How do you improve a football team? Well, getting better players sure helps.
In 2015, the Packers had terrible cornerbacks.
They drafted King and Jaire and signed Tramon. Problem solved.
And they were getting gashed on inside runs.
They drafted Kenny Clark. Problem solved.
Oh, but they had terrible safeties, too.
They signed Amos and drafted Savage. Problem solved.
Wait, what they really needed was a pass rush!
Gutey signed the Smiths. Problem solved.
Now the 49ers gashed them on outside zone runs and some fans seemed to go nuts.
Trying to be great at everything is like whack-a-mole.
Here’s the deal: You can’t be great at everything.
The Packers can stop the pass and the inside run. They aren’t even terrible at stopping the outside run, but the 49ers are a dominant team with a great offensive line and a running back group tailor-made for the stretch zone runs.
Their offensive line features three first rounders and a second rounder, plus George Kittle – who is probably the best run blocking tight end in the NFL.
In short, the 49ers are uniquely and specifically built to attack the Packers defense at its weakest.
That happens. It make the PAckers terrible and it doesn’t mean they need an overhaul.
If the Packers want to stop the wide zone run, they could try stacking the box. When they did that, the 49ers immediately dumped it off to George Kittle for a big gain.
Maybe they could revamp their defense and replace their pass-rushing edge guys with run stoppers. Of course, doing that would diminish the pass rush, making it easier for them to get chunk plays through the air.
Do you see the problem?
Building a football team isn’t a quest to be the best at everything. It’s more like rock-paper-scissors. That’s why the Packers could beat the Seahawks, who beat the 49ers, who beat the Packers. It’s why the Packers could beat the Lions, who beat the Eagles, who beat the Packers.
It’s a matchup game. You can’t be the best at everything. You have to choose what you want to focus on and try to be good enough at your strengths so that it outweighs your weaknesses. You put together the best team you can and try to win games.
It’s impossible to be good at everything. Building a football team is a cross between rock-paper-scissors and whack-a-mole.
Roster-building is really just an exercise in building a team that is good enough in most spots and even better in others. You have to create an identity and put a team together with limited resources.
The Packers put together a very good squad and got farther than most teams. That shouldn’t be a point of agony for fans – this is a team that had 14 wins after only getting 13 wins in the previous two seasons combined.
No team has an identity of “be great at everything.” In football, in the era of parity, that’s just not possible. Every team always has needs. You put together the best team you can and you go out and play. Getting one game short of the Super Bowl means you did a really good job.
Sure, every team has holes. The good news is that we haven’t been complaining about needing a QB in a while, but that may change soon.
Then we’ll really hear the complaining.