Green Bay Packers: The Way-Too-Early Statistical Predictions for 2011
The Packers offense looks strong as ever coming into the 2011 season after being one of the top scoring teams of 2010. Huge contributors Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant will be coming back from injuries suffered last year, adding more talent to a dynamite offense that led Green Bay to a Super Bowl victory.
With these two key players back, it would seem impossible for the Packers to add much more talent to their skill positions on offense. They already have a surplus of studs, so what else could they get?
Well, Ted Thompson answered that question during the draft by landing OT Derek Sherrod in the first round, the explosive Randall Cobb in the second, a pass catching back in Alex Green in the third and the college standout tight end D.J. Williams in the fifth.
These young, talented players will add another dimension to a skilled core of players on this Green Bay offense, which will be scary for other teams.
It's going to be tough to stop the Cheeseheads this year as the Pack look to bring the Lombardi Trophy home two years in a row.
Note: Injuries will not be taken into consideration this article. These are the stats that I think the players will get assuming there are no injuries.
QB Aaron Rodgers
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Prediction: 4,428 yards, 33 touchdowns, nine INT, 324 rush yards, three rush touchdowns, 64.1 completion percent, 78-yard pass long, sacked 31 times (Pro Bowl)
Analysis: Rodgers proved to the world that he is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, leading the Packers to a Super Bowl title despite an injury ravaged roster. Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant were two of the biggest names to fall, and many thought the Packers would fall apart with so many key players out.
This injury epidemic, however, didn't affect Rodgers much. He went about his usual business of torching defenses, and even with almost no threat of a run game to keep players in the box.
At only 27, Aaron is the face of the next generation of great quarterbacks, and if he can stay healthy and get rid of his concussion problems, he will be putting up huge numbers for years to come.
Rodgers will be coming back in 2011 with a ton of confidence after a Super Bowl win, and with an abundance of new weapons entering his arsenal next season, Aaron should increase his statistical output from 2010.
RB Ryan Grant
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Predictions: 907 yards, 221 attempts, 4.1 YPC, six touchdowns, 43-yard rush long, 14 receptions, 128 receiving yards, one fumble
Analysis: Even though he missed most of the 2010 season with injury, Ryan Grant has proven to be a solid back and I think he will come back and play well next season.
At one point in his career, Grant had back to back 1,200 yard seasons and was on the cusp of being a Pro-Bowler. It's unlikely he lost all of that ability from one injury, and even though he is past his prime, Grant will bounce back for the Pack.
Ryan has been a steady back for a long time and he fits the mold for a Green Bay back well. He is unspectacular, but runs hard and rarely fumbles or loses yards on a carry.
Grant is still a good fit as a Packer, and he will have one more solid year before his contract expires in 2012.
RB James Starks
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Predictions: 648 yards, 154 attempts, 4.2 YPC, three touchdowns, 33-yard rush long, nine receptions, 87 yards, two fumbles
Analysis: After exploding onto the scene during the Packers playoff run last season, many people are ready to get rid of Ryan Grant and make James Starks the Green Bay Packers' starting running back.
However, despite having the talent to take the spot from Grant, Starks has had a lot of injury and durability problems so I think Green Bay will ease Starks into the lead back role by having him split carries this year.
This kid has a good shot to be the running back of the future for the Packers, but with a talented veteran like Ryan Grant still on the roster, Starks will have to wait a year before he becomes a full work horse.
However, he will be involved much more in the Packers offense than he was in the regular season of 2010 and will produce solidly during his time on the field.
RB Alex Green
Predictions: 162 Yards, 46 Attempts, 3.5 YPC, 17 Yard Rush Long, 23 Receptions, 237 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving TD, 2 Fumbles
Analysis: Green is a big back that has a rare combination of power and grace. He has quick feet and can soft hands out of the back field, but at the same time can run over people in the open field with his 225 pound frame.
This kid has good potential, and while he won't be ready to take a ton of carries right away, the Packers don't need him to. Green will step into the role of a third down back, and become the bigger, faster, and stronger version of Brandon Jackson for Green Bay in 2011.
While pass protection schemes and blocking could be an issue at first, Green has a lot of talent with the football in his hands and should make an impact through the air on day one.
FB John Kuhn
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Predictions: 30 attempts, 96 yards, two touchdowns, 3.3 YPC 12-yard rush long, 13 receptions, 106 yards, one touchdown, one fumble
Analysis: The fullback position has become a lost art in the NFL with modern day spread offenses. However, if anybody in today's league combines the blocking ability and offensive skill of the fullbacks of old, John Kuhn is that guy.
He may not be the biggest or fastest player, but Kuhn has a mix of strength and finesse that makes him solid all around player for the Packers offense.
He can catch passes, pick up the blitz, and pound the ball for short first downs, bringing a physicality that the Packers offense lacks without him.
Kuhn probably won't be thrust into a running back role this year, so with him back at his normal position, expect less touches but better production when gets the ball.
WR Greg Jennings
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Predictions: 68 Receptions, 1121 yards, eight touchdowns, 15.9 YPC, 78-yard reception long, five drops, one fumble (Pro Bowl)
Analysis: Jennings got off to a slow start last season, catching only 12 balls in his first four games. After Jermichael Finley went down with an injury during week five, Aaron Rodgers made it a priority to get the ball into his stud receiver’s hands more often than he did in the first few games.
The result was a Pro Bowl caliber finish to Jennings season, as he and Rodgers torched defenses throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Greg found the success he had before the emergence of Finley, recording similar numbers to his Pro Bowl season of 2008 after a relatively down year in 2009.
With Finley back in the lineup, however, expect Jennings numbers to fall off a bit in 2011. If Finley is able to stay healthy, a decrease in targets could lead to a slight dip in production for the Pro Bowl receiver.
Jennings will still have a big impact in the Packers offense no matter who is in the lineup, and has a good shot at another trip to Hawaii in 2011.
WR Donald Driver
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Predictions: 47 receptions, 536 yards, four touchdowns, 11.3 YPC, 46-yard reception long, four drops, one fumble
Analysis: The streak of six straight 1,000 yard seasons ended for Driver last year after a season filled with injuries, and sadly, I don't think Driver will ever be able to get back to that production again.
At 36 years old, Donald's best days are probably behind him. He doesn't play with the same speed and explosiveness he once did, but that doesn't mean this workhorse doesn't have anything left in the tank.
Driver has said he wants to play until he's 40, and i don't see why he can't after still being productive last year with over 50 catches and 550 receiving yards.
If Driver doesn't miss time, expect his numbers to be similar to last season's where he only played 13 games. He won't be as productive this year, but if he is able to rack up 500 yards at the age of 37, that would still be a great feat for an all time great in Driver.
WR Jordy Nelson
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Predictions: 52 receptions, 703 yards, six touchdowns, 13.5 YPC, 61-yard reception long, seven drops, two fumbles
Analysis: Nobody was expecting Jordy Nelson to put up the kind of numbers in the playoffs that he ended up with, but then again, how could you?
This guy has been a career backup who was thought to be no more than a role player. When given the opportunity, however, Nelson proved he can be an impact player by catching 21 balls for 286 yards and two touchdowns during the Packers playoff run.
Nelson has shown the potential to be the next number two receiver in Green Bay once Donald Driver decides to retire and he will prove next season that he is more than capable of handling an increased role by putting up good numbers in 2011.
WR Randall Cobb
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Predictions: 21 receptions, 281 yards, one touchdown, 13.4 YPC, 32-yard reception long, three drops, two fumbles, 111 rush yards, 15 carries, 7.4 yards per carry, one punt return for touchdown.
Analysis: Cobb was drafted by the Packers as a wide receiver, but just to call him that would be an insult to his versatility.
In college, Cobb did it all for Kentucky. He played quarterback, running back, receiver, punt returner and even held place kicks for the Wildcats.
This kid is a football player, and no matter where he is on the field, he finds ways to make plays. The Packers will be extremely creative with their usage of Cobb and will find ways to use his versatility to their advantage.
Whether it be in the return game, running game or through the air, expect production when the explosive Cobb gets the ball in his hands.
He may be listed as a receiver, but the slot is not the only place Cobb will be seen this year.
TE Jermichael Finley
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Predictions: 73 receptions, 910 yards, nine touchdowns, 12 YPC, 52-yard reception long, five drops, two fumbles (Pro Bowl)
Analysis: No one doubts Jermichael Finley is one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL. At 6'5'', 260 pounds, Finley is too big for corners and safeties to cover.
No dice with many linebackers as well, considering how fast Finley is for his size (4.6-40 time). With Aaron Rodgers' ridiculous accuracy, the combo of these two is almost impossible to stop.
Finley can't be covered when on the field, but staying on the field has been his problem for the last two years.
Injuries have slowed down Finley's production and hindered his unbelievable potential since his first real action in 2009.
If Finley can healthy for a full season, all of the hype surrounding this kid will almost certainly turn into great play.
Jermicael has all it takes to be an all-time great, and if his body holds up, he will be able to start proving it this year with a great season.
TE Andrew Quarless
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Predictions: 21 receptions, 195 yards, two touchdowns, 9.6 YPC, 22-yard reception long, four drops, one fumble
Analysis: Quarless didn't play great in his rookie season, but the task of trying to replace Jermichael Finley was probably too much to ask of the young player.
There's no doubt that Quarless will improve under the great coaches in Green Bay, so expect this kid to perform better while on the field this year.
Hopefully Quarless is able to get a better feel for the game this year and grows more comfortable in the Packers offense, because if he does, the potential is there for the young tight end to be a solid player.
I expect to see a lot of growth from Quarless and solid production as well.
TE D.J. Williams
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Predictions: 12 receptions, 123 yards, one touchdown, 10.2 YPC, 17-yard reception long, one drop
Analysis: Being a rookie and in a deep and talented group of Packers tight ends, D.J. Williams probably won't get a ton of offensive looks in 2011.
Mike McCarthy will have to be creative to get Williams involved in the Green Bay offense, but if he finds a way to get him on the field, this rookie is a capable receiver with exceptional speed for a tight end. This mixture could pose serious matchup problems with both D.J. and Finley on the field.
Williams’ role will probably be limited to a flanker/H-back in his first year, but that doesn't mean this kid can't become another weapon for Aaron Rodgers to dissect defenses with.