Here Are Ted's Offseason Homework AssignmentsPosted:Jan 22nd, 2013 9:18 pm
As you may remember, I like to take ten days or so once a season ends to reflect, kick a few things and put my thoughts in order before we look at your off-season homework assignments.
You have a different kind of homework than the past two offseasons. After winning a Super Bowl, your team entered 2011 as the favorites and was historically one and done in the playoffs. Despite that quick exit, your team was still favored by many to capture its fifth Lombardi Trophy this season, but once again the team was knocked out in the divisional weekend.
Here's what we know: your team won't be considered a Super Bowl favorite by most entering the 2013 season. This is not entirely your fault. Indeed, your roster is still young and talented and you have a stable and proven coaching staff in place to keep the system running smoothly.
The team has won a lot of games over the last two seasons, but has exactly one playoff win (against a team that didn't use a real QB) to show for it. Changes need to be made. Changes are always made, but here's what I suggest you do this offseason:
1) Shake hands with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and thank them for their years of wearing the Green and Gold as proudly as a player can. Driver's next stop will be the Packers Hall of Fame. He stuck around one year too long, but I won't blame you for bringing him back. After tangoing his way into the hears of millions of women, it would have been terrible PR to cut him loose. Jennings has some life left in the tires, but he's outpriced himself and we all know it. Some receiver-starved team (Dolphins, Chargers, Vikings, Redskins, Jets) will throw huge money at him. They will get a great locker room guy who has a ring and is a professional on and off the field.
2)While we're at it, shake hands with your best free agent signing ever, Charles Woodson. He's a Hall of Famer, but his best days are a couple of years behind him and you never intended to pay him the 10 million bucks he's due. I can't believe his pride would allow him to play for a renegotiated 2-3 million dollars, so cut him loose and go find a young, physical safety either in free agency or early in the draft.
3)Welcome back Jermichael Finley and his eight million dollar salary and then take a shower afterwards. He'll be overpaid for what he's accomplished, but Aaron Rodgers can't afford to lose two of his primary weapons in one offseason. Finley will be in a contract year, so he should be poised to put up big numbers, but he's an enigma, talks way too much--and that's just his agent. I don't have to tell you to look at tight ends in the draft too. Heck, if you think you can find a replacement for Finley in the first three rounds, I won't be that disappointed.
4)You and your staff have done a great job unearthing quality guys after the draft. Where would this team be without undrafted guys like Tramon Williams, Erik Walden, Sam Shields, John Kuhn, Don Barclay and Evan Dietrich-Smith, to name a few. I know the loss of John Dorsey will hurt, but you've got to keep mining this undiscovered talent.
5)Find a legit running back...please. I know you finally succumbed at the last minute and brought in the aging Cedric Benson last August. Many of us still dream about what this team would have been like had you landed Marshawn Lynch a few years ago. Luckily you hung on to that #3 pick and grabbed Alex Green, because he's just electric (that was sarcasm, I know you're kind of a dry guy and thought you might have missed that). Let's act a bit earlier this time around and find either a one or two year fix (Steven Jackson), a younger free agent type (Felix Jones) or draft a stud to add another dimension to Mike McCarthy's offense.
6)We look at the defenses that San Francisco and Seattle have put together and we see young, physical units that bring it every week. You need to find a few guys to bolster Dom Capers' defense. Getting Desmond Bishop back will certainly help. It would be nice to find another linebacker to pair next to him that isn't named AJ Hawk. I know you'll be looking long and hard at defensive ends, since Jerel Worthy's 2013 season is in doubt and no one else appears ready to step in and make a difference on the line. While you're at it, a hard hitting safety would be nice.
7)If you see an outside linebacker you love early in the draft, grab him. I know you went that way last year with Nick Perry, but I still think Perry may be better suited as a 3-4 defensive end. A quick, hard-hitting complement to Clay Matthews would have such an impact on this defense and would help contain those running QBs your team will face next season: Kaepernick Griffin (if he's back) and possibly Wilson in the playoffs.
8)Find a kicker to compete with Mason Crosby. Although he seemed to right the ship late, he had a train wreck of a season and deserves to fight for a roster spot in 2013.
9)I know you're going to spend a lot of time and money putting together new deals for Rodgers, Matthews and Raji. Do whatever it takes. These guys are cornerstones. Much of the rest of the roster is interchangeable and not full of game changers.
10)Figure out the tackle situation. Aaron Rodgers cannot get sacked 50+ times again. If Bulaga and Sherrod don't figure to be healthy and ready to compete to start by minicamp, find a couple of guys who can compete with Newhouse and Barclay. Look at what happened to the Ravens' offense when they switched up their tackles late in the season. What your team passes for starting tackles right now are really an affront to the Hall of Fame caliber quarterback who leads your team.
I know, it sounds like a lot of work for a guy whose team has won 26 regular season games the last two seasons. But we are looking to get back to the top of a loaded NFC, a conference with a number of young, talented teams that are poised to compete for years. Your roster needs to get better...and tougher.