The Green Bay Packers have a number of ways they can get over the NFC Championship Game hump and make it to Super Bowl 56 in the 2021 NFL season.
The Green Bay Packers, once again, came home empty-handed in the postseason after their second consecutive loss in the NFC Championship Game to close out yet another 13-3 season. What could’ve been an addition to Aaron Rodgers‘ legacy became a detriment to his career as he’s now 1-4 in NFC Championship Games.
At the end of the day though, the Green Bay Packers have a new league year to prepare for — and one where they will likely see many new faces in the locker room come training camp with just as many familiar faces missing. One of the more recognizable faces expected to be missing is All-Pro center, Corey Linsley, leaving a massive void in an imperative position on the Packers’ offensive line that was incredibly dominant in 2020.
On the bright side though, there are three ways that the Green Bay Packers can ensure that the third time is the charm, and make it to Super Bowl LVI in the 2021 NFL season. Baring in mind that the organization is roughly $12 million over the salary cap, this is a mere best-case scenario for Green Bay.
3. Add a hybrid tight end
There were fewer stars that shined brighter for the Green Bay Packers than tight end Robert Tonyan as he exploded onto the scene with 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns while boasting an 88.1 catch percentage and a 147.6 quarterback rating when targeted, per Pro Football Reference.
Tonyan was one of the key reasons why Green Bay’s offense was so dynamic but it’s unknown if he’ll make a return in 2021. Every defense knows that Davante Adams is going to be a massive threat coming off the line but to also have to worry about a dynamic tight end underneath is an absolute nightmare for defensive coordinators.
While Jace Sternberger hasn’t proven that he’s an answer to the solution, there are plenty of fits in free agency, as well as in the draft that the team can pursue. It’s important to keep in mind that the Packers are one of the best teams at finding hidden gems, as Tonyan went undrafted.
That may give some temporary relief but a significant upgrade at the tight end position is imperative for the team if they want to make it to the promised land.
2. Find Davante Adams a complementary wide receiver
The need at wide receiver, particularly finding a true No. 2 wide receiver, goes without saying. It’s also safe to say that, if general manager Brian Gutekunst repeats his mistake of not drafting a single wideout in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft as he did in 2020, there will be riots.
No, the Packers don’t need to break the bank by bringing in an Allen Robinson or someone of that stature. But they do need to bring in an Emanuel Sanders-Esque receiver who can draw some attention away from Adams.
Given that Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are becoming more comfortable in their new offense, it makes the addition of that complimentary receiver all the more important. If they can add a true WR2, while maintaining their current core at wide receiver, Rodgers will be quite satisfied with the damage he can impose on other teams.
They already have an elite route runner (Adams), a physical receiver (Lazard) and their deep threat weapon (MVS). Now all they need is a slot receiver that can wreak havoc on opposing teams who can allow the rest of the receiving corps to shine. They need a Cole Beasley-type slot receiver to make the Packers look like scoring 30+ points per game is an everyday thing for them.
1. Upgrade speed in the secondary
Showcased by the play at the end of the first half in the NFC Championship Game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Green Bay Packers lack speed in the secondary of their defense, particularly at the cornerback position.
We’ve all heard the term “speed kills” and the Kansas City Chiefs and Buccaneers are some of the teams in the NFL who prove that statement to be true. Now, in a league that’s seeing more and more speed at the wide receiver position in examples like D.K. Metcalf, Henry Ruggs III, Tyreek Hill, Scotty Miller, etc., there should be an adaptation of adding speedy cornerbacks to counterattack that speed.
While it is likely that CB Kevin King will not be returning to the green and gold for the 2021 NFL season, that leaves a pretty open hole in the depth chart. The Pack has a ton of depth in the secondary, as they live by the motto “next man up”, however, the drop-off in talent from Jaire Alexander to the next man in the chart is substantial. They can take out two birds with one stone by adding a quality corner to couple with Alexander who has the speed to match most deep threat wideouts in the NFL.
At the end of the day, for the Packers to make it to Super Bowl LVI, they need to anticipate facing a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers again. Speed may have lost the battle for Green Bay that day, but they can win the war by fighting fire with fire and adding some speed of their own to counter the blazing wide receivers.
For other positions of need that many are likely fuming about, like middle linebacker and running back, there has to be a sense of realism here. The Packers simply don’t have the same appeal nor the cap space to bring in marquise free agents. Furthermore, there needs to be trust between the fans and the front office.
There are players in the lineup that were drafted and signed for a specific reason, and just because they didn’t make the Pro-Bowl their rookie year, doesn’t mean they can achieve significance moving forward. Have faith in Brian Gutekunst, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt LeFleur, because this team is that close to becoming Super Bowl champions once again. It’s not a matter of if anymore; it’s a matter of when.