Green Bay Packers 2014 Season Review: Lots of Lambeau Leaping
The 2014 Green Bay Packers enjoyed their fourth straight division title and their sixth straight playoff appearance. By all accounts, the Packers are one of the most well-run organizations in the entire NFL and, once again, it showed on the field this past season.
If it weren't for some suspect and conservative play-calling by Mike McCarthy accompanied by a few late-game blunders in the NFC Championship game against Seattle, Green Bay could have very well went to their second Super Bowl in five years.
The Packers live and die on the right arm of their MVP-winning quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers were also very good in many key areas in 2014. This team, if it can stay healthy add a few more helpful pieces, will be squarely in the Super Bowl hunt next year.
A Stellar Passing Attack
Anyone who is a fan of the Packers or is just a general football fan knows how good their offense was in 2014. But saying Green Bay’s offense was good in 2014 is a bit of an understatement -- the word "good" sells them short.
According to our Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, the Packers were the number-one offense in terms of effectiveness and efficiency in 2014. But it doesn’t stop there.
The 2014 Packers Adjusted NEP of 188.08 ranks as the ninth-best offense since 2000.
Of course, Green Bay enjoys most of it’s offensive success thanks to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers led all quarterbacks in Passing NEP and Passing NEP per drop back while enjoying the leagues best touchdown-to-interception (38 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) ratio of 7.6 during the regular season. The next best ratio was Tony Romo's mark of 3.8.
Rodgers is in a quarterback class of his own, for sure, but it also helps to have some of the league’s best receiving options in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. And it sure can’t hurt to have an up-and-coming stud like Davante Adams.
Nelson and Cobb both had fantastic seasons and finished fourth and seventh in our Reception NEP metric, respectively. Both finished with double-digit touchdowns, 90-plus receptions, and both finished inside of the top five in efficiency on a per-target basis. Nelson was third and Cobb was fifth in Target NEP as well.
Despite having great statistical numbers -- 1,139 rushing yards, 4.6 yards per attempt, and 9 touchdowns -- Eddie Lacy was a semi-inefficient running back in 2014. His Rushing NEP ranked 13th of 16 running backs who carried the ball 200 or more times during the 2014 season.
The Packers easily had the most potent offense in 2014, scoring the league’s best 2.73 points per drive. But the team does have one major place that needs improvement overall: defense.
Packers Defense: Just Mediocre
Honestly, Green Bay’s defense wasn’t bad in 2014. They were just average. They ranked 15th in Adjusted Defensive NEP and on a per-play basis, 15th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP, and 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP.
Clearly, the defense could have been worse, as the Packers gave up 1.89 points per drive, which, not so shockingly, was the league average mark in 2014. Luckily, Green Bay’s offense masks a lot of the mediocrity of their defense.
On paper, Green Bay’s defense probably should have been slightly better. Outside linebacker Julius Peppers had a resurgent season at age 34. Clay Matthews is a stud and their secondary, led by now-free agent Tramon Williams, is far from a mediocre unit, especially now that they have found a legitimate free safety in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Outside of the average defense, the Packers other weakness is at tight end. Richard Rodgers was the team's third-round pick in 2014, but was sort of uninspiring in his first year. He finished 23rd of 49 qualified tight ends in Reception NEP per target, while Andrew Quarless, the team's second tight end, finished 16th. However, if Richard Rodgers can make a second year leap, the Packers may be even more destructive on offense in 2015.
What’s Next for the Acme Packers?
As mentioned at the open, as long as the Packers have a healthy Aaron Rodgers, they are a title contending team. Frankly, Green Bay doesn’t have a great deal of holes on their roster and are in a pretty good situation salary cap-wise. They currently have the 14th-most cap space heading in to the 2015 offseason, according to OverTheCap.com.
Using some of that cap space and re-signing stud slot man, Randall Cobb, should be a priority for GM Ted Thompson. The Pack's front office will certainly try and throw everything they can at Cobb to get him to stay -- but he might get more money on the open market.
If the Packers keep drafting well, making smart moves in free agency, and keep Aaron Rodgers upright, there will be a lot more winning in Green Bay’s immediate future.