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What Are the Expectations for the 2017 Packers?

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What Are the Expectations for the 2017 Packers?

With training camp just a few weeks away for the Green Bay Packers, it's not unrealistic to start thinking about what to expect from this year's team.  Coming off of a second appearance and loss in an NFC championship game in the last three years, the possibility of a Super Bowl appearance is still in sight.

Or is it?  The Packers went to work soon after last season ended, acquiring four veteran players in free agency.  It sent shock waves through Packer nation as we haven't seen that much activity in veteran free agency in years.  

Tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks were added to an already potent offense.  Both seemingly bring a component of the game that has been missing: a tight end who can block, do the dirty work and is a huge goal line threat and another who can get down the seam and cause match up problems for the defense.

Defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois was added shortly after the tight ends and after T.J. Lang departed in free agency, the Packers brought in Jahri Evans to give them some time to figure out how to replace the right guard spot.  Francois is looking for success again after spending a few seasons in Washington.  Evans was stellar earlier in his career and is also likely very glad to have the chance to extend his career with a proven winner.

The draft brought about some intriguing new faces.  Cornerback Kevin King, safety Josh Jones, linebacker Vince Biegel and running back Jamaal Williams headline the list.  The Packers also added a defensive lineman, two more running backs, an offensive lineman and two wide receivers.

King, while a second round pick, comes in with first-round expectations.  Due to an existing rule that didn't allow him to be with the team until late spring, King may find himself in apprentice mode early in the season.  Corner is one of the toughest spots for players to transition from college to the NFL.  Can Joe Whitt, Jr. make a quick study of King and will he be starting on the outside by season's end?

The Packers said goodbye to some of their own, who either weren't offered new contracts or who opted to continue their careers elsewhere.  Lang is in Detroit.  Micah Hyde landed in Buffalo with a nice pay day and Eddie Lacy is now a Seattle Seahawk.  Replacing all three of those former key contributors is far from a given.  

Cornerback Damarious Randall is moving inside to the slot role that Hyde previously manned.  They both have their shortfalls but Randall is faster and has better athleticism.  His nose for the ball brings about hope that the Green Bay defense might see something similar to 2012 when Casey Hayward was picking off passes left and right.

There doesn't appear to be a clear-cut plan to replace Lang at the moment.  The rumblings are that Kyle Murphy will get ample opportunity to move inside to guard.  If he works out, he's a huge steal as a former sixth-round pick who could be a long-term solution.  Veteran Don Barclay is around just in case all else fails.

Ty Montgomery is a full-time running back now and along with fullback Aaron Ripkowski and the three rookie backs, will try to keep the ground game relevant.  Montgomery and Williams should be the one-two punch with Ripkowski leading the way and occasionally carrying the load.

In looking at the offensive and defensive scoring rankings, the Packers were on both sides of the spectrum.  Offensively, they were fourth in the league with 27 points per game.  Defensively they averaged 24.2 points surrendered, good for 21st overall.  The offense should continue to put up points.  Can the defense keep opposing teams out of the end zone?

And lastly, is head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff ready to get over the hump and win another conference championship?  The Packers, while still very young, now have some age and experience to their name.  Will that be the difference we've been hoping for and that can make the additional handful of plays a team needs to win a championship?

Or do you see it a totally different way?  A surprise 9-7 or heaven forbid, 8-8?  Is it a foregone conclusion that the Packers walk away with another division championship in 2017?  Can they keep up with the elite in the NFC?  Chime in with your expectations now that we can start to smell the grass and taste the beer!

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Lphill's picture

I expect the Packers to be favored in every game . And of course compete for the Super Bowl . An improved defense and let's hope less injuries and it's not out of the question.

Nick Perry's picture

Rodgers won SB45 when he was 27 years old. I know I thought it was the first of at least 2 or 3 titles he'd have by now. What he does at the QB position is unbelievable. How he'll manipulate the pocket around him for 7, 8, or even 12 seconds to throw a TD pass is is something only Rodgers does consistently. Having a QB like Rodgers is a huge advantage for the Packers. He IS the best QB in the NFL right now.

But Rodgers is 33 now and we're entering season 7 without making it back to the SB. The question that needs to start being asked is how much longer Rodgers can play at the level that we're accustomed to watching. I know he wants to play into his 40's which is all well and good. But to think he'll do what he's doing at 33 when he turns 40 is unrealistic. He'll still be great as long as he's healthy, but IMO the Packers have 3 or 4 more years of Rodgers playing at the level he is now.

The Packers front office needs to start treating Rodgers remaining time with some urgency. To have a QB like Rodgers and only be in one SB thus far is sad. My expectations for this season are just as high as they have been for the last several seasons. My expectations on the Front Office are higher and higher each year. GET this man some help!! Having $18 million left in cap space won't be worth a plug nickel if the Packers management doesn't do more. Time for more SB Trophy's to go with all those NFC North Titles.

DThomas's picture

The front office this off season finally HAS started to treat Rodgers remaining time with some urgency, by signing a Thompson record 5 FAs. (Imagine if Thompson had added at least a couple every off season.) Also most of that $18M will be used on Rodgers' next contract.

croatpackfan's picture

This is the year! LII, Packers are coming for you...

RCPackerFan's picture

This is the first offseason in a while that Thompson has went out and brought in several veteran players. What that tells me is they are in for this season for sure. This team will be a force!

First bringing in the 2 TE's really can change our offense. We haven't had a pair of TE's with the skills of the guys we have now probably since Chmura and Jackson. We saw what Cook was able to bring to the team. While he was inconsistent at times it showed how much better our offense was with a good TE. Now we have 2.

The move that I can single out that shows why they are going for it this year is the signing of Evans. While Evans isn't as good as Lang, there isn't that much of a drop off. Most years Thompson would go out and replace a veteran player with a rookie. This year he went and got the veteran.

Bringing Francois in solidifies the DL. NFL games are won in the trenches. Adding a really good veteran to a group that has 2 emerging second year players allows them to continue to develop at a normal pace and won't be forced to play more then they have to. This was a great signing

Losing Shields definitely hurt the defense. While House isn't the same caliber player as Shields he is a good veteran to bring in. What I like with signing House and drafting King is that it now allows King to come in when he is ready. If he isn't ready at the beginning of the year that is ok. What I really like about combining House with King, it now gives us some CB's with size. King can learn some of the nuances from House.

Speaking of the draft, adding King, Jones should really give the back end of our defense a lot of flexibility. Adams and Biegel at the very least provides depth, and could be factors on the defense. Williams, Jones and Mays all have a really good chance to become key players in the offense. Amichia could be a key backup G/C. And at the very least Yancey and Dupre will create a huge competition at WR.

I love this team! I can't wait for the season to start!

DThomas's picture

Jason: "There doesn't appear to be a clear-cut plan to replace Lang at the moment. The rumblings are that Kyle Murphy will get ample opportunity to move inside to guard… Veteran Don Barclay is around just in case all else fails" (Hard to believe Evans wasn't even mentioned here.)

With regard to the obvious clear-cut plan to replace Lang, you're right in writing, "The move that I can single out that shows why they are going for it this year is the signing of Evans. While Evans isn't as good as Lang, there isn't that much of a drop off. Most years Thompson would go out and replace a veteran player with a rookie. This year he went and got the veteran."

But I disagree about it being the move showing they're "going for it". I think that move was going after Bennett when Cook balked at his offer. Instead of just plugging in Kendricks and hoping for the best, Thompson quickly signed the best TE on the market, one who happens to be better than Cook. The number of FAs signed is also indicative: Thompson has never before signed 5 FAs, all of whom are expected to contribute significantly.

RCPackerFan's picture

I normally would agree with you because the Bennett and Kendricks signings are more appealing. And I do agree that when they went out and got Bennett it was awesome! Then to get Kendricks right after was like wow.
For me though the move that he said we are all in for this year was going out and getting a veteran OL to fill the hole that was created by losing Lang. Its the underrated move that won't get as much attention but was the move that in the past Thompson didn't make. Also I do believe Evans was the 5th player signed? Thompson has never signed that many free agents.
To me this was also them saying that they now no longer have to try and get an OL early in the draft and they can go out and get the best players available. Which I think they did. Most years in the past they didn't make this move. This year they did.

DThomas's picture

Thompson has signed veteran OL FAs in the past. In his first year as GM after losing OGs Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, he signed vets Adrian Klemm and Matt O'Dwyer. More recently in 2012 after losing Scott Wells, he signed C Jeff Saturday. But IMO discussing which FA acquisition is most indicative of Thomspon going "all in" isn't that important. Thompson for the first time in his career signing FIVE who all should contribute is extremely important. And since Mark Murphy recently said Thompson can keep his job for as long as he wants, I hope Ted continues this trend as needed going forward.

RCPackerFan's picture

Oh definitely.
Part of the point I was trying to make was that Evans was the 5th free agent he signed. Which hasn't happened in the past under Thompson. He could have easily settled and went with drafted players to compete for the position but he didn't. He went out and got a good veteran player.

Handsback's picture

The Packers should win their division and win the SB. That would be the best outcome. Winning the division should be a given. Anything in between those two will be what probably happens.

nostradanus's picture

My expectations are high as always for I am NostraDANus "the optimistic Packers mystic"
here is what my crystal ball says......
Defense:
The Safety position is stocked with excellent players and hybrids that can play LB in Burnett & Jones - A
At Corner I expect the big 3 - King, House, Gunter to excell with their excellent size, I also see the duo of Randall and Rollins to thrive in the slot, ballhawks they
can be - B
At Inside LB I expect Ryan, Jones and Martinez to provide a steady presence in the middle, nothing spectacular - C+
Outside LB, with Mathews & Perry, Fakerell, J. Elliott and "the Beigel" have plenty of talent to bring the heat! - A-
Defensive Line with Daniels, Clark, Lowery, Francois and the young Adams will proivide plenty of physical run stopping ability and a bit of pass rush - B
Overall this unit should finish top 15 barring injuries
The Offense with Rodgers - A+ and his arsenal of Receivers, Nelson, Adams, Cobb - A, a running back in Montgomery who is elusive and an excellent pass receiver, plus the punisher, J. Williams and the elusive A. Jones, this group will exceed expectations - B. The Tight Ends Bennett, Kendricks and Rogers will provide a totally new dimension in the middle - A, the Offensive line is more than solid as a group with Bakhtari and Bulaga manning the important tackle positions. Top 5 this year
Special teams are a mystery except for Crosby
Punter, long snapper, return guys will all be figured out in the coming months, this will be interesting to watch so being the "optimistic mystic" I will predict this group to finish in the middle of the NFL as a group as Crosby is one of the best, the Punting game cant get much worse and if the young LS doesn't work out, Brett Goode and Rick Lovato are only a phone call away. Janis is an excellent kick return man and Cobb is still an excellent Punt return man. Super Bowl my friends...Super Bowl.
Believe it, this is the Packers year
NostraDANus

CheesyTex's picture

Key word at this time of year "expectations". It will be a great year to watch the Packers if they do grade out according to your expectations.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

If you're right, Dan, we'll win every game by 20+ points.

Here are my posional rankings:

QB: A++++
RB: D+
WR: B
TE: A
OL: C+

DL: B
ILB: D. (C with Jones)
OLB: D+
SAFETY: A+ (A- without Jones)
CB: D

Christopher Gennaro's picture

hmm had to give you a thumbs up just to even things out. your grades on the defense are if nothing else realistic until proven otherwise. I understand offseason hype, but the grades for ilb and cb may be a bit low, but who knows, all I know is camp is coming and then maybe we will get a better feel for this defense.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

11-5. All because of Rodgers. Without him, this team would be 4-12, and that's only because our backup QB is quality.

We may have the worst set of LB's in the league--thank Heaven for Perry. Our CB's are a mess, with King the only impact athlete but a rookie, House is average at best, and Randall is now at slot (where admittedly, he's an upgrade from Hyde). Rollins is slow, and the faster youngsters are unproven.

Our defense rests on our safeties and D-Line. Here's hoping they're fantastic.

I love our new TE's and desperately want Richard Rodgers cut outright. The offense was a disaster last year until Cook replaced him. Our 3rd TE needs to be a Special Teams ace, not a club-footed Clydesdale who can't block or stretch the seam. What a liability. Even with his good hands, he's wasting a valuable roster slot.

Evans will be a BIG dropoff from Lang--I'm hoping someone else steps up to start.

Depth at Tackle and WR are great, and RB offers some promise. We don't have a good run-blocking line, however, so it might not matter. My goodness, with Rodgers terrifying defenses, our line should blow open holes with ease, but they just don't have the punch.

Rodgers will carry this weak roster to 11 wins by being immortal, then fall apart when overwhelmed by some superior team in the playoffs.

I'm not being negative. Just honest.

CheesyTex's picture

Right on. Could you clarify your feelings about Richard Rodgers?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Too subtle? :)

Tarynfor12's picture

" We may have the worst set of LB's in the league--thank Heaven for Perry. "

Heaven sent.....
That's some Heavenly kool-aid you got.
Which came first?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Without Perry, we'd be destitute at OLB.

Tarynfor12's picture

Wow!

Spud Rapids's picture

I thought you love Nick Perry

dobber's picture

"Evans will be a BIG dropoff from Lang--I'm hoping someone else steps up to start."

So you're saying that Jahri Evans, a guy who has been durable and healthy throughout his career, won't be at least the equal of a TJ Lang who has broken down toward the end of each of the last two seasons? 2015 with a bad shoulder and was forced to play largely with one arm for a long stretch, and 2016 with a bad hip that couldn't keep him on the field (practice or games) from December on?

I recognize that injuries are a crap shoot, but if a pretty healthy Evans isn't at least the equal of a regularly beat-up Lang down the stretch Evans likely won't be playing. And I tend to agree: I'd like to see a younger guy jump up and win that job and push Evans off the roster...but not because I don't think Evans can still play, but because I'd like to see the Packers find a longer-term solution they can grow with well prior to the 2018 draft.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Yes, I'm saying that.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I agree and disagree with Dobber. I think over last year's 19 game season Evans was about 80% of the player Lang was. Given Lang's injuries late in the season and going into the playoffs, I am thinking that for the last 6 games of the season including playoffs Evans will be as good, probably better, than Lang has been. [Crossing fingers since injuries are a crap shoot, and Evans is no spring chicken.]

Packer Fan's picture

We expect Super Bowl every year as long as #12 is here. On offense, TT did well. Bringing in TE's that will make us forget losing Lacy. And making any running back OK. Evans is a good replacement for Lang, but at a lower price. Sprigs gives some depth. Defensive line, TT did well. Bringing in Francois and drafting Adams. TT did well in bringing back Perry and drafting Biegel. Is it enough, perhaps, but perhaps not. Drafting King and Jones make a lot of sense. Hope they develop well by the end of the season. Strong at safety with depth. Cornerbacks? Bring House back will help. But this is the single biggest question of the team. I just don't feel confident here. Hope for the best

Anderson44's picture

Time to win a SB. Anything less is just another season.

The TKstinator's picture

I want a SB victory just as much as anyone does, but the "SB or nothing" approach just seems like a way to not enjoy the season at all. And to me that's not fun.

Anderson44's picture

I think my expectation of a SB is commensurate with the ability of the team. If it wasn't then I would agree with you. Given we have a HOF QB (who isn't getting younger), the supporting cast on offense and the supposed improvements on defense we really can't continue to let seasons slip away from us. The time is now to make it happen.

The TKstinator's picture

I think high expectations are justified. Just wouldn't want to feel like no SB this year would mean the season was garbage.

Plenty of times I've read on here (not to say YOU are saying this): "Well, YOU might be satisfied with just making the playoffs, but nothing less than a SB win is "good enough" for me." To which I say, who the heck do you think you are? Do these "SB or bust" sentiments somehow make you a "better" fan?

Anderson44's picture

NO I agree with you. I still enjoy the season and have since 1959. But at the same time we have a team that is more than capable of winning a championship. Heck, I still had fun in the 80's when we were down right crap. But at the same time the Packers have to make some hay while sun shines.

The TKstinator's picture

I am in accord.

egbertsouse's picture

They go 10-6 and win the North the last game of season with an MVP performance by AR. They sneak out a win in the first playoff game and get bounced in Round 2.

Tincada's picture

And Terrible Ted gets a new contract based on god knows what.

cheesehead1's picture

We should be favored to win the division but watch out for MIN. They have a top rated D and were decimated by injuries last year. I see DET having a harder time matching what they did last year as they pulled out many close victories. Looking forward to beating up on SEA in week 1.

dobber's picture

I think the Vikings are riding that razor's edge at this point. If they have a strong start like last season, I could see them in it down to the wire and even riding that momentum into winning the division. If they start slow--healthy or not--the wheels could come off for that team in a hurry and Zimmer could be shown the door on black Monday. I wouldn't be afraid to draft Dalvin Cook for FFL, even with Murray there in the backfield. Cook doesn't necessarily need to blocking Murray does to be effective, and with all the checkdowns Bradford throws he'll be money in ppr leagues.

Living in a Lions media market and having watched them play, they're a 7-9 team. They are a little better on the OL as Lang (if he can stay healthy) and Wagner will stabilize that unit, but losing their LT is a real blow to them. They lack playmakers on the outside (and on the inside) though, and Stafford is streaky. The defense is only OK. If you go back to last season, no playoff team performed worse against other playoff teams than the Lions did. They beat teams that were poor, and they struggled against any team of any substance. They're the definition of an average team.

BPEARSON21's picture

Same as last year, if a game comes down to needing a score to win, we get the W. If it comes down to us needing a stop, it's an L (particularly against play off caliber teams).

There should be absolutely no shock among Packer fans if our defensive gets shredded in the play offs once again.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

How dare you be a realist.

PatrickGB's picture

I predict a slow start (again) . The teams we play this year have improved. I also predict (baring injury's) that we make a late season run into the playoffs. Next I expect the defense to falter and we lose again in the playoffs. Both Capers and TT will "retire".

Flow49's picture

19-0 give or take a game or five

Since '61's picture

I'd prefer to get through the preseason before speculating about how this season will turn out. Hopefully we will reach week 1 with a healthy team. Assuming that's the case I expect the Packers to have another double digit win season and to win the NFC North. Beyond that, it becomes a matter of how well our defense can hold up against the better QBs and offenses that we will face in the playoffs. Our offense will get us to the post season, our defense will concern and frustrate us and as of today our Special Teams are a question mark without the LS, holder and punter positions determined. I expect the preseason will sort out our ST questions. If we're going to reach another SB we need to remain relatively healthy, to play better defense and get better results from our return game and from our punter. As usual the offense will be fine, but the rest of team is ????? Thanks, Since '61

nostradanus's picture

I sense negative vibes among the Packer faithful. Come on now, we need a positive energy flow among the fans!
We are not even into training camp yet and the non-believers are talking about being knocked out of the playoffs again boohoo :(
I am old enough to remember a time when just getting to the playoffs was really a great accomplishment. Enjoy this playoff ride while it lasts, eight years in a row in the post-season. The Packers have spoiled us all in the Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers era and this wont last forever.
Be optimistic, be proud of your team and be thankful friends.
NostraDANus

DThomas's picture

IMO the opinions of fans on message boards has no effect on the team so I don't think we "need" a positive energy flow. I prefer honest, well thought-out opinions to forced optimism. We can be proud and thankful and still point out negatives about the team. (And I too lived through the dark ages from Lombardi to Harlan/Wolf.)

croatpackfan's picture

And what is with theory of chaos? If buterfly swnging wings on message board how that will reflect on the team?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

We were asked to provide honest predictions, not positive energy flow.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

We were asked to provide honest predictions, not positive energy flow.

Lphill's picture

Let's hope the sideway toss to a running back play is eliminated from the play book and replaced with a straight forward hand off .

Tundraboy's picture

Now that's an expectation I can agree with.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I was about to reflexively agree, but I don't know. I think we have some RBs who can run that play. Lacy wasn't good at it, and Starks should have been good at it but as a one cut runner with limited vision, he wasn't good at it.

I think Monty and Jones probably can do well with the toss play.

The TKstinator's picture

I take an instant dislike to offensive plays that fail to gain yardage, unless the defense causing them belongs to the Green and Gold.

Tundraboy's picture

After the last 4 to 5 seasons, I don't know what to expect. Kind of like that though. Feels a lot like 2009, ,2010 Going to be exciting. All I want is health and a fighting chance.

Tincada's picture

Another NFC championship and then a flame out due to lack of depth. Booyah Terrible Ted. You screwed us again.

Bearmeat's picture

The only weakness on paper on this team is the pass rush. That's just as good as, or better than every other one of the 31 NFL franchises. However, after QB, the pass rush is the 2nd most critical component of a successful team.

So let's just state it like it is. Expectations for the Packers in the Rodgers era start at 10-6 and a NFCN title. Anything short of the divisional round would be a failure. And indeed, I fully expect to be playing in mid-January. It's those last 3 games that I'm worried about. Green Bay WILL be good. The question is, will they be ELITE?

Assuming average health and expected play of the other positions, this team is going to need health at OLB and a young guy or two to step up to become a super bowl champion.

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