against Chicago, and it didn’t burn them, because LOL Chicago, but against say, Tampa, it could be an issue. It was last time they played the Bucs and had 80 yards on 19 carries. 2 carries accounted for 45 yards, and so they had 17 carries for 35 yards on the bulk of their carries. You can’t be doing that nonsense. Ben Fennell tweeted this the other day, partially because he believes it, and partially to troll people like me.
Packers Run Game - A little play calling balance can go a long way when you have a stud RB & 37yr old QB!— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 4, 2021
Overall Run Percentage
2020: 44.7% - 7th
2019: 40.3% - 15th
2018: 32.5% - 32nd
1st & 10 Run Percentage
2020: 53.9% - 7th
2019: 52.4% - 15th
2018: 39.2% - 32nd
Running to put the game away is fine. Running against terrible run defenses is fine. The Packers are in fact good at running! I’m fine with running. But they could still stand to have fewer pointless runs.
Jonathan Barnett: Lose that unwanted weight
Okay, I just wanted to make it sound like a normal New Year’s Resolution. Basically, drop some of the dead weight and the unnecessary poundage. Look at yourself honestly and get rid of the stuff that does you no good and just hurts you in the long run. For the Packers that is making serious improvements to the special teams. Sure, Mason Crosby is great. Maybe adding a few players here and there are the little sugar that we have enjoyed, but Tavon Austin is not saving this return game and the coverage has been bad.
Seriously, for my own (and many other’s) long-term health and cardiac longevity, time to get someone in there that can add some discipline to the special teams. For a team that hits on GM and HC as well as anyone in recent decades, special teams coordinator has been a blind spot.
Jon Meerdink: Draft a wide receiver
Now that I have your attention, I think the Packers’ resolution for 2021 should be to preserve the unique culture they’ve built at all costs. The biggest difference between now and the late McCarthy era is how much fun this team seems to have together. Sure, winning is a big part of that. But from the top down, the Packers’ organization seems to be built to help players be the best version of themselves they can be, both on and off the field. From supporting charitable causes of all stripes to bringing the team together amidst a pandemic, the Packers have built something truly special in Green Bay.
Eventually, their success will lead to departures. Even today, Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is interviewing for the Falcons’ head coaching job. When people do start to leave, the Packers will have their work cut out for them to protect what they have. Doing so should be a top priority.
Kris Burke: Impose your will
For longest time under the previous coaching regime, the Packers were notorious for being soft.
They were a team that was more finesse than power. They were a team that relied more on brains (Aaron Rodgers’ brain in particular) than brawn and would constantly let off the gas.
Under Matt LaFleur, “soft” no longer applies and it’s time for the team to impose their will on the way to Super Bowl LV.
With a running game powered by Aaron Jones and rookie battering ram AJ Dillon, the Packers now have an identity on offense where they will wear you down both mentally and physically. In just two seasons, LaFleur has changed the identity of the franchise and the reputation of their style of play.
The Green Bay Packers are no longer the ones being bullied. Now it’s their turn to do the bullying, all the way to Tampa Bay.