It feels strange to say coming off of a loss in which two-thirds of the team woefully underperformed, but if you look at the body of work (and the reinforcements coming) you can see that the 2021 Green Bay Packers are starting to resemble a Super Bowl team.
What’s really scary about this team is that they still haven’t gelled yet. Seemingly every week the Packers are missing a preferred starter on one side of the ball or the other. Great teams have playmakers all over and have solid depth pieces to fill-in when things go sideways. This Packers team has an opportunity in the second half of the season to have all of its preferred starters back and a lot of great depth players to help on the trek to Super Bowl LVI
Best yet to come on offense
While the 2021 Packers offense has certainly been good enough to win football games, it hasn’t looked or felt like what we’ve come to expect from Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur.
It’s been good enough to rattle off seven straight wins after the week one debacle at New Orleans, and likely would’ve added another in the win column this past Sunday at Kansas City had Aaron Rodgers played.
One obvious difference this season compared to last year is the lack of shot plays down the field.
Starting the season without David Bakhtiari and then losing Elgton Jenkins for a couple of games plus starting two rookies on the line has been a challenge.
You can also factor in losing an All-Pro Center in Corey Linsley.
Rodgers seems like he tries to avoid turning his back to the pass rush at all, and when play action is utilized he’s getting rid of the ball quickly.
Also, missing Marques Valdez-Scantling for five weeks who operates almost solely as your deep threat will put a damper on things.
This isn’t to say that we can expect to see The Greatest Show On Turf for the remainder of the season, but I think it’s fair to say that having a full complement of receivers plus all of the preferred starters on the offensive line could open the playbook up a bit.
What’s exciting to me is that this Packers offense can put up points in a lot of different ways.
That will make them a tough out in January & February.
Newly elite defense
To say that Brian Gutekunst struck gold when he signed De’Vondre Campbell to a 1-yr/$2 million dollar pact in June would be an understatement.
Although Ted Thompson was notably reluctant to sign free agents in general, I can’t recall a single low end veteran free agent move that Thompson made that had an impact close to that of De’Vondre Campbell.
Same for Cornerback Rasul Douglas. Even before his game sealing interception against his former Cardinals team, Douglas was putting out solid tape.
He has had a few more ups and downs than Campbell but Douglas’ presence has certainly helped ease the stress of being without Jaire Alexander since week four.
Kudos to Brian Gutekunst, maybe he does know a couple of things about talent evaluation.
Kenny Clark has played like a man possessed this season. He has lived in opposing backfields with his combo of formidable pass rush and elite run stopping.
Dean Lowry is on his way to having his best season. Already matching his career high in sacks and playing rock solid run defense.
Honorable mention to Kevin King and Khrys Barnes who were all over the field this past sunday at Kansas City. The Packers will need more of that in the second half.
The Packers defensive unit has felt….cohesive?
Too many times we’ve had a strong pass rush and a suspect secondary, or a strong secondary but can’t stop the run etc. etc.
Get Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith back and this unit could very well be the strength of the team.
Not Special Teams
Perhaps the ONE piece of this team that could hold the Packers back from winning another Super Bowl is the Special Teams unit.
If Crosby can’t get right, and Bojorquez can’t get the ball down properly it’s going to cost the Packers another game, maybe two.
Playoff games are tight games and you can’t come away empty when kicking field goals.
You can’t allow the opposing team to flip field position because of bad punt/kick coverage.
You ABSOLUTELY cannot give the opposing team extra possessions because you put the ball on the ground or can’t get out of harm’s way on the return team.
The unit doesn’t have to be perfect but it just cannot take points off the board or turn the ball over.
Bring On The Stretch Run
If this is indeed Aaron Rodgers last year wearing green & gold, I have a feeling it’s going to be a special one.
The Packers have bona fide talents at every major position, quality depth and strong coaching.
They can win in a multitude of ways.
If they can keep the injury bug at bay, the sky’s the limit for this team.
You can follow Adam on twitter at @adamjcarlson28.