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.
Running Backs: 30th*
Offensive Line: 5th
Receiving Corps: 19th
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.