Green Bay Packers 2013 Team Preview
July 20, 2013 | Chet
Welcome to our 2013 Green Bay Packers Team Preview. To get a better understanding of what each NFL team might be up to this season we are asking local team insiders to answer a few questions for us. We talked to Brian Carriveau, the editor of Pro Football Draft Preview, writer for CheeseheadTV.com, and author of It’s Just a Game. You can follow him on Twitter here –> @BrianCarriveau
1. A big question for fantasy pundits this season is the pecking order for the receivers. Aaron Rodgers seems to like throwing to whoever is open and spreading the ball around, but if you had to predict, how do you feel the target distribution will play out?
There’s not a whole lot separating the top three wide receivers for the Green Bay Packers and each his own set of strengths. Randall Cobb led the NFL in all-purpose yards last season. James Jones led the NFL in receiving touchdowns last year. And even though Jordy Nelson was limited by injuries in 2012, he had over 1,200 yards receiving and 15 touchdowns as recently as 2011. With Greg Jennings and Donald Driver now departed from the Packers offense, I would expect Randall Cobb to be the biggest beneficiary and taking on a slightly bigger role. Teammates have speculated that Cobb is capable of hauling in over 100 receptions, and the coaching staff has also expressed interest in relieving Cobb of his return duties so he can focus more on offense. But even if Cobb is Green Bay’s No. 1 receiver, Jones and Nelson are 1A and 1B.
2. It was somewhat surprising that Eddie Lacy fell as far as he did in the draft to the Packers and then doubly surprising when they grabbed Johnathan Franklin as well. Both guys have tremendous upside and many are worried they might cancel each other out for fantasy. Do you have a feeling what the team wants to happen with those two?
It is extremely difficult to gauge the Packers running back position entering training camp. In addition to Lacy and Franklin, they have holders DuJuan Harris, Alex Green and James Starks all vying for playing time as well. If you have the luxury of waiting until seeing how preseason games play out, that should provide some extra insight into who wins the starting job and how the team defines each of their roles. Still, the Packers didn’t make Lacy their second round draft choice for nothing. He’ll probably have the inside track on earning the workhorse role for the Packers, but they won’t hesitate to give someone else the majority of the carries if Lacy were to disappoint or shows he doesn’t have full command of the Packers offense by Week 1.
3. One reason Aaron Rodgers outpaces other quarterbacks in fantasy points are his rushing touchdowns. In his last five seasons he’s had 4,5,4,3,and 2. It’s hard to predict rushing touchdowns for quarterbacks, but do you see any change in how they have used Rodgers near the goal line?
More often than not, the Packers avoid using Rodgers on quarterback sneaks because they don’t want to expose him to injury. Most of his rushing touchdowns are the result of scrambles out of the pocket on passing plays. He always has been an underrated runner, but entering his ninth year in the NFL, his mobility is gradually going to become less of a weapon than it has in previous years.
4. Us fake footballers have been predicting break out years for Jermichael Finley for a few years now. Is there any inkling that he’ll finally take a step forward or is he, what you’ve seen is what you’ll get?
There is reason to think Finley can take another step forward. With Greg Jennings now gone from the Packers offense and little depth beyond the top three wide receiver options in Green Bay, Finley figures to see a few more targets. He also enters a contract season, so he’ll be motivated to have a big year and hit it big in free agency next season. The other tight ends on the Packers roster have yet to prove they can offer anything from a receiving aspect, so Finley isn’t likely to come off the field much. So yes, it’s very possible Finley is in for the best season of his career to date.
5. What under the radar offensive skill player will you be watching this preseason who has a shot at proving himself enough to be in position to make some offensive noise this year?
Fourth round draft choice Johnathan Franklin has a chance to be an under-the-radar type of player, and might see his role grow as the season goes on. He’s been hailed as a running back who’s a good receiver out of the backfield and a willing pass protector. That bodes well for him in an offense that been heavily pass-oriented in Green Bay. There’s also been talk of using Franklin on kick returns, so that could be a bonus if your league offers points on special teams too.