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3 flaws Packers must fix by NFL playoffs

Fansided logo Fansided 12/11/2020 John Buhler
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a group of football players on a field: Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers © Provided by Fansided Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers. (USA Today)

The Green Bay Packers are good team, but not yet a great team this football season.

2020 could be the year the Green Bay Packers finally get back to the Super Bowl out of the NFC.

Green Bay is the runaway favorite to win the NFC North for a second year in a row. While they are back of the New Orleans Saints in the NFC standings, keep in mind that the Packers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them. They can represent the NFC in Super Bowl 55, but have some work to do in December. Here are the three flaws the Packers have to fix before the NFL playoffs.

3. Having the ground game heating up as the weather gets worse

Until Aaron Jones arrived a few years ago, the Packers were incredibly one-dimensional on offense. Yes, a guy would occasionally have a good year or two out of the backfield, but prior to Jones, Ahman Green was the last Green Bay running back the team could consistently rely on. It can be a group effort in the postseason, but the offense must be balanced to advance this year.

Green Bay will host a home playoff game this season, probably two. While fans will not be in the stands at Lambeau Field, this is still the Frozen Tundra. Unless the NFC runs through New Orleans, whoever is going to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 55 will have to play the Packers in their place, either on Wild Card weekend or in the divisional round. It will not be easy for the opposition.

What is important here is for the Packers to be a considerably tougher team than the were a season ago. An improved passing game with a healthy Aaron Rodgers went a long way towards Green Bay going 13-3 during Matt LaFleur's first season as head coach. However, when they went against a tough opponent who was as good as them in the San Francisco 49ers, they had issues.

Though the Packers have a top-10 rushing offense through the first three quarters of the 2020 campaign, this needs to translate into playing punishing football in January. Green Bay is talented enough to beat whoever it faces in the Wild Card round or the divisional round if its does get the No. 1 seed. However, another postseason of finesse football is not going to cut it in the slightest.

Next: No. 2
a group of baseball players on a field: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers © Provided by Fansided Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers. (USA Today)

2. Establish a No. 2 wide receiver to pair alongside Davante Adams

We know the Packers have an MVP-level quarterback in Rodgers, a bona-fide bell-cow at running back in Jones and a top-tier No. 1 wide receiver in Davante Adams. In most years, a trio of offensive triplets like this would be enough to get a team to the conference championship on talent alone. However, a No. 2 wide receiver needs to be established opposite Adams quickly.

For a hot minute there, it looked like it would be former Iowa State Cyclones standout Allen Lazard, but then he got hurt and that took away the wind in his sails. It could be him down the stretch, but it could be somebody else as well. Tight end Robert Tonyan has really come on this year, but he cannot be the No. 2 receiving option if Green Bay plans on winning big in January.

So if it is not going to be Lazard at wide receiver or Tonyan at tight end, the most likely candidate would have to be wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to emerge as the Packers' No. 2 receiving option to Adams. In terms of yardage, he is No. 2 on the team behind Adams. However, the gap between he and the Packers' Pro Bowl wideout could not be wider than it is right now.

There will come a time where the Packers will face a stout defense. It will neutralize the run to take Jones and company out of the game. Additionally, there will be a secondary capable of slowing down Adams. Therefore, a guy like Valdes-Scantling must be ready to answer the call of duty. He needs to have a big playoff game if Green Bay wants to play in an NFC Championship.

Next: No. 1
a man wearing sunglasses: Mike Pettine, Green Bay Packers © Provided by Fansided Mike Pettine, Green Bay Packers

Mike Pettine, Green Bay Packers. (USA Today)

1. Become elite defensively when it comes to stuffing the run

Green Bay may have a top-half run defense, but this is the biggest area where the Packers need to focus heading into the playoffs. As long as defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's side of the ball is coming together at the right time, this team may have enough to get to and win a Super Bowl. Green Bay has not had a truly dominant defense in the decade since last winning it all in 2010.

Ultimately, Green Bay will end up with a top-three seed in the NFC playoff picture. The Packers could be the No. 1 seed if the Saints slip up and neither the Los Angeles Rams or the Seattle Seahawks catch fire in the NFC West. Again, Green Bay is likely to be one of the final four teams left standing in the NFL. The Packers cannot let 2020 end like 2019 did under any circumstance.

Green Bay suffered yet another embarrassing loss in the NFC Championship game. The 49ers ran roughshod all over them, blowing them out before we even got to halftime. Pettine's defense had no answer for Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. It felt like a repeat of how the 2016 NFC Championship game when when Shanahan was the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator.

By neutralizing the opposition's ground game, it forces the other team's starting quarterback to make plays through the air. If a guy like Russell Wilson makes more plays than Rodgers in a playoff game, then so be it. What Green Bay cannot tolerate is someone like Jimmy Garoppolo attempting 10 passes en route to a blow out because the Packers defense could not stop the run at all.

Do the Packers have what it takes to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 55 down in Tampa?


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