The Lass Word: Packers' Roster Has "Last Dance" Feel To It

Powerful team poised for Super Bowl run.  Is this the last hurrah?

Now that we can finally take a look at the 2021 Green Bay Packers roster, a few things jump out.  Number one is talent on offense.  A Hall of Fame quarterback (Rodgers), All Pro receiver (Adams) and left tackle (Bakhtiari when healthy), top five running back (Jones) with two solid rushers to back him up (Dillon, Hill), rising stars at guard (Jenkins) and tight end (Tonyan), and a deep cadre of pass catchers and blockers of all varieties (MVS, Lazard, Cobb, Rodgers, Deguara, Lewis. Dafney, Taylor, Sternberger). 

 

Combined with the offensive genius of Matt LaFleur/Nathaniel Hackett, this looks like an unstoppable force.  The only question mark will be the two rookie starters at center and right guard.  But they have held their own in the preseason, often playing against starters.   

 

The defense hasn’t changed much from last year, in terms of personnel, so it seems reasonable not to expect much change in their level of play.  The only new starter is at inside linebacker, where it appears De’Vondre Campbell will replace Christian Kirksey.  Is that an upgrade?  Maybe a slight one.  First round pick Eric Stokes may eventually supplant Kevin King at corner, or enable Jaire Alexander to play the star, which would send Chandon Sullivan to the bench.  But that won’t take place immediately.   

 

Joe Barry brings his scheme and style to the defense, but it still boils down to the same talent.  You can expect Green Bay’s defensive ranking to hover in that ten to fifteen range, looking great at times, vulnerable at others.  Still playing too softly on critical downs, missing a lot of tackles, giving up long scoring drives, relying on the offense to outscore the opposition.  It can be maddening to watch, but it’s hard to argue with back-to-back 13-3 seasons.      

 

Special teams?  Well, they could hardly get worse than last year.  There’s nowhere to go but up.  General Manager Brian Gutekunst has said there was an emphasis on potential special teams value in most all of the offseason moves, so there is hope for better play.  Here again there is a new coach.  Maurice Drayton has a core of guys who have shown the ability to play well on these units.  Guys like Oren Burks, Henry Black, Malik Taylor and Ty Summers.  Amari Rodgers and Kylin Hill provide fresh air as kick returners.  There should be at least a little improvement, but it will shock no Packer fan if there is not. 

 

What strikes me the most as I scan this roster, is the number of key players in the final year of their contracts.  Eight of the 22 starters.  According to Spotrac, the list includes Davante Adams, MVS, Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, Lucas Patrick and De’Vondre Campbell.  Krys Barnes will be an exclusive rights free agent.  That, of course, does not take into account the anticipation that Aaron Rodgers will force a trade after the season.  Nor the discontent of Za’darius Smith with his deal, fueling speculation that, with the emergence of Rashan Gary, Z man will be traded after this year.   

 

Then you add the fact that, according to overthecap.com, the Packers are currently projected as being $39 million over the 2022 salary cap.  The most of any team. 

 

The whole thing gives the 2021 Green Bay Packers the feel of a “Last Dance” team.  No coach nor player, not even Rodgers, will use that term.  And as a fan, I am loathe to use it as well.  After all, we’re going to be here next year, and the year after that, and likely the rest of our lives, pulling for the Green and Gold.  The thought that this team, this championship caliber team, is on the clock for disassembly, is about as distasteful as it gets for those of us who proudly don our cheeseheads every Sunday.  

 

So let the season begin.  There is every reason to believe this team is as good as any in the NFL.  Super Bowl or bust?  Why not?  Enjoy it.  Revel in it.  Take delight in the journey.  And as for the future?  To heck with it!  Besides, maybe it’s not as dim as it appears.  Think Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, Jaire Alexander, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Elgton Jenkins. 

 

Oh yeah, and that Jordan Love guy too. 

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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6 points

Comments (44)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Lphill's picture

September 02, 2021 at 03:15 pm

Rodgers will be the QB in 22 unless of course Adam Schefter says otherwise, yes the offense is stacked but as usual the defense has questions and special teams is anything but special , thank God we have a punter , JK Scott was God awful !

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Todd's picture

September 02, 2021 at 03:39 pm

There is definitely a lot of talent on offense (Adams, Jones, Tongan, MVS, Bak etc.), and taken in it’s aggregate, it doesn’t track with the tired argument often thrown out by the national talking heads that the Packers haven’t surrounded Rodgers with enough talent. Barring injuries, this year’s offense should be crazy good.

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Coldworld's picture

September 02, 2021 at 03:46 pm

Sternberger is not on the team.

I think that if the cap situation hasn’t convinced anyone that this is the last dance, the retention of Molson is a strong sign. Crosby and Rodgers going out together.

There is no way that I see this roster repeating in 22, or anything like it.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:14 am

I'm glad that you agree with me that this season is the last for Mason Crosby, not because of FO, but because of Saray Cap and Mason's decision...

EDIT: I'm here to correct my typo - It is not Saray, but it is Salary. I hope everybody will be now happy...

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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 05:17 pm

I feel really sorry for you when you can't spell and come here with that as a good thing! When you need to reach out for assurance that your decision might be right makes everyone feel sorry for you!

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Coldworld's picture

September 02, 2021 at 06:40 pm

How is your Croatian? Ignore him Croat.

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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:02 pm

How is your English? You mean like how people ignore you? maybe you should read what his other posts pertain too before you give advice.

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JerseyAl's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:24 pm

Pertain "too?" And you're going to comment on someone else's spelling? Stop being a dick.

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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:39 pm

Yes Too as in also! If you read his posts dick would fit elsewhere! So like said read others. Stop trying to be cool and childish calling people names!

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JerseyAl's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:48 pm

Yeah, sorry but it's "to" the way your sentence reads. But putting that aside, I've seen you insulting people frequently on here lately.

If that is the level of your contributions here, we can do without it. And we will. You can either stop it or you will be booted. Plain and simple.

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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 09:26 pm

My only reply is really simple. those you say I have insulted have done this first to my replies. Am I supposed to not answer? May I ask have you said the same to then? I don't like being insulted and don't enjoy it! Most times I even say in my opinion and they still have wise answers to it> Sorry but that is how I feel. I don't understand why I am being singled out . Thank You for your time.

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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 09:26 pm

My only reply is really simple. those you say I have insulted have done this first to my replies. Am I supposed to not answer? May I ask have you said the same to then? I don't like being insulted and don't enjoy it! Most times I even say in my opinion and they still have wise answers to it> Sorry but that is how I feel. I don't understand why I am being singled out . Thank You for your time.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:09 am

How, in the world I insulted you?

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Packers0808's picture

September 03, 2021 at 11:12 am

No comment except to say go back and read what you wrote to and about me and my post!

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Coldworld's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:44 am

My English is quite reasonable thank you, though my phone typing is far from wonderful. So nice if you to inquire, but I’d choose another battleground to fight in if I were you. If you ignored me then you wouldn’t be responding. I will just have to try to deal with the enormous loss that your ignoring my posts represents.

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CoachDino's picture

September 02, 2021 at 04:17 pm

The last dance term - which IMO showed enormous ego and lack of reality (The Packers are not coming off 6 championships - not even 1, so for AR/DA etc... to apply it was laughable.

I don't see it as such a huge roster change ahead as far as the vast majority of the players, Its really just AR. Which will be like losing MJ as though the Bulls were still good, they didn't have the ELite player in the Key position (QB in this case).

Quick review
Stokes, JA,Amos,Savage - all Back
Barnes and Campbell - which is certainly an upgrade according to any film study.
Clark, Slaton, Keke (starting DL)
Gary is back - Z is likely gone so there is a big one.

The entire OL should be back
The 3 RBs should be back
All the WR should be back with the exception of Cobb and maybe MVS but Amari should back fill

So looking at this roster, unless they keep AR, they should be able to keep almost the entire team, plus the addition on Draft picks that will include 1st and 2nd rd additional picks due to the trade. Which is a normal turnover in talent to both improve and save money.

So ya, If Ar is stays the team will suffer the loss of key players to make that happen cap wise, but if he's gone the team will be able to stay intact.

Gotta question the defense not expected to improve.

Maybe I'm being optimistic but why would we expect the defense to be better?
First question - are guys trending up, down or level?
Ja, Savage, Amos, Keke, even KK has to be better than last year, Barnes, Gary, healthy KC.
Down? None
Same - Lowry, Preston,Chandon

New additions - Slaton, Stokes, Campbell - Slaton and campbell both are upgrades, Stokes, imo, being a Rookie is not as good as a healthy KK to start the season but should be by years end and is definitely an upgrade over Josh Jackson.

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CheesyTex's picture

September 02, 2021 at 06:59 pm

It still sticks in my craw that top receivers skipped voluntaries in a show of support for AR.

Wherever he signs next year, if they have deep pockets they can also sign a ready-made corps of free agent Packers receivers -- Adams, MVS, Lazard, and (also) ESB.

I'm probably too jaundiced at this point, but leaving the dance as a "package" may have been the plan all along. Time will tell.

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jurp's picture

September 03, 2021 at 04:41 am

Any team sIgning AR and DA would have to have a lot of cap room because I doubt that either would sign unless there was a boatload of guaranteed money. Then adding MVS (especially if he has a breakout year) and Lazard would require a ton more money. Yeah, you can finagle the yearly totals, but that team would be in a bad cap place for awhile.

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CoachDino's picture

September 02, 2021 at 04:18 pm

The last dance term - which IMO showed enormous ego and lack of reality (The Packers are not coming off 6 championships - not even 1, so for AR/DA etc... to apply it was laughable.

I don't see it as such a huge roster change ahead as far as the vast majority of the players, Its really just AR. Which will be like losing MJ as though the Bulls were still good, they didn't have the ELite player in the Key position (QB in this case).

Quick review
Stokes, JA,Amos,Savage - all Back
Barnes and Campbell - which is certainly an upgrade according to any film study.
Clark, Slaton, Keke (starting DL)
Gary is back - Z is likely gone so there is a big one.

The entire OL should be back
The 3 RBs should be back
All the WR should be back with the exception of Cobb and maybe MVS but Amari should back fill

So looking at this roster, unless they keep AR, they should be able to keep almost the entire team, plus the addition on Draft picks that will include 1st and 2nd rd additional picks due to the trade. Which is a normal turnover in talent to both improve and save money.

So ya, If Ar is stays the team will suffer the loss of key players to make that happen cap wise, but if he's gone the team will be able to stay intact.

Gotta question the defense not expected to improve.

Maybe I'm being optimistic but why would we expect the defense to be better?
First question - are guys trending up, down or level?
Ja, Savage, Amos, Keke, even KK has to be better than last year, Barnes, Gary, healthy KC.
Down? None
Same - Lowry, Preston,Chandon

New additions - Slaton, Stokes, Campbell - Slaton and campbell both are upgrades, Stokes, imo, being a Rookie is not as good as a healthy KK to start the season but should be by years end and is definitely an upgrade over Josh Jackson.

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Swisch's picture

September 02, 2021 at 07:31 pm

Good stuff, CoachDino.
It seems the Packers are positioned to not have a big drop off with the departure of Rodgers and Adams, and even Z. Smith. That's good management by our front office.
Depending on how good Love turns out to be, we could be back to being a contender for the Super Bowl as early as, well, 2022, or at least the following seasons.
Look at Buffalo emerging as a top team in the NFL with Josh Allen. I think Jordan Love is that kind of quarterback with a big arm and some maneuverability.
Only time will tell with Love, but I'm encouraged by what I saw this preseason. In a LaFleur/Hackett offense featuring a good measure of quick passes and creative rushes, I'm hopeful Love will excel with ball control mixed in with occasional big plays.
If Rodgers and Adams look at this season in a positive way, they can go out as heroes etched into the storied history of the Packers and welcomed back for decades to come.
At the same time, it seems the Packers will then have a smooth transition to what we hope will be a new era of excellence.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:33 pm

Nice thoughts as always Swisch, and I agree!

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PatrickGB's picture

September 02, 2021 at 04:28 pm

If the team can convince players to push out their salary’s to after 22-23 then it’s remotely possible to hang on to some key players. Maybe guarantee it or something like that. The cap will go up a lot by then. But that’s next year’s problem. If the team realizes that the time is now then it may help motivate them even more. I wish the defense was better but I think that we can score on anyone.

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stockholder's picture

September 02, 2021 at 05:07 pm

WE haven’t won since 2010. You can’t keep switching QBs, as we experienced before #4. It’s not about doing a good job. IT’s about Finishing the Job! You point to Rookies. I point to veterans. Rodgers swallowed his pride and came back. King is the key to the secondary. The ILBs haven't been in the plan. And can this DL STOP? The offense will be the heartbeat. But- This last Dance talk, is for the Greedy. Champions Live Forever. Hopefully, whats to come makes everyone happy.

3 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:47 pm

So, expect Rodgers back in '22 and bring in a WR with the # one as the brain trust does every third decade.

2 points
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Leatherhead's picture

September 02, 2021 at 05:41 pm

We’ll go to the Super Bowl this season or next year’s team is going to have some significant changes.

Nice gratuitous shot at special teams, Ken. “Couldn’t be worse”.??? Sure it could. We could miss FGs. We could allow kickoff returns for TDs. We could have trick plays work against us. We could have several turnovers.

None of that happened last year. We gave up two long punt returns in games we won. We fumbled a kickoff that factored in a loss. Other than that……your denigration is off target.

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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 05:54 pm

Packers signed a new Long Snapper Wirtel today to the PS and let go Perevellion{SP] from the DL.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 02, 2021 at 09:23 pm

Packers0808, not a big deal... but earlier you had abused someone about not being able to spell... well, you don't seem to be able to spell "Previlon".

It happens to the best of people... especially when people use their phones to enter their comments, the auto-correct feature as well as fat-fingering comes into effect.

2 points
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Swisch's picture

September 02, 2021 at 10:30 pm

I think this season is indeed a unique opportunity to win a Super Bowl, and so it's good to look at it as a Last Dance. It's a rare moment of momentum from past seasons and accumulated talent to be seized with determination and enthusiasm.
A lot depends on the mindset of Aaron Rodgers. May he realize that even in his excellence of last season, so much of his MVP was due to superb support from teammates and coaches (many of them noted above).
Rodgers and Davante Adams would do well to look at this season as a Last Dance in a way that is highly positive. In this last hurrah is a golden opportunity for a grand finale.
No pouting about not being appreciated. We love both of you, but can't keep you forever -- especially if you want to be paid top dollar at ages when players at your positions tend to decline dramatically.
How much would Rodgers and Adams take up in salary cap in 2022 -- perhaps a combined $60 million? I'd like to keep both of them around for a couple more seasons, but not at anywhere near that exorbitant price. Loyalty works both ways, and aging players have to be realistic about their likelihood of diminishing returns -- or else seek greener pastures elsewhere without blaming the front office or the fans.
So let's agree with Rodgers and Adams to part amicably after this season. They go in all for this season, and so do we as fans.
It can all be so positive, so upbeat, so appreciative from both sides. No hard feelings from either side due to unrealistic expectations. Rodgers and Adams understand we're not going to break the bank for them; we understand if they want to move on.
Why look at it in a negative way? It can be a great last ride, a mutually joyous way for these guys to finish their days with the Packers with the ultimate triumph of the Super Bowl. It could be a Last Dance to cherish for decades.
Then Rodgers and Adams can go off into the sunset with happiness toward Green Bay, and we fans would cheer them on to their next endeavors. Good feelings all around!

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 02, 2021 at 09:25 pm

Swisch, you're making too much sense. 👍

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croatpackfan's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:26 am

"They go in all for this season, and so do we as fans."

Nicely said Swisch, but I have another opinion. Here, on this site you can say that we, as fans, are every season all in. Sometimes with more doubt, sometimes with fear, sometimes with high expectations, sometimes excited, but always ALL IN!

Even when we know there is little chance to do something great, we are hopeful that wonder will happen. And, I believe that define good fan.

Also, there is one little thing what makes me believe that this season will be the one we will remember through our lives - I did not notice Taryn here, in comments. Obviously he/she has little to say against this team, after the camp and preseason. What is strange.

I only hope he/she is well and he/she missing this discussion is not for some seriously bad reasons.

1 points
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Since'61's picture

September 02, 2021 at 06:33 pm

Rodgers is the biggest variable for the "last dance" scenario. If he goes, Adams and Crosby probably move on as well. Alexander could ask for huge money. The Packers would be wise to tag him. Z is probably traded. If we resign Adams we may not be able to retain MVS, Lazard and/or Tonyan. But these are concerns for after the season.

Unless the OL falters badly we should be able to move the ball and score on anyone. The question as usual since 2010 can the defense stop anyone and can the offense outscore their own defense? Add in the factor of ST failures and we'll need to play offense at least as well as last season. If the 2021 edition of the OL is not as good as hyped that could be a challenge.

Only 10 days until we start to get some answers. GPG! Thanks, Since '61

4 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 05, 2021 at 03:04 am

GB can't trade Z or Ar to get salary cap relief in time for the new league year. It is cut or restructure or meet the cap limit using other means.'

https://twitter.com/KenIngalls/status/1423042921780158473

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

September 02, 2021 at 06:44 pm

“You can expect Green Bay’s defensive ranking to hover in that ten to fifteen range, looking great at times, vulnerable at others. Still playing too softly on critical downs, missing a lot of tackles, giving up long scoring drives, relying on the offense to outscore the opposition.”

Wow, you know this already? You underestimate the difference a coach can make. Look no further than the move from McCarthy to LaFleur. I don’t know if the defense will be better or worse under Barry, but to make this broad, generalized statement is ridiculous.

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Coldworld's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:49 am

Barry is still a great unknown. What will the D look like in the regular season? Will he be good, bad or indifferent? That alone could impact our performance markedly. To a lesser extent possibly, the same is true of Drayton.

1 points
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Packers0808's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:11 pm

Dexter Williams is now a NY Giant!

2 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:37 pm

I wish Dexter well...but as a Giant!

I like our stable of RB's better! Much better!

5 points
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croatpackfan's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:28 am

Good for him. I feel sorry for Giants...

1 points
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splitpea1's picture

September 02, 2021 at 08:49 pm

If the same issues you mentioned continue to plague the defense, then they might have just as well retained Pettine; we're looking for improvement here.

As the season progresses, we should be able to determine which aspects are truly making a difference: schemes, personnel, personnel usage, level of aggressiveness, and fundamentals (like tackling). Those last two are begging for improvement.

Remember that our defense did have a couple of really nice showings against quality opponents like the Rams and the Titans. But we had problems stopping the run against other opponents and we didn't create many turnovers throughout the season.

At this point, the 2021 defense is a wait and see proposition, having seen probably none of the starters in the preseason.

1 points
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ImaPayne's picture

September 02, 2021 at 09:58 pm

I say Rodgers will be gone based on salary cap issues next year that his exit will solve. Second he knows many players cannot be signed due to lack of money, making the team weaker. He hates that.
No I'm convinced he has a tacit agreement, this is his last year. If he cant go to a decent team, closer to home, he may give it up. He is not staying here to play with developmentals.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

September 02, 2021 at 10:44 pm

I think that this season is the "Last Finance."

The Last Dance was the result of relationship fatigue - from a team that had spent a long time together - in an intense and demanding environment.

Part of this year's Packers team will have to be jettisoned due to the faulty and top heavy salary model that is the CBA - when older players are overpaid and younger ones - underpaid.

The Packers FO is fully aware of the financial tsunami that is coming there way. I'm sure that they are prepared to handle it and that the team will be OK. In fact IMO - more than OK.

3 points
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PyschoDad3's picture

September 03, 2021 at 07:21 pm

In the words of Kenny Loggins: "This is it"

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CoachDino's picture

September 05, 2021 at 04:11 am

ill never get why so many r so down on the defense. imo its stems from some poor years pre gute getting 3 big fas and 3 big draft picks savage,ja,gary plus a slew of devolping role players. imo the sf game being so ugly skews it for some. the d is avg or better overall. ps.the packers do have ilb plan, its simple, its the position that requires the least priority . that is in line with the league as its the lowest avg salary in the league

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CoachDino's picture

September 05, 2021 at 04:11 am

ill never get why so many r so down on the defense. imo its stems from some poor years pre gute getting 3 big fas and 3 big draft picks savage,ja,gary plus a slew of devolping role players. imo the sf game being so ugly skews it for some. the d is avg or better overall. ps.the packers do have ilb plan, its simple, its the position that requires the least priority . that is in line with the league as its the lowest avg salary in the league

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Jeff Hayes's picture

September 06, 2021 at 05:23 pm

Everyone seems to believe this is the year, I've been a fan all my 60 plus years and it's the same feeling every year until they blow it in the post season for one reason or another, The Bucs kept ALL their core players and another year better with Brady so the task will be almost impossible to win again this year. Next season will be new with young hungry talent and the Bucs will lose all theirs so I say next season will be more exciting to watch knowing they will have a chance to go all the way. So enjoy watching Rodgers go to the NFC championship game (maybe) only to lose to the Bucs again but don't expect much more than that.

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