Green Bay Packers True or False: July Editionby Christopher Gallagher July 8, 2021 1 comment
The Green Bay Packers are continuing to make headlines across the NFL as training camps open later in the month. Failing to resolve their ongoing drama with reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 16-year veteran remains disgruntled with the team. Positional battles are also continuing to take shape on the roster along the offensive line and the fifth wide receiver spot.
Furthermore, the Packers also carry on with a battle between rookie Kylin Hill and third-year man Dexter Williams at the third running back position. Green Bay has also looked to lock up a key contributor as he enters the final year of his deal. Beginning extension talks with wideout Davante Adams, look for general manager Brian Gutekunst to make the former second-round pick the highest-paid player at his position across the league.
Are veterans Devin Funchess and Tyler Lancaster Fighting for their Roster Spots?
True. Signing a one-year deal with the team last offseason, Funchess missed the entire year after opting out due to Covid-19 concerns. He has played in just one regular-season game played over the previous two seasons. This is as a result of missing 15 games in 2019 with a broken collarbone. Heading into next season with a $1.5 million cap hit, look for him to begin training camp behind the eight ball.
The Packers now have significant depth at the wide receiver spot after drafting Amari Rodgers from Clemson. Joining Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Allen Lazard, look for those four to earn most of the snaps in three and four-receiver sets. After missing OTAs in the spring and bowing out of one of the three minicamp practices after getting injured, the 27-year-old’s days in Wisconsin could be nearing the end. Releasing him would save the team $1.22 million against the cap.
Heading into his fourth year in the league, Lancaster will play on a one-year deal in 2021. Starting in just three games a year ago, the former undrafted free agent racked up just 23 tackles while failing to record a sack. Operating as a primarily run-stuffing defensive tackle during his time in the NFL, he is stuck behind Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, and Kingsley Keke on the team’s defensive depth chart.
Furthermore, the Packers also selected lineman Tedarrell Slaton in the fifth round of the draft. Listed at nearly 360 pounds, the Florida product is known for his run-stuffing abilities. Possessing the ability to save just over $1 million if they move on from Lancaster before the season’s start, if Slaton shows strong early on, the writing may be on the wall for him.
Will Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry Turn the Defense into a Top-10 Unit?
False. Taking over for the departed Mike Pettine, Barry will enter his third staff in as many years. The defensive coordinator for the Washington Football Team for two seasons, the 51-year-old saw his group rank 28th in yards allowed. In addition to this, the unit also ranked 17th and 19th during those two seasons in points allowed. Operating with various coverages, he primarily ran cover three while blitzing just 28 percent of the time. However, the former Los Angeles Rams assistant saw his team rank top 10 in both sacks and forced fumbles during his tenure. Improving down the stretch in 2020, the Packers finished the season ranked seventh in passing yards against, 13th in points allowed, and ninth in total defense.
Strong upfront with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, Green Bay will also have all-pro cornerback Jaire Alexander and safety Adrian Amos return in the back end. With expectations lofty in 2021 with seven round two or higher picks, expect them to take more strides forward under Barry. However, with a less aggressive defensive scheme and philosophy intact, expect the unit to go through a learning curve early on in the year. Nonetheless, a finish inside the top 15 defensive groups in the league is still likely, with top 10 remaining an outside possibility.
Should Amari Rodgers Provide the Team with a Return Game Boost?
True. Rodgers was one of the best returners in college football over his four-year career with the Tigers. Electrifying with the ball in his hands, the 21-year-old recorded 529 punt return yards and one touchdown on 68 attempts. Averaging 7.8 yards per return, he became only the fifth Clemson player since 2000 to record touchdowns by rush, reception, and punt return in a career.
One of the worst return teams a season ago, the Packers ranked 31st in punt return yards. Unable to find a primary man to field punts, the team split time between Tyler Ervin, Chandon Sullivan, Josh Jackson, and Darrius Shepherd. With all four players failing to gain over seven yards per return, look for the rookie to provide a much-needed improvement to help flip field positions and kick start drives.
Can the Packers Win their Third Consecutive NFC North Title if Jordan Love is the Starter?
True. Surrounded by one of the best-supporting casts around the league, Green Bay has multiple star players at key positions. They sent both running back Aaron Jones and all-pro left tackle David Bakhtiari to the pro bowl last season. Adams also remains one of the best wideouts after leading the league with 18 touchdown grabs in 2020. Furthermore, tight end Robert Tonyan has developed into one of the best red-zone threats in the league.
Surrounded by question marks across the NFC North, the Detroit Lions will turn to head coach Dan Campbell. Along with this, the Chicago Bears remain set on starting veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton Week 1 before turning their fortunes over to rookie Justin Fields. Lastly, after a disappointing seven wins a year ago, the Minnesota Vikings head into 2021, hoping to find success with Kirk Cousins and a reworked offensive line. Likely to be in a dog fight all season long if they do not have Rodgers under center; look for Matt Lafleur and a solid supporting cast to help provide enough victories to compete for their third straight division crown.
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