Top Ten Reasons the Green Bay Packers Will Be Improved This Season

Jeff Albrecht breaks down why the Packers will be even better in 2015. 

This is the time of year that the fans of the 32 NFL franchises become excited about their teams’ off-season maneuvers.  It is no different for Packers fans.

There are however solid reasons why the Green Bay Packers should be better this year. 

Here are my Top Ten:

  1. An addition by subtraction, Shawn Slocum will no longer direct the Packers Special Teams.  For years the team has flirted with Special Teams disasters and last season it finally cost them…..Big Time. Slocum coached them to dead-last in Rich Gosselin's annual Dallas Morning News annual special teams’ statistical analysis.  If nothing else they should be better by default.
  1. Mike McCarthy will relinquish the offensive-play clipboard in favor of coaching the   entire team.  He will certainly miss play-calling and maybe the offense will suffer somewhat, but I doubt it. The deficiencies on defense and special teams demand his attention.  History has shown us when McCarthy makes up his mind to ‘fix’ something, it generally gets fixed.
  1. A healthy Aaron Rodgers will have more to say about the play-calling.  There has been no announcement as such but the obvious exists.  There isn’t much that Rodgers hasn’t seen and the highly-cerebral QB has a special feel for the game.  Expect him to use his instincts to check-off more and produce even greater results.
  1. Year-two jumps from key contributors Davante Adams, Corey Linsley, Richard Rodgers, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  These four second-year players distinguished themselves last year and after a year of intense conditioning plus getting the feel for the pro game from their inaugural rookie campaigns, the improvement should be noticeable.
  1. Tim Masthay is getting some competition from former Alabama punter Cody Mandell.  It is step-up time for Masthay or the Packers will have a new punter – an improvement one way or the other in yet another dismal aspect of the Packers special teams play.
  1. The Packers will be stronger in the defensive middle right from game-one.  Gone is slow-footed AJ Hawk and mistake-prone Brad Jones.  Whether the Packers are at times sliding Clay Matthews inside and/or they come up with a permanent solution by plugging in someone such as rookie Jake Ryan or second-year player Carl Bradford, expect a full 16-game improvement inside.
  1. The Nose Tackle position will be improved this season with BJ Raji healthy and back to his preferred inside position.  Alternating with Letroy Guion and perhaps Pennel they should be able to wreak havoc on opposing offenses and provide a major upgrade to the run defense.
  1. The offensive formations will have a more permanent wrinkle this season.  Not only will the team display its usual highly effective passing game but maintain a productive ground game as well. We saw it sporadically last year; expect Randall Cobb and rookie Ty Montgomery operating out of the backfield on a regular basis this year.  This offense is going to give opposing defenses fits.
  1. Don Barclay returns from IR as the top offensive tackle backup.  Last year’s primary backup JC Tretter was ineffective and out of position on the outside.  Tretter will return to compete inside and displace the over-matched Lane Taylor.  The net result is that the guard, center and tackle backups are much stronger -should the need arise to replace a starter short-term.
  1. The Packers will have a genuine NFL worthy return game this year.  The punt return game was solid enough last season with dependable Randall Cobb and Micah Hyde as the primary returners.  Gone is under-whelming kick returner DuJuan Harris.  The Packers selected the top return man in the draft in Ty Montgomery who will be in the mix for both punt and kickoff return duties.  McCarthy has pledged to fix special teams as their third coach this season.  As mentioned previously when he sets his mind to fixing something, it generally gets done.

There is a lot to like about the 2015 version of the Green Bay Packers.  The top-ranked scoring offense in the league returns intact.  The defense will have McCarthy’s attention and the patchwork outfit from the start of last season should be replaced by a more formidable crew.  On special teams, with McCarthy in the room and a commitment to use the best players available including starters if need be, they should no longer be considered an afterthought as it has been in years past.

Will it translate to a Super Bowl Championship?

Time will tell. 

But the excitement of Packers fans for this upcoming season is palpable and for good reason.

 

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Comments (44)

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Bearmeat's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:15 am

1-7 and 9,10 are certainly possible. If not likely. But I don't agree with number 8, at least not at the beginning of the year. Ty Montgomery is a rookie, and McCarthy won't put the keys to the Ferrari in the hands of a newbie. Maybe by the end of the year.

That said, if Green Bay can stay even close to as healthy as they were last year, they will be the Super Bowl favorite. And they should be. They have the best restaurant in football last year and only a series of bad decisions and flukes kept them from winning at all. And they've improved.

13-3 or better. #1 seed. Super bowl 50 Champs.

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Since '61's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:44 am

Hi Bearmeat - happy to see that you're here. Good post as usual. Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

Agree. Much will be a case of timing but I expect that by year end it will have evolved to something very similar, I hope. There will be surprises which makes it even more exciting. The arrow is pointing up. One thing left out was the Running game. I see a big improvement and maybe some surprises. Can we fast forward to Training camp at least?!

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:29 am

"They have the best restaurant in football last year and only a series of bad decisions and flukes kept them from winning at all."

The Brett Favre Steakhouse?

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johnnyd17's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:24 pm

Moxies supper club in Casco

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Bearmeat's picture

June 17, 2015 at 06:46 am

Hahahaha!!

Siri. Fail.

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Bearmeat's picture

June 17, 2015 at 06:46 am

Double post fail. I'm on a roll.

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Nick Perry's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:30 pm

I don't know Bearmeat, I can see them using him quite a bit out of the backfield, especially on those running plays that used to go to Cobb. Montgomery is said to be somewhat familiar with this offense, maybe he can be more effective than most rookies. Time will tell.
Completely agree with you on the rest. 13-3 or better, #1 seed and Superbowl Champs For Sure!!

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Bearmeat's picture

June 17, 2015 at 08:06 am

Maybe. If he's assignment sure. But the offense is already stacked at WR and RB. Why take Eddie off the field unless Montgomery has Starks like size and Janis like speed? If that's the case, why would he not have been drafted in the 1st round.

I'd love it to be the case, but I'd be satisfied with seeing Cobb back there occasionally until Montgomery is up to speed.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:18 am

For me the biggest thing that will improve the team is the 2nd year players. Last year we essentially started 4 Rookies. I'm not expecting pro bowl performances out of all 4, but I think we will see vast improvements in all 4. Also improvements in guys that contributed last year but didn't start. Guys like Mike Pennel & Jayrone Elliott.
Also we will hopefully see some contribution from guys that were drafted last year and didn't play as much. Players like, Khyri Thornton, Carl Bradford, Jared Abbrederis, and Jeff Janis. They were drafted for a reason and its time for them to make the team better.

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PackerAaron's picture

June 16, 2015 at 09:07 am

Well stated RC. Agreed.

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Nick Perry's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:38 pm

Just read something on Packer Report where MM said that Davante Adams was his off season MVP . McCarthy said Adams would be the "Poster Child" for year one to year two jumps after watching him thus far. I can't wait to see the players you mentioned but Adams is the one I can't wait to watch.

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porupack's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:26 am

What about the intact O-line? A second year O-line unit intact, should be #3 onyer list, no? Will any other team in NFL this year do that?

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 08:59 am

Very true. That is very important. And to think how much different our OL would look if we lost Bulaga in free agency. That is why Thompson is one of the best at what he does.
Our starting 5 is as good as anyone's, IMO. Linsley played at a pro bowl level last year as a rookie and will only improve. Both Sitton and Lang played through injuries most of the year, and Bakhtiari continues to improve.
Also we have pretty good depth as well. Tretter, and Barclay will be our 6th and 7th OL. that will likely leave one spot for someone.

Our OL will be one of our strengths on our team this year.

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:52 am

If our five starting olinemen stay healthy this year (along with qb1) this offense is going to obliterate people. I love this oline.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 01:11 pm

I completely agree.

This could potentially be the best offense we have seen under Rodgers thus far.

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gr7070's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:15 am

The problem with that faulty logic is it is very unlikely for our O line to be as healthy as last year. We're more likely to have worse line performance than last year simply because more starts will be missed this year.

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dobber's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:35 pm

True, but the OL had some injuries (Bulaga, Sitton and Lang) but with the exception of Bulaga's one game, they all played through them. Tretter, Sherrod and Taylor saw action in relief roles, but they weren't relied upon.

I agree: it's hard to get through a 16-game schedule with your starters largely intact, but we saw how good this offense can be when they do last season...and we've seen that they're pretty darn good even with players sitting.

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croatpackfan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 09:19 am

Nice 10 points. Interesting how many fans was "pissed" off when TT drafted Ty Montgomery in 3rd round this year... Now, everybody expects 2 TD per game of that guy... I think that nobody should write off Abby. I think he will split PR duties with Mycah, Randall will be free of that. I expect Packers to try Abby on KR as well...

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 09:53 am

I wasn't one of those fans, I actually was happy about them drafting Montgomery because it filled a huge need. KR. They haven't had a legit KR since Cobb as a rookie.

I agree with you about Abbrederis. I think he can and will make an impact this year. He was on his way to last year until he tore his acl. I agree with you too that Cobb won't do PR anymore. Hyde will be the #1 guy, but I think they will rotate him with Abbrederis and/or Montgomery. Abbrederis was a very good PR in college and I think part of the reason why they drafted him was to return punts. I am not sure if they will try Abbrederis as a KR, but I could see both Janis and Montgomery getting a lot of action there.

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

I really hope I'm wrong, but I think there's a decent chance that Abby ends up on the PS this year. I think jordy, cobb, adams, and Montgomery are locks, and I suspect janis gets the fifth slot. I would guess they don't keep six. With Abby coming off the injury, they may be able to sneak him on the PS. Just a guess.

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dobber's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm

You're likely right: there's very likely to be a very good WR prospect who doesn't make this team this year, and doesn't make it to the PS, either. By all accounts, Abbrederis needed the "redshirt year" to get stronger. Hopefully he did.

When you've got potentially 6 good WR and your top 3 are locked up for the next couple years at least, keeping an extra player at the position is a true luxury. This is where you hope for all of them to have brilliant camps and for a trade partner to pop up at the 11th hour...or you decide that you're not going to keep that extra borderline TE...

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 01:10 pm

You could very well be right. And injuries likely will factor into the 53.

Right now looking at it I think they will keep 6 WR's. Unless Janis or Abbrederis absolutely falls, I have a hard time seeing Thompson cutting a draft pick a year removed. Especially when each of them flashed a bit last year.
I have a really hard time not seeing 6 WR's making the 53 this year.

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 02:01 pm

Yeah, it seems like every year we expect them to keep 6, but they almost never do. Unfortunately, injuries have a way of sorting these things out too.

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:57 am

Bah, double post.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 17, 2015 at 12:57 am

Abby is the type of receiver that Aaron Rodgers loves. Good hands, great routes, gets good separation out of his breaks, and seems to understand the offensive concepts as a whole. Concerns always have been that he is weak and can't get off the press (a problem with the GB WRs) and whether he is fully recovered. That said, there is clearly a numbers and draft status crunch, and I agree with Dobber that someone pretty talented will go to the PS or get completely released.

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Since '61's picture

June 16, 2015 at 09:30 am

Jeff - Good Job! I agree with your 10 points. Hopefully the Packer's improvements will not be undermined by our question marks at ILB, CB, and TE. I am also not yet that confident about the Raji/Guion platoon at NT and I think that it will take 4 - 6 regular season games before we see consistency for our STs. However, once they get there they will be better.
Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2015 at 04:09 pm

Well said. A hot start will do wonders!

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DrealynWilliams's picture

June 16, 2015 at 09:51 am

A little random humor:

I wonder how Sam Shields feel about that new Madden '16 trailer. They recreated OBJ's insane catch, but instead of the Cowboys they inserted the Packers.

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Archie's picture

June 16, 2015 at 10:58 am

About half of these improvements are addition by subtraction, including MM's play calling. Hawk is gone. Slocum is gone. Etc.

The offense should be as good as or better than last year. On that we all agree.

Defensively, I'm less optimistic. The names are largely the same in the front 7 save Hawk and Jones. While losing Hawk and Jones certainly can't hurt, I'm not sure we have any budding talent at ILB ready to go. Sam Barrington did not wow me last year. As to the secondary, we lost two highly skilled veteran outside CBs. While the two rookies drafted to replace them certainly seem exciting and maybe 3 years from now will be ready for prime time, I'm fearful there will be lots of bumps in the road before then i.e., blown coverages that often = 7 points. W ewant a defense in or near the top 10. We have one that ranks in the bottom 10. That's teh true TT legacy - he can't draft defense.

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Since '61's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:18 am

Hi Archie - happy to see that you've come over from ALLGBP.
I agree with your post, especially the defensive concerns. It needs to all come together quickly and correctly or we could be in for several shootouts. Because of our offense we'll be fine for the regular season. It's during the playoffs when weaknesses get exposed and that's when our defense becomes a real concern for me. Thanks, Since '61

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The TKstinator's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm

I agree that the two rookie db's will have some growing pains, but I disagree that it will take 3 years for them to be ready for prime time.

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dobber's picture

June 16, 2015 at 12:55 pm

The Packers don't face any elite QB's until at least week 5, and that's only if you consider Philip Rivers to be an elite QB. They'll see a pretty good group of WR in week 1 against Chicago, but not much after that until after the bye against Denver, though. In all, if one of the rookies needs to play a lot at CB, he'll have time to grow into the position against lesser competition.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 17, 2015 at 11:12 am

Agree, The 3 years only applies to DL and OLBs!

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Tundraboy's picture

June 17, 2015 at 11:21 am

Although I hope this year is different.

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gr7070's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:17 am

The thought that BJ Raji will magically be anything but awful is laughable. The guy had been the worst D lineman in football. A position change will not change that.

He made no plays for years. Being out of position can't explain enough of that extreme lack of production.

He's just not any good.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

June 17, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I think we're alright at NT. If one of Raji, Guion or Pennel falters, we still have decent depth and other options at the position. The Packers only play base D like 25% of the time, anyways. I could be wrong but I think Raji will do just fine 2- gapping in the middle.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:44 am

Just heard Perry may miss some time. Another reason I am excited is that we have some depth this year enough at least that we dont spend another year hoping for something that never seems to happen. This guy healthy and ready to go. Have always hoped he would progress but I give up expecting anything from him anymore. Go Eliott, Go Hubbard!!!

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aaronqb's picture

June 16, 2015 at 04:57 pm

The Packers should be improved in some areas, but so should every other team in the league (with the exception of the SF 49ers). The questions are: 1) where, if anywhere, is there likely to be a falloff from last year (DB would be the obvious candidate here and possibly the OL where everything seemed to go perfectly last year) and 2) did other teams improve more than GB (watch out for the Vikings).

I really like what the Packers did in the off-season. They retained their most important free agents, gained some compensatory picks for next season, and appear to have run a good draft (of course we won't know for sure for 3 years). And, early returns are that Adams made a big jump from last season.

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 16, 2015 at 07:26 pm

I agree on all points. Thinking through it, there aren't too many places where I think we could expect to regress. The obvious one is with injuries. We had pretty good injury luck last year, and who knows what will happen this year. Injuries aside, I think CB would be number one, though as much as I love tramon, I think he was trending downward. I might actually pick OLB for number two. Peppers could regress, and who knows what Neale and Perry will give us. I actually think that ILB and TE, and DL somewhat, can mostly only improve from last year. I'm not really sure what else.....maybe Crosby regresses a bit? The rest I think should be as good or better than last year.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 16, 2015 at 07:06 pm

1) Dumped Slocum. That's a likely positive.
2A) Clements playcalling. Dubious. But Rodgers will audible out so I don't see a negative.
2B) MM will improve ST and the Defense. Probably.
3) Rodgers will check off more. IDK.
3a) Rodgers will have > input into the game plan. IDK.
4) 2nd yr. jumps from 4 guys. Likely some will.
5) Mastay competition. 50/50.
6) Better ILB play. Likely to be better this year than it was even at the end of last year. Lots of possibilities.
7) Better NT play. Probably. I like Pennel, but he is on the bubble. Raji is likely to be better than Guion was.
8) Monty and Cobb in the backfield. Dubious. This is a fun concept to consider, but one deserving of Madden more than actual NFL games. I don't think GB will risk putting Cobb in the backfield much. IDK if Monty has any vision as a RB: he certainly can read and use his blockers as a KR and shows impressive burst. I think Monty is everything that Rodgers dislikes as a WR. Bad hands, bad routes, bad breaks. Maybe in the playoffs, but not as a regular permanent feature of the offense.
9) Return of Barclay and return of Tretter inside. Positive. Assumes Barclay hasn't lost anything. Tretter flashed at OC, there is something there.
10a) Monty as KR. Very likely a positive, maybe a big positive. Someone who just kneels down would be an improvement over Dujuan. Monty provides big play potential. Some capable back up possibilities in Janis or Abby, if one or both make the team.
10b) Punt return improvement. Dubious. The author for some reason describes the punt return game as merely solid. Hyde's 15.8 yd/ret average would have easily led the NFL if the coaches hadn't decided to have Cobb return 14 punts. The team average of 11.5 yds per return was pretty good. It would be a tall order for anyone to improve on Hyde's performance.

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LeagueObsrvr's picture

June 16, 2015 at 11:53 pm

The thing I like about how the offense is evolving personnel-wise, is that they have the kind of talent that doesn't limit them schematically in how they want to attack opposing defenses. If they want to play a power running style, they have the personnel to do that. If they want to open up the playbook and air it out, they can do that too. This is going to be a fun year to watch the Packers, and if the changes made to defense and special teams pan out, this can lead to something special...

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Tundraboy's picture

June 17, 2015 at 11:16 am

I too think this is going to be a fun year. I believe MM is going to open up the O more than in recent years. Buckle up everyone and who knows the D may turn out to be very good. ST nowhere to go but up.

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Otto's picture

June 18, 2015 at 12:00 am

It's pretty exciting to think about year 1 to yr 2 step up for this team. If Dix, Adams, RichRod and Linsley, who made significant contributions, take a step forward AND Abbrederis, Goodson, Janis, Pennel, Banjo, Elliot and Bradford contribute, this could be a scary, good team.

If half these guys make a step up, the 2014 draft and UDFA might be the best of TT's career.

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