I think we all know who the best and most important player on the Packers roster is.
The question is who else is up there? According to Pro Football Focus, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Sitton and Clay Matthews were placed into the elite category.
Rodgers? Obviously. We all saw how much he meant to this team when he missed seven games last year.
Sitton? Yes. The season opener at San Francisco was his worst game of the year with his whiffs on numerous run blocks. But after that, he turned into a rock and I will go so far as to say that with the patchwork of four quarterbacks that started for the Packers this past year, it was Sitton that got the Packers in the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
If the offensive line wants to get respect in a hurry, it needs to keep Rodgers’ jersey clean. Allowing 47 sacks a year from 2009-2012 is unacceptable. Sitton is a guy that not only turns into a beast on gameday but he can also galvanize the rest of the unit. People listen to him and he needs to lead them if this team is going to get a whisper of success.
Matthews? I just cannot see it. Is he a good player? Yes. But there are too many question marks with him. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler for a reason but the last time he played in at least 15 games was 2011 and he’s never started all 16 yet. Last April he became the highest-paid linebacker in the game and if he keeps ending up on the injured reserve, he will have to start collecting his paychecks with a ski mask.
I truly believe there’s one guy that’s missing from the elite equation. And that person is Eddie Lacy. I realize he has only played one season but his value to the offense is like having a Visa card: Priceless. A legitimate running element is something that nobody has seen in Green Bay since Ahman Green was plowing ahead for tough yards.
Teams will always scheme to stop Rodgers first. Lacy will feast on safeties cheating back, making his path to the second level that much easier. Lacy still racked up over 1,100 yards on the ground and that includes three games of less than 30. People that underestimate Lacy should do so with caution. He may look like Jerome Bettis but he can move better and is even more fearless.
I’ve said it before and I will continue to say that the running back position is dying. But I see Lacy turning into the Marshawn Lynch type of back. Which is perfect, because when Lacy hits his prime in four or five years, the Packers will need him even more when Rodgers begins his taper his pass attempts. He is thick enough to be a horse, quick enough to turn it upfield and versatile enough to catch passes.
The reason that it’s hard to place a Packers receiver in that elite category is because without Rodgers, I’m not sure how good any of them would be. Jordy Nelson has shown a knack for making the impossible catch, but would a different quarterback be able to put it that close? Randall Cobb can zoom past most defenders, but would another quarterback have an arm to hit him in stride?
And forget about the defensive side of the ball. The Packers haven’t had a dynamic defender since LeRoy Butler, a guy that changed the game with his 20½ sacks and 38 picks.
The Packers can win without the trio of Rodgers, Sitton and Matthews. But they will not win without the trio Rodgers, Sitton and Lacy — which is why those three are the most important players on this team.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn