By Chris Morgan
When the Green Bay Packers saw their season end, they were losing in Lambeau Field to the San Francisco 49ers. Had you said this before the season, it would not have been too surprising to Packers fans one would imagine. However, given how the season played out, at a certain point this would have been surprising. Injuries almost killed Green Bay's playoff hopes, until Aaron Rodgers was able to salvage things and take them to the postseason. Here are the positives and the negatives to take away from this year.
Injuries Almost Killed the Season
Frankly, there were more negatives than positives based on expectations, so perhaps it is even more surprising that the Packers managed to win the NFC North. Of course, that only happened in part because the Detroit Lions collapsed and the Chicago Bears also lost their quarterback. Had Rodgers, one of the league's elite quarterbacks, not gone down with a broken clavicle against the Bears in Green Bay's eighth game, they likely would have run away with the North. Instead, they had to rely on the likes of backup QB Scott Tolzien and the returning Matt Flynn who had just been released by the Oakland Raiders at the time. Six of Green Bay's eight wins came with Rodgers under center, including the vital win in Week 17 that sent them to the postseason. That game also saw the return of Randall Cobb, who missed even more time than Rodgers did with a broken leg.
The defense was also a major problem. This unit was one of the worst in the entire league. Defensive lineman B.J. Raji struggled. The secondary had issues with injury and ineffectiveness. The pass rush didn't do much, especially when Clay Matthews was out with an injury. The Packers have overcome bad defenses in the past, but Rodgers has to be tired of doing that at this point. When the Packers are preparing for next season, they need to make sure to focus on fixing the defense.
A Gem of a Rookie Running the Ball
At least Green Bay finally got themselves a running game. James Starks ran fine in limited action, but this season was all about rookie Eddie Lacy. Thought by many to be the best running back in this draft class, he did not disappoint. Finally, the Packers had a running back who gained over 1,000 yards, as Lacy finished with 1,178 and 11 touchdowns. Offensive balance is not a necessity, but it is nice, and it takes pressure off Rodgers.
Receiver Jordy Nelson even managed to have a very good season, despite the absence of Rodgers for half the year. The rebounding of Mason Crosby at kicker was also quite beneficial.
All told, the Packers have to be pretty content with this season. They got into the playoffs, despite the injury to Rodgers, and then they almost won. Next year, they will reboot and hope Rodgers stays healthy. If he does, they will be in roughly the same boat, albeit with a better regular season record.
For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs Central.
Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports “expert.” His work can be found on Examiner.com.
Chris Morgan has been a diehard Detroit Lions fan through the good (Barry Sanders) and the bad (Matt Millen) and that love has led him to take jobs writing about sports, including as a fantasy sports "expert." His work can be found on Examiner.com. .
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