We’ve made it to June! NBA and NHL Playoffs are in full-swing while the MLB season continues to move along. With that said, we are now 85 days away from Green Bay Packers football. As we wait for August, where Training Camp and Pre-Season Football will be, we think about what lies ahead for the Packers and the upcoming NFL season. Will Aaron Rodgers be the starting Quarterback? That and many more get answered in this week’s article.
A good friend of mine, a big Packers fan, was kind enough to send me some questions that I could answer in this space. These are just my opinions and thoughts, as we slowly inch forward towards the good stuff.
What do you expect from the Packers Pass-Rush this year?
I think it’ll be another good season for the Packers when it comes to getting after the quarterback. Obviously, Za’Darius Smith is a star and still remains underrated. In his two seasons with Green Bay, big Z has 26 regular season sacks and another 3 in the playoffs. Z has more sacks over a two season span than Clay Matthews ever did, to put his talent in perspective. He’s extremely disruptive off the edge and through the middle. I expect another strong season from Za’Darius, as he heads into his 7th NFL season.
Additionally, I think all signs point to Rashan Gary becoming a really good player in the league. Gary is a workhorse with an inner-drive that you can’t teach. He worked his butt off last off-season and the results paid off. Gary tallied 5 regular season sacks and another 1.5 in the playoffs. His numbers don’t do him justice, he was consistently disruptive and pressured quarterbacks all year long in 2020. With Year #3 on the horizon for Gary, I see him getting double digit sacks and blossoming even further. Him and Darnell Savage are appearing to be really good picks in the first round of 2019.
Preston Smith is still a Packer and that’s a good thing. He obviously was very inconsistent last year but to give him credit, he had a better second half of the season than he did first half. I don’t think we’ll see another 12 sack season from Preston like he did in 2019 but I do believe he will find a middle ground from the 4 sacks he posted in 2020. Apparently, he’s been working hard in the off-season and is in great shape.
How do you think the Aaron Jones/AJ Dillon backfield will look like?
I think it’ll look really strong. I don’t need to elaborate too much on the talent of Aaron Jones. He’s a guy that really thrives at about the 10-15 carry per game mark who also poises a legitimate threat in the receiving game. The bigger mystery is AJ Dillon, as he replaces Jamaal Williams in the “2” back role. We got a glimpse of Dillon’s enormous quads, and talent late last season. He’s a plowhorse that can run guys over with surprisingly quick feet.
There’s no denying Dillon’s talent after what we saw last year against the Titans and Rams. He has much-needed fresh legs, after logging 300+ carries in 2 of his 3 years at Boston College, so he’s ready to go. Also, Matt LaFleur came to the Packers from the Titans, where he had Derrick Henry at his disposal. I think that was a really prevalent factor that doesn’t get talked about a lot when the Packers selected Dillon in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft.
Do you think we’re glossing over the loss of Corey Linsley too easily?
I kind of do, honestly. Linsley spent 7 years with the Packers after being drafted by Green Bay in 2014. He played a lot of football through the years and to say he was “really solid” is a bit of an understatement. He was better than solid, he was a 1st Team All-Pro Center in 2020. Obviously, Linsley is no longer a Packer as he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.
The Packers drafted his potential replacement in the 2021 draft by selecting Center Josh Myers, from Ohio State (like Linsley). Reports about Myers have been positive thus far and that’s encouraging. He was good enough to be drafted in the 2nd round, which is also encouraging. With that said, we won’t know how good Myers can be from Day 1 until the games start. It’s highly unlikely that Myers will be able to replicate the same “All-Pro” results and consistency that Linsley brought last season.
Was it the right move to re-sign Kevin King?
Yes, I believe the Packers did the right thing by re-signing King. The NFC Championship game was an absolute nightmare but overall, the Packers got a bargain by being able to bring him back on a 1 Year Deal. King, when healthy, is a decent cover corner (5 interceptions in 2019) who is a willing tackler and is familiar with the Packers. He’s been with Green Bay since 2017 and adds needed depth to a position that every team in the NFL wishes they had more of.
Who do you think will make a big jump on Offense?
Non-Skill Player, I have to go with Elgton Jenkins. He is a superstar in the making and I honestly believe he is good enough to be a Hall of Fame caliber player when it’s all said and done.
Skill Player, I’ll go with Allen Lazard. I just love his work ethic and smarts. Here’s a guy that went undrafted, got waived by the Jaguars, found his way on the Packers, made the team, got on the field, made plays and has been there ever since. Guys like Lazard are a rare and unique bread. The Packers are lucky to have him.
Thoughts on our Inside-Linebackers?
I would say cautiously optimistic. It seems like the Packers are always dealing with inconsistency or injuries at that particular position for as long as I can remember. With that said, it truly does appear that Krys Barnes is a leader who loves football. He showed a lot of promise last year and made some big plays, like when he forced a fumble on the goal line against the Panthers. He’s still extremely young, going into Year 2 but I’m excited to see his development.
Kamal Martin is another player I’m really curious about. He certainly packs a punch when he hits a ball-carrier, there’s no doubt about it. Reminds me of how Desmond Bishop used to hit guys. With that said, he’s also only going into his 2nd NFL season. The Packers needed some veteran guidance after the departure of Christian Kirksey, so they brought in veteran De’Vondre Campbell to solidify the group.
Would you rather see a Packers game at Lambeau or on the Road?
Lambeau. I love going to road games, it’s always fun to maybe see a new stadium and cheer your team on against the masses but there’s nothing like Lambeau. That’s my happy place.
Will Aaron Rodgers be the Packers Quarterback in 2021?
I say yes. It’s hard to stay mad for months on end. I’m not even sure if mad is the appropriate word, I think disrespected or under appreciated is more accurate. I don’t believe the Packers will trade him and if that holds true, Rodgers can either play football or sit out. I think with Rodgers’ love for football, love for his teammates, love for Green Bay and awareness that the Packers are Super Bowl Contenders with him on the field, he will play. We’ll find out eventually.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a diehard Packers fan. Alex\\\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.