There isn’t such thing as a “moral victory” in the NFL. It’s a game played by paid professionals whose main task is to help their team achieve victory. Although it was a surprise how well the Green Bay Packers played at times in their 31-28 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, still, it was a losing effort. However, not all was lost during that game for the Packers and there have been some glimpses of actual hope since they lost Aaron Rodgers earlier this season due to a broken collarbone. There are some positives coming out of a disappointing Green Bay Packers season.
There are Some Positives Coming out of a Disappointing Green Bay Packers Season
Although we took a tongue in cheek view of the Packers in our Thanksgiving list, there are some bright spots that have come out of the Packers 5-6 season. The record might be a disappointment, but there are some players and even a coach that have given the Packers some hope, for the rest of this season and for the future.
Not all is Dim on Defense
Although the defense has once again struggled this season, many can point to the direction of defensive coordinator Dom Capers for the lack of execution by the defensive unit. There is some good young talent on that side of the ball that look to have the ability to turn around this unit, especially if the leadership is changed after this season, which is expected. Here are the players that look like they have a bright future in the NFL.
Kenny Clark came into the NFL last season as a very young and somewhat raw but talented defensive lineman. He came on late last season, but in 2017, Clark started to put things together. Before Clark hurt his ankle in the Packers loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he was playing at a very high level. Clark has been a force in the middle of the Packers defensive line, clogging up lanes and taking on blockers to create space for inside linebacker Blake Martinez, freeing him up to make tackles. At only 22 years of age, Clark should be a big part of the Packers defensive line for a long time. He and fellow defensive tackle Mike Daniels create a stellar duo on the Packers defensive line.
Clark has been a big part of the improvement of Blake Martinez this season, but not all the credit should be given to Clark for Martinez’s solid play. The Packers have been looking for an inside linebacker who could stop the run but also play the pass in their nickel and dime package. It appeared that he wasn’t going to be that type of player in his rookie campaign, but just like Clark, Martinez has started to develop into that type of player. So far this season, Martinez has registered 73 total tackles, one sack, and registered his first interception of the season last week. With so many NFL teams moving towards big safeties playing inside linebacker, Martinez gives hope that true linebackers still have a place in today’s NFL.
Damarious Randall had a very rocky start, on and off the field, at the start of this season. After a disappointing 2016 to go along with his slow start this year, many expected Randall to be lumped in the “bust” category. But the former first round draft pick of the Packers has turned things around. He has found a spot lining up against the slot receiver but also has spent time at the boundary cornerback due to injuries. Randall might not be a lock down cornerback, but what he does give the Packers is a defensive back that can create plays. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix struggling this season and fellow cornerback Davon House being a disappointment, it has been Randall who has created the turnovers on the backside of the Packers defense. Randall leads the Packers with four interceptions, one of them being taken back for a touchdown. It hasn’t happened often, but when the Packers do make a play on defense, it has been Randall doing it.
Kevin King has had struggles during his rookie season, but he gives the Packers a cornerback that has great length and isn’t afraid to come up and make a tackle. What is even more impressive about King not shying away from contact is he is playing with an injured shoulder that will most likely require surgery this off season. When King is healthy, he is able to use his long limbs to jam opposing receivers and has the speed to keep up with receivers. King might be limping to the end of his rookie season, but the Packers should be delighted in what they see from their top draft pick from this past year’s draft.
Packers Offense not Totally Offensive
Without Rodgers, the Packers offense hasn’t been what most fans are used to. But like with their defense, the Packers have found some players who are able to make some plays. It hasn’t been all players either, one coach has held together an injured unit as well.
Although Davante Adams‘ numbers would be a lot more if Rodgers would have been healthy all season, he still has produced with Brett Hundley as his quarterback. With Hundley under center, Adams has been his top target hauling in 27 passes for 363 yards with two receiving touchdowns. Adams has stood out, even with having Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb lining up next to him. Adams will be a free agent this off season and he has shown the Packers that he is worth a big money deal.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams
When starting running back Ty Montgomery fell to injury, although he wasn’t producing like the Packers had hoped, Aaron Jones stepped in. He produced two 100 yard rushing games, giving the Packers running game a boost. Unfortunately, Jones fell to injury during the Packers victory over the Chicago Bears. That is when Jamaal Williams stepped in. Williams and his hard charging running style has been quite a delightful surprise for the Packers. The past three games, Williams has rushed for 190 yards with one rushing and one receiving touchdown. Jones and Williams seem to have overtaken Montgomery which might allow the Packers to move Montgomery back to receiver next season.
Offensive Line Coach James Campen
There hasn’t been a unit hit harder than the Packers offensive line. But still, they have done as well as what could be expected and James Campen should be credited for keeping this unit together. Campen has coached up a guard, Lane Taylor, to play left tackle, a position he has never played before, and an undrafted former Arena Football player to start at guard, left, and right tackle, Justin McCray. A lot of the Packers coaching staff has been criticized for the Packers failures this season, but you can’t blame Campen, who has done a magnificent job.
The chances of the Packers playoff hopes are very slim. Even staying in the playoff hunt until Rodgers is healthy enough to play is remote. But the Packers do have some positives to build off of. There are some young talent on this team that give hope to Packers fans for the future.