So what does a team that just won their division, won a playoff game, and lost in overtime to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship need to improve upon?
More than you would think.
The Green Bay Packers had an excellent season. They went 13-3 and earned a first round bye for the first time in years. Brett Favre had what may have been his best season as a pro, and he is going on 74 years old right now! Last year, when Brett Favre said that this team was the most talented team he had ever been on, he wasn’t lying, and the truth came out in 2007. The receiving core played at levels much higher than their experience in the league would indicate. Their rushing game came on late, but the Packers found a true stud in Ryan Grant. In addition, a defense that looked promising at the end of 2006 fulfilled their potential and finished fourth in total defense.
Seems like they have all the pieces, right?
First of all, the Green Bay Packers have to further address their running game. While the running game came on late and the Packers finished third in the rushing yards per game, in the end, it was not consistent enough. The New York Giants completely stuffed the running game of the Packers in the NFC championship. They held Grant to a 2.2 yards per carry average, and when you take away their longest rush, it was only a 1.33 average. The end result had Green Bay running the ball only 13 times, thus giving up the time of possession battle, which they lost 40 minutes to 22. Ryan Grant doesn’t appear to be the problem, so the line must be upgraded. The tackles are solid, so the Packers need to do some shopping for a guard or center, to help solidify the power run that proved ineffective against a superior New York Giants defensive line. They can probably afford to get a guard in the draft, as long as he is ready to play right away.
Secondly, the Packers need to bolster their linebacking core. While one might think that AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett are enough, the fact is that they could use a little bit more help from a third linebacker. Throughout the season, the Packers had to continue to put Atari Bigby in the box in order provide run support. In the NFC title game, that proved to be the nail in the coffin for them, because Al Harris was forced to cover Plaxico Burress one-on-one, and he was not the one that day. A bigger linebacker to play the strong side of the formation is what the Packers need to seek this off-season. Lucky for them, this need too can be addressed in the 2008 NFL Draft.