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Five questions: Green Bay Packers

Rodgers AP

Since winning the Super Bowl to cap the 2010 season, the Packers have made it back to the playoffs three straight years.  But they haven’t made it past the divisional round.

The ability to consistently contend is a testament to franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The inability to get with a game of the Super Bowl is an indictment of the defense.  Whether Titletown’s can get close to the title game again hinges on a few questions.

How about five of them?

Yeah, five will be good.

1.  Will Aaron Rodgers stay healthy?

For his first five years as a starter, Rodgers missed only one game, due to a concussion.  Last year, a broken collarbone derailed the team’s season and nearly cost the Packers a playoff berth.

This year, Rodgers needs to avoid a similar outcome.  Which may not be easy, with the team breaking in a new center.  The rest of the line has shown signs of encouragement, however, the Packers effectively can replace Evan Dietrich-Smith, Rodgers’ safety will depend more heavily on his ability to protect himself.  (With starting center J.C. Tretter gone for multiple weeks with a knee injury, that’ll be a challenge, at least early in the season.)

If he can, the Packers can shake things up in the NFC, starting with the first game of the regular season at Seattle.  If he can’t, they’ll need Scott Tolzien or Matt Flynn to do far better than Rodgers’ backups did in 2013.

2. How big of a contract year will Randall Cobb have?

Receiver Jordy Nelson got his big contract.  Receiver Randall Cobb hasn’t.  He has said he wants to earn it.

So will he?

Cobb definitely has the incentive to put up big numbers.  A lot of it depends on whether defenses shade coverage to Nelson or to Cobb, and whether Cobb can stay healthy, a year after missing 10 games due to injury.

3. Is Eddie Lacy ready for stardom?

The truly great running backs in the NFL hand can be listed on one hand.  Even if that hand has been partially reconfigured by a table saw.

The Packers believe Eddie Lacy can join them.  And he possibly can, given the manner in which he performed last year, especially after Rodgers was injured.

Much of Lacy’s ultimate production will hinge on the run-pass mix.  With the Packers inclined to throw the ball a lot, Lacy simply may not get the touches necessary to rack up the kind of yards that would allow him to join the likes of Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and . . . and . . . .

OK, that hand can lose three fingers.

4. How much will they miss Jermichael Finley?

Lacy could get more opportunities because the passing game will be missing a key component in 2014.  Tight end Jermichael Finley is gone, and in recent weeks there has been no talk of a return, to Green Bay or elsewhere.

It’s possible that Finley has fallen quiet because his camp is pursuing that $10 million tax-free disability policy.  If/when it appears that Finley won’t be getting the money because his injury ultimately wasn’t career ending, he may decide to play.  Which doesn’t mean the Packers will decide to embrace the risk of further injury.

Regardless, they need someone to fill the void.  Currently, they simply don’t have anyone who clearly will fill Finley’s shoes.

5.  Can Julius Peppers make a difference on defense?

Last year, in his final season with the Bears, Peppers looked like something other than what he has been when he’s been at his best.  This year, the Packers are confident Peppers will be much more than he was in 2013, even though it’s his first foray in the 3-4.

The defense desperately needs it, given the loss of B.J. Raji for the year.  Peppers on one side and Clay Matthews on the other need to create mayhem in the backfield, which will help the rest of the defense be something other than it has been when it’s been at its best.

Which has been a while.

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49 Responses to “Five questions: Green Bay Packers”
  1. keramidas21 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:25 PM

    Raji would have been a key factor in the improvement of the defense. He was looking really good in camp.

  2. freeigwebuike says: Sep 1, 2014 10:28 PM

    I think we can start the season any time. 16-0. Super Bowl. That’s just how it’s going to be. Sorry, rest of the league. #notsorry

  3. purplengold says: Sep 1, 2014 10:35 PM

    Packers will suck. Hooray!

  4. f1restarter says: Sep 1, 2014 10:36 PM

    Everyone already knows this, but the bottom line is Aaron Rodgers has to stay healthy for the Packers to fend off the Bears and Lions for the division title. This offense has the potential to be frighteningly good. The defense only needs to be adequate.

    At this point I see the Packers making the playoffs again, and probably winning at least one playoff game.

  5. ariani1985 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:37 PM

    Garbage defense equals turd bay. One and done is the standard in turd town!

  6. ariani1985 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:37 PM

    Garbage defense equals turd bay. One and done is the standard in turd town5.

  7. thegreatgabbert says: Sep 1, 2014 10:54 PM

    6. Will Brett Favre come back this year?

  8. axespray says: Sep 1, 2014 10:56 PM

    The first question should be applied to the whole team considering recent years.

  9. packsoldier says: Sep 1, 2014 10:57 PM

    The first question concerns the Vikings’ only chance.

    But even if it happens the best you can hope for is a tie.

  10. winninaintsinnin says: Sep 1, 2014 11:08 PM

    Six questions …

    Will they recover from the beat down in Seattle?

  11. firethorn1001 says: Sep 1, 2014 11:09 PM

    Finley was out for large parts of the 2013 and 2010 so, not sure how much they will miss him.

    As for Raji.. not really a big loss given he was missing in 2013 also (even though he was on the field).

  12. terremotinho says: Sep 1, 2014 11:13 PM

    Finley? Old news. The Packers won’t miss him; they drafted another pass-catching tight end who can’t block.

  13. lmyers2067 says: Sep 1, 2014 11:25 PM

    Left out Jamaal on that top RB hand count

  14. tokyosandblaster says: Sep 1, 2014 11:35 PM

    Yes, big, yes, maybe a little, yes.

  15. upyourscornholio says: Sep 1, 2014 11:49 PM

    Question 6: Will the Vikings suck harder than a black hole?

    Indubitably.

  16. 33vikes says: Sep 1, 2014 11:51 PM

    Question 1: I hope you are aware that Tolzien and Flynn WERE the back ups last year.

  17. rodgersheisjolly says: Sep 2, 2014 12:43 AM

    The overall talent level of this 53 man roster is below average of a .500 NFL team.

  18. In Teddy We Trust says: Sep 2, 2014 1:00 AM

    1. The real question is, will he summon up enough courage to play even if he feels some discomfort when handing off?

    2. He’ll probably do pretty well.

    3. Probably not, because star running backs typically average more than 4.1 yards per carry. Is there a slightly-above-mediocre-dom?

    4. They don’t need Jermichael Finley. They have Colt Lyer…Andrew Quar…Richard Rodg…

    5. He’s just a shell of his former self, he’s 34 years old, and he’s playing out of position. What do you think?

  19. abomb80 says: Sep 2, 2014 1:04 AM

    I can’t speak for the Packers, but as a Packer fan, I won’t miss Jermichael Finley one bit.

  20. xxlindexx says: Sep 2, 2014 1:05 AM

    You left Jamaal Charles off your list of backs. Just thought you’d like to know for the sake of credibility and all.

  21. usdcoyotesfan says: Sep 2, 2014 1:08 AM

    Pete Carroll is pure comedy gold. Earlier today, the Packers’ Facebook page posted an article about a recent interview with him about the Fail Mary. It was OK because the refs “called it the way they saw it.”

    No, Pete. They did what Goodell told them to do: Make the Packers lose at all costs.

  22. mymazdaluvsme says: Sep 2, 2014 1:29 AM

    I have a feeling ALOT of packer fans will be calling in sick Friday when they start the season 0-1

    I haven’t seen enough improvements in the d, so unless Rogers can stay healthy and put up 35 points a game, every game…

  23. icebowler says: Sep 2, 2014 1:48 AM

    I foresee a decent start, a minor midseason slump, a wildcard berth, and a road romp thru the playoffs, just like 2010.

  24. overweightman says: Sep 2, 2014 1:49 AM

    A depleted Niners’ defense is still years ahead of the packers’ weak mismanaged mess that they call a defense. Seattle will roll them up and smoke them.

  25. squared80 says: Sep 2, 2014 2:52 AM

    Ted Thompson is the reason this team has not won multiple Super Bowls. ARod can’t continue to do everything himself. Most overrated GM in football. Fact. I feel bad for Rodgers.

  26. lionsandvikingsandbearsohmy says: Sep 2, 2014 3:19 AM

    ” The inability to get with a game of the Super Bowl is an indictment of the defense. Whether Titletown’s can get close to the title game again hinges on a few questions.”
    good job dude

  27. bobnelsonjr says: Sep 2, 2014 4:38 AM

    I don’t think Packers’ fans and owners are asking those questions.

    Cobb’s contract? It will be appropriate. Nobody is worried.

    The loss of Jermicheal Finley has been known for some time. The Packers have a lot of good players earning touches. They just call different plays.

    Eddie Lacy was a star at Alabama and had a great rookie season and is one now. Who would ask if he is not ready? Stardom is based on quality production, not quantity like a team with only one worthwhile player.

    No, the questions, and they are small are:

    Can the defense stay healthy late into the season?
    If so Dom Capers can run his full defense and get the turnovers.

    How do they compare to the Seahawks in the season kick off game and which team will have home field advantage?

  28. boomboombrown says: Sep 2, 2014 4:47 AM

    Packers are overrated. This year is the start of their demise. Lucky to win 7 games and the future holds nothing for them.

  29. jimmysee says: Sep 2, 2014 4:49 AM

    Jermichael Finley never really was able to achieve what we all hoped for.

    In the end, his career was way more Bubba Franks than Ron Gronkowski.

    Hope I’m not seeing this thru rose colored glasses.

  30. rhood1020 says: Sep 2, 2014 5:32 AM

    Yes I am a biased Packers fan, but this is nonsense. You can say the same for every team every year: if everything goes according to plan then this team can win it all. Well, duh, I do believe that is the purpose of putting together a team. Every NFL fan knows a healthy Rodgers is a Packer make-or-break. Lacy can reach new heights for sure and Nelson and Cobb will carry that offense without a doubt. Only one of these needs a true answer: can the defense be better? I think the answer is an emphatic YES.

  31. jayhawk6 says: Sep 2, 2014 6:32 AM

    “…Lacy simply may not get the touches necessary to rack up the kind of yards that would allow him to join the likes of Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and . . . and . . . .”

    That name you are seeking is Jamaal Charles. Save yourself a finger.

  32. robf2010 says: Sep 2, 2014 6:49 AM

    Julius Peppers is good for one or two games per year that will inflate his numbers. Those games will come against out-of-division opponents who have unstable offensive lines and who haven’t seen him in a while. Counting on him to raise the bar for your defense is folly.

  33. stellarperformance says: Sep 2, 2014 7:11 AM

    Stay Calm and Carry On. They haven’t returned to the SuperBowl since 2010 but they are consistently near the top and they still own the Vikings. They still own the Vikings.

  34. nrns77 says: Sep 2, 2014 7:13 AM

    Richard Rodgers will fill Finley’s shoes. Watch and see.

  35. TheDPR says: Sep 2, 2014 8:20 AM

    1. Not completely
    2. If he can play an entire season, Big, if not, meh
    3. Yes
    4. Not much
    5. Not really

  36. adantsa says: Sep 2, 2014 8:54 AM

    Jamaal Charles?

  37. thebeast431 says: Sep 2, 2014 9:03 AM

    Any team that loses there starting QB is not going to go far.

    The Pack won the 2010 Super Bowl without Finley.

    Last years, Julius Peppers, would still be the 2nd best player on the 2014 Packers defense. Definite improvement.

  38. roanboon says: Sep 2, 2014 9:20 AM

    One more key question: Will the defense able to create emotional momentum for the team, especially in the 2nd half? San Fran and Seattle can seize game momentum with their defense even after major setbacks.

  39. buckybadger says: Sep 2, 2014 9:42 AM

    1) Could be asked of any team. Rodgers isn’t injury prone, lets not talk like this is Bradford.

    2) Probably decent contract, not huge. He isn’t a #1 reciever but a slot guy, they don’t get paid as much thank you very much Robert Meachem and Mike Wallace.

    3) Yes but who cares. Like any back, if they can stay healthy and he is big enough to take the punishment.

    4) Not much, he did have a lot of drops every year.

    5) I believe so for one more year, still not sold on the signing as a whole.

  40. themeccalambeaufield says: Sep 2, 2014 10:39 AM

    For queenie fans reality is about to set in and once again becoming irrelevant.

    Tick, Tock….

  41. bobbykucera says: Sep 2, 2014 11:00 AM

    Change team name and insert star players and this article fits for every contender in the NFL.

    Forte needs to be added to point 3

  42. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Sep 2, 2014 11:09 AM

    Apropos of nothing, when is the last time the Vike’s were on Thursday night football to open the season?

  43. purpleguy says: Sep 2, 2014 11:31 AM

    As much as it pains me, it’s pretty clear the Pack is gonna win the NFCN, followed by the Bears. Realistic Viking fans will hope for 7-8 wins, praying that one of which will be against the Pack.

  44. jwcarlson says: Sep 2, 2014 4:19 PM

    I understand that stats aren’t everything, but acting like Finley was some sort of major piece in Green Bay’s offense is comically overstating it.

  45. simonator917 says: Sep 2, 2014 5:25 PM

    I’m not a fan of any team in the NFC North. With that being said, the Packers are grasping at straws if they think Julius Peppers is going to help that defense. This is not the second coming of Reggie White, no matter how much everyone wants it to be. The Packers are just going to have to win on offense.

  46. stellarperformance says: Sep 2, 2014 7:51 PM

    It’s too simple for the posters on this site. Here, let me help.

    Q: Is Peppers a better option at that position than what the Packers had last season?

    A: Yes.

    See? It’s really not that hard.

  47. shepwp1 says: Sep 3, 2014 6:13 AM

    As a Packer fan and a realist, I don’t expect the Packers to knock off the defending world champion ‘Hawks, especially in enemy territory, but I’d sure like to see an organized, mistake-free, competitive effort. I could live with that.

  48. streetwitnesser says: Sep 3, 2014 8:58 AM

    Flynn rescued the season last year. So we hope he plays as well as last year. Tolzien looked horrible last year but very good in preseason – but preseason is a far cry from regular season. Finley has never been 100% dependable although he was finally getting to almost that point shortly before being severely injured. Peppers should help a lot – you will see this fully revealed in game 1 tomorrow – he was a huge factor in the Bears success of recent years.

  49. deweyaxewound says: Sep 3, 2014 1:15 PM

    You should have included Matt Forte in #3 – your completely mangled mangled-hand metaphor.

    He was #2 in the league in YFS last year, wasn’t he?

    Also, the biggest and only real question the Packers must answer this year, and every year – can they continue to barely squeak by the Bears on fortuitous plays, injury, blown coverage on a single play, bad calls, lucky bounces, etc.

    The law of averages says “No” – finally. The fact is the Bears have been nipping at their heels – but this year, they overtake them completely, sweep the series, and claim the division.

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