2013 Record: 8-7
The Packers will begin their 2013 season in the same place their 2012 season ended, in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park to see their old buddy Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick and the Niners destroyed the Packers’ defense in the playoffs in January, possibly exposing the fact that the Packers don’t adapt well to read-option offenses. Aaron Rodgers, your typical dropback passer who just happens to be incredibly accurate, had a typical Rodgers season with 39 touchdowns and eight interceptions. What’s even more impressive is noting the fact that their running game was really dormant last season. Alex Green, Cedric Benson, and James Starks combined for less than 1000 rushing yards and just two touchdowns, and none averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry. That’s bad. Luckily, Rodgers did have Randall Cobb (80 receptions, 954 receiving yards), James Jones (64 receptions, 784 yards, and 14 touchdowns), Jermichael Finley, and Jordy Nelson. Notice how that doesn’t include Greg Jennings, the longtime #1 receiver who succeeded Donald Driver but now has been succeeded himself after missing much of 2012. Jennings signed with the Vikings in the offseason. The Packers just seem to find guys who fit right in their system. To fix the running problem, they drafted two college studs in Alabama’s Eddie Lacy in the second round and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin in the fourth round. One or both could see significant playing time.
The Packers heart and soul of the defense over the last half-decade has to safety Charles Woodson with the possible exception of Clay Matthews. So how could the Packers just cut him unceremoniously? That’s the Packer way, as unfortunate as it is. They would rather cut him now than still have him when he loses effectiveness. So Woodson is off to Oakland, and the Packers made next to no moves in free agency to make up for it. But they did draft UCLA’s Datone Jones at defensive end to add to an already-strong pass rush. Matthews led the pass rush with 13 of Green Bay’s 47 sacks which ranked 4th in the league last year. Plenty of Packer mainstays are on the defensive side of the ball, as Tramon Williams and Sam Shields have worked their ways up to become the top corners, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett up front, and A.J. Hawk, Desmond Bishop, and Nick Perry at linebacker. With a solid returning lineup all the way around, there’s no reason to believe the Packers won’t be in deep playoff contention yet again.