Can the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers Still Improve From Within? All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Improving from within was the mantra for the Green Bay Packers last offseason and I don’t expect it to be any different whenever free agency begins this year. Coming off a Super Bowl win, you might be asking yourself how much improving from within is possible. After all, it’s difficult to get much better when you’re already the No. 1 team, right?

As good as the Packers ended last season, this is still a young team (hopefully) on the rise. Continuing to improve from within should be expected. Lets look at each position group and see which players have the most room for improvement, and the talent to get better. We’ll start with the offense and look at the defense later in the week.

Aaron Rodgers had one of the best six-game stretches of any quarterback in the history of the NFL during the Super Bowl run. But he was up and down at times early in the season. Some of that can be attributed to injuries on offense, some of it to inconsistency. As good as Rodgers was, I don’t think he has quite tapped all of his talent. A little more consistency and he should be there. Rodgers is excellent, but I think there’s a little more talent left to tap before he peaks.

Running Back
Getting Ryan Grant back from injury is an improvement in itself, but the real improvement might have to come from Mike McCarthy. If the Packers resign Brandon Jackson and James Starks stays healthy, McCarthy will have to find the right balance for all three running backs. With Jackson likely taking most snaps on third down, the challenge will be getting the most out of Grant and Starks. We have probably seen Grant at his best already, but Starks has plenty of room to grow. I also think Jackson has the talent to get a bit better. With a little help from McCarthy, this position group can be much better.

Wide Receiver
The Packers receivers might be the most frustrating position group on the entire team. There’s a lot of talent there, but catching the ball tends to be a problem sometimes. It’s generally accepted that the Packers receivers are among the most dangerous in the NFL, if they improve on catching the ball, they will also be known as the best. Driver is past his prime, Jennings is peaking right now and Nelson should get better. If James Jones is resigned and cures his dropsies, look out. If this already talented group returns intact, there’s room to be better.

Tight End
As long as Ted Thompson doesn’t join Twitter and immediately cut Jermichael Finley after following him for two days, the tight ends should be better. Finley’s return obviously gives the group a receiving threat. The only thing to worry about is his health. Andrew Quarless looks like a poor man’s version of Finley: athletic, talented, and more of a receiver than a true tight end. Tom Crabtree is more of your down and dirty tight end. He fills a niche on the team.  With a healthy Finley and a learning Quarless and Crabtree, Packers’ tight ends look to be on the rise.

Offensive Line
While the receivers might be the most frustrating position group, the offensive line probably has the most room for improvement. And that’s a good thing. In the past, Packers fans looked at the line and didn’t have much hope. The line was old, broken down, and weak. Now we can see some potential. Josh Sitton is emerging as a top guard. Bryan Bulaga improved during the season and should only get better. Scott Wells was finally handed the starting job and was great in pass protection. Chad Clifton stayed healthy and was a pro-bowler. With the exception of Clifton, all of these guys have some room for improvement.

Last season was a bust for TJ Lang, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he rebounds in 2011. He showed some positive signs in 2009 and I would not be surprised if he earns more playing time. If Marshall Newhouse gets stronger, he could be a contributor as well. Mix in another offensive lineman or two in the draft and the position group’s future looks promising.

It looks like every position group on offense has the talent to get better. Of course, that doesn’t mean they actually will get better. Players regress all the time and there’s always the possibility that 2010 was just one of those years where the Packers put everything together at just the right time.

But I believe a lot of untapped talent remains on this team. It’s up to McCarthy and the coaching staff to bring it all out.


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


12 thoughts on “Can the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers Still Improve From Within?

  1. Rodgers-I think we nitpick him too much and are looking for a robot.Sorry,the HUMAN element cannot be totally taken away.

    RBs-The MM theory of attempts will be achieved without over working either Grant or Starks.It’s more a safe RB run offense.But injuries can happen freakishly.

    WRs-My main concern is DD and is evident why.Otherwise,any apprehension for this part of the offense will be quickly resolved or increased depending on the re-ignited/doused passion to over/under target Finley.We are more apt to draft 2 WRs this year.

    TEs-As mentioned in WR part,and with expectations for Quarless to increase a lot,I’ll be wondering who starts screaming about sore toes.The egotist or the clone(some say) of him.

    OL-Since we won’t get a LT,Bulaga will I fear be moved to it this season.I expect TT to get as close a startable RT this draft in case Lang cannot hold on.

  2. Jersey Al, I like the positive outlook, and I agree with you on the QB, RB, TE situations we have moving into camp. But in terms of our WR situation and our O-Lineman situation, we have free-agents and age that are major issues. Clifton is getting up there, and the odds are against him having another season like he had this season. He’s a China Doll and will have more injuries this year. Colledge is terrible, but he was a starter all year long…so his terrible was BETTER than what we had. We need a new Right Guard, a Left Tackle ready to go when Clifton goes down, and we should be trying to find a center that can run block a little better than Wells.

    At WR, I agree with Taryn that we need to draft 2 players. I am looking at Greg Little of North Carolina as the key to the Packer’s Draft. James Jones is probably gone, and Driver is not the player he used to be. He is now the Troy Brown to our WR depth.

    If we don’t get new players at these positions, these areas will decrease in productivity.

    1. Gotta disagree on the OL. Yes, Cliffy is old and injury-prone, but how many teams have someone who is “ready to go” when their LT goes down? Very few. Bulaga should be able to fill in at LT if needed. And don’t forget about Lang. If he dedicates himself during the offseason, I think he’ll be a contributor.

  3. Adam, I agree with your Left Tackle comment. I know it’s not easy to have two. I have my concerns on Bulaga being able to step in and just take over the Left Tackle spot if it’s needed. I am a TJ Lang fan as well, but the Packers have not done a great job of developing linemen. Name the last lineman that was DEVELOPED by our current coaching staff (James Campen). Wells, Tauscher and Clifton were products of the old regime, and Sitton has started since day one as a rookie. Bulaga did OK last year, but to flop him over to the right side mid-season would be asking a lot from ANY player. Some people may need to accept that he could just be our ORT for the next decade. Look at the linemen that have NOT developed under James Campen: Jason Spitz, Allen Barbre, Daryn Colledge, Tony Moll, Junius Coston, Breno Giacomini, etc. We don’t do a great job DEVELOPING our young players. I was confident in Jason Spitz just a couple years ago…like you are in TJ Lang, now Spitz is on his way out the door. We need to see more from Lang to think that he can contribute….so I’m not holding my breath waiting. I don’t like the prospects at tackle in this draft….so we will be bringing in more “projects.” I just hope that one pans out some time.

    1. Bulaga had spend 4 years playing LT before going pro. He had NEVER played RT in any level before this season.

      As for developing, I agree (really don’t like Campen’s job, still want him fired), but before last season, one might say that we hadn’t developed any CB, that Harris and Woodson were proven pros, and Williams was still struggling. Now we seem to have a plethora of good young DBs.

      I’ll trust TT’s/MM’s judgement regarding Lang/Newhouse/EDS/McDonald. While I would certainly like an addition of a talented OL from the early rounds, it’s hard to argue with their track record.

  4. I agree….I trust MM and TT…..but I think that even THEY are questioning the coaching in that area. And you have to remember that we have a new D-Coordinator. I agree that we weren’t developing young players on defense with Sanders….I HATED HIM!! Ever since we got a real D-Coordinator in there, (Capers), we are seeing some players really come of age. Players like Tramon and Shields are improving because of great coaching. If Sanders were still here we would still be running a 4-3 with bump and run CB’s and Underwood would probably be starting in place of Williams, and Wilhelm would be starting over Bishop. We have a guy with a brain now.

    Bulaga playing OLT in college doesn’t matter. The pro game is different. There is an ENDLESS amount of OLT’s that become ORT’s or OG’s in the NFL because they can’t take that next step. The best of the best play OLT, so just because he did it in college doesn’t mean that he can play it at the pro level. I hope he can, and I am leaning that he probably can….but it’s still a BIG question mark.

    1. No, him playing in college doesn’t mean he can do it in the pros.

      However, him having done it in college for 4 years shows he knows how to do it and can fill that void if needed. Moreso, the fact that he never had played RT and was able to adapt on the fly is another testament of this kid’s adaptability.

      With that, my point is, we DO have someone ready to step in if Clifton goes down, and that one is Bulaga.

      Could also be Lang, as evidenced by his play against Julius Peppers in the NFCC game.

  5. The issue with the Oline is more than personnel. It’s the lack of consistency in applying the ZBS. This has been going on for years. A change is in order. The offense needs to be more consistent and it starts with the Oline. The lack of a running game is directly related to the lack of run blocking consistency.

    They should be able to get a very good Olineman with their #1. If TT decides to try and move up, he could pick up a star. That will cost a good player from the current roster and some draft choices.

    Bulaga was a rookie and he still has a long way to go. He has been plugged in at RT and he will stay there. Switching him back to LT would be counter-productive.

    Sitton is on his way to the pro-bowl, if there is a season.

    What Wells lacks in raw power,he makes up with his leadership.

    Clifton is near the end of his career. Just what the Hell happened to TJ?

    And College, well we could do a lot better there.

    Simplicity is a start. The ZBS is too complex and requires maximum individual skill. On the left side of the line the problem is obvious. Clifton is slower every year, it’s no accident that he gets more motion penalties every year.

    And College just doesn’t have the skills. For a big guy he gets pushed around too much.

  6. Sure it’d be nice to keep Bulaga at RT, but how many other temas have a 1st round pick in his second year that could step in as a LT if needed? Not many. Of course, Clifton could hurt and Bulaga could be a disaster at LT, but that’s not necessarily my arguement.

    All I’m saying is this: The Packers have decent talent on the OL now. A good chunk of that talent has not reached its peak years yet. It’s already a serviceable OL, but for the first time in a long time, there’s some hope that it can become a good OL.

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