Normally in the NFL, an early season bye week can be bad for a football team. A late season bye acts like a mid-season break in which players can recharge for the second half run. Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers, they have the honor, along with the Carolina Panthers, of having the first bye week of the season. While an early bye can be bad for a team, this early bye week could end up being a positive for the Packers.
On Monday, the Packers released wide receiver/ return man Jeremy Ross. Since joining the team in 2012, Ross never showed the explosiveness that the Packers had wanted in a return man.
Along with the lack of spark, Ross also had some key miscues. In the 2012 NFC Divisional playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, Ross had a key muffed punt that gave the 49ers the ball inside of the Packers’ 20 yard line. The 49ers scored a touchdown three plays later and the Packers could never regain the momentum. Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Ross muffed a kickoff after a Bengals touchdown. The Bengals scored the next play to go up by 14 points, and that play helped contribute to the Packers loss on Sunday.
The question for the Packers coaching staff will be to decide who replaces Ross as the return man. The Packers could have Randall Cobb move back to his return duties, but the reason Ross was signed in the first place was so Cobb could be saved for the offensive side of the ball. Two other options the Packers have are to place either Micah Hyde or Johnathan Franklin, who are both rookies, at the return spot. In the game against the Bengals, Franklin rushed for 103 yards and showed all of the NFL how electric he can be. Though Hyde does not have the quickness of Franklin, he does have the ability to secure the football. As long as they can find someone who can hold onto the football, Packers fans will be happy.
The other goal for the Packers during the bye week will be to get healthy. During the first three weeks of the season, running back Eddie Lacy and tight end Jermichael Finley both suffered concussions. This bye week will allow both players to rest and undergo the concussion protocol in order for them to be ready for the following week against the Detroit Lions. Along with Finley and Lacy, Clay Matthews and James Starks will also use the bye week to recover from injuries they suffered against the Bengals. Matthews had to leave the game early with a hamstring issue, while Starks hurt his knee early on in the game.
Typically, early season byes are not the greatest thing for a team to have. But for the Packers, this bye week will allow the injured players to heal and for the coaching staff to fill in the holes and find the missing pieces to the team. After the bye week, business picks up as divisional play starts against the Lions. If the Packers can get healthy, there is no reason this team cannot real off a long win streak and make some noise in the NFC.