Change needed for Pack to get back in title mode
ESCANABA — If many of you are like me you probably thought the Packers were one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl entering this season or at least make the playoffs for the ninth straight year.
That seemed to be true a quarter of the way through the season behind MVP-caliber quarterback play from Aaron Rodgers as the Pack jumped out to a 4-1 start.
Then all our nightmares came true Week 6 when Vikings’ Anthony Barr pile-drove Rodgers into the ground breaking the QB’s collarbone and the dreams of Packer fans everywhere as the team went 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
The loss of Rodgers exposed how poorly the Packers were built across the roster. They were able to find a running game through rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.
That was one of the bright spots on a team that saw very inconsistent play from its defense that finished 22nd in total defense. That was just a microcosm of what the Pack’s defense was the past few years under defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
That was the final straw as Capers was fired along with other coaches including offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett.
Green Bay also fired its general manager Ted Thompson as he’s now transitioning to a senior advisory role with the team.
Thompson has been a great GM for the Packers for 12 years even putting together a Super Bowl winning team in 2010, but was unable to build depth on a team this year that was decimated by injuries. He was also unwilling to spend in free agency to fill some of the holes on the team.
I’m not saying those individuals were bad at their jobs, but the firings needed to happen for a talented team to get over the hump. It just needed a fresh start.
With new GM Brian Gutekunst the Packers have a guy who is familiar with the organization as he’s been with the team for 19 years. He has already vowed to be more aggressive in free agency which has fans excited.
Capers is a great defensive mind, but his defense the past few years has gone stale and was in need of a change.
Enter Mike Pettine, who the Packers have recently signed as the new defensive coordinator.
Pettine was a former defensive coordinator for Rex Ryan with the New York Jets from 2009-2012 and under Doug Marone with the Buffalo Bills in 2013. Each of those defenses were top 10 in the league.
Pettine will bring a fast, more aggressive approach to a Green Bay defense that has some good, young pieces in Mike Daniels, Nick Perry, Kenny Clark, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Blake Martinez and Kevin King just to name a few.
The Packers will bring back Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator who was with the team in the same position from 2007-2011 before becoming the Miami Dolphins’ head coach.
Bennett was a good position coach, but wasn’t much of an offensive coordinator as the unit struggled mightily after the loss of Rodgers.
Philbin should bring a breath of fresh air as he was one of the best offensive coordinators in the league his first stint with the Packers.
The Packers are in much better position now with the new hires. Sometimes all a team needs is a fresh start.
Even without the changes Rodgers would have most likely returned the Packers to the playoffs next year but at this point in Rodgers’ career playoffs aren’t enough anymore.
They need to make moves to compete for Super Bowls and I feel these changes are a step in the right direction.