Green Bay Packers geared up for offensive onslaught in 2015
From Adam Schein, NFL.com
~Titletown, USA – When it comes to speaking Mike McCarthy’s language, I consider myself fluent.
Having routinely chatted with Green Bay’s head man on SiriusXM Radio since he took over the Packers in 2006, I feel pretty comfortable assessing his tone and reading between the lines.
When I talked to McCarthy on “Schein on Sports” last Thursday, the 10th-year head coach was in a good mood. And why wouldn’t he be? With a successful minicamp winding down, it was crystal clear McCarthy loves the talent and the character of the 2015 Packers. And McCarthy is not one to be subject to hyperbole. Far from it.
Which leads me to make the following declaration: This year’s offense will be, quite simply, the best that we’ve seen during McCarthy’s prolific decade in Green Bay.
And I’m not exaggerating, either. I firmly believe this. I had this feeling before talking to the coach. Now? I’m fully convinced. I truly felt McCarthy’s enthusiasm for the group during our live interview. Listening back to the segment twice more, the coach’s exhilaration was omnipresent. I believe this Packers offense has the talent, balance and coaching to rule the NFL in 2015 — and set new heights for one of the league’s proudest franchises.
Like most great offenses, it starts up front.
McCarthy completely agreed with my assessment that this offensive line is the best he’s had since he’s been in Green Bay. Remember when this unit was the weakness of otherwise promising teams? No longer. This is a young, cohesive, talented group — able to protect Aaron Rodgers and blow open holes for Eddie Lacy. McCarthy gushed — collectively and individually — over David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga.
Linsley proved to be a great answer at center last year as a rookie. He has talent, smarts and plenty of promise to just continue improving. Re-upping Bulaga this offseason was paramount. This is what Ted Thompson’s Packers do: draft, develop and retain. And this kind of continuity is what makes Green Bay the envy of franchises around the league.
In so many past chats with McCarthy, the bulk of our conversation was spent assessing a rag-tag group up front. How will you make sure to protect your all-everything quarterback? Last Thursday was a far cry from that. And this is fine news for Rodgers, the best quarterback in the game today. (This isn’t up for debate.) More good news for Rodgers: His arsenal of weapons is simply glorious.
The Packers’ offseason MVP has been second-year wideout Davante Adams, the clear “all-star” according to McCarthy.
His hands, speed, work in the classroom, versatility and budding rapport with Rodgers put him in line for a breakout sophomore season. We caught glimpses of his immense potential last season (see: seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown against Dallas in the Divisional Round of the playoffs). Look for Adams to thrive in 2015.
And here’s the beauty for Rodgers (and a scary thought for the rest of the league): Adams is clearly the third option in the passing attack.
The Packers re-signed Randall Cobb before he officially became a free agent. Cobb could have received more money on the open market, but he’s no fool.
“At the end of the day, I want to win championships,” Cobb said, after signing a four-year, $40 million deal in March. “I feel like being in this offense and this organization was the best place for me to have the opportunity for me to win championships.”
Yes, why leave the best QB in the game? Cobb is a game-breaker that Rodgers looks to on third down and in the red zone. Life is good in Green Bay. And let’s be honest: $10 mil per isn’t exactly chump change.
Oh, I haven’t even mentioned Jordy Nelson, the best receiver on the team (and one of the best in the NFL). Nelson has notched 43 touchdowns over the last four seasons, and after setting career highs in catches (98) and receiving yards (1,519) last fall, he received my vote for first-team All-Pro.
McCarthy says Nelson, who’s recovering from offseason hip surgery, is on target to practice fully come training camp and there are no concerns about his health.
And with Lacy, Rodgers has the bell cow he needs to pound the rock on first and second downs. In the past, you could ignore Green Bay’s running attack. Lacy is a physical, powerful stud who demands defensive attention.
With Rodgers, you are always in position to win big. Add in Lacy and the stout O-line, and the Packers become my Super Bowl favorites.
McCarthy himself fuels my optimism, too.
The offensive guru decided to give up play-calling duties this offseason. I told McCarthy that I disagreed with the move because of how great he is as a play-caller and the connection he has with Rodgers. But McCarthy explained to me that this had been a long time coming — it was not a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in Seattle on Championship Sunday. In fact, McCarthy revealed that he originally planned on ceding play-calling duties to Joe Philbin following the 2011 campaign. While the Packers led the league in scoring that season, McCarthy wanted to be in position to better oversee every element of the team. This plan changed, though, when Philbin took the head-coaching job in Miami.
Now, with Tom Clements having spent three years as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, McCarthy feels comfortable handing over the reins. The head coach is thinking big picture; he’s thinking about winning a title.
And this Packers offense should be superior to that 2011 edition, and superior to the 2010 championship group, too.
McCarthy is positive — this is the equivalent to a typical person being over the moon.
That means Packers fans should dream big. Yes, Lombardi Trophy big.
Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.