The NFL is a copycat league, meaning teams are always stealing strategies, plays, and even players from each other. Let’s look at some lessons the Packers can learn from the Bengals/Rams Super Bowl.
- Invest in the pass rush. Do I need to say more? Aaron Donald (albeit a generational talent) took over that game at the end. But it is not just him. The Rams acquired Von Miller midseason, and although he took a bit to acclimate to their scheme, he flourished the playoffs and Super Bowl. Leonard Floyd coming off the edge had 9.5 sacks on the year. And an underrated player is Greg Gaines, a solid interior defender, completes a formidable pass rush that the Cincinnati Bengals could not handle.
Green Bay has some decisions to make in that position group. They are likely going to have to part ways with either Z’Darius or Preston Smith (my guess is Z). That most likely means giving Preston Smith a new one or two-year deal, and then hopefully extending Rashan Gary. You can never have too many pass rushers, so I would look for Green Bay to upgrade that depth through the draft, but possibly free agency, with a low-cost veteran.
- Keep building that defense. The final score of the Super Bowl was 23-20. One of the touchdowns was a no-call offensive facemask and should not have been a TD. The Rams have a defense that won the game and the Bengals built their defense through free agency and it played really well in their playoff push. Defense still wins championships, despite the explosion of offense in the NFL in recent years.
The Packers defense made some major strides this season, despite not having Jaire Alexander or Z’Darius Smith for most of the season. These improvements were made through acquiring guys like De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas. Those two should be priorities to retain once some money is moved around by the Green Bay brass. Look to add some solid depth pieces and possibly spot starters through the draft. Green Bay used their first-round pick on defense last year (Eric Stokes looks good), and I wouldn’t be surprised if they go defense again this year. With the uncertainty around the future of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, go out there and win with defense!
- Get some injury luck. Despite losing Robert Woods, the Rams, along with the Bengals, were among the healthiest teams all year long. I understand the Packers got some key guys back for the playoffs (except Bakhtiari), but continuity and experience together matters. Jaire Alexander played three full games in 2021. D-Bak and Z’Darius Smith both played one half of football in the regular season. Having your stars in the regular season matters, for continuity and the flow of the team. Obviously, this one is mostly out of Green Bay’s control, so let’s just hope 2022 brings some better injury luck for the Packers.
And here’s one last bonus, genius lesson to be taken away…
- Don’t have an all-time horrible special teams.