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Friday, May 24, 2024

Packers’ lack of threats on the edge becoming a concern

The Broncos exposed a lot of weaknesses in their romp over the Packers this past Sunday, but the most apparent was the glaring ineffectiveness of Green Bay’s wide receivers. After Jordy Nelson went down with a season-ending knee injury, the receiving corps took an obvious hit, but many were optimistic the talent on hand, in conjunction with the reigning MVP in Aaron Rodgers, would minimize the effects of that loss. It was becoming more and more apparent that was not the case, and Sunday’s loss punctuated the point that a change needs to be made. With wide receivers to be had this trade deadline, Ted Thompson, I hope you are on that phone inquiring about several intriguing candidates.

Let’s start with the problems. First and foremost, the Packers’ long-play ability has been completely neutered thus far into the season. Last year, the passing attack had the fifth-most plays of 20-plus yards (59) and was second in plays of 40-plus yards with 15. This season, Green Bay ranks 20th and 25th, respectively, in each category. So while playing against arguably the best defense in the league severely exacerbated the deep-ball issue, this has clearly been a negative trend for most of the season. While Nelson’s home run threat would naturally seem to lead to that decrease, such a substantial decline indicates additional issues are at play.

One such issue is a decrease in the team’s yards after catch. Last season, the team ranked seventh in the league with 2,230 total yards after catch, while this year the team is ranked 12th, on pace for less than 2,000. While that is not an alarming decline, the most surprising part seems to be where the decline is coming from.

Last season, starting wide receiver Randall Cobb was a force after the catch, accumulating 556 yards after catch by himself. This year, the story has been quite different, as Cobb comes in ranked as the 19th best receiver in the category. Cobb also has to be the most disappointing player on this offense thus far. The reason many thought the Packers could survive the absence of Nelson was that Cobb seemed to have the goods to take over as a true No. 1 option. Thus far, he has mostly failed that test, in a season where he is on pace for less than 900 receiving yards. While Cobb was banged up earlier in the season, coming off a bye week he looked just as ineffective as he had earlier in the season. Clearly the distraction of Nelson on the opposing team’s primary cornerback was a huge boon to Cobb’s success, as he has shown thus far that he does not have the goods to anchor a receiving corps.

Clearly Cobb and the rest of the receivers could use a boost, and at the trade deadline this year, there are viable players available to provide that boost. It would definitely be worth it for Thompson to be inquiring about the Lions’ Calvin Johnson or the Bears’ Alshon Jeffery, both studs who would inject a potent deep threat to the offense. While interdivisional trades are rare, remember, the Philadelphia Eagles did trade quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington in 2010. If either of those two is unattainable, a call out west to San Francisco for Anquan Boldin or Torrey Smith would be well worth it. The 49ers have clearly shown they are willing to make deals for the future by unloading Vernon Davis to the Broncos. Either of those two would be a boost for the Packers, especially Smith with long ball ability. Regardless, in a conference where the teams at the top all have weaknesses of their own, the Packers are in prime position to reach the Super Bowl this season. Thus, it is imperative that Thompson make a move now to acquire a receiver to partially cover up what has become a glaring weakness. 

Do the Packers need to make a move to pick up another wide receiver, or is it up to the corps in place to pick up the slack? Email Rushad at machhi@wisc.edu to let him know what you think. 

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