The Green Bay Packers finished last season 12-4 and won the NFC North title in back to back years. Along with those back to back titles have been back to back exits in the NFC Divisional playoffs. While they have a top five offense, their defense has been below average the past couple years. With those stats in mind, here are the Green Bay Packers top five burning questions entering the 2013 season.
1. Can the offensive line protect Aaron Rodgers?
Since Aaron Rodgers took over the starting quarterback job in 2008, he has constantly been under pressure. Last year, Rodgers was sacked a league high 51 times. That is too many times for a franchise quarterback to be hit. To try and fix the protection problems, head coach Mike McCarthy made some changes during the offseason, moving his two best blockers, Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton, to the left side of the line to protect Rodgers’ blind side. Bulaga will be the left tackle and Sitton the left guard. Rodgers is the face of the franchise, and if the protection doesn’t improve, he won’t be the face for long.
2. Will Defensive coordinator Dom Capers solve the read option?
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran wild against the Packers in the playoffs. One key to his success was the genius of Jim Harbaugh to use the read option offense. The option confused Packers defenders all day long as Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now, he did throw 263 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the read option is what killed the Packers. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was heavily criticized following the game for not stopping the option. Lucky for Capers, the Packers play the 49ers week 1. After that game, we will know if Capers did his homework over the off season.
3. Who fills the void of former wide receiver Greg Jennings?
When he was healthy, Greg Jennings was a pro bowl caliber receiver. Now Jennings is with the Vikings, which leaves an open spot in the Packers offense. The expectations are for receivers James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb to be Aaron Rodgers’ main targets, along with tight end Jermichael Finley. The question is, who will emerge as the fifth target for Rodgers? The top two candidates for the job are Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin. Ross was used primarily in the return game, while Boykin caught only five passes, including a clutch fourth down reception against the Vikings. No matter who wins the job, the gap left by Greg Jennings needs to be filled.
4. Who will win the starting running back job?
Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin were drafted in this past year’s draft to help improve the Packers running game. They join James Starks, Alex Green, and DuJuan Harris to compete for the starting job. Starks shined during the Packers playoff run, while Green and Harris swapped the starting job last year as Starks recovered from knee surgery. Will the veterans prove they should be starters, or will the two rookies show why they were drafted? The running game has been nonexistent since Ryan Grant started having injury issues. With five running backs on the roster, at least one should be able to fix the problem.
5. Will Mason Crosby have a bounce back season?
Prior to last season, Mason Crosby was making field goals with ease, clearing the goal post by many feet. After missing two field goals against the Colts last year, the goal got smaller, along with Crosby’s confidence. Every time he lined up for a field goal, Packer fans were holding their breath. At the end of last season, Crosby started to make his field goals, and his confidence looked like it had improved. Coach McCarthy brought in competition for Crosby, just in case his kicking woes return. As long as Crosby keeps making his field goals like the end of last season, his job will not be in jeopardy.