With the Green Bay Packers’ 2013 season now in the rearview mirror, a little reflection on the past season and a look into the future is this week’s subject of scrutiny. First, let’s tackle the offense.
The Packers are loaded with offensive talent and, with the return of a couple wounded warriors who sat out all or part the 2013 season, the outlook for 2014 should be bright indeed for the Green and Gold. The Packers’ newly found running attack led by rookie Eddie Lacy gives the Packers a potent weapon not seen in Green Bay in many years. However, the Packers have a whopping 17 in-house unrestricted free agents, 10 of whom play an offensive position. Soon, management will have to sort those players out, prioritizing value/need etc., and there will be significant personnel changes going forward.
Tackle Bryan Bulaga is not one of those free agents and should return at full strength in 2014. I suspect Mike McCarthy will want his talents at the critical left tackle position, which was the plan this past year until he got injured in the pre-season. Right tackle would then become an open competition between David Bakhtiari, Derek Sherrod and Don Barclay. The Packer guards are both good linemen. However, an upgrade at the center position might be in order. J.C. Tretter, injured most of 2013 has impressed the coaches and likely will be given an opportunity to compete with incumbent Evan Dietrich-Smith. Whoever loses these competitions would give the Packers pretty solid, veteran backups.
Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb provide the Packers with outstanding talent at wide receiver. Second year player Jarrett Boykin really stepped up his game and will likely become the Packers’ number three receiver if James Jones leaves in free agency. If he doesn’t, the Packers will have four proven, quality receivers.
The running back group is likewise in good hands. Lacy is a beast of a running back. James Starks may leave in free agency but I hope not. He runs almost as hard as Lacy and is faster. DuJaun Harris missed the whole 2013 season but he was the starter in 2012 and offers a nice change of pace running back.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the prime of his career, and as long as he stays healthy the Packers have a chance to win. Without him it is another story. The backup quarterbacks who played in his absence this year were numerous and marginal. Here is a shock… the Packer Partisan thinks that management ought to offer Tim Tebow a contract and let him compete for the backup spot. Some may question the sanity of that suggestion, but Tebow could develop and who knows, he could be a great fit as the backup quarterback in Titletown.
That leaves the tight end position and here we need some help. Jermichael Finley’s contract has expired and he suffered a serious neck injury during the 2013 season. The time has come to move on without Jermichael. The remaining tight ends on the roster are not starting-caliber players. There are three outstanding college prospects, one of which might make sense for the Packers’ number-one draft pick this coming spring. The Packers have MANY needs on defense and I will address those next week, but providing Aaron Rodgers with one more playmaker might just keep the Packers scoring 30-plus points per game, which likely will be necessary given the state of the defense.
In summary, the Packers already have a very good offense. Upgrades at the center and tight end positions in addition to the Rodgers/Lacy attack and some better luck than the horrendous injury-filled past season could make the 2014 Packer offense a terror to behold.