Insiders

Why the Packers Won’t Win the Super Bowl

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Before last season, the Green Bay Packers were the undisputed rulers of the NFC North, winning the division four consecutive years.

However, their run came to a screeching halt last year as the Minnesota Vikings took the crown.

Even though Green Bay didn’t win the division, they were still able to reach the playoffs as a wildcard team.

As a matter of fact, the Packers wound up winning their wildcard matchup against the Washington Redskins and they pushed the Arizona Cardinals to overtime in the divisional round before eventually coming up short.

Statistically, it was arguably Aaron Rodgers’ worst season as a full-time starter, which speaks volumes to his incredible play throughout his career.

Plenty of quarterbacks would die for a season in which they toss 31 touchdowns to only eight interceptions, but Rodgers did only complete 60.7 percent of his passes.

The five-time Pro Bowler knows he must be better going forward.

“I was down in my passer rating, I was down in my completion percentage, I was down in my red zone stats,” Rodgers stressed. “There were some external factors that contributed to that—the loss of a guy who had 98 catches and 1,500 yards the year before—and there were some injuries. But I can’t control those things.”

With the 2016 campaign on the horizon, expectations are high as usual in ‘Title Town’.

Super Bowl or bust.

As Rodgers eluded to, having top receiver Jordy Nelson back will help tremendously.

When Nelson went down in the preseason last year, many knew how huge of a loss it was, but I don’t think we understood to how big of an extent the loss was going to be.

In 2014, Green Bay led the league in scoring and yards per play, compared to ranking 15th and 29th respectively in 2015, which makes their run that much more impressive.

With Nelson back in the fold, it’ll open things up for Randall Cobb, who struggled last year as defenses shifted a lot of their focus to him.

Also, after deferring to Tom Clements, head coach Mike McCarthy has decided to takeover the play-calling duties again. 

“That’s responsibility and leadership is what that was,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t popular. It’s something that you didn’t want to do. But I had to do what I thought was best for the football team. That’s what I think about at night. That’s what I think about when I get up in the morning. That’s my every-day, all-day professional thought.”

With the combination of Nelson returning along with McCarthy calling the shots, it’s fair to assume this offense will be near the top of the league again, but the other side of the ball is a different story.

Ever since general manager Ted Thompson has been in charge, Green Bay has never been known to make splashes in the off-season, which was the case once again.

Having said that, Green Bay allowed slot cornerback Casey Hayward to walk away to San Diego for a very affordable price. Not only was Hayward the Packers best slot corner, he’s one of the best in the entire league at that spot.

Losing Hayward isn’t some catastrophic loss, but for a secondary with four guys still on their rookie contracts, one must wonder if they’ll be able to shape this defense into a championship caliber unit.

Everything considered, Green Bay overachieved as a defensive unit a season ago. They finished in the top half of the league in points allowed per game and yards allowed per game, while finishing sixth in passing yards allowed per game.

One thing that really helped this defense out was takeaways, as they finished 10th in takeaway/giveaway ratio, but you can’t solely rely on turning opponents over week in and week out.

Also, there’s some concern within the front seven.

Green Bay was near the bottom in every major statistical category against the run. Finishing 21st in total rushing yards allowed, 29th in rushing yards allowed per carry and 21st in rushing yards allowed per game.

With Clay Matthews moving back to the outside, the middle of their defense just got weaker.

If healthy, there’s no doubt Green Bay’s offense should return to glory, but there’s too many questions on the other side of the ball to place them as favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Nonetheless, this Packers team will be in the mix once again.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.