2012 Season/Off-season Review
The Packers once again rode the arm of Aaron Rodgers to a second straight division title in 2012, even with the running game never being established and the defense playing great one week and then horribly the next. Then in the playoffs the deficiencies on defense were greatly exposed by Colin Kaepernick with the Packers falling to the 49ers in the divisional round 45-31.
Just like every other year, the off-season started quietly, as G.M Ted Thompson prefers to build through the draft. In the draft Green Bay picked up a pass rusher in the first round just as they did the year before, as the problems with stopping a dual-threat quarterback were proven not to be fixed by Kaepernick in the playoffs. Then the Packers used their next four picks drafting running backs and offensive linemen. This brings hope that the team finally installs a running game that has been missing for way too long while also beefing up an O-line that let their star quarterback get sacked 51 times in 2012. This season the Packers are still considered one of the top teams in the league, but need the running game and defense to start playing stronger for Green Bay to accomplish their goal of bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home.
Even though the Packer Nation was not too keen on giving the reins to Aaron Rodgers in the beginning, three trips to the playoffs and a Super Bowl title changed the fans’ outlook on him a long time ago. Rodgers has proven he is a master a picking apart defenses by becoming the only quarterback ever to hold a passer rating over 100 (104.9) so far in his career. Last season Rodgers proved it doesn’t matter if his top receivers go down (ex. Jennings, Nelson), he will still distribute the ball and make other players into stars (ex. Cobb). Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman are the guys that everybody hopes won’t see the field this season, and they will be competing with the recently-signed Vince Young to keep their roster spots. For Young this might just be his last shot at proving he still deserves a job in the NFL.
QB GRADE A+: The Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the league in Rodgers; expect nothing less than another MVP type season.
Only those stuck in a bomb shelter the last three years wouldn’t know the Packers have had an awful time running the ball. Just last season alone the Packers started five different running backs, and failed for the third straight season to average at least four yards a carry. So it’s definitely not a shocker that Green Bay drafted Eddie Lacy in the second round and then Jonathan Franklin in the fourth round.
Lacy is a power back that comes from the empire down in Alabama, where in his lone season as the starter he made the best of it by totaling 1322 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Even with those stats Lacy fell to the second round because of injury concerns and his need for improvement in the blocking and receiving aspect of the game. Still, using his brute strength, he can end up being an elite running back in due time. Franklin’s style is a little different from Lacy. Even though Franklin has strength he’s known more for the speed that helped him churn up 1,734 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in his last season at UCLA .
Lacey and Franklin still have to prove themselves as holdovers DuJuan Harris, Alex Green, and James Starks are still trying to show the coaching staff they are worthy enough for substantial carries. In regards to Green and Starks they are running out of time, as they are the main reason behind the awful ranks at running the ball. Harris on the other hand still has a chance at warding off the rookies after playing decently at the end of last year (228 RuYD 4 TD). Finally, at fullback, John Kuhn is back blocking for the running backs, to go along with being a threat near the goal line running and receiving the ball.
RB GRADE C: The rookies bring promise that the rushing game can finally start producing; however they have to prove it before they start getting recognition.
UP NEXT: Receivers, Tight Ends and Offensive Line