Did the Packers ‘April Fool’ the NFL in 2016?

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

With tomorrow being the day for fake engagement photos, fabricated status updates and undoubtedly a post claiming Brett Favre is coming out of retirement, let us take a look at the Packers’ performance in 2016. Most fans and even members of the organization you would ask would say the season fell short of their expectations, but did this roster really look like one of a final four NFL team?

Pro Football Focus, a reputed source of all things analytical in the world of football, ranked the Packers position groups as follows against the entire NFL.

Quarterback: 4th

Running Backs: 30th*

Offensive Line: 5th

Receiving Corps: 19th

Defensive front seven: 9th

Defensive Secondary: 19th

The running backs receive an asterisk because that ranking was done mid-season when Ty Montgomery had just taken over. Still, the analysis then that the Packers do not have a true running back on the roster is not that far off despite his strong performances down the stretch. Overall, if the average of these position rankings was taken (bearing in mind special teams was not factored in), the Packers had the 8th best roster among the 12 playoff teams in 2016. The other “Final Four” teams rounded out the top three spots, landing in the order of Steelers, Patriots and Falcons. The Cowboys were 4th and the Giants landed 10th, both teams that Green Bay beat before losing in the NFC Championship game.

Of course, a hardly scientific method of averaging those rankings does not put the due weight on the quarterback position. Just ask the Houston Texans, who had the number one defense in terms of yards per game, how hard it is to win a playoff game without a quarterback (their roster ranked 9th of the playoff teams using the same method). Nevertheless, it does provide context for the debate that Green Bay overachieved in 2016, due in large part to the play of Aaron Rodgers.

Packers fans may have believed after the conclusion of the 2016 season that this team was only a piece or two shy of the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl victory, but the rankings suggest that more of a “reload” is necessary to reach the mountain top in 2017.

What units do you think have improved since last season with the free agent signings already made? What units still need improvement if the Packers are to make a run in 2017? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

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Zac Bellman is a sports writer, experienced journalist and Marquette University graduate with a degree in journalism. You can read his current articles here on PackersTalk.com. To connect with Zac, follow him on twitter at @ZacBellman_WNY. or check out his Facebook page Zac Bellman-Sportwriter

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  • shavager

    Packers fans–TIME to stop listening to all the “draft and develop” B.S. coming from Thompson and McCarthy–this is a BARGAIN BASEMENT team–CHEAP from top to bottom with exception of a star or two on offense and defense to make this team competitive in division. They make playoffs because they WIN division, period! Of the 46 players DRAFTED since 2011–only 17 REMAIN on the team–how’s that ‘draft and develop’ working? D-E-F-E-N-S-E, that’s what WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS and Packers haven’t had a good defense since the 2010 SB Champs! SO, how are they gonna win a SB? Christine Michael is DEFINITE improvement over James Starks–faster, younger, more talent but HE AIN’T EDDIE LACY! Neither is Ty Montgomery, so Packers’ run game is a deficit at this point. They’ve improved on offense ONLY at TE, the O-line’s as weak as ever with Don Barclay in place of All-Pro TJ Lang and JC Tretter WILL be missed. DUMB Capers’ defense has been the HOLE in this Packers team for SIX consecutive years–it’s weaker now than anytime in those six years of bumbling, stumbling, fumbling–and POOR TACKLING units that Capers has put on the field. The silver lining IS: Ta-da–drum beat please–when they FAIL to make playoffs this season, or ONE AND DONE, it SHOULD be the END of Capers in Green Bay and TIME for Ted “EL CHEAPO” Thompson to move on or retire, let some YOUNG BLOOD run this team.

    • Nick Perry

      Losing Hyde and picking up House is a wash at the worst, perhaps even a gain for the Packers because they prefer to play man to man. Datone Jones was a horrible pick from the get go. Then true to Packers form they continue to try and find a place for Jones, moving him around in “Hopes” they try and get something from their 1st round pick. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Jones does reasonably well in that ugly purple uniform, he’s a better fit for a 4-3 team as a DE.
      Peppers made some nice plays last year but they came few and far between. He had become a complete liability in run defense so again, what did they lose that Frackrell couldn’t possibly come close to replacing, and at about $9.5 million less.

      I’m with you on the O-Line, Tretter should have been kept. The contract he received was more than affordable for the Packers and his ability to play anywhere on the OL was a HUGE asset. I’m starting to wonder if Barclay has some salty pictures of TT or something because the guy seems to be able to stick around no matter how terrible he was the year before.

      I’m NOT a huge TT supporter by any means and wouldn’t miss him in the least if he stepped down. BUT this year seems different. The Packers have been involved in FA, perhaps because they HAD to, or perhaps Wolf has become more involved in those decisions. Wolf wasn’t pleased with TT before last season during FA. I think Wolf has been allowed to be more involved in some of the moves GB has made. It’s a theory that might not be that far off. At the end of the day I’m going to wait and see what the Packers do during and after the draft before I throw in the towel on the 2017 season. After all, we have Aaron Rodgers and are a RG away from having a offense that will score on anybody anytime. Don’t panic yet bud, the offense just might be good enough to cover up Capers this season.