NFL Green Bay Packers

Top 5 Needs for Green Bay Packers During the 2013 NFL Offseason

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How Will Green Bay Packers Reclaim Their Spot as NFC's Best Team?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mar. 12 is the official beginning of the 2013-14 NFL season. This represents the start of free agency and trades.

This date also signifies the two-month anniversary of the 2013 NFC Divisional playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. On Jan. 12, the 49ers won 45-31. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw for 263 yards and rushed for 181 yards. The Packers defense surrendered 579 yards.

It was a humbling experience for a Packers team who was two years removed from their last Super Bowl championship. In Week 1, that same opponent bullied and outsmarted them at Lambeau Field. The only major difference was that Alex Smith was the 49ers quarterback, not Kaepernick.

General manager Ted Thompson and the coaching staff have had two months to reflect on that performance. It was another wakeup call for a team that sometimes gets comfortable with Aaron Rodgers and his near-flawlessness at the quarterback position. That won’t work against quality, more-balanced teams such as the New York Giants and 49ers. More players must step up.

Numerous flaws were exposed. Some of them were talent-related. Some of them were coaching-related. One problem was an organizational component that was something other than the players, coaches and front-office executives who handle the everyday operations of the franchise.

Let’s take a look at the Packers’ top five needs for the 2013 NFL offseason. I’ve also included a bonus slide with something more important than any of the player or coaching deficiencies. These needs are listed in alphabetical order, not ranked by importance.

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Defensive Coordinating

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Winning playoff games is difficult when a team allows 44.33 points per game. That’s the average amount of points that the Packers have surrendered in their last three playoff losses dating back to Jan. 2010. Pocket quarterbacks, mobile quarterbacks and Hail Mary passes have wreaked havoc on this defense.

Dom Capers will get a fifth season as defensive coordinator. Another meltdown could end his tenure in Green Bay. If Capers wants to discredit his doubters, then he must make better in-game adjustments. Furthermore, Capers can’t be as ill-prepared as he was against Kaepernick.

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Defensive Line

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

More depth is needed on the defensive line. Jerel Worthy could start the 2013-14 season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and injuries have made Mike Neal an unreliable asset. Mike Daniels is unproven, C.J. Wilson is backup quality and Ryan Pickett offers nothing on passing downs.

Can the Packers find a rookie who can contribute immediately? Or will they uncharacteristically pursue a free agent such as Chris Canty or Cullen Jenkins?

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Offensive Tackle

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2012-13 season, Rodgers was sacked 51 times. Marshall Newhouse hasn’t been effective at protecting Rodgers’ blindside. More problems arose when Bryan Bulaga was placed on injured reserve. Although Don Barclay had some success at run-blocking, he was a major liability in pass protection.

Bulaga could move from right tackle to left tackle. Regardless, the Packers must decide on whether they’re confident in Derek Sherrod, Newhouse or Barclay holding down one of the tackle positions.

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Return Specialist

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

With the departures of Donald Driver and possibly Greg Jennings, the Packers can’t afford to use Randall Cobb as a return specialist. They were fortunate that Cobb got out of the Tennessee Titans matchup with a minor ankle injury. Cobb is too valuable at wide receiver, especially with the oft-injured Jordy Nelson.

Is Jeremy Ross the player who can takeover those duties? If not, expect management to find someone either through the draft or as an undrafted free agent.

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Running Back

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Packers satisfied with DuJuan Harris as their No. 1 running back? Will they look for another power back to replace Cedric Benson? Are they still confident that Alex Green can become an every-down player? What do they expect from Brandon Saine?

This offense could use another dimension. They’re at their most dangerous when they have a respectable ground game to support Rodgers.

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BONUS: Strength and Conditioning

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers can sign or draft all of the talent they want. Unless these players can stay healthy, it doesn’t matter. This organization needs to pinpoint whether it’s a strength and conditioning issue or something else.

Joshua Huffman is a contributor for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your LinkedIn and Google networks.