Super Bowl 2011: 5 Offseason Moves For Each Team
Both the Packers and Steelers had an incredible 2010 season. While the Steelers didn't come away with their 7th Lombardi Trophy, they put forth a valiant effort.
That being said, both teams still have room for improvement. Every team has their weaknesses, including both teams that made the Super Bowl. Let's take a look at five moves that the Steelers and Packers need to make in the offseason to make sure they return to the Super Bowl next season.
Pittsburgh Move No. 5: Reload at Linebacker
James Harrison is 32 and James Farrior is 36. Harrison is one of the top outside linebackers in the league. He brings a physical mentality and ferocious presence. His impact is felt most in the backfield, where he punishes quarterbacks and running backs alike.
James Farrior is the unquestioned emotional leader of the Steelers. He is the heartbeat of the Steelers' defense and rules the middle of the field. Both players, especially Farrior, have their best football behind them. The Steelers need to start bringing in replacements to restock one of the best linebacker corps in the entire NFL.
Green Bay Move No. 5: Let Cullen Jenkins Walk
Cullen Jenkins is the unsung hero of Green Bay. While he was instrumental to the Packers' success this season, Jenkins is 30 years old and in the final year of his contract. The Packers don't have a lot of glaring holes in their roster, which is the reason they were able to win the Super Bowl despite battling through injury after injury.
Ted Thompson is one of the best personnel guys in the entire league. This draft class is deep as far as defensive line is concerned. Whether Thompson decides to fill the hole through free agency or through the draft, Jenkins is replaceable. He is a solid player, but his career will likely see a decline.
Pittsburgh Move No. 4: Bring in New Possession Receiver
The Steelers have had the luxury of having a hard nosed possession receiver in Hines Ward for the past decade. Ward has been a reliable outlet for the Steelers and has served as a sure handed possession guy no matter who was at quarterback.
Ward is on his way out. While it appears he will probably come back for one or two more years, the 34 year old wideout has to be eying retirement. The Steelers already have a deep threat wide receiver, so bringing in a rangy possession receiver would be a better route to go.
Green Bay Move No. 4: Flip Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga
Chad Clifton is an 11 year pro and the bookend left tackle of the Green Bay Packers. Clifton is entering the back end of his career. At 34 years old, it is unclear how many more games he has left in the tank. Luckily for the Packers, they are already grooming the left tackle of the future.
Bryan Bulaga will be Aaron Rodgers' blind side protector in the near future. Bulaga is currently at right tackle, but is built like a true left tackle. While some may think it is more logical to leave Clifton on the left side for the remainder of his career, it makes sense to start breaking in Bulaga on the left side while Clifton is still there for support. Clifton can serve as a veteran presence on the right side while Bulaga transitions into the left tackle role.
Pittsburgh Move No. 3: Find a Replacement For Casey Hampton
Casey Hampton is the centerpiece of the Steelers' front seven. He is a two gapper defensive tackle who takes the heat off the Steelers' linebackers. Hampton is instrumental in plugging up the gaps and stopping the run.
He is also 33 years old. The Steelers need to bring a nose tackle to take some of the reps off of Hampton. Hampton is a large man and having a guy to give him a breather will extend his career. It also helps the Steelers plan for the next generation of Steeler football. Having a dominant nose tackle is crucial in a 3-4. The Steelers have to gameplan for his departure.
Green Bay Move No. 3: Bring in a Change Of Pace Back
The Packers get Ryan Grant back next year when their Pro Bowl caliber back returns from injury. The Packers had a number of backs who filled in capably in his absence, but Grant was sorely missed throughout the season.
Grant is a complete back. The Packers could utilize a big back to take care of some of the dirty work or a scat back to add some explosiveness to the Green Bay offense out of the backfield. Either way, a one-two punch coming out of the backfield would add versatility and take some of the hits off of Grant.
Pittsburgh Move No. 2: Bring in a New Corner
The Steelers need help in the secondary. While the defense as a whole is elite and Troy Polamalu is incredible, their secondary leaves something to be desired. Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden suffice as acceptable second options, but neither is a great lock down corner.
The Steelers need to bring in someone who makes quarterbacks think twice before throwing at them. In this year's Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers exposed the Steelers. They have the best run defense in the NFL, but pass defense is a liability. Bringing in a big time cornerback makes their defense even more effective.
Green Bay Move No. 2: Resign AJ Hawk
AJ Hawk has had the overrated tag since he came into the NFL, as is customary with linebackers who come out of the Big Ten. Hawk has proved his worth and justified the early pick the Packers spent on him. Hawk is a solid middle linebacker. He has the speed to help in coverage and a physicality that makes him an asset in the run game.
In Dom Capers' defense, Hawk is required to do a lot to compensate for the holes that could be created from being creative in blitz packages. He makes plays sideline to sideline and is a huge part of the Packers' defense. 2011 is a contract year, so getting him an extension is at the forefront of their priorities. He filled in for Nick Barnett as the quarterback of the defense and deserves a new contract.
Pittsburgh Move No. 1: Solidify The Offensive Line
The Steelers have an outstanding young prospect in Maurkice Pouncey. Everyone else is forgettable. With the smash-mouth style of play the Steelers play with, they need to sure up the offensive line. Ben Roethlisberger has the ability to absorb big hits, but keeping him upright has to be a priority going forward.
The Steelers need a tackle, but if they choose to spend a first round pick on o-line, they need to go with the best offensive lineman available. Poor guard play may have cost the Steelers the Super Bowl, as a bull rush ultimately forced a Roethlisberger pick. At pick 31, the Steelers may have a chance to reunite the Pouncey Brothers by bringing in Mike Pouncey. That is an opportunity they cannot afford to pass up, should it present itself.
Green Bay Move No. 1: Get Rid Of The Injury Bug
The Green Bay Packers fell victim to injury this season. Superstars were sidelined with season ending injury and the team was plagued with injury throughout the entire year. Some of the injuries were unavoidable, but the amount of injuries the Packers saw calls for some change.
Having six starters and 15 players total end up on the IR is simply unacceptable. A few injuries are bound to happen on any team, but 15 players creates unnecessary adversity. While the Packers survived this season, having their best 11 on the field at all times has to become a top priority. That all starts by having a healthy team.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!