We have made it to the sunset of the 2021 NFL season. With three games left in the regular season, the Green Bay Packers are the only team to have won their division. In fact, they are the only team that has clinched a playoff spot thus far in either conference. That being said, the Packers were in prime position at a Super Bowl run last season, but failed to make it to the Big Game. In order to buck the trend of NFC Championship losses, these three things need to happen.
#1- Special Teams Has to Figure It Out
At 11-3, the Green Bay Packers have the best record in the NFL. At least one of their three losses, though, is in part due to the poor performance of their special teams. This is not a recent trend either. Last season, the unit was so bad that the team fired their special teams coordinator. The year before that, the Packers were saved from an historically bad kick/punt return year by Tyler Ervin signing with the team late in the season.
The fans, as always, have not shied away from making their frustrations known:
The excitement that Packers fans had around the signing of punter Corey Bojorquez back in August is a testament to how bad the special teams unit has been. Seriously, this fan base was ecstatic for a punter! In fairness to Bojorquez, he has been one of the few bright spots on this Packers special teams unit. If were not for his ability to make up for constant low snaps and horrible blocking, this unit might have been even worse.
The fact of the matter is this: the Packers will not win many playoff games, let alone a Super Bowl, if their kickoff and punt units consistently give their opponents great field position. It just is not going to happen. At this point, there is little that can be done in terms of bringing in outside help. Therefore, this unit, along with coordinator Maurice Drayton, have to figure it out.
Get the Stars Healthy
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Packers record this season is that they have accomplished it while being one of the most injured teams in the NFL. Za’Darius Smith, David Bakhtiari, and Jaire Alexander have all missed significant time this season. Getting them back in time for the playoffs will help keep the momentum going in Green Bay’s favor.
This is not to diminish the absolute fantastic jobs of other players who have stepped up. Rasul Douglas has become a local folk hero with his pick sixes this season. Somehow, the offensive line, whose only healthy starter from Week One is a rookie, has done a fantastic job, overall, of protecting Aaron Rodgers.
That all being said, depth and big plays will be huge factors in the Packers’ postseason. Getting three All-Pro caliber players back on the field will go a long way,
Protect Aaron Rodgers
This seems like such an obvious statement, does it not? Of course, the Packers need to protect their future Hall of Fame quarterback if they expect to compete for a Super Bowl. However, the numbers show that when Rodgers has a clean pocket, he is nearly unstoppable.
Early in the season, Rodgers did not look very comfortable in the pocket. Perhaps it was the lack of game action. Perhaps it was just getting into the groove of the new season. Whatever was going on, it was confusing a lot of people.
Since the season has gone on, however, Rodgers has felt more at home in the pocket and is completing passes with pinpoint accuracy when he is kept clean.
Fact of the matter: protect Aaron Rodgers and win. Perhaps if the Packers are able to win a Super Bowl this season, it will not be the Last Dance after all.