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Like most fans that watched the Packers in 2015 I experienced a wide range of emotions. In the first six games I was thinking, like NFL experts (something I am not), that the Packers were destined to play in Northern California in Super Bowl 50. But since then it has been a roller coaster of emotions for me.
I also didn’t write this after the Packers loss to the Vikings at home for the division title (and their first home loss verses Minnesota since 2009) because I wanted to be logical and not just vent. I didn’t want this to be another version of the JS Comments twitter feed or tweets I get complaining about how awful the Packers are.
The reality is the Packers fans, myself included, are spoiled. 10 wins, a playoffs berth and a shot, albeit a small one with the way they have been playing, but a shot none the less at winning the Super Bowl. That is something the Browns, Jets, Bills, Lions, Bears, 49ers, Rams and the other NFL teams that missed out on the playoffs wish they had.
I grew up in the 80’s and remember the years of the Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg & Lindy Infante led teams were horrible. Sure there was talent on those teams, like Lynn Dicky, James Lofton, and Tim Harris (to name a few), but most fans would have given almost anything to have an 8 win season. And if you would have told them they wold have a 10 win season after 4 straight NFC North titles, we would have gladly took it!
But the truth is the expectations have changed and raised. These Packers teams led by Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have a Super Bowl or bust mentality, and I love it. But these Packers also are not built to win this year. Not with the poor offensive line play and depth. Not with the receivers failing to get open. Not with the defense being on the field way to much and trying to keep the score within reach and not with the offense, and Aaron Rodgers, playing so bad.
That is the honest truth and the reality of the 2015/16 Green Bay Packers.
But I was told don’t complain if you don’t have a solution or a way to fix the problem. So I will try to do that now. I want to preference this by saying these are my thoughts and ideas. I didn’t get them from any NFL sources or people within the Packers organization. This isn’t an OTS or any type of rumor article, so please don’t take it as such.
I coach football and I am of the belief that a team needs to be built up front, in the trenches, especially if you have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Packers offensive line play has been been bad all year. I really like the whole line as men, but the play hasn’t been where it needs to be in order for the team to win. Part of that is injuries, which is lack of QUALITY depth behind the starters and that falls on Thompson.
But the first call I would make as soon as the season ends is to Cleveland and see what or how much it would take to trade for left tackle Joe Thomas. The Wisconsin native is not happy in Cleveland (and losing) and would be a great fit for the Packers. While I wouldn’t give up a 1st round pick for him, I would offer a 3rd and a 2017 conditional pick (a 4th but based on performance could be as high as a 2nd). The Packers can afford him because their cap situation is in excellent shape.
The next thing I do is draft an impact middle linebacker. The bottom line is Jake Ryan is just a guy, he is NOT the answer in the middle. I know he is a rookie, but he is not good in coverage and makes too many tackles beyond the line of scrimmage. I think getting Sam Barrington back would be huge in 2016, but for the past 3 or 4 years the inside linebacker position has been one of the Packers biggest weaknesses to me. Drafting a linebacker early would be huge for the defense going forward and the Packers depth at that position would be greatly improved.
I would also draft offensive line depth early in the draft as well. The Packers need to add a tackle and guard to their line just in case the injury bug continues to bite them (like this year). Defensive end is another priority in my opinion. The Packers need to add a player that can be effective verses the run and pass. I would also look to add another OLB that can create havoc via rushing the passer and more defensive tackle depth and that includes trying to resign BJ Raji.
Lastly, I would look to add a speed back. Eddie Lacy has been ineffective for reasons known to all (and injuries), but the Packers need to add a change of pace when they take Lacy out. A third down back that can also be a threat to take one to the house at any time would be a welcome addition to McCarthy’s offense.
The Packers need to take a long hard look at themselves this offseason and be totally honest about where they are and what they need to do. If that means Ted Thompson becoming the President of Football Operations and making Eliot Wolf the V.P. of Football Operations/General Manager so be it. If that means Mike McCarthy shuffling his coaching staff, so be it. But one thing is for sure, it is time for the Packers brain trust to look in the mirror and be real with themselves.