5 Reasons for Optimism for the Green Bay Packers Heading into the 2013 Offseason
Despite the Green Bay Packers' disappointing playoff exit, there are plenty of reasons for the Packers and their fans to be optimistic heading into the 2013 season. The Packers have plenty of work to do to get back to the Super Bowl, but they have a number of solid pieces in place.
Entering 2013, the Packers should be the favorites in the division and be expected to be a top team in the NFC once again. This could change based on how the offseason plays out and the decisions that are made following the playoff loss. These reasons should have the Packers optimistic heading into 2013 regardless of offseason decisions.
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One of the main reasons the Packers have had so much success the past few seasons has been their ability scout and bring in talent. Ted Thompson has been a huge part of this with the draft and free agency. His draft record speaks for itself, but he's also been incredible at finding undrafted free agents that can contribute, including Dezman Moses.
With any draft class, the Packers should get an influx of young talent to replace the outgoing players. With a bunch of young playmakers on defense, Thompson will likely be able to focus on retooling the offense.
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DuJuan Harris burst onto the scene in surprising fashion in Week 14 with 31 rushing yards and a touchdown. He used the rest of the regular season and playoffs to show he's a legitimate threat. With Harris in the mix, the Packers have a formidable run game.
The Packers ran the ball very well down the stretch of the season, in much part because of Harris. In the six games he played (regular and postseason), Harris averaged 4.15 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns. While Harris may not be able to handle 20-plus carries a game, he gives the Packers a weapon on the ground.
Casey Hayward and Young Talent on Defense
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The Packers defense improved immensely this season from last. They did so in large part because of all the young talent they brought in during the offseason. Rookies Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillian, Dezman Moses and Nick Perry (before his injury) all made significant contributions to the team. With a full season under their belts and another offseason, they should be even better.
With Clay Matthews, Morgan Burnett, Sam Shields and B.J. Raji all relatively young as well, this Packers defense could be good for a while. They weren't where they wanted to be this season, but they should be even better next year.
Injured Players Coming Back
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The Packers will be able to reload with players returning from injury. On the defensive side of the ball, Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith and Nick Perry will all be back and ready to beef up the linebacking unit. Davon House's shoulder will have fully healed to give him full range of motion. He was making noise in camp before the injury cost him much of the year.
Offensively, the biggest boost comes from the health of Bryan Bulaga. The Packers' starting right tackle should be ready to go throughout the season after hurting his hip midway through the season. Derek Sherrod will also be healthy following his broken league in 2011.
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When a team has the best quarterback in the game, they will always enter the season with optimism. Aaron Rodgers gives the Packers and their fans plenty to be feeling good about. With many of his weapons likely back and a running game behind DuJuan Harris, Rodgers should be putting up MVP-type numbers yet again.
As long as the Packers are able to keep Rodgers healthy, they will be the favorites in the division and considered a top team in the NFC. After two back-to-back playoff flail-outs, Rodgers and the rest of the Packers have something to prove in 2013.