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Three Points of Improvement for 2017 Packers

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Three Points of Improvement for 2017 Packers

 
We’ve all followed along closely this offseason to see where the Packers might take steps forward in 2017. On the eve of the team’s second preseason game, here are some [hopeful] positive trends for the upcoming season. 

Team speed on the up-and-up

These attributes happen to go hand-in-hand for the Packers this season. 
Offensively, adding Lance Kendricks and Martellus Bennett at tight end creates a net speed advantage from a season ago. The possibility of Trevor Davis playing a larger role—on special teams certainly, but also potentially on offense—adds speed to the mix. Receivers at the bottom of the corps, including Max McCaffrey, DeAngelo Yancey, and Malachi Dupree, should add some quickness inside and out. The Packers also go into the season with better speed at running back, to boot. 
On defense, the addition of speed should present itself even more forcefully. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers figures to employ more three safety sets, with Morgan Burnett mixing in at inside linebacker. Behind him, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has one of the two safety positions locked down and will be joined by exciting young prospects Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans. Second-round rookie Josh Jones is the fastest of the bunch and has flashed his athleticism and aggressiveness all throughout camp. 
There’s potential for big speed upgrades at corner, as well, with Kevin King and fringe roster guys Lenzy Pipkins and Josh Hawkins. 
At edge rusher, Kyler Fackrell figures to get significant snaps in replace of Datone Jones and Julius Peppers parting ways. Fackrell isn’t a finished product by any means, but his speed will be an upgrade in coverage while he continues to round out his pass rush. With Clay Matthews in a roving role, the Packers capacity for maxing out speed is at a level above recent seasons.
For a unit that has lived and died by the big play—and most recently died by giving up too many—the addition of speed could make a huge difference in 2017. 

Depth at running back

Ty Montgomery, Green Bay’s projected starter at running back, would almost surely never have been given the chance a year ago if not for the injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Stark. It took more than that, though, with the likes of Don Jackson and Knile Davis getting the chance and failing before Montgomery earned his keep at his new position. This season the depth at running back will be improved, and that’s not shying away from Montgomery’s inexperience or the fact that the reserves are all rookie draft picks. 
With Montgomery unlikely to play in Saturday’s preseason game at Washington, the Packers will get an extended look at their trio of rookies: Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Devante Mays. Each brings something a little different. Williams is a nifty, one-cut runner with impressive power for his build and an above-average skill set in pass protection. Jones is a jack-of-all-trades with pass-catching ability who fits the Packers’ athletic mold in running backs and was a big-play machine at UTEP. Mays is a rare big man with quick feet who is perhaps the most athletically intriguing of the group. 
It’s been said before and it’s worth mentioning again: Running back is one of the few positions where pro experience (or in Montgomery’s case, experience at all) doesn’t play as big a factor. Barring a slew of injuries, the Packers will be set at running back this season. Experience won’t be an advantage, but that likely won’t make a huge difference.  

D-Line transitions from asset to strength 

It’s of course far too early to know with any certainty, but if early indicators hold true then Green Bay’s defensive line could be a real asset to the team’s defense in 2017. Offseason prognostications lobbied the development of second-year players Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, and their performances in training camp and the preseason opener validated the hype. Even though it’s just one game, both are worthy of extra attention moving forward into the regular season. Their awareness, play diagnosis, tracking the ball carrier and explosion off the line were noticeable. 
Mike Daniels is still the dominant force along the line, but if Clark and Lowry can become impact players it could create a noticeable ripple effect benefitting the pass rushers and the likely assortment of blitzers Dom Capers will employ inside and off the edge. There’s depth, too, along the defensive line with free agent acquisition Ricky Jean Francois, Christian Ringo and Brian Price. When Montravius Adams returns from injury, he should be given the opportunity to grow into meaningful snaps. There’s no guarantee Ringo and Price lock down roster spots, but that’s a good problem for the Packers to have. 
 
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PatrickGB's picture

Fackrell . Cannot sack-well. Coaches don't have good things to say about him. Our corners are a work in progress at best. The punter and kicker look good and the tight ends will be great. Of all the RBs Mays looks closest to being lacy 2.0 and Monty looks like our starter. As I have stated before I expect our offense to be great but the total of the defense not so much. It looks to me like it's up to the offense and special teams to do the heavy lifting for this team to make the playoffs. And I agree that we do have more speed overall teamwise. But on defense that speed is raw and inconsistent.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Good diagnosis. Spot on.

dobber's picture

Coaches don't have good things to say about him, or coaches have not been talking about him?

I've found very little out there about Fackrell at all...

fthisJack's picture

i just read that Fackrell got his first one on one sack...so he's 1-24. not good.

croatpackfan's picture

So, basically, you say it would be better if Fackrell did not get his fisrt one on one win, that it would be better if he would be 0-25?

billybobton's picture

It is impossible to evaluate a running back in GB without going into pass blocking....and for that your experience does not matter idea could not be more wrong

last year Monty and RIP were terrible at identifying pressure and worse at picking it up, not average, not bad but terrible

cheesehead1's picture

IMHO it all comes down to our D in regards as to how far we go. They've disappointed big time year after year (except SB year) so it's time to finally put it all together. Easier said than done though.

RCPackerFan's picture

The areas that I see improvements from compared to last year.

DL - Clark and Lowry look like they are going to give offenses issues this year. Also Francois I think will be an upgrade over Guion.

RB - The RB position was a mess until Montgomery became the guy. This year though adding 3 rookies in the draft definitely should ignite the position from a year ago. Williams could be very good early. Jones is explosive and Mays could be a good all around player.
I would not be surprised if all 3 rookies made it onto the 53.

TE - While Cook was good, he did miss a lot of time. And now they also brought in 2 guys who essentially can change the offense.

CB - Last year was a mess. Shields went out in the first game. Randall and Rollins both suffered injuries that required surgery's. The guy they used their IR designation to return on suffered a season ending injury only a few weeks after. Their 5th string guy was also lost for the year.
Randall and Rollins both returned to health. Rollins has been talking about having a very good camp. King and House are new guys and both of them are instant upgrades.

Punter - While I thought Schum was good last year, I think Vogel could be much better. He has a bigger leg, and seems to be really good at pinning teams inside the 20.

PatrickGB's picture

In the Eagles game we all saw a lot of blitzing but it seldom got home. Dom showed us that he doesn't expect the pass rush to work without a blitz. He has added the nitro package. He doesn't expect the base defense to get the job done. He now has some speed that he is tinkering with to see if he can improve the defense. He doesn't expect that our corners can be up to the task without help from a blitz. That does not bode well for them. Maybe things will look better later in the season.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Good point. I think a lot of the problem is, when you're so blitz-dependent because you lack pure passrushers, you leave guys open for quick throws on every down. That makes it really hard to get home before the release.

RCPackerFan's picture

That's a lot of take away's from one preseason game.

Donster's picture

No pass rush without blitzing means secondary hung out to dry, and no chance to get to the Super Bowl. Same old story. New season. Offensive firepower out the wazoo. But I also question how good this seasons offensive line is. They didn't look to good against the Beagles. Hope they look much improved against the Foreskins. If they don't, Rodgers will be running for his life again.

Other than getting to the Super Bowl, I would like to see this team have a drastic reduction in injuries.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

I agree our running backs look improved, but I'm concerned as to whether our line can open consistent holes. Without holes, those running backs are worthless.

So far, I'm just not seeing it. But hey, it's early, so let's see how it goes Saturday.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm not to worried about our OL. We know that Evans isn't a road grader, but then again we added Bennett and Kendricks who are good run blocking TE's.

I think we will be better in 2017.

Finwiz's picture

The defensive line is NOT a strength. Not sure how many years of Packer football you've been watching, but this D-line will never be confused with Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson, Reggie White and Shawn Jones.

Since '61's picture

Nor will it be confused with Willie Davis, Ron Kostelnik, Henry Jordan and Lionel Aldridge. Thanks, Since '61

Johnblood27's picture

This team isnt even Mike Butler, Ezra Johnson (with a hot dog in hand), Terry Jones, Mike "Mad Dog" Douglass and John Anderson!

Since '61's picture

Johnblood27 - regrettably your comment is spot on. Thanks, Since '61

RobinsonDavis's picture

Ah, yes! The infamous hotdog on the sideline!

The TKstinator's picture

Dude was hungry, but Fred Von Appen wasn't having it!

Nick Perry's picture

I think this D-Line will surprise a lot of people like some have suggested. I thought at the time of the draft and even more so now Lowry was a steal in the 4th round. Clark was a baby and will be better this year but still might need another year to be REALLY good.

You're 100% correct, they won't be confused with a line with Reggie White, Gilbert Brown, and Shawn Jones, but there's not many lines who would.

Mojo's picture

Just a point of contention on the speed aspect of the article. Last years TE Cook ran a 4.5 at his combine, while Kendricks and Bennett were around or over 4.7 at theirs. Perillo was about the same as Kendricks. RR is a push. From a speed standpoint, GB got slower at TE not faster, but that doesn't mean the current group isn't better.

Plus in the heading; "D-Line transitions from asset to strength" the words asset and strength are more synonymous than contradictory. It might be like saying; "D-Line transitions from strength to strength."

I will say your three areas of improvement, team speed, overall RB talent and d-line are probably true. The key to me for d-line will be if M. Adams comes back healthy and is the beast some of his linemates think he is and subsequently creates interior pressure.

Handsback's picture

Improvement accross the board except on the O-line. The Pack was one of 4 teams standing at the end of the year and expect them to reach that or more this year.

Ferrari Driver's picture

David,

I like your upbeat, optimistic attitude.

Lphill's picture

I think we agree that the 2017 Packers will go as far as the defense takes them . I have a feeling TJ Watt will be defensive rookie of the year . We should have taken him .

The TKstinator's picture

The road to Hades is paved with "should haves".

Since '61's picture

Team speed at WR will be improved but only if McCaffrey, Yancey and Dupre make the team, which is not a given especially for Dupre and Yancey who are both hurt. Same with CBs if House doesn't recover. I'm concerned that our OLBs will be no better than last season if not worse when CM3 and Perry miss games with their annual injuries. As for ILBs the hybrid players may improve the position but now Josh Jones is hurt and we've had no update on his status. Expected DL improvement is all hype at this point. We won't know what we have until the real games begin. Same is true for the RBs. The depth may be better but that doesn't mean the results will be better. Again, wait for the real games. The only thing we are certain of at this point is that this season's hype may improve over previous seasons if it continues at this rate. Thanks, Since '61

Spock's picture

'61, Josh Jones was back at practice and played for the entire (long) practice. He just had an ankle stepped on and is back with apparently no ill affects.

Bearmeat's picture

I was going to quibble with the same things - but Mojo beat me to it.

The defense should be faster. And the CBs and DL are intriguing. The real question is if the LB's can avoid being such a dumpster fire that it submarines the entire unit?

We don't have that answer yet.

Oh, and an injury to an interior OL member would also be very very bad. I don't trust our depth at all right now.

Other than that, this team should win a lot of games. The NFCN is a given. 10-6 to 12-4. Ho hum.

It's January I'm worried about.

The TKstinator's picture

Worried? Plenty of seats available on the bus!

dobber's picture

Beep! Beep!

RobinsonDavis's picture

Let me preface this by stating the obvious....it's early. But while I do feel the Packers have improved through the free agent pickups, draft, young players getting stronger, smarter, and just plain being healthier, I am not sure we could still stop Ryan and the Falcon offense anymore today than then. House & Jones should help, Biegel and Adams might if they can get healthy, but we don't know what we got here. And remember how everybody expected our front 7 to pressure Ryan in the game? We got to him, but not enough to rattle him, and yet we're pretty much playing with the same cast this year. Here's hoping our D stays healthy and our youngsters are able to contribute and build a stronger D!

Spock's picture

RD, Well, we play the Falcons in game two so we'll have a good feeling for early improvement then!

al bundy's picture

Based on the draft and moves, I too think we may have improved run game, pass game and pass d.
On the negative to counter this, the pass rush, Offensive line and inside linebacker may be weaker.
Right now go figure

donnyanderson44's picture

If Monty fumbles in his next game and these rookies are looking good will coach McCarthy consider changing plans? Coaches hate fumbles.

donnyanderson44's picture

If Monty fumbles in his next game and these rookies are looking good will coach McCarthy consider changing plans? Coaches hate fumbles.

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