Despite a successful 15-1 regular season, the Green Bay Packers stumbled in their first home playoff game since 2008. A 37-20 loss at the hands of the New York Giants sent the Packers to an early exit and left fans wondering what the offseason will hold.
At first look, Green Bay needs significant defensive help. While the 2011 Packers surrendered more passing yards than any other team in NFL history, the issue doesn’t seem to be in the secondary. Instead, a nonexistent pass rush allowed opposing receivers to find holes in the coverage while the quarterback could wait patiently for an open man downfield.
One of the biggest losses during the previous offseason was defensive end Cullen Jenkins. His presence commanded double teams and freed up Clay Matthews to run roughshod on opposing QBs in 2010. With Jenkins out of the picture in 2011, the Packers hoped players like Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson would step into that role and continue the success Green Bay had last year. Unfortunately, it was not the case.
Another weakness is the Packers’ offensive line. With aging left tackle Chad Clifton missing time in 2011 with injury, young players like Marshall Newhouse had to pick up the slack. Newhouse showed signs of competence, but was an overall disappointment. Derek Sherrod, the Packers’ 1st round pick last season, was pressed into action as well and ended up finishing the season on IR.
Another area that the Packers could look to bolster is the running back corps. Ryan Grant and James Starks provided flashes of brilliance in 2011, but neither can be considered a game-changing back. The Packers aren’t really a team that relies on a successful running game, but adding a player that can take some of the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers and the passing game would be a welcome sight.
The good news for Green Bay fans is that the team is still young and full of top-level talent in many of the skill positions. A few adjustments or additions to the roster should have the Packers primed for another postseason run in 2012.