“We finished with the 25th-ranked defense in the NFL. What we have to do … is bring everybody back! And sign an old guy!”
I have no proof that Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson said those words, but in this increasingly lost offseason, it’s easy enough to imagine that he did.
You would think that, if your season ended in the exact same way to the exact same opponent two years in a row, you’d do something to address that issue. Instead, all indications are that Green Bay is staying the course, with defensive coordinator/adult education enthusiast Dom Capers permanently ensconced in his Lambeau Field booth, and free agents B.J. Raji, Sam Shields and Mike Neal all returning. Because when you have a defense in the bottom quarter of the NFL, CONTINUITY IS IMPORTANT. I assume free agents Johnny Jolly can go ahead and get a 30-year fixed rate, because he's not going anywhere, either.
Some blindly partisan Packers fans might argue that it’s naïve to think you can fire everybody (unless you’re an aging diva who doesn’t want a back-up QB threatening your heroball time), and besides, they may also add parts in free agency and the draft. To address those two in order:
- Free agency: the Packers have signed Julius Peppers, because when you can add a 34-year-old pass rusher from a division rival but you’re worried that Jared Allen might have too much left in the tank, it’s the obvious move. Pro Football Focus gave him a negative grade last year. That arrow is moving in the wrong direction, unless you are Green Bay!
- The draft: I’m sure the team that’s used high draft picks on Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, and Datone Jones the last two years has got this on lock. They may just have the office computer auto draft for them. (Actually, this makes the above picks plausible. Mike, can you ask your former co-worker Zulgad to check his old sources over there?)
As for the offense, the bizarre if unsurprising pattern of Aaron Rodgers not letting anyone block his shine continues, as Money Matt Flynn remains a free agent. You may remember Money Matt from his time putting the Packers on his back and into playoff contention in 2013, while Rodgers rehabilitated/read for a part in The Newsroom. While Flynn faces an uncertain future, Rodgers has lost the reliable James Jones to Oakland, meaning that his current receiving options are the half of next season that Jordy Nelson will be healthy and the half of next season that Randall Cobb will be healthy. If those halves overlap, though, look out!
The Pack also lost Evan Dietrich-Smith to the Buccaneers, meaning that this will be the fourth consecutive season that Rodgers will have to go waaaaaaaaaaay up on his tippy toes to peer over a different starting center’s rump. Marshall Newhouse, meanwhile, is going to the Bengals. Again, though, when you get the chance to shake up the offensive line for your team’s oft-injured quarterback, you have to do that.
As of this writing, both Jermichael Finley and John Kuhn also remain available. One hopes that Finley can recover from injury and get back to being one of the game’s preeminent pass-droppers, while the latter will almost definitely re-up with Green and Gold so he can continue being profoundly overvalued by eastern Wisconsin uncles.
Are there other moves to be made and players to unearth to keep this lumbering football Hindenburg from crashing to the ground? In another increasingly lost offseason, we have our doubts. We’ll reassess their dire predicament after the May draft. Take care, and thank you for reading.