Aaron Rodgers is the leader of the offense of the Packers. He is also the reigning league MVP. The year before that he was Super Bowl MVP. He is clearly the captain of the offensive ship of the Packers.
But Rodgers also gets a lot of help with all the weapons at his disposal. For instance, look at these statistics for his receivers:
Jordy Nelson: 68 receptions for 1,263 yards and 15 TDs.
Greg Jennings: 67 receptions for 949 yards and nine TDs.
Jermichael Finley: 55 receptions for 767 yards and eight TDs.
James Jones: 38 receptions for 635 yards and seven TDs.
Donald Driver: 37 receptions for 445 and six TDs.
Randall Cobb: 25 receptions for 375 yards and one TD.
The entire receiver corp will be back too.
Add to that, the Packers will also have a number of other talented young WRs battling for a position on the roster, including Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel, Shaky Smithson and undrafted rookie Dale Moss.
In addition to that, the RBs can also catch the football for the Packers. All told, as a group they had 74 receptions for 636 yards and three touchdowns in 2011.
The other TEs besides Finley also helped out with 12 receptions and two more touchdowns.
The Packers can be effective running the ball too, although not at the level they want to be. For instance, in the 2010 postseason, James Starks led all NFL RBs with 315 yards rushing. The Packers would like to see production like that on a consistent basis.
In 2011, the Packer RBs as a group ran for 1,295 yards and seven touchdowns. Rodgers showed once again that he is a dangerous man running the ball, as he rushed 257 yards and three touchdowns.
Right now it looks like Starks will get the opportunity to be the lead back, as the Packers have not shown any inkling of re-signing Ryan Grant. Starks will be backed up by two second-year players in Alex Green and Brandon Saine. A couple of undrafted rookies, Marc Tyler and Duane Bennett, also hope to make some noise at RB as well.
Bottom line, the Packers have always had a top-10 offense under Mike McCarthy. The Packers were third in the NFL last year in total offense. I don't see that changing. They may actually be even better.
The defense of the Packers was ranked 32nd in the NFL in 2011. That was definitely an anomaly, at least based on the track record of Dom Capers, who is the defensive coordinator for the Packers.
McCarthy hired Capers to run the Packers defense in 2009. Capers hired a great defensive staff to assist him in teaching the 3-4 scheme to a squad, which had been used to playing a 4-3 alignment.
The results? The Packers finished second in total defense in the NFL in 2009. The Packers followed that up in 2010 by finishing fifth in total defense.
But then came the 2011 season. But even with the Packers being ranked dead last in the NFL in defense, the defense still led the NFL with 31 interceptions. That is a remarkable statistic, especially with a sometimes-nonexistent pass rush.
Ted Thompson decided to do something about fixing the defense. For one thing, he signed three defensive linemen (Daniel Muir, Anthony Hargrove and Phillip Merling) in free agency.
But that was nothing compared to what Thompson did in the 2012 NFL draft. Thompson's first six selections in the draft were defensive players. Heading the class was OLB Nick Perry, who was selected in the first round.
Thompson traded up twice in the second round to select DE Jerel Worthy and CB Casey Hayward. In the fourth round, Thompson picked another defensive linemen in Mike Daniels and also a sure-tackling safety when he selected Jerron McMillian.
In the fifth round, Thompson traded up yet again and picked LB Terrell Manning.
Will these new additions help? I would definitely think so. Capers bases the various packages he uses in his defense on the ability to cause pass pressure.
The Packers were second in the NFL in sacks in 2010. They won the Super Bowl that postseason. In 2011, the Packers fell to 27th in sacks and the defense fell to the 32nd ranking in the league. The Packers were also one and done in the playoffs.
The Packers already are showing a new wrinkle, as they have switched Clay Matthews to ROLB, while Perry has taken over as LOLB. The Packers plan to move Matthews around a lot. I think that tweak will make a difference, as will his new young teammates on defense.
Bottom line, I see Capers and his staff putting together another top-10 defensive squad on the field.
On special teams, the Packers have one of the best kicking games in the NFL, with K Mason Crosby and P Tim Masthay. With the addition of Randall Cobb last year in the return game, the Packers now have a guy who can return a kick for a TD at any time. Cobb returned a kickoff for a TD last year, plus did the same on a punt return.
Overall, special teams did a much better job last year covering kicks and keeping penalties down.