By the end of last year’s season, any optimism towards the Packers’ near-future could easily be dismissed as being naive. However, due to several promising moves by the front office during this offseason including an overall respectable draft performance, being optimistic about next season isn’t too crazy of a notion. In fact, many analysts among NFL sports media have begun to recognize this fact.
Pete Prisco with CBS Sports recently placed the Green Bay Packers at #2 in its list of 2019 NFL Power Rankings:
Some teams had what I considered to be great drafts, but they might not be as impactful this season as they will be in the future. That means those teams and those players could still be a year or so away.
But for the good teams, those impressive drafts can play key roles in 2019. One of those teams that had a good draft to help its roster was the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have had a great offseason all the way around – at least when it comes to adding to the roster — which is why they are in the No. 2 spot in my Power Rankings.
After loading up on defense in free agency by landing pass rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, as well as safety Adrian Amos, the Packers came back and had a good draft. They added edge player Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage in the first round, while third-round tight end Jace Sternberger should help Aaron Rodgers in the middle of the field.
The Packers are much better now than a year ago – at least on paper. Oh, and they still have Aaron Rodgers. Yes, he’s learning a new offense under first-year coach Matt LaFleur, but that could be a good thing. It’s fresh. The Packers got stale on that side of the ball.
Green Bay still needs some young players to step up at receiver, but I think the talent is there. The offense will be dynamic again. And I think the improvements on defense make Green Bay the team to beat in the NFC.
Even as a Packer fan, I would say that might be a bit optimistic but I really hope that I am incorrect. Naturally, New England tops the list because of that deal Bill Belichick made with the devil that everyone knows about by now. Jokes aside, the Patriots have made some smart offseason moves of their own(as usual), but we will not dive into that here.
NFL.com analyst Adam Schein predicts that the Packers will win 11 games next season and will sit atop of the NFC North:
I love what Green Bay has done this offseason. General manager Brian Gutekunst arguably added five defensive starters in free agency (S Adrian Amos, DE Za’Darius Smith, OLB Preston Smith) and the draft (DE Rashan Gary, S Darnell Savage). Big for a unit that hasn’t cracked the top 20 in points allowed since 2015. Gutekunst also upgraded two offensive areas that needed attention: offensive line and tight end. And I love the appointment of Matt LaFleur as head coach. With a clean bill of health, Aaron Rodgers’ “I can be coached” tour is going to be real and spectacular.
ESPN’s 2019 NFL Power Rankings is little bit less hopeful than CBS Sports but also gave the Packers’ offseason moves high ratings while placing them at #12 on the list:
Projected wins: 8.6
Chance to make playoffs: 46.8 percent
Where the team improved this offseason: Speed on defense. The Packers got younger and quicker at the edge position by signing Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, and by taking Rashan Gary at No. 12 in the draft. And then on the back end, the addition of first-round safety Darnell Savage Jr. (4.36-second 40-yard dash at the combine) and sixth-round cornerback Ka’dar Hollman (4.36 at his pro day) made them faster there, too. They might also have helped their defensive speed in the middle if seventh-round inside linebacker Ty Summers (4.51 at the combine) can make the team. — Rob Demovsky
Yahoo Sports UK(stop laughing) puts Green Bay at #8 in their 2019 Power Rankings:
Meet your new NFC North favorites, led by early coach of the year frontrunner Matt LaFleur. Aaron Rodgers will be rejuvenated for a big season, and all the major defensive upgrades will pay off to give coordinator Mike Pettine more of the impact he wants.
On the other hand, Tom Silverstein with Packers News does not have such a rosy outlook for next season. He argues that the new management structure is just a disaster waiting to happen(what follows is a direct quote but what precedes is my own paraphrasing):
[In regard to Thompson’s departure:] Murphy acknowledged that [Russ] Ball has a tremendous amount of responsibility, much of which he had before. But he acknowledged that before the change, Ball had to clear every decision he made with Thompson before moving forward.
Now, nearly every football decision except team personnel goes through Ball’s office, and multiple sources said he has Murphy’s ear more than anyone else, creating an uneven dynamic in what was supposed to be an equal split of authority. Gutekunst has full say over the 53-man roster, but unlike Thompson and Wolf before him, he doesn’t control the message inside and outside the building.
Ball never speaks to the media or is out front when news is announced.
Under the current structure, the club doesn’t have a strong public presence like when McCarthy, Wolf or Mike Holmgren were leading the way. LaFleur didn’t come in and say he was going to win a world championship like McCarthy did or bring a pair of Super Bowl rings with him like Holmgren did. From all indications, he doesn’t have a forceful personality.
Similar to Bleacher Report’s piece on the McCarthy/Rodgers drama, Silverstein relies on some unnamed sources so you will have to take that into account. Not naming sources to protect their identity is as old as journalism so I do not hold that against him but just something to keep in mind while reading it.
As for power rankings, we are well aware of their usefulness(read: almost not at all useful), but they are good for measuring sentiment among sports journalists and provide at least a vague idea as to where each team stands as far as their perceived potential among analysts. As for the Packers, I very highly doubt we will be sitting out the playoffs next year. Beyond that, no one can accurately say.
#2 in the power rankings? Lol, optimistic is an understatement. I’m not gonna waste my time naming off all of teams in a better position than the Packers but this would assume GB will do better than NE or the Chiefs. Lol, based off of what? This team hasn’t had a winning season in three years. They added some mid level, high priced free agents and some draft picks. Mostly all on defense except for a back up tight end which is a position they never use anyway. This year could be different and hopefully they improve but to project them as #2 in the league is laughable.
“Meet your new NFC North favorites, led by early coach of the year frontrunner Matt LaFleur.” Coach of the year frontrunner? Based off of what? The season hasn’t even started, let alone training camp, and this first year HC hasn’t proven anything. From what we hear he wasn’t even allowed to pick his own assistants. I understand people want to be excited or be the first to claim they predicted “whatever achievement” before it MAYBE* happens so they can feel like nostrodomus, but this is ridiculous.
Geez Cheese, You’re doing the same thing the guy who wrote the article did,except there’s nothing positive in your comments. I thought they were really reaching on some things too, but you’re really going off.
I just want to see the Packers win back to back games against playoff caliber teams first. Something the Packers have not accomplished in the last two years. Until the Packers can string two wins together against quality teams I’m going to curb my enthusiasm for a Packer playoff appearance.
Welcome to the neighborhood. Sorry I don’t have any Kool-aid to offer you. I ran out of sugar a long time ago. That’ll happen when a team is progressively worse off than they were the year before for eight years straight and nothing is done about it, yet the media still talks about them like they’re coming off of a Super Bowl win from 2010. I would like statements to have some sort of basis in reality.
Power rankings = mock drafts. Half dozen one, six the other. Both pretty useless in most cases.
Careful Silverstein, you keep talking that way about the Packers management structure and you’ll be soon getting the McGinn treatment.
I’m having trouble thinking of the words that would do justice to express the amount of respect Mitch has earned through his post. He’s on a level only a handful occupy.
And does it with a sense of humor. “….the McGinn treatment”. Only a select few even understand that. But nothing could be more true.
Someone spiked the koolaid with everclear
Obviously, more unnamed sources, and maybe a bit overblown, but still, where there is smoke, there is fire. Just like the revelation that Aaron Rodgers is a bitch, Murphy is fucktard that has no business overseeing a pro football team, much less making final decisions on the makeup of the roster, coaches, ect. Russ Ball sounds like a real gem. Fits in perfectly with the dysfunction at 1265.
I stopped drinking the kool-aid years ago cause I hated Thompson and McCarthy. However, I’m drinking it now for a number of reasons. The 2 biggest problem areas of GB has been fixed. The safety position is now a strength. Savage and Amos will be Butler/Robinson part 2. The second weakness has been no depth on the OL. One of the truest axioms in football is even the best QBs will suck if they have no time to throw and they get hit. Happy feet problem then ensues and well we all saw Rogers and his fall from greatness. The GB OL should be the best in the NFL this season which will elevate #12 back to greatness. Jones and the Irish RB will dominate. The only wild card is the WR group. I believe Allison is highly under rated. I expect the 3 draftees from the previous draft to improve. So to the naysayers I would say, where is the weakness on this team? Whatever your answer, I’ll counter with this, stop the run and run the ball. It’s been true since football began. Be good at those 2 things and success will follow. We as fans, have suffered through the worst and it’s all gravy now. Well, gravy and kool-aid.
Possibly. I really like Savage’s prospects for being a great player at this level, but he hasn’t played a down at the NFL level yet. I question the locker room still. There are big egos running rampant in there. I do not see an alpha in that locker room, which is huge. They haven’t had an alpha since Charles Woodson. There hasn’t been a big trend setter on that defense that inspires the play of his teammates. Out of all the guys they have added in recent years, Savage might have the best opportunity to provide that.
Lol, please no more gravy and kool-aid. My body will violently reject it. The smell of either makes me gag ;)
I’m not sure how anyone can say the OL or safety positions are fixed when none of these guys have played a single down together. There’s potential and hopefully things work out, but I’m going to wait until I see something worthwhile before I start making predictions.
“On Paper” Cleveland should be ranked ahead of them. We’ll know around week 12.
Here is a video from PFF regarding R. Gary. I am still not sold on this guy. Injured shoulder, EGO from hell, piss poor production with his immense athleticism. I guess time will tell with this guy. Some of the other guys that BG procured this offseason I do believe will do good things. R Gary comes in with a way too many questions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKhAOIqTHFc
I thought the same about Gary before the draft. I was hoping the Packers would stay away. The main reason was production and the shoulder. I looked at as many game films as available after the pick. There are some negatives and positives on Gary. I will not address the negatives others have said, such as not a good set of pass rush moves. Negatives first. I did not like that Gary pulled up on some plays when chasing from behind and he thought the play was close to being over. Gary when coming around the edge after beating a block tends to stutter step rather than bursting to the QB. Gary would pull up on some hits when other teammates had the ball carrier/QB wrapped up, but not down. Most of those concerns could be directly related to Gary not wanting to aggravate the shoulder.
One thing I don’t think PFF gives Gary credit for is the college field has a difference that is important. The hash marks are further apart than the NFL, allowing for more green grass on the wide side of the field. Add in all the college option offenses and it is even more important to contain the wide side of the field. In many cases Gary was positioned to contain the wide side of the field and strong side of the formation. Gary was very good at holding contain and forcing the QB to make quick decisions on option plays. Once the decision was made by the QB Gary and others could then focus on the only option left. In some games it appeared that teams knew Gary’s first job was contain and the opponents actually used that as a way to neutralize/isolate Gary. Gary can close quickly on the QB or ball carrier once he completed his first job contain and force.
I don’t care what Gary says about his shoulder. There is no doubt Gary was protecting his shoulder last year. How bad Gary’s shoulder is who knows, except the Packers and maybe teams that passed on Gary.
Exactly. Good points Howard. I believe that the shoulder is/has been affecting his aggressiveness. I may be wrong on some of these worries, but the one that concerns me the most is his attitude. I am trusting that it is nothing and that he was just saving his shoulder rather than just quitting and writing plays off unilaterally just because he could. Time will tell . . .
It will all depend on Rodgers. LaFleur won’t let Rodgers call his own plays at a 30% rate like McCarthy did. LaFleur will want to run the ball better than 50%, which Rodgers won’t want to do. LaFleur will try to get Rodgers to play action, something Rodgers doesn’t like to do and when he does it doesn’t do it well.
My hope is that Aaron Rodgers really is gay and tries his best to impress LaFleur, at least for a couple years.
^^^^…..The current front runner for dumbest post of the year.
“……. and all the major defensive upgrades will pay off …..”
Does that come with a written guarantee?….lol
Trivia….When was the last time (year, decade, or century) that ……all the major defensive upgrades payed off before they put on pads …or after? Any guesses?