Today is Super Bowl 54, the end of the 2019 season and two teams remain. Only one will reach the ultimate goal, winner of the Super Bowl. Either the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers will hoist the trophy emblazoned with Vince Lombardi’s name. What could have been a rematch of Super Bowl 1, Kansas City versus Green Bay never materialized as the Packers didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The story line would’ve been tremendous, 100th Anniversary of the NFL, rematch of the two Super Bowl 1 participants, rematch of two iconic teams, but the dream was just that.
The Packers have begun to reshape their staff, without wasting time. Jerry Gray has been hired to assist in the rebuild of the Packer’s defense as the new Defensive Backfield coach. Gray is a veteran coach, most recently with the Minnesota Vikings. I’m sure the Packers would like him to add his knowledge he gained from coaching a successful Viking defense. Most importantly the Packers must limit the number of explosive plays they allowed in 2019. With the improvement in the pass rush, the Packers held opposing QB’s to an 81.1 Rating (1st NFC, 6th NFL). The combination of repeating a successful pass rush with an improved secondary could prove lethal in 2020.
Matt LaFleur will also be replacing Wide Receivers coach Alvis Whitted, who evidently fell out of favor. The Wide Receiver corps, with the exception of Adams definitely under-performed in 2019. Equanimeous St. Brown spent the season on IR, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was a disappointment, Geronimo Allison possibly not fully recovered from his 2018 injury, and Jake Kumerow not receiving enough reps, all could’ve contributed to Whitted’s departure. Alan Lazard’s unexpected rise to one of Rodgers’ favorite targets wasn’t enough to save Whitted. My three picks for a break out 2020 are St. Brown, Lazard and Kumerow. In the coming months we will see how WR plays out. A fresh evaluation of current talent and adding new talent could be what the WR corps needs in 2020.
Brian Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur and Mike Pettine will have some difficult decisions when it comes to retaining veterans. The biggest names on this list are Blake Martinez, Jimmy Graham, Brian Bulaga and Tramon Williams. There is quite a sum of CAP dollars tied into those players. This could play a role in deciding their fate. The Packers’ Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams both received Performance Bonuses required by the NFL, costing the Packers approximately $2.8M in CAP space. We trust they will come to decisions that most benefit the Packers, not always pleasing the fans. The keys to an improved roster in 2020 are MLB, DL, OL, TE and WR. Whether addressed through Free Agency or the NFL Draft, these positions must improve over 2019.
In the coming months I will look at pending FA’s and Draft Prospects who may be the keys to a successful run in year two of Matt LaFleur.
As Always, Go Pack Go!
PackerGregPackerGreg Veteran/Go Army @DrGTP on Twitter