5 Most Compelling Green Bay Packers Storylines for the 2013 Offseason
While the wound from last weekend's loss might still be too raw for Packers fans, the team itself won't rest on its laurels—especially since those laurels don't include a Super Bowl ring.
Of course, Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy wouldn't be satisfied with but one Super Bowl, which is why they're McCarthy and Thompson in the first place.
Though the foundation of the team is solid, with some areas easily categorized as great, there are still some holes to fill. There are also some other issues which need to be resolved as well—money will need to be paid to players and soon.
With all that in mind, let's take a look at five storylines worth noting going into the 2013 offseason.
Is Dom Capers the Long-Term Answer?
Bears fans know that when I get something stuck between my teeth (like the Chicago offensive line), there is no stopping me from tearing at it.
So this is a theme that I will likely be on all year long barring a change at defensive coordinator.
Capers had a borderline Top 10 defense this year, sure. However, he once again presided over a complete defensive collapse in the playoffs.
And that 11th-ranked defense from this year follows a horrible 32nd-ranked defense from 2011 which was torched in the playoffs like this one was.
The defense had no clue how to stop the 49ers. None. It didn't look like it did a lick of film work or planned anything. I've never seen a defense look that lost.
Sure, some of that is on the players, but most of it is on the defensive coordinator.
I won't beat this to death, since I already did a few days ago, but I think there is a real issue with Capers.
Change could be coming, as Capers' contract is done. The resulting silence about an extension or anything else for him speaks pretty loudly, as CheeseheadTV's Jayme Joers points out.
Then again, we won't know until someone new is announced, so we'll continue to watch this.
Beyond Capers, there are definitely issues in the defense.
During the last few games of the year, Tramon Williams looked lost. The tackling has been just flat-out bad. The middle of the defense is populated by turnstiles that running backs can slip between at will.
It's impossible to get around—this defense has issues.
This is not to say that the Packers need to go hard like they did last draft, but they still need to address it. I wouldn't be opposed to them going early at right inside linebacker.
This defense was bad in 2011 and all over the place in 2012. Yes, there were injury issues, but there were holes as well.
The Packers need to keep filling them and finding ways to tweak the play of those already there.
The offensive line appeared to play well, but that flies in the face of reality in some ways. The Packers allowed Aaron Rodgers to be sacked 51 times this season. That's seven fewer times than this year's Arizona Cardinals, who have what is widely regarded as one of the worst offensive lines ever and one worse than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were up there in awfulness as well.
Some of those are on Rodgers, who can hang onto the ball too long.
A lot of that is on the offensive line.
Yes, it had to shuffle guys around due to injury and, yes, Jeff Saturday at center didn't pan out.
However, even with those things, the line allowed Rodgers to feel pressure way too often.
The question is, what can be done?
How Thompson approaches that—and what McCarthy does to help the guys already there—will be a big story going into next season.
Is Finley's upside worth the headache or do all the drops overwhelm the occasional big game?
His yards dropped again and he had just two touchdowns this year. Added to the constant jawing and complaints about a lack of chemistry with Rodgers, it's not a very attractive option for them anymore.
He's clearly got a tremendous amount of ability—he also seems to continue to struggle to fit into this offense now. Or rather, find peace with the way the offense uses him.
High-powered, athletic tight ends aren't a dime a dozen, but if Finley isn't reaching his potential, how long do you wait for him?
The Packers have 13 players entering free agency (nine restricted free agents, four unrestricted) this year and 15 next year.
Next year's batch includes Clay Matthews, M.D. Jennings, B.J. Raji, James Starks, John Kuhn, Morgan Burnett and Jermichael Finley among others.
And Aaron Rodgers is an unrestricted free agent in 2015, which may feel a long way off but isn't in terms of cap space.
So this year, there are hard choices to make because Matthews and Raji can net a ton of money and Rodgers absolutely will.
That means guys like Greg Jennings, Erik Walden and Donald Driver could be left in the cold this year, while Finley, Harrell and James Starks might find themselves on the short end of the stick next year.
Any contract tendered now is money the team doesn't have for Matthews, Raji or Rodgers.
Watching how the front office starts dealing with this year's contracts will tell us quite a bit about what it might do over the next few years.
More Noteworthy Packers Storylines
Here are some more things I'll be talking about and watching this offseason:
- Is Graham Harrell the backup you want?
- How big a slice of the carries has DuJuan Harris earned?
- What happens to Charles Woodson?
- Can Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson make you forget Jennings again?
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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.
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