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Packers Open with Sound Starting Units, But Then What?

I’m pleased with the players who will take to the field for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Like many of you, however, I worry about the team’s lack of depth.

Uncharacteristically, Ted Thompson and his player personnel crew tried a little of everything to plug the holes revealed in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons in January. They let players go, both veterans and marginal hangers-on. They drafted well. They brought in some players with proven ability, like Martellus Bennett, Davon House, Jahri Evans and Lance Kendricks.

They even took a shot on Arena league player Justin McCray and he made the final roster — sending Don Barclay to the injured reserve list. Even after the final cuts to 53 roster players were made, Green Bay was still tinkering by replacing players with those they felt were a skosh better: Ahmad Brooks over Jayrone Elliott at outside linebacker, Quinton Dial over Christian Ringo on the defensive line. Chris Odom will be pushing Kyler Fackrell for backup playing time, etc.

Though we don’t know the capabilities of some of these new acquisitions, I’m generally confident that the Packers have at least one backup who can capably step in at every position. Time will tell if that’s enough.

2010 Super Bowl Champs

A couple weeks ago I took a look at Green Bay’s last Super Bowl winner, and other recent winners of the Lombardi Trophy, as well. Using the number of players placed on injured reserve or the PUP list during the preseason and season as a guide, these teams typically lost about 12 players. Three of the last four Super Bowl winners, however, stayed relatively healthy, by suffering only eight such lost players.

The remarkable 2010 Packers survived the loss of 17 such players. They did so by having a bunch of young or unheralded players prove to be adequate replacements, guys like linebackers Erik Walden and Frank Zombo and defensive back Charlie Peprah. The list also features several rookies who were pushed into service before they were thought to be ready, such as Clay Matthews, James Starks, Morgan Burnett, and Andrew Quarless.

Injuries Will Be Key

Making excuses about a team’s rash of injuries is considered bad form. But the reality is that the “next man up” is usually a step down in quality. A team with a deep roster can endure quite a number of serious injuries, but I don’t think the 2017 Packers fit that description. Having skill players go on IR is almost always the kiss of death for teams aspiring to go to the Super Bowl. This year two such players can be reactivated, so they get to participate in the stretch drive and postseason battles – a good rule, but three or four would be even better.

If the Packers can keep their number of IR casualties down to single digits, I like this team’s chances. If not, I don’t.

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Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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4 Comments

  1. MJ September 14, 2017

    Last game we didn’t need a lot of defensive replacements to step in, since our offense was at least staying in the field and getting first downs. And our D was getting off the field pretty well against SEA’s offense. The depth will start showing what they’re capable of if we happen to have a lot of defensive snaps. That’s when the rotation is needed, since starters will be gassed otherwise.

    1. PF4L September 14, 2017

      Great point MJ.

      Another nice article Rob, although for the life of me, i don’t know where anyone can say they drafted well at this point. Maybe down the road when some of them get some playing time, or….just gets on the field.

  2. ay hombre September 14, 2017

    I think this team overall is pretty deep. You can’t be deep everywhere. No team is.

  3. Kato September 14, 2017

    Clay Matthews was a second year player when they won the super bowl.

    The packers probably do have better depth than we think. Although I think they are in big trouble if an injury is sustained on the offensive line.