2018 NFL Season Preview- Green Bay Packers
The Packers went from preseason Super Bowl favorite to playoff observer.
Green Bay started 4-1 on the year before Quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone and the team proceeded to lose seven of their next 10. The Packers had their eight-year playoff streak snapped.
Rodgers was on his way to another Pro Bowl year before getting injured in Week 6. He tried to make a comeback in Week 15 with the season on the line, but he wasn't himself and threw three interceptions against Carolina, ultimately going on injured reserve and ending Green Bay's season. Running back Ty Montgomery is a converted wide receiver who landed on IR in early December with broken ribs and a wrist injury. The team signed tight end Marcellus Bennett in the offseason but claimed he needed shoulder surgery after Aaron Rodgers was injured and the team released him. Richard Rodgers and Lance Kendricks did little to contribute to the offense. Wide receiver Devante Adams justified his new contract by establishing himself as the team's top receiver and if he had not been knocked out of two games by two illegal hits, he likely would've made the All-Pro team. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have saw their numbers drop since signing their extensions. The starting five of the offensive line looked to be a top 10 unit, but left tackle David Bakhtiari missed four games with a hamstring injury and right tackle Brian Bulaga tore his ACL midway through the season.
Nose tackle Kenny Clark might be the most improved player on the roster with 4.5 sacks in December alone. The linebackers were a major disappointment. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry missed time with injuries and combined for just 15.5 sacks. Blake Martinez tied for the league lead in tackles but struggled in pass coverage. The secondary allowed 30 touchdown passes and only intercepted 11 passes. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a horrible year and his half hearted effort in the season finale was an embarrassment to the team. Cornerback Davon House tried to battle through injuries, but was repeatedly targeted. Demarious Randall had his best season after being kicked off the sideline in Week 4 due to conduct detrimental to the team.
Green Bay had two Pro Bowlers in wide receiver Devante Adams and defensive end Mike Daniels while left tackle David Bakhtiari was named second team All-Pro. Adams had his most complete year statistically. Daniels had another solid year finishing with 49 tackles, five sacks, and a forced fumble. Bakhtiari had a terrific hear despite missing four games and was rated the number one left tackle by Pro Football Focus.
The rookie class brings a lot of optimism for 2018. Cornerback Kevin King should flashes before a shoulder injury ended his season in December. Running back Jamaal Williams has a punishing style and led Green Bay in rushing. Running back Aaron Jones is a home run hitting back with great burst but has to show he can stay healthy.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
2017 was arguably head coach Mike McCarthy's worst coaching job in 12 seasons with the Packers. No one is talking about it, but if he doesn't turn this team around he could be on his way out of town.
After the season, longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers was fired. He was replaced by former New York Jets defensive coordinator and Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine. The team also fired offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett and replaced by former Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach and Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Philbin served as the Packers offensive coordinator from 2007-2011.
On July 30, 2018, outside linebacker Jake Ryan suffered a knee injury during training camp and was carted off the field. On August 1, an MRI revealed that he suffered a torn ACL, keeping him out the rest of the year.
Notable Additions- QB DeShone Kizer, TE Jimmy Graham, TE Marcedes Lewis, T Byron Bell, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, CB Tramon Williams
Notable Departures- WR Jordy Nelson, WR Jeff Janis, TE Richard Rodgers, CB Demarious Randall, S Morgan Barnett
Packers 2017 Highlights
2018 NFL Draft
The Packers held the 14th overall pick going into the draft, their highest draft position in nearly a decade. In order to get back into the win column, they have to make changes at wide receiver, outside linebacker, and cornerback.
Jordy Nelson is now in Oakland and Randall Cobb has slowed down. The offense needs speed on the outside to pair with Devante Adams.
Clay Matthews is at the latter end of his career and Nick Perry has never played a full season. Green Bay passed on T.J. Watt last year and can't make a similar mistake again.
The Packers took Demarious Randall and Quinten Rollins in 2015 and neither have lasted. The secondary needs a true number one cornerback.
On draft day, Green Bay traded back with New Orleans to the 27th overall pick so the Saints could draft Marcus Davenport. The Packers then traded up with Seattle to the 18th overall pick to select Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander. Alexander has great instincts and anticipation for a corner, but tends to be too overly aggressive by being susceptible to pump fakes and double moves.
The Packers also notably drafted Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson in the second round and Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown in the sixth. Jackson has the best read and react skills of any corner this year and was extremely productive with a nation leading eight interceptions, but only played one season as a starter and may be vulnerable against smaller, quicker receivers. St. Brown has the size teams crave for downfield targets but needs to bulk out his lean frame.
Jaire Alexander Highlights
What To Expect
As I see it, the Packers were a healthy quarterback away from getting back into the postseason.
Assuming Aaron Rodgers' collarbone heals properly, Green Bay will be back to being a contender. With the emergence of Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones at running back, Ty Montgomery might be best suited to go back to playing wide receiver. Devoante Adams should continue to grow in the number one option role but the rest of the corps, including Randall Cobb, have to show they can get open and make plays. Adding Jimmy Graham gives the team an elite pass catching tight end they haven't had since Jermichael Finley and Marcedes Lewis is one of the better blocking tight ends in the league. The offensive line should be solid if Brian Bulaga can recover from his ACL tear. If not Byron Bell will have to step in on the right side.
Adding Muhammad Wilkerson to pair with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark gives the team what looks to be a solid 3-4 defensive line on paper. Their are still issues with the linebackers as Clay Matthews and Nick Perry have failed to stay healthy consistently, Blake Martinez struggles in coverage, and now Jake Ryan is out for the season. Drafting Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson to the secondary makes it a dangerous one alone and if Tramon Williams can return to form and Kevin King can get healthy, that's a deep group of corners. The big question is if the team can get Ha Ha Clinton-Dix motivated and back to his 2016 Pro Bowl form and who will step up and replace Morgan Burnett.
With Aaron Rodgers at the helms, Green Bay always has to be seen as a contender, but with the rise of Minnesota in the NFC North, I can't say the Packers are the favorite to win their division. Their best bet of getting back into the playoffs is being the first wildcard team.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 10-6