Green Bay Packers fans used to watching quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his array of receiving weapons put up video-game numbers the last few years—and seeing Clay Matthews prey on opponents when the defense took the field—had a hard time swallowing the 2013 season.
Yes, emerging star Eddie Lacy had the second-most rushing touchdowns among running backs, with 11, Jordy Nelson tied for the fourth-most receptions of 20-plus yards and, despite missing the better part of eight games, Aaron Rodgers was No. 5 among quarterbacks in yards per game (with 282 on average).
But on the whole in 2013, Green Bay's top impact players underperformed, due to a butterfly effect of injuries at key positions. After only starting nine games, Rodgers posted career lows in passing yards and touchdowns since becoming the starter in 2008. Due to a twice-injured thumb, Matthews missed five games and posted career lows in total tackles and passes defended.
But in 2014, theoretically, a healthy Rodgers will return to lead top receiving weapons Randall Cobb and Nelson and will be joined by a well-rested Lacy. On the defensive side of the ball, Matthews will be freed up by the presence of Julius Peppers to do some work, and Sam Shields should be motivated to prove he was worth his massive four-year, $39 million deal.
Let's take a quick break from projecting how 2014 draft prospects would perform in Green Bay's system and break down how its top players on the current roster could contribute next season.