Green Bay Packers face telling year after tumultuous offseason
The Green Bay Packers fell one game short of the Super Bowl last season, losing the NFC Championship Game to the San Francisco 49ers.
After going 13-3, the thought of many was Green Bay was a good team with a great record. The Packers had won a litany of close games, only outscoring their opponents by 63 points. For comparison, the Kansas City Chiefs outscored their foes by 143 points, and the Baltimore Ravens outpaced theirs by 249 points.
Going into the offseason, the belief was Green Bay needed to add. It needed to build upon its nucleus and help aging superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, 36, threw for 4,002 yards and 26 touchdowns against two interceptions. While the numbers aren’t eye-popping — outside of his paltry turnover figure — he remains one of the top five signal-callers in the game.
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However, general manager Brian Gutekunst did him no favors over the past five months.
The Green Bay Packers stayed quiet in free agency, landing veteran receiver Devin Funchess as a complimentary part. Defensively, inside linebacker Blake Martinez left for a three-year deal with the New York Giants but was replaced by former Cleveland Browns star Christian Kirksey. However, Kirksey has been slowed in recent years by injury.
In short, nothing of note.
In the draft, Gutekunst had his best opportunity yet to upgrade the roster. Green Bay clearly needed a receiver and was looking at one of the more loaded classes in history. Incredibly, though, the front office eschewed all of them, not picking a single receiver in the entire group. Instead, Gutekunst traded up in the first round for Rodgers’ eventual replacement, Jordan Love.
In the second round, the Packers took a bruising running back in Boston College’s A.J. Dillon. In the following five rounds, the selections mostly profiled as depth pieces.
Now, the Packers enter the NFC North this season with competition in the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, the latter of whom found an upgrade at quarterback in Nick Foles. Green Bay could have pulled away in division with a substantial upgrade or two in the offseason, but failed to do much of anything outside of cause consternation in Cheesehead Land.
If the Packers are going to contend again for a Super Bowl, it’s on Rodgers to elevate his game in the twilight of his career. This, while his backup — who was drafted instead of immediate help for him — is the future.