What changed for the Packers? Click here
At first blush, a casual look at statistics and one would think Aaron Rodgers had a very strong season. He threw for 3821 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. By most accounts that is a terrific campaign. That said this is Aaron Rodgers and some blemishes were present in a disappointing year for the team. He only completed 60.7% of his passes, his lowest number by far as a pro and his yards per attempt 6.68 which fell way below his normal level. The entire season he just seemed out of sorts and out of sync with his receivers and hopefully a healthy return of Jordy Nelson will get him back on track. I believed last year that Rodgers could overcome any injury on the field. Heck, I thought he could throw to me and still look like a star but that proved not to be true and the receivers instead of elevating their play in Nelson's absence, slid backwards.
I expect all of Rodgers numbers to elevate this season putting his disappointing 2015 season to bed.
2015 5th round draft pick Brett Hundley of UCLA landed in the perfect situation for him much like Aaron Rodgers when he was drafted to sit behind Brett Favre. Hundley was not ready to start games at this level due to suspect football intelligence
and quick decision progressions. What he does have is size, great athleticism and a strong arm. He will learn behind one of the most cerebral quarterbacks in the NFL of all-time and he will not have to play in all likelihood, giving him time to improve his short comings. There is potential here.
John Crockett, Don Johnson
Eddie Lacy looked like a budding star after a strong 2013 and 2014 campaign but last year the running back reported out of shape and some football pundits have said he was closer to 260 pounds than his listed weight of 234 pounds. When in shape and dedicated to his craft, the former 2nd round pick from Alabama is a bruising running back that could be called a younger 'Beastmode' in honor of Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks. Lacy runs hard, crushes opposing defenders yet like Lynch has enough quickness to
sidestep a tackle and make defenders miss. More impressive from Lacy is his ability to catch the ball as his 97 receptions and 6 touchdowns over three seasons illustrate.
Lacy scored 24 touchdowns in 2013/2014 but managed just 5 last year as his touches went way down. You could tell during the season that the coaches soured on the effort/conditioning of their former stud running back. He will need to refocus himself this year or he will be watching games from his house.
Thanks to Lacy's struggles, Starks finished with his highest carry total of his career, rushing for 601 yards on 148 carries. He only scored two rushing touchdowns though. He also 43 passes for 392 yards with 3 receiving touchdowns and it was easily the finest fantasy football season he has enjoyed throughout his career. He is 30-years old now though and the team would rather see a return to glory for Lacy, limiting the touches for Starks.
Without question, Jordy Nelson's knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2015 campaign had a massive negative impact on the offense. Aaron Rodgers seems out of sorts, the receivers on the offense failed to grab the brass ring and the team will be relieved to see Nelson back as a favorite target for Rodgers. By all accounts he is on schedule for a full recovery by training camp so a return to his massive 2013/2014 seasons appears likely. Put him down for 90 receptions, 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns
After Randall's massive 2014 year, everyone thought he was ready to replace Jordy Nelson and the Packers passing attack would not miss a beat. Boy was that incorrect as Cobb struggled in the role of a WR1. He did catch 79 passes but averaged a poor 10.5 yards per catch and scored only 6 touchdowns. He will benefit from playing across from Nelson in 2016 but you have to wonder if Cobb's confidence took a hit. I personally believe the bigger issue was the complete collapse of Davante Adams as the number two receiver and that Cobb will return to his 1200 yard receiving season of 2014.
Davante Adams looked like a budding superstar at the end of his rookie 2014 campaign. Good size, great speed and an ability to score touchdowns, he looked ready to step in as a WR2 when Jordy Nelson was lost for the year. However it was too much too soon for the 2nd year receiver and he really struggled to accomplish anything last year. The good news is he caught 50 passes. That bad news was everything else. Sloppy routes, wrong routes, dropped passing, a pathetic 9.7 yards per reception and just a single touchdown have cast legitimate doubts as to his actual upside at this level. Only time will tell but it is fortunately he can drop down the pecking order once again as he was that awful.
2nd year Montgomery is built like a running back and is very good once he has the ball in his hands. He can break tackles and evade opposing defenders. However his instincts as a receiver are lacking and he needs to improve significantly to have an impact as a receiver at this level. Still his size and ability with the ball in his hands are exciting and he could become a breakout star with hard work.
There was a bright side last year within the disappointing offensive output last year and that was the emergence of 2nd year athletic tight end Richard Rodgers. Sure he only averaged 8.8 yards per catch but his 58 receptions and 8 touchdowns was a sign of things to come. He has the tools to be an exceptional receiving tight end and perfect size. Expect 60 receptions for 72 yards and another 8 touchdowns in 2016.
Jared Cook is a veteran tight end who was brought in for depth. The 29-year old, former 3rd round pick has enjoyed success for both Tennessee and St. Louis and will provide much needed depth at the position. If situation puts him as a starting tight end he is capable of averaging 4 receptions per game.
Projected Starters: LT Jason Spriggs (rookie) , LG Josh Sitton, C Corey Linsley, RG T.J. Lang, RT Bryan Bulaga
Key Backups: David Bakhtiari, J.C. Tretter, Don Barclay, Lane Taylor
The Packers have a good offensive line but I do not seen an elite one here at this time. I do love the intensity and physical play of Josh Sitton at left guard and he is revered as one of the finest linemen in the game. Three other starters T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley and Bryan Bulaga are all solid players who have learned to play well together. The question mark along this line is at left tackle where incumbent David Bakthiari will battle second round pick Jason Spriggs for the starting job. I put Spriggs in as a starter above as Bakthiari struggled at times last year but it really is up for grabs. I see the Packers offensive line as above average but do not see an elite group here. A solid line in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers however is good enough to put up a ton of points.
Mason Crosby is entering his tenth season with the club. He is as dependable as they come.