What the Green Bay Packers Can Do to Recover from Major Losses on Offense

Bob FoxContributor IOctober 29, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 20:  Wide receiver Jarrett Boykin #11 of the Green Bay Packers extends the ball over the goal line to score a touchdown on a 20-yard pass during the fourth quarter as defensive backs Joe Haden #23 and Buster Skrine #22 of the Cleveland Browns defend the play at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Browns 31-13.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

So, what can the Green Bay Packers do to recover from the major losses for their offense due to injuries? Basically, just keep doing what they are doing.

The Packers have lost wide receiver Randall Cobb at least until December 15, as he recovers from his broken leg, suffered in the game against the Baltimore Ravens. Cobb is currently on injured reserve with designation to return.

In that same game, another key wide receiver was injured, as James Jones suffered a knee injury. Jones has missed the past two games, but there is a chance he might play this Monday night versus the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

The week after the game against the Ravens, the Packers played the Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field. In that game, the Packers saw their very talented tight end Jermichael Finley go down with a severe neck injury, which had Finley in the hospital for a few days.

The future for Finley is very much in question. Not only for later this season, but also his entire career perhaps.

Add to that, training camp had barely started when left tackle Bryan Bulaga went down with a torn ACL.

Those are four very talented players.

Cobb had a breakout season in 2012, when he caught 80 passes for 954 yards and eight touchdowns.

Jones led the entire NFL with 14 touchdown receptions last season.

Finley had the best season of his career in 2012, and was on his way to surpassing those stats this year.

Bulaga was considered the best offensive tackle the Packers had, and was moving from right to left tackle to help stem the pass rush from the blind side of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

So with all those injuries, as the 5-2 Packers are almost now halfway through their 2013 season, just how is the offense doing?

Just fine, thank you.

The Packers are second in the NFL in total offense, as they are averaging 438.9 yards a game.

The passing offense behind Rodgers, who has thrown 15 touchdown passes to just four picks, is ranked fifth in the NFL, as it averages 297.4 a game.

The big surprise is the rushing offense of the Packers. Behind the talented tandem of rookie Eddie Lacy and James Starks, the team is now third in the entire NFL in rushing, as the team averages 141.4 yards a game toting the rock.

/Getty Images

Instead of using Cobb and Jones opposite Jordy Nelson, the Packers have been utilizing second-year wide receiver Jarrett Boykin and undrafted rookie Miles White.

In the past two games, Boykin has caught 13 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. In the game on Sunday night versus the Minnesota Vikings, White caught five passes for 35 yards.

Nelson meanwhile, just keeps making big plays for the Pack. In the past three games, Nelson has 16 receptions for 278 yards and four touchdowns.

Since the Bulaga injury at left tackle, the Packers inserted rookie David Bakhtiari. Since then, even with a few hiccups, Bakhtiari has been more than solid, both in pass protection and in run-blocking.

The void at tight end with Finley being out has been a bit more glaring. Andrew Quarless is a solid run-blocking tight end, but pales in comparison to Finley with his pass receiving skills.

The tight end who most resembles Finley in that respect is Brandon Bostick, but the converted wide receiver is still very raw.

That is why Ted Thompson might consider doing something today, that he attempted to do five years ago. You see, today is the trading deadline for all NFL clubs.

Dec 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) celebrates a touchdown in the first half against the New York Giants at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

In 2008, Thompson attempted to acquire tight end Tony Gonzalez from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers came very close to getting the deal done too.

The Packers offered a third-round pick for Gonzalez and had even drawn up the paperwork for the trade, but general manager Carl Peterson called the Packers 10 minutes before the trading deadline to say it would take a second-round pick to acquire Gonzalez.

The Packers said no, but the Atlanta Falcons said yes, and Gonzalez has spent the past five years in Atlanta, doing what he always has done. Being very productive.

Since that trade was made, Gonzalez has had 364 receptions for 3,723 yards and 30 touchdowns. For his career, Gonzales has had an astonishing 1,280 catches for 14,663 yards and 106 touchdowns.

Even with those fantastic statistics, Gonzalez has never played for a Super Bowl champion, although the Falcons did play in the NFC Championship Game last year.

But the Dirty Birds are 2-5 this season and going nowhere, plus they are suffering though their own injury issues.

Bottom line, Thompson can take a page from his mentor Ron Wolf right now. 

For example, Wolf acquired very talented tight end Keith Jackson via trade in 1995 when he was general manager of the Packers, even though it took some time to convince Jackson to come to Green Bay.

Then, midway through the season in 1996, the Packers also signed wide receiver Andre Rison.

Thompson was the director of pro personnel at that time with the Packers under Wolf.

Both Jackson and Rison turned out to have significant roles as the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season.

That championship season was the last year that either Jackson or Rison played for the Packers. Jackson retired, and the Packers did not re-sign Rison.

Gonzalez has said that this is definitely his last season in the NFL. In terms of the salary cap, Gonzalez is on the books for $5,250,000 million this season.

The Packers would only be responsible for around half of the $3,500,000 salary Gonzalez is due. The Packers have the cap room to absorb half of that that salary this year, and would also know that Gonzalez would not be part of their cap number in 2014 if he retired as expected.

The NFL set the salary cap at $123 million this year, and the Packers are approximately three million under that currently.

So basically it comes down to how much compensation the team would part with to get Gonzalez. The Packers and Thompson would also surely know that Gonzalez would be coveted by a number of NFL teams currently in contention.

A deal probably could be done with a low-round pick knowing that Gonzalez would basically be a half-year rental. That being said, a weapon like Gonzalez would help any team win the Super Bowl when the postseason comes around.

The Packers learned that lesson with Jackson and Rison.

If the Packers do decide to get into the bidding again to acquire Gonzalez today, they must also remember the lesson from 2008 when they almost acquired No. 88 from the Chiefs.

That is, make sure you put out your very best offer.


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