Around the North with Andrew Dannehy: Green Bay

| January 29th, 2016


It’s going to take more than the return of Jordy Nelson to cure what ails the Packers.

The fact they played the Cardinals close led to a lot of confusion about what kind of team they were. But in their last four games, the Cards beat the Packers twice and were blown out by the Panthers and Seahawks. The Packers finished 5-7 and were a Hail Mary away from going 4-8. They were blown out by Denver, Carolina and Arizona. They just aren’t that good of a team and I’m not sure if they can recover.

Nelson was underrated. Now he’s teetering on being overrated. He’s 31 years old and coming off of a major knee injury. He’s good. He’s not Calvin Johnson.

The truth is this. Despite some miracles, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play very well.

We’ve all heard the rumors that Rodgers doesn’t like coach Mike McCarthy. He wasn’t happy when McCarthy took the playcalling over again, demoting his buddy Tom Clements and limiting his ability to audible. Rodgers took shots at McCarthy weekly and it was largely unnoticed.

But it isn’t just Rodgers who doesn’t seem to be getting along with his boss. It was reported a few weeks ago that McCarthy is “fed up” with General Manager Ted Thompson not going after free agents.

The Packers have been good for a long time because they’ve been good at the three most important positions: GM, head coach and quarterback. But, if those three all hate each other, one has to think their franchise could be headed in the wrong direction.

Offensively, they’re pretty much stuck.

They have a great interior offensive line and their tackles aren’t bad. When they were healthy, they never had an issue blocking.

Mike McCarthy called Eddie Lacy fat after the season, but it didn’t really effect his play. He and James Starks combined for nearly 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns.

They have to fix their passing game. The Packers receivers weren’t as bad as they were made out to be in 2015. There’s a perception that Randall Cobb had a down year, but his numbers were really on par with what he had done throughout his career, outside of 2014, which was probably the exception not the rule. Davante Adams WAS bad and the Packers must determine if that’s who he is. I would expect with Nelson returning and young players Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis coming, James Jones would be let go.

The strength of the Packers was their defense and they have some big questions going forward on that side of the ball. Two of their top pass-rushers, Nick Perry and Mike Neal, are free agents and Julius Peppers has hinted he might retire. (His cap hit is over $10 million next year and the Packers may not want to pay that.) McCarthy has already said they want to move Clay Matthews back outside, where he was one of the premier pass-rushers in the league. Cornerback Casey Hayward is also a free agent.

Thompson has taken some shots, but talent isn’t an issue with the Packers. They have essentiality the same team that was a few breaks away from beating Seattle in the NFC Championship in 2014.

We’ve seen this happen to the Packers before.

In 1998, a year after losing in the playoffs, Mike Holmgren lost control of Brett Favre and grew frustrated with Ron Wolf. He left and the Packers missed the playoffs the next two seasons. Everybody involved in that separation now admits their faults and would urge the current Packers go figure out a way to make it work. But can they put their egos aside? Nobody has the answer to that question, but time will tell.

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