Type to search

Can the 2021 Packers Be Special?

An MVP quarterback. A deep receiver group. Quality running backs. An All-Pro cornerback. This Packer team has some special pieces. Whether the final 53 and practice squad can excel will require the following questions to be answered with positive plays on Lambeau Field.

Can the Packers field dominant Special Team coverage units? We are only two games into the 2021 Preseason and already discussing ST coverage problems has become redundant. The sick feeling gut has become a bleeding ulcer, a potentially deadly condition that can literally erase the accomplishments of the offense, as demonstrated so incompetently by the Packers Saturday. A deeper question is how do the Packers fix their Special Teams? LaFleur decided to stay in house, tapping assistant coach Maurice Drayton. Drayton has 20 years of coaching experience, most of it coming at the college level at The Citadel. If Drayton has the answers, now is the time to see them on the field. While Mason Crosby has been an above average kicker, his kickoffs can lead to return opportunities for opponents. J. K. Scott needs to establish consistency. While the team brought in competition for both, it was short lived.

Green Bay Packers safety Christian Uphoff (40) tackles New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios (10) on a punt return during their preseason football game on Saturday, August 21, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Can the defense improve while learning a new system? The Packers defense has some players that can make plays. While Kevin King gets most of the blame for secondary blunders in the NFC Championship, the defense was also let down by their scheme and linebacker play. Gutekunst played his same stale hand with linebacker acquisition. Low end FA added to a late round draft pick. Will it work in 2021? De’Vondre Campbell seems to be both a run and coverage improvement so there is potential. The new scheme should be an interesting debate topic as the season progresses.

Can some of the young players step up and play significant minutes? So far in preseason, the offensive line has a concerning question at guard. Young players Jon Runyan, Ben Braden, and Lucas Patrick all need to improve. Josh Meyers has potential, but is not the Pro Bowl center he is replacing. Bakhtiari needs time to recover from his injury. Can Deguara stay healthy and ascend? Will Krys Barnes improve? Can T.J. Slaton give us quality minutes on the defensive line? If Slaton can step in and play well what a difference that could make for the Packer defense. The Packers improvement took a good step against the Jets. Their weaknesses were exposed and some young players stepped up. Nice performances by Malik Taylor and Reggie Begelton. A sack by Slaton. A pass break up by Stokes and a third and one TFL by Krys Barnes. If special plays can turn into consistency, there is hope for this Packer 2021 team. The next challenge comes in Buffalo on Saturday. The Bills are a quality team with a now seasoned QB. This is a test the Packers need to pass.

Tags:
Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards is a lawyer, victim advocate, writer, and long term Packer fan and Packer history enthusiast.

    1

17 Comments

  1. Tom M August 23, 2021

    I share your concern on special teams. However many now playing won’t make the final 53 which makes it difficult to assess. My guess would be Runyan and Newman at guard, with Myers at center. Which makes us very young and very inexperienced on the interior OL. That maybe a blessing in disguise. Forcing Rodgers to stick to the game plan and not ad lib. You can see why Brian Gutekunst kept Malik Taylor over Rodgers buddy Jake Kumerow. He could very well be a player. This draft class figures to get a lot of playing time. AJ Dillion and probably Jon Runyan start from last year draft class. With Josiah Deguara figuring prominently in the offense and Jordan Love taking over in 2022. Your gonna need lots of cheap labor to get under the cap next year. But you’ve got a nice mix of ascending young players and veterans for 2021. Now, if everyone can stay relatively healthy…..

  2. Mick August 23, 2021

    No doubt the special teams is a sore spot that needs major imrovement. Most teams struggle in the pre-season with ST, because they’re looking for depth players also. However, that is not an excuse for J.K.Scotts’ punting woes. I don’t know if it is a concentration issue or what, but he always has a snafu of a punt just about every game. He had a couple of good ones against the Jets, then shanks one for 21 yards. He has plenty of time during practices to fix this issue, and we as fans, and the coaches; expect better. Now in his 4th year, there are no excuses for this guy. Maybe the punter for this year is not on the roster. As for Slaton, I watched quite a few of his plays in college after the Pack drafted him. While the reason for drafting him was his bulk and strength to help stop the run, I noticed he was a force in disrupting the passing game by collapsing the pocket. He’s made plays so far in the preseason, and IF he can continue to progress, he’ll make life easier for the LBs. Tom mentioned some concerns on the offensive side, I thought I would mention the STs, and defense. Tackling still is an area that needs improvement. Burks had a good showing last week against Houston, and they praised him; then against the Jets, he was invisible. This does not shock me at all. Even though it is the pre-season, more should be expected from the vets playing on the team at this time of year to make a case for the 53 man roster.

    1. Tom M August 23, 2021

      I completely agree. I’d move on from Oren Burks. Likewise Kamal Martin has been disappointing after flashing last year. But they won’t give up on him just yet. TJ Slaton has been a pleasant surprise after the likes of Jerel Worthy and Montravious Adams. Both talented big men who never seemed to want it. That kid Heflin out of Iowa also looks good. I’m not as high on Jean-Charles as some. Not sure he has the speed to play the slot. And Kabion Ento can’t tackle. Jaire goes down and it’s all over. Maybe Love can come in and run the offense if Rodgers goes down. Maybe. We lose Alexander and we’re in a shoot out every week. JK Scott is an enigma. He has the skill set to be a top 5 punter. Yet struggles with consistency. They’ll be lots of options when roster cuts start coming for a possible replacement.

      1. Mick August 23, 2021

        Ya, that Heflin kid from Iowa seems like a blue collar type player. He does hustle and seems to be in the mix on a lot of plays. If I remember right, Ento was a receiver in the past and expecting him to tackle at the pro level, has me scratching my head. I don’t think there are many receivers that can tackle effectively. With so many receivers on the roster now, I guess they are just experimenting with him. The fact that Ento isn’t playing receiver tells a lot about his chances at making the team as a receiver. I also think Redmond is in trouble of making the roster. The back up safetys’ have shown some improvement. It’ll be interesting to see if some of these younger players will be kept in favor of the non-starting vets, as the team looks forward to the salary cap concerns for next season. We’ll see if Gutes’ vision of going all-in now; has any teeth to it.

  3. Packtat87 August 23, 2021

    I see Adams is throwing some praise at Eric Stokes. This makes me happy. The only true way for the Packers to be special in the sense that the could possibly not break our heart in devastating fashion as per usual is to get King off the fucking field. I may not be thrilled about every other aspect of the team going into the season, but at least then I won’t dread it.

    Anyone else reading these articles pumping up MVS’s camp? If they’re sold on getting him, Adams and Cobb as many snaps as they can how will our rookie Rodgers play into this season? Or is he suppose to hit the ground running next year with Love?

  4. NobodysBurfect August 23, 2021

    Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I think a lot of people are seeing this team with rose colored glasses. Even last year, as much as an offensive juggernaut that they were, I felt the same way.

    .

    The best teams are well rounded, and deep. Does anyone honestly think our Oline is “deep” after these last few outings? Especially with Bakh out for a bit, and losing Linsley in FA. Did our Oline inspire trust these past few games?

    .

    People are hyping up TJ Slaton because of 1 sack in a preseason game, and we’re supposed to be excited about the “flashes” Kingsley Keke has been showing us for the last two years. Ok. Well if Slaton and Keke don’t work out, we’ve got that strong supporting cast of Lowry and Lancaster behind them. Hot damn!

    .

    The MLB position doesn’t exist on this team. It never has, it never will. AJ Hawk was the pinnacle of linebacker play post Desmond Bishop. Long time fans know exactly how good Hawk was his last few years.

    .

    Deep receiving corps? You mean the speedy tall guy who dropped half his passes, the rookie who’s never played in an NFL game, a near retired Cobb with an injury history…who?

    .

    So I guess if you don’t factor in our O line, our D line, our wide receivers, our middle linebackers, and our entire special teams unit…I think this team has it all too.

    1. MMSUCKS August 23, 2021

      NobodysBurfect, I am with you on all of those points. MLB has been a shit-show for at least a decade. The Packers’ NEED TWO MLB’s that have similar qualities like the two that Tampa Bay has under contract. Those two are game changers. We as Packer fans saw this twice last year!!!!

      *
      D-line has been underwhelming for a very long time as well . . . I would also add OLB to this mess. Z. Smith is hurting, P. Smith is either sandbagging, or doesn’t give fuck-all. R. Gary is ALSO injured and is still a question mark. The other few on the roster are anything but Blue-Chip players.

      *
      I believe that the Packers are a good team, just NOT a great team. They are STILL MISSING the same types of personnel that they have needed for over a decade. I believe that some of the Packer scouts are to blame. They can hit on a few “gems” but then they CONSISTENTLY MISS every year on the same position players. This suggests to me that certain scouts are needed to replace some of these scouts to help facilitate upper managements ineptitude at bringing in the requisite talent for EACH POSITION of need, Obviously, they continue to fail miserably at assessing certain positions.

      *
      Last year, the Packers lost to a team that had BETTER players in the most crucial areas. The MLB’s, the D-Line, and ST’s. Having those players is usually why teams win! Tampa Bay’s front 7 on Defense killed both Green Bay’s AND Kansas City’s hopes for a Super Bowl. To this day, Green Bay cannot seem to understand that the Defensive front 7 ARE THE REASON that teams usually get to Super Bowl.

      1. Mick August 24, 2021

        Thank you MMSUCKS and NobodysBurfect. I’ve been questioning the scouting dep’t for years. How many times in the last 6-7 years have they been addressing the secondary in the draft with higher round picks, and getting mixed results? Mean while, the 49ers (twice) in 2019; exposed the Packers’ weaknesses on defense for all to see. In 2020, Tampa Bay (twice) exposed weaknesses on the Packer D. The NFCCG game in 2014 against the Seahawks was kind of an exception, but defense has been the sole reason this team fails in the championship games. Yet, we have our brain trust thinking that we can fix these issues with latter round draft picks, and undrafted FAs. I believe in the draft and develop theory of providing depth on the team, but not as a main tool for fixing obvious needs. The front seven is the catalyst of a solid defense. On top of that we have heard that the ILB position isn’t a focal point in GBs’ defensive plans (Pettine). Yet, it has been proven in the past, and still is to this day; the weakest part of the defense. Another issue is the D-Line I understand not every front 7 position on the D has to be a top round draft pick, but; geeeeeez, grandma saw the weaknesses on this D against the Niners 2 years ago!

        1. MMSUCKS August 26, 2021

          Your welcome!

  5. Ferris August 23, 2021

    Cut JK Scott. They can do better off the final cuts scrap heap.

  6. Tom M August 24, 2021

    There’s no question the OL is a work in progress at the guard position. As of today, it’s looking like Jon Runyan and Royce Newman with Josh Myers at center. That’s two rookies and a second year player for your interior line. With Jenkins and Turner at tackle until Bakhtiari returns somewhere around week 8. I think it can work as long as 12 sticks with the game plan and runs the ball with quick reads and throws. He starts to call his own plays waiting for Adams or Cobb to force the ball to and your looking at trouble. I don’t buy the WR nonsense. He’s got everyone back that enabled him to throw 48 TD’s last year plus Cobb, Funchess, Amari, and Malik Taylor. I really think Taylor could be a player. Slaton and Heflin give you nice depth along the DL. They’ve got some young safeties in Black and Scott that can play. Ento is a better young corner than either Jackson or Hollman, both gone. We’ll see what Krys Barnes and this Campbell guy can do at ILB. I was shocked they gave up on Kamal Martin so quickly after giving Oren Burks such a long leash. It all depends on your perspective. Is the glass half full or half empty? This roster is by no means perfect but I’m not going to make excuses for Aaron Rodgers either. This is a superior team to to either Denver or Las Vegas, two of his preferred landing spots.

    1. rebelgb August 25, 2021

      These same clowns were dumping on the Pack last season too; saying we were an 8-8 Team. With parity and the salary cap ALL teams have these issues (depth). This Packer roster is pretty packed. PF4L’s man Aaron said he feels this is the best team hes been on. But hey what does he know, he only practices with them every day.

      Barring major injuries this team will be one of the top 3 in football this year.

      1. Tom M August 26, 2021

        Yep, every team has issues. Can Garoppolo stay health? How do the Rams run the ball without Cam Akers? Russell Wilson hasn’t been able to beat us the last two years. The NFC East is a hot mess. And the Bucs are already having issues with AB. And is this finally the year Father Time catches up to Brady? That extra 17th game cannot be over overlooked. The season is going to be a grid and whoever stays heathy has the edge. But out of the gate, we’re as good as anyone in the NFC.

        1. Mick August 26, 2021

          Hard to figure if Brady starts to decline this season. One would think that he can’t keep this level of play up much longer. He has such a great supporting cast around him; players and coaches. I’m thinking that only injuries to key positions , or uninspired play will be their downfall. It’s possible for any team to have a bad game, at the wrong time; and the Bucs aren’t immune. Other than that, the Bucs are gonna be a tough out.

          1. rebelgb August 27, 2021

            I agree the Bucs are gonna be the tough “out” of the season if it gets to that point. But like you said, anyone can stink one game, and injuries are always a game changer.

          2. Tom M August 29, 2021

            It’s exceedingly difficult to repeat. But if anyone can, I certainly wouldn’t count out Tom Brady. With 17 games this year, the season will be a grind. And our bye is very late. After watching Jordan Love play in the preseason, I feel confident he could come in and win games for us with the first team offense. Never felt that way with Brett Hundley or DeShone Kizer. However, we lose Jaire Alexander or a few defensive starters we’re screwed. Not a lot of depth on that side of the ball.

  7. Dean August 25, 2021

    Looks like Funchess is going to IR. Maybe now they keep M. Taylor to help out the special teams. Hard part about the 6th WR — can you have 6 WRs active for a game?