The Packers offseason can be more anxiety ridden than the playoffs for some fans. Who will start at wide receiver?! Who will play slot corner?! Will the special teams ruin another season without huge, systemic changes?!
Unsurprisingly, many of these worries are overblown. Let’s take a look at those main three and discuss why.
Of course, this roster spot is barren now following the Davante Adams trade, but like Gutekunst, LaFleur, and even Mark Murphy have said, there are still several months to go until the game actually has to play.
So far four or five draftable receivers have come to Green Bay on visits and Gutekunst has reportedly called about trading for Brandin Cooks, DeVante Parker, and DK Metcalf. You can bet he was in on Robert Woods too and Will Fuller is just a phone call away.
There’s no replacing Davante Adams one for one, but there’s a possibility that the team’s wide receiver will work with the offense better next year.
The team won’t have to focus on big-bodied block first wide receivers to make the force it to Davante offense work. Gutekunst can put together the basketball-team-like wide receiver room that LaFleur has talked about wanting. Instead of a true number 1 and a bunch of blockers, you’d have a blockers, a speed guy, a shifty guy, a slot guy, a jump ball guy, etc. And maybe Aaron Rodgers will play on schedule more (and audible fewer good runs into bad passes).
When the team brought Rasul Douglas back, a part of Green Bay media exploded with think pieces about how Jaire Alexander will be forced to play in the slot. And will his shoulder hold up?
Slot corner has taken on a bit of a mythical quality this offseason, despite the fact that the guy manning it the last two years was a college wide receiver and undrafted free agent.
Jaire Alexander can play in the slot, and I’m sure he will have a lot of reps there against quicker wide receivers. Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes, Darnell Savage, and Shemar Jean-Charles could all play there too. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if each of those players, excepting Jean-Charles, played significantly better than the 55 PFF grade performance that Chandon Sullivan had last year.
Would you rather Sullivan be shoehorned into the spot for almost every snap or Jaire play there against quick guys, Stokes against tall/straight line speed guys, Douglas in obvious zone/passing situations, and Savage on run downs?
Get the team an average special teams last year and they probably win the super bowl. Really, get the team a just bad, not historically terrible, special teams and they probably win the super bowl. That doesn’t mean there needs to be an “organizational shift” in special teams management.
Like the slot position, there was an outpouring of special teams articles following the season. Most of them said the team needs to completely change the philosophy that it has followed for the past twenty years and really focus on special teams. Never mind that the philosophy only really failed the team in one season with an obviously underqualified coach.
So far, Green Bay has made a pretty good special teams coordinator the highest paid coach at his spot in the league. Invested more than ever before in coaching help for him. And brought in one of his former players. They’ll likely also draft a return specialist or at least sign one after the draft. And that’s enough.
We don’t need to go full Ravens. Obviously special teams mattered in the last playoff run, but don’t let recency bias drive up your blood pressure. Most super bowl winning teams don’t have historically awful special teams. But they also rarely have a strong organizational focus on special teams. They make sure special teams won’t lose them games, and that’s enough.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.