With the NFL Draft a day away, the Packers will focus mostly on defense. But with a key piece or two, the 2017 offense could become historic.
Green Bay’s defense proved to be the team’s achilles heel last season. While Aaron Rodgers and the offense carried the team to the NFC Championship Game, the defense couldn’t slow down Atlanta in the postseason.
Still, the offense didn’t go start to finish as a top-tier unit in 2016. Before “running the table” over the season’s final six weeks, the offense endured a nearly year-long stretch of inconsistency.
Even before the draft, the Packers have the potential to be one of the best offenses in the NFL. An MVP quarterback elevates the whole unit, but the supporting cast seems as good as it’s been in a while. The top tier passing game, a strong offensive line, and a dual threat rushing attack have Green Bay poised to dominate. And that’s before the Packers add more pieces this upcoming weekend.
Top Tier Passing Game
Let’s start with the obvious. Aaron Rodgers has proven himself to be the most talented quarterback in the game. Tom Brady has the rings, Drew Brees has the volume, Peyton Manning has the stats. But on an almost weekly basis, Rodgers makes plays that no other quarterback in the league can make. His presence alone lifts Green Bay’s offense into the ranks of the elite, although the team’s pass catchers appear ready for a monster year in 2017.
Jordy Nelson bounced back from his 2015 season-ending injury to lead the NFL in touchdowns and go over 1200 yards. His downfield speed diminished, but he found other ways to burn opposing defenses en route to a Comeback Player of the Year award. Davante Adams prepares to enter a contract year after a stand out 2016 campaign. Randall Cobb has a lot to prove after battling injuries last season, but he took a big step in the right direction with a three touchdown game in the postseason. Even Geronimo Allison had an impressive rookie year.
While Jared Cook departed in the offseason, the Packers still managed to upgrade the tight end position. Martellus Bennett gives Green Bay a weapon at the position that they haven’t enjoyed in a long time. Ted Thompson also brought in Lance Kendricks on a cheap deal, giving the team a formidable duo of tight ends. Those five pass catchers should wreak havoc in 2017, and lift the passing game into one of the NFL’s best units.
Strong Offensive Line
One of the Packers’ biggest question marks heading into the season will be who replaces T.J. Lang at right guard. Lang earned his first Pro Bowl bid in 2016, but joined the Lions in free agency. Don Barclay seems the likely candidate to fill in, with UDFA Lucas Patrick also having a shot.
But beyond that hole, the Packers are set on the offensive line. Bryan Bulaga holds down the right side, while David Bakhtiari has evolved into one of the league’s premier pass blockers. Lane Taylor made major strides replacing Josh Sitton, and Corey Linsley remains an above average center. They might not be the best run blocking unit in the league, but overall their performance stays consistent and strong. Their pass blocking ranks highly, and on an Aaron Rodgers-led team, that’s the most important aspect on offense.
Dual Threat Running Game
The Packers will likely add another running back in the draft. In fact, rumors and mock drafts frequently have Green Bay taking one relatively early. Eddie Lacy joined the Seahawks in free agency, so the Packers’ number one back entering this season is converted receiver Ty Montgomery. Montgomery averaged almost six yards per carry in a limited role last season, so he could potentially emerge as a legitimate back. Even if he’s not a top ten rusher, his former role as a receiver makes him dangerous. Screen passes and motioning him out of the backfield should become a major part of the Packers’ offense. It’ll be hard for linebackers to continuously cover Montgomery, especially with the excellent pass catcher who merit attention elsewhere. Christine Michael and Aaron Ripkowski, while not superstars either, offer a nice change of pace. Add in the presumed rookie, and Green Bay could have a versatile and effective backfield.
Defenses will have a tough time matching up against the plethora of weapons on the Packers’ roster. Between an MVP quarterback, a quartet of effective pass catchers, a stout offensive line, and a multidimensional backfield, the Packers offense could be on its way to a historic 2017 campaign.