Green Bay Packers: Now is the time for change in Titletown

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While many NFL teams would give significant body parts for the record the Green Bay Packers have amassed over the past 25 years with star quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at the helm, Packers fans feel a bit cheated over having only two Super Bowl championships to show for it.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Bob McGinn seems to agree.

In a recent strongly-worded article, McGinn charges that the “stay the course” philosophy relied upon by Packers GM Ted Thompson while focusing on building through the draft has failed.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) makes a reception past Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) makes a reception past Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

This writer wholeheartedly agrees.

Some fans will contend that it was the injuries that doomed the team in Atlanta. That is true … in part. The injuries laid open the fact that the cupboard behind the starters is bare, especially in the defensive secondary.

Thompson has spent a number of high draft picks on players playing out of position or with little experience (Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall).

Moreover, he was forced to rely on other players with limited talent and experience such as LaDarius Gunter, Josh Hawkins, Demetri Goodson and Makinton Dorleant.

Hardly a Murderers’ Row of secondary strength.

It is true that Thompson has hit on some of his draft choices, but in recent years, he has missed more than hit.

So, what to do?

Let’s take a closer look …

Packers need playmakers

The Packers make it to the door of the championship game but cannot force their way through because they do not have enough playmakers on this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

As former linebackers coach Kevin Greene would say, “It. Is. Time!”

Thompson cannot wait to make some moves to upgrade the talent on this team. The time is NOW!

Thompson needs to explore every avenue to bring in playmaker talent. Look at possible trades, free agency and a serious move-up in the draft.

Sep 19, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) reacts after making a sack during the first quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Kyle Field. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 19, 2015; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) reacts after making a sack during the first quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Kyle Field. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Some folks will probably think this is somewhat crazy, but the team should consider a move to grab linebacker Myles Garrett. His kind of talent does not come every year. He is a Von Miller type defensive playmaker who could strike fear in offensive coordinators the way Clay Matthews used to do.

Put those two players together and you have already upgraded the defense – the kind of rush they could generate could cover secondary deficiencies. Anyway you slice it, more playmakers on defense are necessary.

Moreover, McGinn notes the serious lack of playmaking speed on defense once again in a recent article and a player like Garrett could be the answer. But someone like that would not come cheaply.

Obviously, cornerback needs to be addressed. The free agent market has slim pickings with A.J. Bouye of Houston being the prize right now.

The Texans will do everything to keep him but they have some cap issues. The draft has few significant prospects as well at that position.

Could a trade be worked out?

That’ss omething to consider.

In the interim, the young players got important playing time which could work to the team’s advantage. The Packers may have to work with what they have and concentrate on upgrading the pass rush and the center of the front seven.

Can the team afford it?

Yes.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields. Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields. Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It is unlikely that cornerback Sam Shields will return after his concussion issues and that will free up some significant money.

According to Sportrac, the Packers are more than $30 million under the cap, not including the savings from not keeping Shields. The main question is whether or not to re-sign T.J. Lang to a long-term deal. Lang is on the other side of 30 and injury prone.

Can you justify a high salary to a player under that condition?

If you decide not to re-sign Lang, do you sign J.C. Tretter and plug him into Lang’s spot and also bring back running back Eddie Lacy on a limited type deal?

That depends on what the market will bear for those two players.

I would say re-sign Lacy and Tretter and letting Lang go in free agency. Tough choice, but calculated risks have to be made now.

The offensive line is the strength of this team and while Lang is a big reason for it, a guard can be more easily replaced than a tackle.

Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) runs past New York Giants cornerback Trevin Wade (31) to score a touchdown during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) runs past New York Giants cornerback Trevin Wade (31) to score a touchdown during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If you bring back Lacy, his running mate will be Ty Montgomery. However, more talent is needed at that position.

This year’s draft is loaded at running back. A couple of draft choices before the fourth round will more than adequately restock that position.

The wide receiver position has a question as well. Do you bring Randall Cobb back at his salary next season?

His production diminished, and his injuries were a factor in that. Personally, I want to see Cobb back, but not at that salary number.

Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison are forming a good core. Trevor Davis has potential, but the Jeff Janis experiment has come to an end. It may be time for the Packers to explore.

Bringing in some reliable speed and talent at that slot is important, especially if Cobb departs.

It cannot be stressed enough that the time is now.

If the Packers executives cannot see that, they may need to retire. The fans are tired of waiting.

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