The Packers had one of their best win of the season last week. Blowing out the playoff-hopeful and rival Vikings. But there are still some veins of negativity about the team flowing through the fanbase. Let’s go over the Packers positives for the season prior to our win and in game this week against the Bears.
- Jordan Love has established himself as a bona fide franchise quarterback and has arguably been the best QB in the NFC over the past 8 weeks or so. Love will likely get a contract extension in the off-season once he is eligible and it certainly looks like he could be the team’s next long-term starter.
- The offensive line is, once again, full of values. Right tackle Zach Tom is one of the best right tackles in the league as a fourth-round pick. Left tackle stand-in (7th-round pick) Rasheed Walker is an above-average pass protector. And Sean Rhyan seems to have taken the next step to potentially be the team’s next great guard next season.
- The pass catcher room is even more loaded. You can probably already say that Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft are both better than any tight end who has played in Green Bay since Jermichael Finley. Soon they’ll both be better than him. On the wide receiver side, Watson, Reed, Wicks, Melton, and Heath have all shown the potential to be long-term starters in this system.
- The core of the defense is the defensive line, however you define it. If you define it like Matt LaFleur does, with the edge rushers included, then you obviously start with Rashan Gary who is one of the most productive edges in the league pressure wise and the up and coming Lukas Van Ness who could be on the same track as Gary. After that you go inside and find stalwart Kenny Clark and then rising TJ Slaton who has proven that he can be a premier run stuffer this season. Where do you get your pass rush from then? Karl Brooks and Devonte Wyatt. Wyatt is among the league leaders in interior pressures and Karl Brooks already has a 30-year-old’s hand game.
- Quay Walker didn’t really take the all-around step forward that we’d like but the team has started allowing him to just go forward more and it’s obviously his biggest strength. If you plug Walker’s combine numbers into mockdraftable most of his biggest athletic comps are edge rushers. I don’t think his spot is necessarily on the edge long-term – he just isn’t big enough to hold up – but a new defense that sends him after the passer several times a game on simulated pressures and allows him to just play man coverage on running backs would really raise his value.
- Finally, in a secondary that will clearly be overhauled this off-season, there are still a couple of bright spots. Namely, Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine, former 7th round pick and waiver claim, respectively. The two have performed far better as the outside corner tandem during the past month than first-round picks Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes. Alexander and Stokes will both be back (no matter what Schefter says to stir the pot) next year and will get a chance to reclaim their spots, but Valentine and Ballentine are both great cheap competition and depth options.
- This group has already outperformed this season. The next step is to stomp the Bears this week and then go into Dallas or somewhere in the playoffs and get an upset. They have the talent to do it.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.