6 New Year’s Resolutions for the Green Bay Packers
6 New Year's Resolutions for the Green Bay Packers
The time has come where we all pretend we’re going to be better people. We’re going to work out more, drink less, and stop spending all our work time perusing sports sites. Though these New Year’s resolutions typically don’t last past January, we can pat ourselves on the back for our good intentions.
For the 32 teams in the NFL, New Year’s resolutions carry a bit more weight. Pink slips and demotions are handed out, lockers are cleaned out, and Andy Reid trolls monster.com for coaching openings.
Some teams begin the offseason earlier than they would have wished, and even for the teams continuing on, the front office eyes shift to post-February. Every team has an offseason to-do list and fans spend their Spring performing post-mortems on their team to figure out what went wrong.
The Green Bay Packers hope that these assessments won’t begin for another six or seven weeks, but, whenever they do, they’ll have some major New Year’s resolutions they’ll have to contemplate.
Even after their 15-1 regular season last year, it was clear that work had to be done in the offseason. The Packers did themselves proud on last year’s New Year’s resolutions, with fixing the defense and run game as the top priorities. Their signing of Cedric Benson didn’t pan out, but it was still a good move. They sought to ameliorate one of the worst defenses in the league through the draft and did so, netting gems like Casey Hayward, Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, and Jerron McMillian, among others.
This year they’ll face both new and recurring problems that need to be addressed. Here are the Top 6 New Year’s Resolutions for the Green Bay Packers:
6. Strengthen Linebacker Unit
Every since landing Clay Matthews in 2009, Green Bay has searched in vain to find someone to give him help and stabilize the linebacker group. The four games Matthews missed this year showed how much trouble that unit is in without him. Brad Jones, Erik Walden, Frank Zombo, A.J. Hawk, D.J. Smith, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, and many others have all showed promise without ever reaching a level of consistency that would allow the Claymaker to be let loose.
In defense of this group, they have been hit hard by injuries. Losing Desmond Bishop, Smith, and Nick Perry has been really tough. Green Bay has hope in their newest crop of rookies - Terrell Manning, Dezman Moses, and the aforementioned Perry, who looked like he would be a huge addition before he went on IR.
I’m willing to give the current guys another year to prove what they can do with a healthy group, but it wouldn’t hurt for the Packers to keep an eye out for fresh talent at linebacker - inside and outside - to try to improve the pass rush and run game.
5.Decide What to Do About Mason Crosby
Most fans would like to see the Packers part ways with their kicker, who has struggled mightily this season. If Mason Crosby finishes the season strong - maybe nails a game winner or two in the playoffs? - will that be enough to save his job? Each season it seems, NFL kickers become more and more impressive, with rookies like the St. Louis Rams’ Greg Zuerlein, who can boot it 60+ yards with ease, or the Minnesota Vikings’ Blair Walsh who has converted over 90% of his kicks.
As much as my inexplicable attachment to Mason Crosby makes me hope the Packers stick with him, I don’t see him on the roster in 2013.
4. Assess Receiving Corps
Green Bay has perhaps the most potent receiving corps in the league. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley headline the all-star cast. Things could change a lot after this offseason. Jennings appears to be ready to move on and a recent report suggested that Finley is out, too. Donald Driver would like to continue playing, but nearing 38, is he worth a contract?
Without Jennings and Finley drawing significant coverage, will Nelson, Cobb, and Jones still be able to excel? Are the next in line receivers - Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross - ready and able to contribute?
3. Who Stays and Who Goes at Running Back?
There are a lot of questions in the Packer run game, the weakness of which has put a lot of pressure on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. Cedric Benson was a one-year signing - should Green Bay sign him for another year after his ankle injury? The Packers chose to let Ryan Grant walk away in the offseason, only to bring him back late in the season. With Grant a year older, have the Packers changed their minds about him enough to bring him back for 2013? Is James Starks ever going to last a full season? Is it time to let him go? Alex Green has shown flashes of brilliance in a limited role, but is he starter material? The Packers love rookie DuJuan Harris for his physical skill set, but can he be more than just a change-of-pace back?
This will be a big decision for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. I would like to see them stick with Green and Harris, but they do need a veteran presence in either Grant or Benson.
2. Acquire Depth at Offensive Line
The Packers need to acquire depth at the offensive line. The line has suffered some injuries this year to right tackle Bryan Bulaga (out for season) and T.J. Lang, which caused some reshuffling. Recently, center Jeff Saturday was benched in favor of backup Evan Dietrich-Smith and Saturday looks ready to retire. Though they’ve certainly improved from earlier in the season, you just cannot have a line that has allowed Aaron Rodgers to get sacked 46 times and counting.
Are the Packers comfortable with Marshall Newhouse protecting Rodgers’ blind side? Is Derek Sherrod, who spent the entire season on IR after breaking his leg in the 2011 season, able to step in after so much time away?
I’m not terribly worried with the starters the Packers currently have, but should the injury bug bite again next year, they need to have some reliable depth.
1. Sign Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews
Aaron Rodgers is under contract with the Green Bay Packers through the 2014 season, but his contract is in need of a brush up. I would suspect the Packers will begin to renegotiate in the coming calendar year. Rodgers is currently in the fourth year of a six-year, $65 million contract. Though it’s ridiculous than any human being is paid that much to play a game, the truth is that Rodgers is way underpaid by NFL standards. I think the Packers will be looking to make him the top paid player in the league, around the $20 million per year category.
Next up would be Clay Matthews, who is surprisingly still under his rookie contract, which earns him about $2 million per year on average. One of the most dominant pass rushers in the league, the Packers will need to give him a contract that matches his importance to the team. The Packers won’t wait until his contract expires after the 2013 season to lock him up for a long, long time.
Of all the New Year Resolutions the Packers should make, signing Rodgers and Matthews should be their top priority.