I don’t want to hear one single word about the Green Bay Packers being Super Bowl hopefuls next season.
Let’s rewind three years to when the Packers went 13-3— what did they do in those playoffs? Nothing.
Okay, surely that was an aberration— after all, they went 13-3 again the very next year and for the home-field advantage quarterback Aaron Rodgers always deemed was the key to reaching the Super Bowl. What did it get them? Nothing.
Alright alright, it has to get better, right? Wrong again. The Packers lost at Lambeau Field in the snow to a West Coast-based San Francisco 49ers team 13-10. All of their recent hype— and Aaron Rodgers’ two MVP awards— have amounted to nothing substantial, and this is the year they fall off the face of the earth.
The Green Bay Packers’ imminent decline
Let’s address the elephant in the room; the Packers lost star wide receiver, Davante Adams, to the Las Vegas Raiders and have not managed to land an adequate replacement. Current Seattle Seahawks DK Metcalf was floated around as a possible replacement, but Seattle’s general manager recently stated that the team intends to negotiate an extension with its 24-year-old star.
Green Bay also watched Marquez Valdes-Scantling, their best deep threat, depart for the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving them with a core unit of Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rogers. Now, they do have two first-round draft picks (numbers 22 and 28) in the upcoming draft, but the organization does not have a precedent of selecting receivers.
In fact, they have taken exactly one wideout in the first two rounds of the past 10 drafts: that was Davante Adams, who went 53rd overall. They took Rogers and Ty Montgomery with third-round picks, and no others in the first three rounds during this same period.
GB also lost linebacker Za’Darius Smith who, although he only appeared in one game last season due to injury, recorded 13.5 and 12.5-sack seasons in the two prior.
The Packers did have a great secondary and retained all of the important pieces, but let’s not get distracted from the main point in this all, which is that their $50 million-per-year quarterback has nobody to reliably connect with on passes.
Nearly 35% of Rodgers’ passing yards in the past two seasons came on hookups with Adams, and 34.1% of his touchdowns went to the same target. Rodgers memorably threw a deep ball into triple coverage in the dying moments against the Niners in the playoffs instead of hitting an open man on a slightly shorter but still deep crossing route, a play which many critics point to as costing GB the game. To say that the loss of the star receiver is catastrophic is somehow still putting it lightly.
The rest of the NFC North
Green Bay certainly is not facing harsh competition near the level of the AFC West, but it still has talented competition.
The Minnesota Vikings have proven that they can pose a consistent threat, albeit with a low ceiling; the Chicago Bears are going to take the training wheels off of Justin Fields this season, maximizing their boom-or-bust potential, and the Detroit Lions, despite the jokes, have made solid free agency moves and showed continual fighting spirit in their games last season.
Green Bay will ultimately progress as far as Aaron Rodgers allows it to— I am not saying that he does not want to win games, but his ridiculously large contract and vaccination stance show that he is not prioritizing the team around him to the highest level.
This writer would not be surprised if the Packers finish with single-digit wins last season, and he is officially predicting that they will not win the division, and in a loaded NFC, that very well could mean the Packers miss the playoffs.
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