Forecasting Three Storylines leading into the 2016 NFL Season

There are always a few central storylines that exist within the NFL offseason — and each NFL team is a microcosm of intrigue, each filled with its own quirky narratives. Here are three of MANY that will likely take place as the Green Bay Packers approach the 2016 NFL regular season:

The Packers will flirt with keeping seven receivers, but ultimately keep six

I can hear the cries to keep Jared Abbrederis already. And really, based on very palpable statistics, they probably should in lieu of Davante Adams. And I anticipate that in his third season, Abby will probably have a strong preseason. So right now, these are the seven receivers who will be in the mix to make the 53-man roster.

  • Jordy Nelson
  • Randall Cobb
  • Davante Adams
  • Jeff Janis
  • Ty Montgomery
  • Trevor Davis
  • Jared Abbrederis

It’s rare that a team keeps any number other than five or six receivers. In fact, 17 teams kept six receivers to start last season, while 10 kept five. Three teams actually only kept four receivers, leaving only two of the 32 NFL teams (the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills) as teams to enter the 2015 season with seven wide outs on the depth chart.

So it does happen – but the Bills and the Browns’ models are seldom wise to follow.

But the Packers will be faced with a tough decision – cut one of the seven guys listed above, or dedicate an important roster spot to an extra receiver.

—Tier one—

Nelson and Cobb are absolute locks. There’s no reality where Janis doesn’t make the roster after his late-season emergence last year, and his strong OTA showing earlier in May. Montgomery was a third round selection in 2015, and showed promise until an ankle injury cut his season short. He’s as good as a lock, pending another injury.

—Tier two—

Trevor Davis only finds himself on this list because he’s a rookie, and thus, unproven. But General Manager Ted Thompson is not one to cut immediate ties with a newly drafted skill player. It would take something drastic for Davis not to find himself on the roster. Adams has been bad, but it’s likely he’s given one more year to prove himself. Head coach Mike McCarthy continues to back him, but going into his third season, this is probably his last shot to prove himself as viable option.

And so, we’re left with Abbrederis. Someone who has shown relative consistency and proven as a solid target when called upon, but not someone who has quite separated himself with flashes of greatness like a Janis has.

The Packers either keep seven receivers, or Abbrederis is gone. And the Packers won’t keep seven receivers.

 

Blake Martinez will have a big preseason impact, but won’t start the season at ILB

Blake Martinez will start at inside linebacker in 2016, but it won’t be week 1. And fans will be furious. This is just a gut feeling, but it feels like it’s going to be a Sam Barrington/Jake Ryan/nomadic Clay Matthews mix to start the season. But defensive coordinator Dom Capers and McCarthy will see the importance of keeping Matthews outside primarily, and will accept that Martinez is a better option than Ryan in anything other than their base defense (and maybe even in the base defense).

But it won’t happen right away. I can’t exactly explain why this will be the case, but just trust me.

 

Brett Hundley will dominate the preseason, and it won’t mean anything

Get excited, Packers fans. Hundley is about to put on a preseason clinic. He was the story of OTAs and has now moved solely into the backup quarterback role.

So what does it all mean? We’ll see him under center for the majority of the Packers’ five preseason game, he’ll make for an interesting August subplot … but the performance of the Packers’ backup quarterback shouldn’t be what our attention is focused on.

We don’t anticipate an unfortunate situation where Rodgers misses substantial time – sure, we’ve seen it … and we’ve seen how detrimental not having a solid backup can be. But there are guaranteed circumstances the Packers will need to address right away. There are holes in the defensive front seven, there are questions at running back and wide receiver, and we can anticipate offensive line injuries (not to mention the core of the offensive line will hit 2017 as free agents).

The backup QB always becomes one of the biggest stories during the preseason, but he usually has no impact on the regular season. So, let’s not make a huge deal about it this year, even if he’s lights out.

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One thought on “Forecasting Three Storylines leading into the 2016 NFL Season

  1. I’d agree Martinez might not get the start at the beginning of the season but with the Jags passing game they better figure out something quickly. The Jags have TE’s and RB’s who can catch the ball so if he doesn’t start he might be in by the second series.
    I’m also not so sure Ryan doesn’t “Take” Barringtons job by the start of the season. So Ryan had some issues in coverage, it wasn’t like Sam B ever reminded us of any of the great pass coverage LB’ers in the NFL.
    Capers doesn’t “Like” to start rookies. He better start whoever puts the Packers in the best position to win. Period end of story.

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