The Green Bay Packers have had one of the most exciting off seasons in the NFL. Despite some obvious losses, optimism is high among fans for another successful season. One former New York Giants executive, now an analyst for NFL.com, does not share that optimism. Marc Ross, who worked for the Giants for about 10 years, listed his top five most “complete” teams entering 2022. The Green Bay Packers were not on his list. He also listed three honorable mentions. The Packers were not on that list either. Now, before anyone says something like, “What does a former Giants executive know about complete teams,” it should be known that New York won two Super Bowls while he worked for the team. Obviously, he knows a thing or two about complete teams. The question, then, is: why are the Packers not on the list?
Questions Surrounding the Packers Special Teams
As much as Packers fans may wish special teams wasn’t a thing, it is very much a crucial part of the game. It’s a facet of the game that the Green Bay front office has neglected for decades. After the Packers’ embarrassing loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs, the special teams received a makeover.
A Changing of the [Coordinator]
First, Maurice Drayton was fired and replaced by Rich Bisaccia. In Bisaccia, the Packers have a special teams guru who held the same title with the Las Vegas Raiders before becoming their interim head coach. For a unit that has been historically bad for years, having a guy like Bisaccia as a leader can only breed hope for success.
A New Punter
Secondly, the Packers signed punter Pat O’Donnell away from the Chicago Bears. Of course, O’Donnell has yet to kick a punt in a regular season game for the Packers, but the chemistry between him and Packers’ legend Mason Crosby is already dynamic. They even created their own parody of the movie Step Brothers.
A New Draft Strategy
Finally, the Packers focused on replenishing their special teams through the draft. According to Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur, Bisaccia was consulted on what players the team drafted in the later rounds to ensure he could field a competent unit.
All of these, of course, are excellent steps. However, until the Packers prove that their special teams is improved in an actual game, analysts like Marc Ross only have past performances on which to base their rankings. Given the ineptitude of the Packers’ special teams in the past, it is no wonder this would disqualify them.
Questions Concerning the Wide Receiver Position
Obviously, the biggest loss of the offseason for the Packers was being forced to trade Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. While that move netted them two additional high draft picks, which were turned into dynamic young players, it is going to be impossible to replace Adams with just one wide receiver.
In addition to the Davante Adams trade, Marquez Valdes-Scantling departed for the Kansas City Chiefs via free agency. Equanimeous St. Brown, too, bolted for the Chicago Bears. For a bit, the Packers wide receiver room consisted of Amari Rodgers, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Malik Taylor, and Juwann Winfree.
Of course, the Packers have made additions since then. Sammy Watkins was signed to a one-year team friendly deal. Additionally, the Packers drafted Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure in the NFL Draft.
That being said, this new young group of wide receivers still needs to prove they can produce on the field. Sammy Watkins, too, needs to show he can stay healthy for a full season. As mentioned, no one expects just one player to make up for the loss of Davante Adams. However, whether or not this group is up to the task as a whole has yet to be proven on the field.
Questions Concerning the Packers Defense
The Green Bay Packers had a very good defense in 2021. They have taken some extra steps this offseason to ensure that it becomes even better. Of course, they were not without their losses. Za’Darius Smith was cut to save cap space and ended up signing with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Edge Rushers
That being said, the team was without Za’Darius Smith for most of last season anyway. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, though, had great seasons. Each received some attention from the front office this offseason, too. Smith was given a contract extension and Gary had his fifth year option picked up.
As great as Smith and Gary are, though, there is questionable depth behind them. The Packers drafted Kingsley Enagbare in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. However, as all the other rookies, he is unproven. Perhaps it is this lack of proven depth at the position that led Marc Ross to leave the Packers off his list of complete teams.
Addressing the Line and Cornerback Position
In addition to Smith and Gary, the Packers also addressed their elite cornerback room. Rasul Douglas was re-signed and Jaire Alexander was given a massive contract extension. Now, the Packers boast a trio of Alexander, Douglas, and Eric Stokes, who performed extremely well as a rookie.
On the defensive line, the Packers allowed Tyler Lancaster to depart via free agency. The veteran lineman signed on with the Las Vegas Raiders. Prior to that, though, the Packers had signed Jarran Reed in free agency and drafted Devonte Wyatt in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The Green Bay Packers really hit the jackpot last offseason when they signed De’Vondre Campbell as a street free agent. Despite being snubbed for the Pro Bowl, Campbell was named as a first-team All-Pro. He rewarded the Packers faith in him by agreeing to an extremely team-friendly contract to stay in Green Bay.
In addition to Campbell, the Packers used their first draft pick of the 2022 NFL Draft on Quay Walker. Walker, like Stokes and Wyatt, is a product of the famous Georgia defense. He is expected to be a major upgrade over Krys Barnes, who was the Packers’ second starting inside linebacker last season.
Like the edge, though, there is not much depth at inside linebacker. An injury to either Campbell or Walker could seriously hinder the defense’s effectiveness.
The Green Bay Packers biggest weakness, though, may be at safety. Now, this is not to say that the safeties are bad. On the contrary, Adrian Amos is a fantastic player who is criminally underrated. Darnell Savage is a fine player in his own right, too, though he did struggle at times last season. That being said, the Packers are confident enough in him that they picked up his fifth year option.
As with edge and inside linebackers, there is a big concern about depth after Amos and Savage. The talent drop off, at least on paper, is quite substantial.
All of these depth questions need to be answered before the season starts. If the Packers do that, they will be the most complete team in the NFL.
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