Each day between now and post-Super Bowl Monday, we’ll roll out a get-to-the-point offseason plan for one NFL team. Today, the Packers; tomorrow, the Seahawks-Panthers loser. After that, we’ll see. Here’s our three-point plan for Green Bay:
1. Don’t waste another year of Aaron Rodgers’ prime
The Packers’ 6-0 start to the regular season masked a lot of issues with Green Bay’s offense. Jordy Nelson’s absence — he went down with an ACL injury in the preseason — wreaked havoc with the passing game as the Packers lacked a receiver who could consistently get open. Randall Cobb – fresh off signing a four-year, $40 million deal — proved he couldn’t get open against No. 1 cornerbacks, and others such as Davante Adams, James Jones, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis were either too hurt, too old or too inexperienced to be relied upon. And the offensive line was an injury-riddled disaster from the start. Green Bay finished eighth in the NFL in QB hits allowed with 104 and fifth with 47 sacks allowed. Is it any wonder Rodgers began to show cracks in his usually MVP-caliber play as the season wore on? The situation up front needs to get rectified. And though Nelson’s return next season will help, he may not be the same player initially as he works his way back into form. The Packers must develop the crop of receivers they have or find other options – especially at tight end, where Richard Rodgers doesn’t have the speed or athleticism necessary to start in the NFL. Their future Hall of Fame QB will turn 33 next season, and he doesn’t have nearly enough help around him.
2. Tell Eddie Lacy he needs to either lose weight or lose his roster spot
Lacy seemed to run out of gas in his third season.
Lacy’s weight is listed at 234 pounds. Do you believe that? Anyone who watched him huff and puff his way down the field for a 61-yard run during Saturday night’s loss would disagree. A faster back would have reached the end zone on that play. It’s true that Lacy is a ground-and-pound runner, but this is ridiculous. After posting two straight 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons to start his career, the third-year pro dipped to just 758 yards over 15 games and temporarily lost his starting job to backup James Starks. This is the NFL, and Lacy isn’t owed a thing. If he can’t get himself in gear, the Packers need to cut bait and let him become someone else’s problem. There are plenty of running backs available in every draft who will come faster, lighter and cheaper.
3. Move Clay Matthews back outside
Matthews has been masking problems at inside linebacker, but he’s best suited outside.
Yes, it’s true the seven-year pro was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2015 after being moved to inside linebacker, but that’s not his natural position. Without true options inside and a glut of pass rushers, the Packers felt they could get away with the versatile Matthews in the middle of the field. However, things could be changing as Julius Peppers is in the twilight of his career and fellow outside linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry have expiring contracts. If the Packers let both of them walk, they will need to address the inside linebacker position so they can move Matthews back to where he has had the best years of his career.