General manager Ted Thompson let safety Charles Woodson go in February, which wasnít a bad move for a player past his prime. But Thompson failed to adequately fill the resulting void. He chose not to take a safety even though that was a position of strength in the draft. Thompson let receiver Greg Jennings walk away in free agency, a shrewd move based on Jenningsí limited impact with the Minnesota Vikings. The same goes for Thompsonís decision to cut linebacker Desmond Bishop, who landed in Minnesota but wound up on injured reserve. Thompson hit the jackpot when he traded back and managed to take impact running back Eddie Lacy early in the second round, and found a serviceable starting left tackle, David Bakhtiari, in the fourth round. Bringing back Johnny Jolly after a three-year absence proved fruitful on the field and in the locker room. Thompson managed to lock up his two best players, Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, to long-term contract extensions that are salary-cap friendly, in relative terms. The new contracts of safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker Brad Jones didnít pay immediate dividends. Backup quarterbacks Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman didnít pan out, and Thompson waited until training camp started to sign Vince Young, who didnít have enough time to learn the offense. That forced a desperate Thompson to wait until after training camp to sign Seneca Wallace, who hadnít played since the 2011 season. The signing of Matt Flynn helped keep the ship afloat while Rodgers was hurt.
Mike McCarthy called it his most difficult year due to the adversity faced by his team. Fifteen players landed on injured reserve. The most challenging injury came when Rodgers was lost for half a season and the Packers were left scrambling to find a capable backup. The Packers failed to win in the first five games after Rodgers went down. But NFL castoff Flynn, signed in midseason, got coached up and led the Packers to a pair of dramatic comeback victories over Atlanta and Dallas, plus a come-from-behind tie against Minnesota. That allowed the Packers to stay in playoff contention until Rodgers returned. Not many teams can claim to have won a division title using four starting quarterbacks. Give credit to McCarthy for steadying the ship and keeping everyone from pointing fingers during Rodgersí absence. Despite losing Matthews, Jolly, Sam Shields, Mike Neal and Andy Mulumba to injuries for the playoff game against the 49ers, the Packersí defense played respectably in a 23-20 loss. McCarthyís gutsy call to go for it on fourth-and-1 deep in his territory paid off on the game-winning touchdown drive in Chicago when the Packers claimed the division title. McCarthy won two of five challenges. His play calling has been criticized, which is mostly unwarranted. The Packers finished No. 3 in total offense despite losing Rodgers, Jermichael Finley and Randall Cobb for big chunks of the season.