Schedule: @MIN, DET, @NO, ATL, BYE, @TB, @HOU, MIN, @SF, JAX, @IND, CHI, PHI, @DET, CAR, TEN, @CHI
Additions: LB Christian Kirksey (FA), OL Ricky Wagner (FA),
WR Devin Funchess (FA), TE/FB Josiah Deguara (Draft), LB Kamal Martin (Draft)
Losses: LB Blake Martinez (FA), OL Bryan Bulaga (FA), TE Jimmy Graham (FA), EDGE Kyler Fackrell (FA), LB B.J. Goodson (FA), WR Geronimo Allison (FA), WR Devin Funchess (Opt-out), LB Kamal Martin (Injury)
I like how we all seem to agree the Packers won’t repeat their 13-3 season. Usually, there’s a lot of push back towards predicting significant regression from one of the top reigning teams in the league, but everyone outside of Wisconsin seems to be unified.
While Green Bay won 13 games, they were only 3-2 against playoff teams—with the wins coming against the Vikings (twice) and Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs—and often struggled against non-playoff foes. In the postseason, they squeaked past a shell of a Seattle team before getting run over by San Francisco. After overperforming so much last year, 9-11 wins feels appropriate.
Just because the Packers will be worse doesn’t mean they’re bad, though. Few triplets are as imposing as Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams. Green Bay’s draft may have sent some mixed signals, but don’t be mistaken: Rodgers is still a great quarterback and Jones is as explosive as they come. Drafting receivers is apparently illegal in Wisconsin, so Adams doesn’t face the same breathing down his neck. His concerns are all injury-related. After missing four games in 2019, the 27-year-old should have a bounce back season given better health.
What’s scary is everything behind Adams. Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown look a lot better on paper on the field. And the only reason they look good on paper is because their names are so awesome. There’s a long-standing trend of overrating Green Bay receivers because of Rodgers’ greatness and the amount of media coverage the team gets.
Tight end is just as sketchy. Third-year pro Robert Tonyan is the favorite to start. With just 177 career yards, he’s purely a projection at this point. Green Bay also invested third-round picks on the position in back-to-back years. Both Jace Sternberger and rookie Josiah Deguara should see snaps as well. Deguara, especially, will see time at a variety of positions. For as hard as Jimmy Graham has fallen off, losing him left this position barren.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari guarantees the Packers will have at least a solid offensive line every year. Few quarterbacks worry less about their blindside than Rodgers. At the other tackle spot, someone other than Bryan Bulaga will start for the first time in a decade. Who, exactly, is still unclear, with multiple candidates currently banged-up. No matter who’s at right tackle, this group’s floor is probably average play while the ceiling is top-5 status. For as frustrating as Green Bay can be with acquiring offensive weapons, they sure know how to build a line.
GM Brian Gutekunst spent a lot of money last year to improve the defense, seeing mixed results. Somehow not related, Za’Darius and Preston Smith transformed the pass rush. Stopping the run, on the other hand, was a huge problem. While the defensive line features the highest-paid nose tackle in the league, this was the team’s biggest issue. Outside of Kenny Clark, everyone gets moved off their spots way too easily.
Another contributing factor was the underwhelming linebacker play, and that’s poised to repeat as an issue. Swapping Blake Martinez for Christian Kirksey doesn’t move the needle much, if at all. Like the front seven, the secondary is also a mixed bag. They flash lockdown potential, but rarely sustain that for long.
This Packers team is very similar to the 2019 iteration. Only this year, their record should more accurately reflect their ability. Assuming a return to the playoffs, Green Bay would be just as (non?)threatening as it was last season despite the worse record. Given the favorable division and schedule, there’s a good chance they make it back.
What’s your record prediction for the Packers? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.