If the Packers are going to take the leap upwards rather then down in 2019, they may need to scale Mount Everest to do it, but when you have a future Hall of Fame QB under center named Aaron Rodgers that mountain can become a molehill in a hurry. The other AFC North Contenders are the Vikings and the Bears, with the Lions steadily building enough steam to be a nuisance in the NFC North with their own highly experienced QB Matt Stafford. If you rank the QBs in the NFC North of the cuff, you would have Rodgers, followed by Kirk Cousins with Mitch Trubisky in a tight race for number two and then Matt Stafford who can go for 400 and five scores one week and then a dismal 225 yards, one TD, 2 picks the next. Kirk Cousins has shown inconsistencies in his career and can also be erratic but not entirely on the level of Matthew Stafford.
Rodgers, who played hurt the majority of the 2018 season still threw for 25 TDs and only two picks (top TD/Int Ratio 12.5 in NFL). The Packers have a new head coach, 39-year-old Matt LaFleur (Former Titans OC) who has had many stops as an assistant and no head coach experience but remember Aaron Rodgers can make any coordinator look good if the system fits.
More About LeFleur
LeFleur’s experience as QB coach with the Falcons in 2015 and OC with the Rams under Sean McVay in 2017 should give Packers fans some hope about the hire. His coaching style can be multiple and adaptable considering the different play styles of Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, and most recently Marcus Mariota.
Packers Offensive Line and Run Game Are the Keys To Their Success
Running Back Aaron Jones arrived in 2018 starting eight games, playing in 12 total games rushing for 5.5 yards per carrying (133 carries, 750 yards) add 26 rec. And 208 more yards as a receiver (9 total TDs) and then he got hurt. Jones was a difference maker when healthy behind a line that ranked 29th overall in performance giving up 52 sacks, and 102 QB hits. The weak area on the Packers 2018 offensive line came from the RG where three players competed after Cole Madison left the team for personal reasons and the RT position (Bryan Bulaga). The 2018 three player carousel at RG included Justin McCray, Byron Bell, and Lucas Patrick created inconsistency at the position, but the good news in 2019 is that Cole Madison is set to return adding a potential piece to the 2019 puzzle. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga has played two full seasons in eight years and 14 games in 2018. The Packers can address their need fr quality offensive line depth in the 2019 NFL draft with one of their two first round picks.
Green Bay 2018-19 Offensive Line Compare
Taking the Leap
The Packers have weapons on offense, but their offensive line must improve on the right side. If they decide to move forward with the players currently on the roster they will be rolling the dice, and they may be able to do this, but if I were the GM, I would consider drafting depth early in the draft. There will be quality interior offensive lineman available in round two if they decide to move forward with Bulaga at RT and trust that RG Cole Madison will return and play at the level they believed he was capable of when they drafted him.
Green Bay 2019 NFL Draft Needs Analysis
With two 2019 first round picks the Packers will have plenty of options. According to our NFL Draft Needs Analysis back in early March we had WR, DE, S as positions of need, but after free agency, the Packers snagged OLB Zadarius Smith (BAL) who had 8.5 sacks in 2018 ranking as the 33rd overall edge defender by Pro Football Focus. The Packers needed help at safety, so they went out and signed Adrian Amos (CHI) 73 tackles, ranked 8th among all safeties according to Pro Football Focus. The Packers already have Blake Martinez at MLB but could use additional quality depth in the middle with Martinez to solidify Mike Pettine's multiple scheme defense. The defensive line can also use depth, and the 2019 NFL Draft provides enough quality depth for the Packers to add high-quality depth on their defensive front.