Cleat Geeks

10 Packers Who Will Determine the Success of the 2016 Season

It takes an entire roster to lift a Lombardi trophy but there are ten players in particular who need to have a good season in order for the Packers to reach Houston and ultimately bring the Lombardi trophy back to the city whose coach the trophy is named after. I will count the players down from 10 to 1, with 10 being the least important of the group and 1 being the most.

Just missed the top ten: Jared Cook – Free agent acquisitions are a rare occurrence in Green Bay but the Packers went out and signed Cook in the off season to provide a threat in the middle of the field. Cook will be catching passes from the best quarterback he has ever played for. He needs to do what he was signed to do. Be a big pass catching threat in the middle of the field and in the red zone. That component was largely missing from the offense last season. Hence why Cook was signed.

Photo by: MARK HOFFMAN/MHOFFMAN@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

Photo by: MARK HOFFMAN/MHOFFMAN@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

#10 – Lane Taylor – Taylor was expected to be a reserve offensive line-man until last weekend when the Packers cut Josh Sittion who was a three time pro bowl right guard.Taylor now moves into that spot on the offensive line as the starting right guard. The Packers took somewhat of a gamble in trying to get ahead of future contract and salary cap problems by cutting Sitton. Taylor now needs to show that he is ready to be an every week starting right guard on an offensive line that cannot afford to take a step back in either run blocking or pass protection. Taylor needs to enter seamlessly into an offensive line and offense in general that has much expected of it.

masoncrosby#9 – Mason Crosby – The Packers know what they are getting in Crosby – one of the best and most consistent kickers in the league. Crosby just signed a four year 16 plus million dollar contract this off season. He will be working with brand new holder and a long snapper who was just resigned following an ACL injury late last season. The Packers need to again be able to depend on the right foot of Crosby for several reasons. He is able to hit long field goals and can get points from drives that would otherwise stall. He can hit clutch kicks in tight games and most playoff games and games late in the season are tight. He can hit kicks in bad weather and bad weather could be the case in Green Bay anywhere from November to January.

#8 – HA HA Clinton-Dix – He will enter his third season in the Packers secondary. He is coming off a very good season but the Packers secondary has seen some turnover in the last couple years, making Dix one of the more experienced starters in the back end for the Packers. He has been solid in run support as well. The Packers organization prides itself on players getting better as they are around longer periods of time. The time has come for Dix to become and a leader to the secondary and defense as a whole.

#7 – Jared Abbrederis – some may be surprised to see a kick and punt returner here but he is here for a reason. The Packers have struggled to get production from their kick and punt return units in recent seasons. Here Abbrederis comes in. He has experience in both areas and most importantly the former Wisconsin Badger has gotten through training camp healthy, for the first time since the Packers drafted him. He is also a precise route runner and I could see his role in the offense expand if some later receiving names in this list have further problems getting opening and avoiding drops as was the cause when the offense struggled in the second half of last season.

#6 – Blake Martinez – A member of the 2016 Packers draft class, the Packers are putting a lot on the newly drafted linebacker from Stanford. The Packers have said they will move Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker. If that is going to occur successfully, Martinez needs to grab Matthews inside linebacker spot and take control of it. The Packers want Matthews want freer to pass rush and in order to do that Martinez will need to be an inside linebacker starter. That is putting a lot on a rookie but Martinez appears capable. Martinez will

Photo by: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

also be calling the plays from the defensive coordinator to the rest of the defense. Again big responsibility for a first year player.

#5 – Davante Adams – Adams was expected to fill a significant hole in the offense with the Nelson ACL injury last off season. Instead he was a major disappointment with dropped passes in key situations and an inability to get open against tight coverage. Adams is still listed as the number three receiver on the depth chart but the Packers are not without options behind him. Adams needs a big year where he carries his load of the offense. If not he could see his playing time take a dive.

#4 – Randall Cobb – Cobb played through a significant injury from the preseason that bothered him throughout the season. He also struggled to fill the void left by Nelson’s departure from the offense as his normally routes were much more congested then he is accustomed too. Nelson is back now. Cobb should go back to seeing lots of nickel coverage on his routes meaning he is in line to again become one of the most productive slot receivers in the league.

#3 – Eddie Lacy – Lacy enters into his contract year coming off his worst year in both yards and touchdowns in his career. Many fans thought he was overweight last season but he appears to be in better condition this season. Lacy has an essential role in the Packers offense as he provides balance to the offense and also has the ability to punish defenses with his running style. Lacy also serves a big role to the Packers offense that can’t afford to drop back and throw 35-40 times once the Wisconsin weather turns toward winter. The bottom line on Lacy is simple. He stands to make or lose a lot of money from either the Packers or another team based on the numbers he puts up this season.eddielacyhurdle

#2 – Jordy Nelson – Nelson was a 13 touchdown 1500 yard receiver the last time he saw the field. He was the primary deep threat in the Packers offense. But he has not played since an ACL tear consumed his entire 2015 season. The Packers need to Nelson to be a double move deep threat to defenses even if it takes him some games to get his football legs under him. The mere threat of him should alter the coverages defenses are able to use on the Packers offense. The threat of Nelson on a double move should reopen the run game and short passing game. Expect Aaron Rodgers to say hello to his former favorite receiving target very early Sunday. Then the Packers will see how much he is able to handle in the Jacksonville heat and humidity.

#1 Aaron Rodgers – News flash: While Rodgers has plenty of help around him the Packers season will ultimately come down to how far Rodgers is able to take them. He is ranked as the league’s best player by Pro Football Weekly for the second consecutive season. If the Packers are to reach Houston and bring the Lombardi trophy back with them Rodgers will likely have had another MVP caliber season in support of it.

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