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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Packers’ chances most endangered by safeties


So far this offseason, the Packers have begun to address the weaknesses that caused their undoing in the 2013 season and playoffs.

While 2013 was a rare case in which Aaron Rodgers missed half the season, problems on the defense have been an issue ever since Green Bay won the Super Bowl, even when Rodgers has been healthy.

The major issues for Green Bay this year were the backup quarterback, the defensive line and the safety position. The linebackers struggled as well, though Clay Matthews’ absence due to his own injuries hampered their production.

The backup quarterback was addressed mid-season when Green Bay brought back Matt Flynn. Though not as good as Rodgers, Flynn did just enough to keep the Packers in playoff contention.

The defensive line was addressed in free agency, as Green Bay brought in Julius Peppers to provide help in both pass rushing and run stopping. The addition of Peppers instantly made the Packers’ defense more potent.

In terms of Green Bay’s major issues, the only one left to be addressed is safety. Since the Packers have found fixes for their other flaws, safety is truly the most dangerous position for Green Bay’s Super Bowl chances.

In 2013, the Green Bay safeties were primarily M.D. Jennings and Morgan Burnett. Jennings missed nine tackles (third most on the team) and gave up five touchdown passes (most on the team). Burnett missed 11 tackles (second most on the team) and gave up four touchdown passes. In addition, Burnett gave up completions on 71 percent of passes thrown at him. The safety corps also failed to record a single interception in 2013, a stat that exemplifies the struggles of Green Bay’s secondary.

Jennings departed in free agency, and Burnett is likely to retain his starting position. Most of the quality free agent safeties have been taken, so Green Bay has three possible options: use one of their younger safeties, convert another player to safety or find one in the draft.

The draft has a few safeties with the potential to make an impact as rookies. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are widely regarded as the two best safeties in the draft. If one of them were to fall to Green Bay in the first round, the Packers would likely draft one and develop him into a starter.

The safeties already on the roster that could take over are Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo. Richardson proved to be a solid player, and performed well in his limited role. Banjo had an even more limited role than Richardson, but he has potential when he is further developed.

Finally, another option that has been discussed is converting cornerback Micah Hyde to play safety in some (or all) defensive packages. Hyde played well in his role as a cornerback, and Mike McCarthy has said he could be successful as a safety.

The Packers lacked playmaking ability from their safeties in 2013. Their safeties had zero interceptions and gave up too many touchdown passes. In past seasons, the high number of yards given up was offset by creating turnovers, but this year Green Bay failed to do that.

The Packers should still be regarded as the favorites in the NFC North, and they have already improved themselves by fixing some of their weaker positions. But the lack of solid safeties leaves Green Bay in danger. One way or another, solving the safety problem should be Green Bay’s top priority as the season approaches.

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