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How Important is the 2018 Season for the Green Bay Packers?

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How Important is the 2018 Season for the Green Bay Packers?

 
Sometimes, you just get a feeling about certain things. And when it comes to the Green Bay Packers, I have a feeling that, one way or another, the 2018 season is going to be a consequential one.
 
Now, to explain what I mean by that. I guess in the simplest terms possible, I believe that either the Packers rebound from 2017 and make a run at the Super Bowl; or that the team fails against the weight of high expectations and the Mike McCarthy era comes to a bitter end.
 
For some reason, I only see one of those two things happening. I see either the defense coming together and playing like a top-10 unit or once again ranking around 27th and getting torn by everyone this side of the Cleveland Browns.
 
Either the pass rush, with Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Mike Daniels and newly-added free agent Muhammad Wilkerson, blows the doors off people or it will be hampered by injury (again) and the Packers finally realize they need to use another high draft pick to finally find the solution. 
 
Also, if Matthews doesn’t bounce back in 2018, it will be his final season in Green Bay, period. He’s already on thin ice. His contract is about to expire and if he wants another big deal, he better get close to 10 sacks.
 
Perry might be a little safer, but he also needs to deliver on the massive deal he signed last offseason. A lot of guys need to live up to what they are getting paid and if healthy, Aaron Rodgers is one of them.
 
Surely, before the season kicks off, Rodgers will be the highest-paid player in the NFL. I’d be genuinely surprised if he wasn’t. So, he needs to play like it. He’s due, in my opinion, for an MVP season. And if he doesn’t have one, I don’t see the Packers truly contending. 
 
There certainly is a lot of talent on this team. Rodgers, three solid backs, a pretty good offensive line, a solid set of pass catchers that includes three former Pro Bowlers (Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jimmy Graham) and some promising young talent.
 
Defensively, the D-Line should be good and with Matthews, Perry, Blake Martinez, Oren Burks and others, linebacker should finally be at least solid. Hey, we can all hope, right?
 
And the secondary, with Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson and Tramon Williams joining last year’s top pick Kevin King, Green Bay should be fine at corner. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice are all back at safety too. Guess we’ll see if that’s a good thing or not.
 
In the past, I tended to take an optimistic view and generally, I always believed in McCarthy. However, that belief has waned in recent years. Each underachievement and mental flub up has taken the shine off that 2010 Super Bowl win.
 
Obviously, every Packers fan will be grateful to McCarthy forever for that victory. But in the NFL, it really is about what you have you done for me lately and I worry that McCarthy’s time in Green Bay is running short -- that he just can’t be as effective as he once was.
 
2018 might be the year we finally find out. McCarthy and the Packers have all the pieces to succeed. They have an all-time great quarterback, young playmakers on offense and a retooled defense with a handpicked defensive coordinator.
 
If everything falls into place, this team could win a championship. That’s not hyperbole either, I genuinely believe that. Yet, I also believe the team could go 9-7 or 8-8 and fall out of the playoff picture again. 
 
If that happens, it will mean it’s time for a change and the first change will come at the top, with McCarthy. His seat is hotter to me than most people believe. He got all the changes he wanted this offseason, now it’s up to him to make sure they are all successful.
 
All I know is that the 2018 season will be an important one for the Packers. Either they will win big and this will be the start of one final run with Rodgers; Or, they will fall flat on their face and we will look back at the 2018 season, as the one where McCarthy finally wore out his welcome. 

__________________________

Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Guam's picture

Interesting boom or bust scenario. I had more of a two year window on MM just because the secondary is so young and the pass rush fragile (injury) that anything better than a 10-6 / 11-5 season with a pre Super Bowl exit from the playoffs might be a reach in 2018. Hope I'm wrong, but I see 2019 as a better target year for a Super Bowl run.

nostradanus's picture

As a head Coach Big Mike has been pretty darned good.
A Super Bowl Win, multiple Championship appearances and playoff wins. Oh how we would have loved that back in the "gory days" of the 70's and 80's. Big Mike's biggest mistake has been loyalty to bad assistant coaches like Dom Capers, Edgar Bennett (who we loved as a player but he was not a good OC) and Sean Slocum the crappy Special Teams Coach that contributed the Seattle Championship game debacle. And the latest P.R. nightmare and crappy "assistant head coach and Linebackers coach Winston Moss who should never be allowed in front of a camera. McCarthy has always done a fine job rallying the troops and pulling off impressive victories. His clock management skills are not the best and his Offense has gotten to predictable (Philbin will remedy that). Big Mike has a Big heart and his overly loyal at times and that will be to his demise one day.
But hopefully with Philbin and Pettine it will not be anytime soon and they win a few more Super Bowls with Rodgers under center.
Go Pack!

White _tornado's picture

I agree with everthing you have said. I would also ike to add to your list of things MM could improve upon is his use of the challenges.

My biggest complaint with MM is I dont think he had any inkling that he had bad coaches on his staff. If he did know and he allowed them to stay, he cheated the packers fans and organization. Which in my eyes is grounds for termination.

Nick Perry's picture

When it comes to McCarthy I'm torn a bit. I mean IS the guy a highly successful HC in the NFL because of his coaching abilities, or is he a highly successful HC coach in the NFL because of Rodgers? I imagine it's a little of both. I mean a guy can't hold a HC job as long as McCarthy and not be good.

IMO the problem with McCarthy recently has been his offense has become oh so predictable. IMO having OC's like Bennett and Clements didn't really help with that. I think bringing back Philbin will be on of the best moves by the end of the 2018 season. But Philbin is back and Philbin & McCarthy go together like Salt & Pepper, Beer & Brats, Ham & Cheese (You get the idea). When Philbin was OC McCarthy just seemed to call a better play in certain situations. He seemed to make fewer stupid challenges AND the Packers just seemed to be better prepared for each weeks opponent.

McCarthy isn't a stupid man. He knows that HC seat is warm and if this team doesn't start out well (5-1) and be improving EACH week as long as they stay relatively healthy, the seat will become warmer and warmer.

When Gutekunst was hired I thought the Packers were at least a year away. Now after a few FA moves, a solid draft, and a slew of players from the last draft really just starting their NFL careers I have no doubt they can contend. IF the Packers can just stay healthy THIS team will be in the NFCCG. IF Pettine can do what I think he'll do and field a top 15 defense they'll be in the SB.

I know that's a lot of IF'S but I think each IF is reasonable. I also think Rodgers will be on a mission this year and the rest of the NFL will feel the brunt of that.

Spock's picture

NP, The one thing about Philbin is that Rodgers was excited to have him back because Philbin always had the scout team defense show exactly what the opponent's team would do. Rodgers stated that he never had to worry about seeing something unexpected on game days and that is huge.

Spock's picture

I tend to be an optimist (definition: a pessimist who has less facts, lol) so I'm in the camp for the Packers going far into the playoffs (if healthy, heh) and hopefully all the way to the big game. I disagree on CM3, his sack totals were down but he played very well last year (the film doesn't lie) and I expect Pettine's system to breath increased fire in him. That said I don't think CM3 will get anything close to his current contract in the 2019 offer and I don't think MM is in a "hot seat" season no matter what the author or many fans on blog threads think. I'm looking forward to an exciting season.
Go, Pack, Go!

Bure9620's picture

I am in agreement with this article, MM's seat is hotter than many realize. TT has missed on several picks but so have the Patriots and lots of teams. TT failed to augment the depth on the the roster through FA. Problem solved, BG is less averse to FA and has made 4 very good signings. McCarthy's player development has been lacking in recent years IMO, and we saw this on full display last season. You would believe with Hundley in the MM QB school for 3 years and 3 years learning the offense, he would have developed and at least been able to run the offense at an NFL level, maybe 70% of Rodgers production. No he could not and he was lost. McCarthy is atleast partially to blame for this. With Aaron Rodgers, you can afford a few miscues in play calling, a few injuries and some holes as he covers all of it up. But a great head coach is capable of more than what McCarthy has put together. Let's put it this way, if Rodgers is healthy, and the defense is a capable unit, say top 15? There is no reason this team cannot contend, and if they can not McCarthy is gone.

Nick Perry's picture

"McCarthy's player development has been lacking in recent years IMO, and we saw this on full display last season. "

OR there's this possibility...Brett Hundley is a BUST in every sense. Maybe Hundley is just one of those players who no matter how much coaching they receive they just can't play football at an NFL level....

I've read several comments since last season where folks seemed to be making excuses for Hundleys play. If you think about it what else was he supposed to say? The guy sticks, can't read a defense, can't complete a pass longer than 5 yards if rolling out right. (Was to the right wasn't it?) My point is I'm not sure what McCarthy could/should have said.

I hate to sound like a broken record but again this is on Ted T. I would be willing to bet at least a small amount of money that mattered McCarthy spoke with TT more than once about getting a backup QB for him. I mean one needs to look no further than 2013 for proof how bad Thompson can F-Up the the backup QB position. If you recall McCarthy had to make a somewhat public plea about the TE position after the 2015 season at his season ending presser. Maybe getting Kizer has been enough to keep him quiet thus far. This could very well be an example of EXACTLY why McCarthy now has this link to Murphy now and is part of "The Structure". Murphy is trying to make sure at least for now it won't be just one mans opinion on what the product on the field will look like. After last year who can blame him...UGH!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Bure's point applies not to just Hundley, but also to Hayward and Hyde, two guys who played elsewhere much better than in GB. Sometimes the fault for failure to develop is on the player himself: not coachable, too young and immature. Thornton, Worthy, Datone failed to develop as DL, but I didn't think Trgovac was a bad coach. Ditto so far for Spriggs and Amichia with regard to Campen. Davis, Janis, etc., may just not have what it takes instead of their failure to develop being Bennett's fault or the previous position coach's fault, or by extension, MM's.

Firing a coach you recently hired is a tacit admission that a mistake was made in the hiring process. Coaches have gotten excellent job security until recently in GB.

croatpackfan's picture

TGR can you explain me how is HC job to develop players, especially defensive players... Also, if you and others feel that MM should tell Dom capers to use Hyde or Hayward differently, than he don't need defensive coaching staff.

I'm more in Nick Perry's opinion that those failures are on TT side. I already stated that changes happened in Packers organization are result of big MM TT fight at the end of the TC last season when Taysom Hill was cut. That tells you all about Brett Hundley! And I support MM in showing support to Brett Hundley, because he did not have any other choice...

kevgk's picture

I think McCarthy hasn't been appreciated well by media and fans. He could be the best HC in the league right now. (I give Belichick the accolades, but he has also had way more freedom and opportunities than MM).
Despite that I think a lot of head coaches are given way too much credit. Sean Payton missed the playoffs 3 years in a row while his HOF QB threw for 5000 yards a season. Mike Tomlin has had the best roster in the AFC for years and can't get anywhere in the playoffs. Seahawks have been slowly dying and Pete Carroll is basically tenured. I think McCarthy has earned some job security for taking the Packers deep into the playoffs for years despite the competition in the division and conference.
Sure McCarthy should get fired if they miss the playoffs (unless extraneous circumstances) but so should every HC I listed. Its just unrealistic to assume at this point the Packers won't win the division and get to the playoffs, so this perception is just frustration from fans for ugly playoffs losses through the years.
I don't think anybody is being rushed out the door. My impression from the Packers management is they know time is limited for Rodgers and McCarthy, so they are going with known quantities in building a team. Jimmy Graham and Tramon Williams are safe signings. Joe Philbin is a known quantity over a first time coordinator. Pettine over Joe Whitt is a safe hire. Brian Gutekunst in an in house hire over an outside guy, and Ted Thompson is a lead scout. McCarthy is the only coach Rodgers has played for, and has immunity from Gute firing him. Unless some great underperformance in the playoffs, McCarthy's job is as safe as anybody's.

Nick Perry's picture

Excellent point about the Saints and Payton and Tomlin as well.

Nick Perry's picture

Sorry .... Messed up.

Since '61's picture

I have posted since the 2016 NFCCG debacle in Atlanta that the Packers have been at a crossroads. Rodgers injury last season threw everything out of whack but the removal of TT and firing of Capers have shown that the Packers are trying to move in a positive direction from their crossroads. Hiring Gute, Pettine and Philbin are all good moves.

How these moves, FA signings and draft choices play out on the field is TBD. Like NP and many other posters here I think that 2019 should be the better year for an SB run but 2018 can be if many things break correctly.

As always health will be the key for this team. While I believe that our rookie and second year players possess some solid talent they will not be ready to make significant contributions if we lose our veteran starters to injury, especially on the defense. OL performance will be a critical factor as well.

As usual, the Packers will go as far as Aaron Rodgers takes them. If the defense emerges into a solid unit 2018 could be a special season. For me the Packers first goal is to get through the preseason healthy. If we can field our best 53 we have a good chance against anybody. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Bearmeat's picture

To be fair, I don't think the crossroads happened in the NFC CG in 2016. That team ran out of gas and bodies after 10 straight playoff games. Plus, it was purely Rodgers brilliance solely keeping the team in it. I've never seen a football player take over season like that. Ever. It was NBA like, but with 22 bodies on the field. Unreal.

No. I think the 14 NFC CG was the end of the TT/MM era as we know it. The death throes just took 3 full years, and it took an ARod injury to truly show how bad the roster was.

TT should have been fired/resigned after 2014, and in my opinion, so should MM. But, we've got who we've got now. At least we have a new GM and (finally) a competent DC.

If this team doesn't win it all by 2019, MM will be (more than deservedly) gone.

BradHTX's picture

"...the 14 NFC CG was the end of the TT/MM era as we know it."

Totally agree. It was that day that I checked out, to a certain degree: I knew the Packers would never win another championship with TT/MM/AR as GM/HC/QB. I have paid attention for the two seasons since, but not with the same level of passion that I did up until that debacle.

Now... I'm back on the Packwagon. Everything that has happened this offseason, from the "retirement" of TT to the firing of Capers and Bennett and the hiring of Pettine and Philbin, has been exactly what I wanted to see. I'm excited for the future again in a way that I honestly haven't been probably going back to the loss to the Giants in 2011, really. I finally feel like this team is going places, rather than stuck in neutral.

Tarynfor12's picture

" If everything falls into place, this team could win a championship. That’s not hyperbole either, I genuinely believe that. Yet, I also believe the team could go 9-7 or 8-8 and fall out of the playoff picture again.

Hedge much?...This pure optimist speak with the pessimist protection card showing.

Tundraboy's picture

True, but with this team's history with injuries and MM's game management, can you blame him? Things falling into place and the Packers has been rare of late.

Tarynfor12's picture

That's my point and was just calling out all the optimist through Chris,that their optimistic display is always contingent on the ' if ', which dilutes their real assessment and then call out the pessimist,based on facts, as delusional or...not a REAL fan.
The only optimistic fact is this team only goes as far as Rodgers goes or can carry it and that fact has been on display for quite awhile. Nothing has changed,less coaching staff and some players, and until it actually changes on the field and all that infers, one can honestly expect,with hope of being shown wrong, more of the same limited....success as defined by all differently.

Chris Peterson's picture

Not trying to hedge. I think the Packers will win 11-12 games. I am just saying if things don't go as expected, there will be consequences. I just see it is as a make or break year for McCarthy. And if he goes, there will be a lot of changes. But if things go the other way, and some young guys really start developing, it could get a sign that the core is in place to do something special.

Bearmeat's picture

I think that if EVERYTHING (and I mean just about everything) goes right at OLB, WR, CB and (knock on wood), injuries, this is a title team. I really do. In the real world where bad breaks happen and the other guys get paid too, this is unlikely, but possible.

I do think that this team is pointing to 2019 with the youth at CB, S, WR and LB (behind the oft injured older guys). I think 2019 is the most likely Lombardi year.

That said, if this team doesn't at least compete for the NFCN, MM will be gone and the reset button will be hit harder than this year.

Nick Perry's picture

How about this BM...The Packers DO have an unbelievable run of luck and lose very few games to injuries for starters and win the SB. In 2019 they have a reasonable amount of luck but have one of the best secondaries in football to go along with the best QB on their way to 19-0 and back to back SB's.

Oh the JOY...No more Mercury Morris running his mouth AND with 3 SB titles and still time for more Rodgers status as GOAT over Brady would be harder to dispute. Brady has Bill b whiBh in that discussion has to be figured in.

Bearmeat's picture

Could you throw in an 0-16 season for Eye Patch and his Barney crew while you're at it? I mean, if you're talking about a Packer fans wet dream.... hahaha!

PS: I'd love that. No. Seriously. I might never come down off that high.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

"eyepatch and the barney crew". This took me a second to understand but once I did, I was rolling with laughter! Nice rip, man.

Lare's picture

I agree that 2019 is likely the year to project the Packers in Super Bowl contention. With the experience added to this year's rookie class, the Packers could also have around $50 million in salary cap space to work with (without Matthews, Cobb, Bulaga, Dix & Montgomery) in order to add key starters and backups. They also have two 1st round draft picks to add young talent.

Hope for good things this season, but fully expect good things next season.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I know that I wrote just before the 2017 season that we'd have a better team in 2018. Now you're writing just before the 2018 season that we'll have a better team in 2019. Hmmmmm.....

That's why we are fans.

Bearmeat's picture

Well, things happened. The real world intervened. haha.

Seriously though, who would have thought that Randall would have been traded and HHCD would be a ?. Who would have thought that Clark would have taken the jump that he did.

Real life isn't on paper. On paper, 2019 will be stronger than 2018. Real life may very well say something different.

PatrickGB's picture

Thanks for a good article in this downtime of packers news. Of course we don’t know what to expect this season. None of us have the ability to predict the future. But the changes that have been made this year portend a better outcome. I am convinced that this seems to be a better team. The only rub is that many other NFC teams seem better as well. So it’s a question of “Is our improvements better than their improvements”?
I think they are.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

GB needs to draft a pass rusher with a first round pick next season no matter how CM3 or Perry plays. I assume that will be an OLB. I would be hesitant to pay CM3 big money even if he does hit double-digit sacks and generally looks better.

I've no idea how warm MM's chair is. If we don't do so well this year, it depends on why. Are there extenuating circumstances that provide MM with more excuses for underwhelming results? I should think we'd have to appear in the conference championship game in order for MM to be reasonably safe, assuming we don't get blown out despite good health.

Bearmeat's picture

95% agreed. The only thing I quibble with is that if I were Gute, I'd want my own guy, and the second the team falters, I'm pushing that agenda to Murphy.

This is another reason why this power sharing agreement is just plain old dumb.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

I wanted a big time pass rusher this year in 1st round. Without question same thing next year!

Colin_C's picture

Agreed on Matthews. I think this will be his last year in GB, regardless of how he plays this season. Gute overhauled the DB's this year, and I think next year it'll be the pass rush group.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Obviously, 2 of Biegel and Gilbert, Odom, rookie et al could blossom with at least one being a good starter. If the draft is filled with pass rushers as it is advertised, I'd probably still prefer to draft one if possible even if someone blossoms. I'm reluctant to give CM3 a lengthy and also reasonably large contract. I'm tired of having to overpay because there is nothing behind a player.

Lphill's picture

With a solid offense and a much improved defense including the coach plus Philbin back in the mix it is very possible to make a push for the super bowl but we never know about injuries I doubt Perry stays healthy , but hopefully Biegel or Gilbert step up .

Duneslick's picture

Packer Greg says Greenbay will be better in 2019/2020. Don't forget that they leveraged some draft equity and some help this year in the last draft to get New Orleans first pick next year.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

An excellent point!

garyyannone@yahoo.com's picture

2018-"We are in good hands." So I am optimistic. We are in a win/win situation as far as head coaching. Win them all or lose them all, we have at our fingertips two head coaching replacements if necessary. Joe Philbin and Mike Pettine. Both are very competent coaches. Although I favor Mike Pettine since he reminds me of the Pawn Stars guy :>).
To check the character of this team in 2018, I look to the trenches. Who can question the scouting or coaching of the offensive line when you have the success of players such as David Bakhtiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, and Bryan Bulaga. And what a blessing in Bakhtiaris' story. I wasn't sure about Taylor until I saw him lineup as a male lion would; scratch out his position with his feet and dare the other side across from him to violate his territory. And unlike several years ago when the cry for an offensive tackle, guard or center would be met with the words Don Barclay: we now can choose between Justin McCray, Kyle Murphy, Jason Spriggs, Lucas Patrick, Cole Madison, Kofi Amichia, etc. The same thoughts on the defensive side of the trenches.

Yea, I just finished watching France win the FIFA World Cup. Great! I wonder if Vic could help me decipher the clock deal. I mean when I look at a game clock, especially the longer the game plays out, I expect to see HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT! My math skills aren't that great so I don't need to be subtracting or adding or both to know how much time is left in the contest! So, I will remain a fan of NFL Football and their method of telling game time :>].

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I'm focused on 2019 and beyond. I just don't think 1 offseason is enough time for a new GM to fix Ted's entire mess.

I wish the Packers organization felt the same as I and allocated resources accordingly, but they don't. So I'll just hope for the best.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

Sorry...I'm focused this year, but no doubt Gute is focused in both...has too!

kevgk's picture

Whats the entire mess Ted left? Can articulate what areas Gute needs to improve on?

White _tornado's picture

Just to beat some of the other posters to it, like Croat. No i cant do a better job at coaching the Packers. I also could not do a better job that TT did at GM. That does not mean that i am not entitled to an opinion. It also doesnt mean that i cant find fault with the body of work that either have done.

There are some on here like Croat that feel if you cant do better yourself, you should be quiet.

I couldnt be a better GM or HC than Matt Millen or Wayne Fontes either. That doesnt mean I'd like to see them in Green Bay.

Guam's picture

Despite a very good record with a HOF QB, I believe MM got himself on a warm seat by some poor decisions about his staff. He is overly loyal to assistants who underperform. Besides fielding average to below average defenses for several years, two players were allowed to leave (Hyde and Heyward) who became immediate pro bowlers on other teams. How is that not a serious indictment of Caper's talent evaluation skills as well as an inability to scheme for the talent he has? That should have been Caper's last year, yet he hung on for a couple of more years. Rinse and repeat for S. Slocum. He also has had a couple of less than innovative OC's since Philbin left.

I believe MM is a very good coach in his own right, but has a blind spot for loyal, but underperforming staff. I would be surprised if the Packer FO was not acutely aware of these issues. I really like the changes that were made to the staff this year and I hope it all turns around, but if McCarthy is wrong about Pettine, that seat could go from warm to hot.

Samson's picture

2018 will show areas of improvement for the Pack. I believe the "D" will establish itself by the end of the season but it may very well be too late to salvage the season.

2018 is really only a bridge to season 2019. ---- 2019 is when the Pack will return to their rightful perch atop the NFC Conference.

What's really consequential about 2018. --- The "new" hierarchy in GB will finally realize that MM is no longer the HC to lead GB back to the SB. --- MM will be long gone after season 2018.

White _tornado's picture

Sadly you're probably right Samson. Nonetheless i will still watch every snap in 2018 and hope for the best.

White _tornado's picture

Sadly you're probably right Samson. Nonetheless i will still watch every snap in 2018 and hope for the best.

Pauly's picture

I expect to see the defensive line decent this year and with the next draft 2 first round OLB picks making 19 a great year.

Pauly's picture

I expect to see the defensive line decent this year and with the next draft 2 first round OLB picks making 19 a great year.

4thand1's picture

It's important.

DD's picture

The article is very correct! New everything except MM. I'm looking forward to seeing his new playbook. It must have unpredictability, be creative, and show schemes that get receivers open. The running backs must be utilized fully. If not, MM is gone!! 9-7 season is totally unacceptable, and no playoff game is the end for MM.

stockholder's picture

Expectations: If A-rod Stays Healthy. MM stops the clock ticking. And that won't be a bad thing. The age of the players tells me that things could change. ON defense: Daniels 29 House 29 Wilkerson 28 Williams 35 Mathews 32 Perry 28 ///// ON Offense: Rodgers 34 cobb 28 Graham 31 Bulaga 29 Lewis 34 Kendricks 30. So Who will be here next year? I expect these guys and others to do well. Dix and Mathews need to be all-pro again.

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