Entering the season, the Green Bay Packers
were the trendy pick for the NFC's representative in the Super Bowl. I
would be interested to see how many of those people would like to go
back and change their predictions after watching the team lose three key
starters to significant injuries. To make matters worse, the Packers
failed at pursuing RB Marshawn Lynch and now have to play the Vikings' Randy Moss (historically a Packer killer) at least twice this season.
Here's a breakdown of each of the Packers' early misfortunes and what they need to do to win the NFC North.
By: Nick Grays
1.) It all starts with RB Ryan Grant who was placed on Season-Ending IR after sustaining a right-ankle injury. At first glance, the Packers felt back-up Brandon Jackson
and fullback John Kuhn could shoulder the load. However, this has not
been the case at all as neither back has been able to put together a
solid performance yet. In the Packers' last three games, Jackson nor
Kuhn have been able to eclipse 40-yards rushing.
With a 3-1 record and Aaron Rodgers, who needs the running game, right? Wrong!
Those who have watched the Packers the last couple of years probably
know how underrated Grant was in the Packers' offensive plans. Every
year, he had an uncanny ability to turn it on towards the end of the
season when the team really needed him. When defenses start to scheme
against Rodgers and the passing game, a non-existent running game could
become a huge problem.
Where can the Packers go to fix this problem? Well, Marshawn Lynch
would have been a perfect fit in the Packers' system, but Pete Carroll
and the Seattle Seahawks decided to scoop him up in a pretty good deal
(2011 fourth round pick and conditional pick in 2012).
On the trade market, their next best option would be to look into
acquiring the New York Giants' Brandon Jacobs. He's not happy in New
York and could most certainly provide a spark in Green Bay. Another
option would be to grab a guy off someone's practice squad. The
Washington Redskins' week five starter Ryan Torain is a perfect example
of hidden talent roaming the league's practice squads.
2.) More disheartening news came this week when rookie safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker Nick Barnett were ruled out for the season. Burnett suffered a torn ACL while Barnett
injured his wrist in similar fashion to the Bears' Brian Urlacher's
season-ending injury last season. This is not good news for the defense
considering they were already struggling to put guys on the field.
Safety Nick Collins is battling a knee injury while Al Harris and Atari
Bigby have yet to see any action this season.
Rumor has it the Packers are looking to use budding star Clay
Matthews and linebacker Brandon Chillar in packages which would feature
them at the safety position. I'm not an expert on defensive packages
like defensive coordinator Dom Capers, but I'm pretty sure Matthews or
Chillar at the safety position could be a concern against teams with
speedy receivers. The Packers should be looking long and hard at
bringing in a veteran safety if not a running back.
3.) Lastly but not least, the latest buzz around the league has been about this Randy Moss guy returning to Minnesota.
1-3, the Vikings were falling fast behind the Bears and Packers in the
division. I'm not sure if the move propels the Vikings to the top of the
division, but it does make them a better team. Can you imagine coaches
preparing to stop an offense with Favre, Moss, Peterson and Rice when he
With the Packers' current defensive woes, Moss can create huge match-up problems versus the Packers.
With these three obstacles in the way of the Packers winning the NFC North,
I think it's fairly obvious they must make some kind of deal soon. If
not, they could falter to the Minnesota Vikings once again like last
year. The Vikings have pushed all of their chips in, it's time for the
Packers to do the same.
Do you think the Packers can win the division without acquiring a
running back or safety? Does Randy Moss propel the Vikings to be the new
favorites in the NFC North? Let me know by commenting below.