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Rourke’s 2013 Bold and Cold Predictions: Green Bay Packers

Despite playing behind a suspect Green Bay Packers offensive line, rookie running back Johnathan Franklin will set the NFL on fire with his electric rushing talents.

Despite playing behind a suspect Green Bay Packers offensive line, rookie running back Johnathan Franklin will set the NFL on fire with his electric rushing talents.

Is there anything more fun than making bold predictions in the offseason? If by some miracle, you get one right, you are hailed as a genius. If you’re completely wrong, most of the time people don’t remember — but even if they do, they simply laugh at you, rub it in a bit, and the world moves on.

So in the grand tradition of smack-talking fans everywhere, I am going to step through the NFC North and rattle off my Bold and Cold Predictions for 2013. First up is the 2013 NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers.

Read and weep.

Bold prediction

Rookie running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin start out the season second and third on the depth chart. But starting on their very first carry in Week 1, they so electrify head coach Mike McCarthy with their elusiveness and downhill running ability that they immediately unseat incumbent DuJuan Harris. Franklin quickly ascends to the starting role, running wild for 1,734 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Lacy proves to be an adept third-down and goal-line back, amassing 1,322 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be regretting his extracurricular activities when he is forced to miss the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be regretting his extracurricular activities when he is forced to miss the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs.

Relieved of the burden of carrying the offense on his shoulders, and with opposing defenses too distracted by his fearsome duo of running backs to even rushing the quarterback, Aaron Rodgers practically lounges behind the line of scrimmage, targeting hapless defensive backs like a rooftop sniper. He goes from being one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league to being one of the best protected, as the offensive line only gives up 17 sacks on the season. He throws for 4,103 yards and 27 touchdowns, including two tipped at the line of scrimmage that he runs in himself.

Rookie defensive end Datone Jones hooks up with outside linebacker Clay Matthews III to the tune of 31 sacks, while second-year linebacker Nick Perry chips in another nine. Cornerback Casey Hayward picks up where he left off his rookie year, pulling down 12 interceptions — returning four for touchdowns — and defensing another six passes. By Week 9, fans everywhere are asking themselves, “Woodson who?”

The Packers compile an impressive 13-3 record and a first-round bye, and they seem poised to make another Super Bowl run. Unfortunately, their hopes are foiled by an untimely ankle fracture Rodgers sustains while pirouetting on the dance floor at XS. Head coach Mike McCarthy gives the Divisional Round start to backup Graham Harrell, whose fumble on the first snap is returned for a touchdown. The game only goes downhill from there, and Green Bay is unceremoniously ushered out of the playoffs yet again.

Cold prediction

Before the 2013 NFL Draft, I didn’t see the Packers doing better than 10-6 this year. They had a suspect offensive line, a nonexistent run game, and a defense that has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to handle the big games. The loss of players like wide receiver Greg Jennings was also a concern, even though Green Bay has proven it can win without him on the field.

General manager Ted Thompson made some intriguing moves in the draft, however. Most notably, he drafted defensive end Datone Jones, who played in a 3-4 system at UCLA, to rush the passer and drop the running backs in the backfield. He also selected a pair of exciting running back prospects, Eddie Lacy out of Alabama and Johnathan Franklin out of UCLA. How these three players perform will be the yardstick by which Thompson’s 2013 draft class is judged.

If Lacy and Franklin can resurrect a moribund rushing attack, it will do wonders for this offense, which took a step backward last year as opposing defenses sat in a Cover-2 shell, foiling Rodgers’ precision pass game and daring Green Bay to run. Igniting the run game will require giving it a legitimate chance, however. This offense has been predicated upon the run/pass option for a couple of years now, and Mike McCarthy has implied that Rodgers frequently audibles out of called runs. McCarthy may have to rein Rodgers in if he is to find out what his young backs can contribute.

McCarthy will give DuJuan Harris every chance to fail, so it’s doubtful either of the rookies will see much action until the second quarter of the season. Look for Lacy to produce around 750 yards and maybe five touchdowns, with Franklin kicking in another 350 or so and perhaps a touchdown or two. Rodgers will still be forced to throw for 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns minimum if this team wants to make the postseason.

If Green Bay Packers offensive tackles Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga don't come back healthy, fans will probably be seeing more of this in 2013.

If Green Bay Packers offensive tackles Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga don’t come back healthy, fans will probably be seeing more of this in 2013.

That being said, putting a greater emphasis on the run would also take the pressure off the offensive line and help reduce the number of sacks given up. If this team can bring the sacks down from 51 in 2012 to 27 this year, that would be a major victory.

It will be incumbent upon McCarthy to ensure he harnesses the potential of his new talent, especially since Thompson did essentially nothing in the draft to beef up the offensive line. The fact that this team is actually going into training camp with the intention of relying upon Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Bryan Bulaga, and Derek Sherrod, who didn’t even step foot on the field last year, to man the tackle slots is cause for grave concern.

Defensive line — in particular, run defense — will be another area of focus this year, especially after that unit was chewed up and spit out by the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. If Jones can become a force in the backfield, it will go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of the linebacking corps and secondary. The return of Nick Perry from his season-ending wrist injury will be a boon for the defense, as it will help free Clay Matthews III to wreak havoc on quarterbacks. I see Matthews generating 15 sacks with Jones and Perry adding another nine.

The fact that Dom Capers will still be overseeing this defense in 2013 dampens my optimism a bit; but overall, I like what Thompson did in this draft, and I think it will help Green Bay eke out an extra win and the NFC North crown. Unfortunately, I think they are still at least a season away from making it back to the NFC Championship Game.

Season record: 11-5

292 comments
zombieslayer
zombieslayer

It doesn't really matter what the offense does.  If the D doesn't improve, the Packers will lose in the 1st or 2nd round of playoffs anyways.


Koosh12684
Koosh12684

Im sitting in our shop managers office when a crane inspector came in.  Dude was telling this story about an accident he investigated.  Apparently it jammed, and a machine opporator went up to look.  Saw a chunk of metal in the gears in the gear box.  Said, oh, let me take a hammer and pound it out.  Bad idea.  The second he did it, the load snapped the chain holding it, the chain whipped all the way around the bridge, and sliced the dudes head off!!!

JVince 11
JVince 11

So what are the excuses that the Bulls lost to Miami?

G & G
G & G moderator

Rodgers will be injured by dancing in a night club?

Hahahahahahaha!! Nice touch Rourke!

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I want to know who's advising Carimi to miss voluntary OTA's.

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

so the vikings have moved joe webb to wide receiver finallyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I have the feeling that Garrard would not have retired if he was with any one of the other 31 teams.


AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

"Unfortunately, their hopes are foiled by an untimely ankle fracture Rodgers sustains while pirouetting on the dance floor at XS."

being from green bay i got this joke right away and it made me chuckle pretty loudly in my office.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I hate to rape a joke, but it seems to have been missed.

"My work friends soon arrived and told me that XS is very LGBT friendly (For people not in the know, it's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) and they sometimes draw in a diverse crowd."

I find it fitting that you have to enter through the back door.

bp.
bp.

JALEN ROSE ‏@JalenRose

2m

Each multiple championship team has 2 All-NBA performers &/or multiple All Stars. Let's not over-analyze KD. 2nd best player in game.

 ЯD
ЯD

All right, if no one has any further snarky comments about my predictions, I will betake myself to bed. Good night, gentlemen.

 ЯD
ЯD

I find it interesting how the smell of eggs will make me nauseated, but I can drink them raw in this homemade shake.

bp.
bp.

Ugh.  Good shot, not even a three.

bp.
bp.

Big time shot.  Fat Gasol, FTW.

JVince 11
JVince 11

@Preparation_A The Bears QB Coach Cavanaugh or something told the media that Jay Cutler is Borderline Football Brilliant.

JVince 11
JVince 11

@Green And Gold  Braun can't dance... so i don't know how that is goign to happen... we all saw what happens when he tries to run the bases too fast... 

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

@andylet445  

The funny thing is, they should have a good receiving corp. They just need someone to get them the ball.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

I've never been to Green Bay, but I would love to go to a game at Lambeau.

bp.
bp.

@Bro Montana They actually are not well coached.  You gotta wing that ball around the perimeter and set screens for a player like DUrant  Give him room, he'll knock down shots.

bp.
bp.

@Bro Montana Tayshaun is nice as a defender.  Every point is a bonus.

bp.
bp.

@jwoude23 Bear Down Yeeeeeeeeeeeep.  But we certainly have not heard the last about the Harden trade.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

@Aciddragon  @Borderline Football Brilliant  

That's the point. He is either getting really bad career advice, or he is daring the team to cut him

Odds are, he won't get cut, because the Bears don't save a penny doing it. This years salary is guaranteed. 

bp.
bp.

@jwoude23 Bear Down Counts for a ton in his case.  Its one thing to hope your guys slow him a bit, another to count on them to shut him down.

 ЯD
ЯD

@jwoude23 Bear Down Well, the first section was written in the same spirit your bold prediction article of last year was written: for fun.

 ЯD
ЯD

@jwoude23 Bear Down I don't taste them in this smoothie. I rarely eat enough to support my weight, so this is another way to swill down a few extra calories. I will projectile vomit trying to eat cooked eggs.

bp.
bp.

@jwoude23 Bear Down @Bro Montana Hard to find a good check of LeBron.  Tayshaun's about as good of a body type as you can ask for for guarding Durant though.

MIBearFan
MIBearFan

@andylet445 @Borderline Football Brilliant 

The area around Ford field is nice. There are a couple of bars and restaurants.I would go to a Minny game soon. The cost of traveling to Las Angeles would be a lot to pay to see the Vikes.

bp.
bp.

@jwoude23 Bear Down And that's all good, but LeBron is a different sort of monster now.  He is what he is pushed to be.  If he needed to do more, I think you would have seen him do more.

 ЯD
ЯD

@jwoude23 Bear Down I am disappointed no one commented on the joke about Aaron Rodgers, though. I even provided a link to explain it.

Ah, well.

Sleep well, everyone.

 ЯD
ЯD

@Houndog I have never heard of that one. I don't know if I could bring myself to drink an egg I could see.

bp.
bp.

@Bro Montana @___bp___  Funny thing is, its like that's illegal following Jordan in 1998.  But Mike was not afraid to put the game in the hands of Paxson or Kerr.