Liam Neeson is indestructible.
Some time after being Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, someone figured out that Liam Neeson is better in movies with less dialog and a lot more guns. In fact, this became such a revelation that Liam Neeson's last 5 movies have almost identical plots. Let's take a closer look:
Taken - Someone takes Liam Neeson's daughter, Liam Neeson proceeds to kick everyone's ass until he get's his daughter back.
Unknown - Liam Neeson loses his memory, Liam Neeson proceeds to kick everyone's ass until he gets his memory back.
The Grey - A bunch of people crash in the wilderness with Liam Neeson, Liam Neeson proceeds to kick everyone's ass (including all the wolves in Alaska) until they get back.
Taken 2 - Someone takes Liam Neeson and his wife, Liam Neeson proceeds to kick everyone's ass until they get back.
Non-Stop - Someone takes a bunch of passengers on an airplane hostage with Liam Neeson, Liam Neeson proceeds to kick everyone's ass until they get back.
|I'm surprisingly good at this for being 61 years old.|
Unfortunately, unlike Liam Neeson and movies, it's not as clear cut what will improve a football team. And it's even more applicable to a team like the Green Bay Packers. As a testament to their ability, even without Aaron Rodgers for a significant part of the season, they still managed to string enough wins together to win the NFC North (unfortunately, at the expense of my Bears), but just fell short of advancing past Wild Card weekend. So what have they done so far in free agency to ensure continued success in 2014? Well, let's take a look at who they Kept, Ditched and Picked Up, starting with significant players Kept by the Packers.
Mike Neal - DE
In 2013, the Packers were 25th in defensive yards allowed (5956 yards) and 24th in defensive points allowed (26.8 points per game). So we're not talking about an elite defense here. Some change up is good, but keeping some solid veteran options can be useful if you swing and miss in the draft or in other free agent pick ups. The Packers haven't had any luck getting someone to effectively pair with Clay Mathews, but the almost 27 year old Mike Neal wasn't half bad. Not only can he pair with Mathews at linebacker, Neal can play defensive end and rush the passer from the interior in the Packers' 3-4 defense. Although he has limited acceleration, he actually led the team with 37 quarterback hurries last season. The Packers could do worse, and now they can take chances with a solid option re-signed.
Sam Shields - CB
Although the Packers weren't exceptional defending the pass either in 2013 (24th with 247.3 passing yards allowed per game), that didn't mean that they didn't have some standout players in the secondary. Sam Shields was one of them, being a solid cover guy that actually ended up in the top 20 in interceptions last year (4). His tackling is not outstanding, but he's consistent. Not only did he have 4 interceptions last year, he's had at least three the previous two years as well. He's a quality corner, so keeping him allows upgrades elsewhere.
Andrew Quarless - TE
I'm not completely sold on Andrew Quarless. Although Quarless had a couple solid games (two of which were for 66 yards and a TD), he didn't do much else after Jermichael Finley went out. He'll be a reliable backup, but the Packers will still have work to do at TE.
B.J. Raji - DT
B.J. Raji had a down year for a big name player. But we know he's capable of better and he already knows the system. He doesn't move that fast, but he's big and he can bring stability to the line if the Packers decide to change it up elsewhere.
So now that we've looked at significant players Kept by the Packers, check back next time when we look at the significant players Ditched by the Packers. And be sure to actually check back. You wouldn't want me to send Liam Neeson after you, would you?
By Ha Kung Wong (Twitter: @Rhihan)