How much has the Packers' age hurt them?

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
The conclusions already are coming in. If you're a Green Bay fan, your team is 5-8 because:



  • Releasing punter Jon Ryan prior to the start of the season in favor of Derrick Frost, who has since been released.


  • Coach Mike McCarthy has gotten too conservative with his playcalling at key junctures of games.

I'm sure there are plenty of other explanations, and maybe we'll make the Packers' collapse a "Have at it" topic one of these weeks. For now, here's one more possibility: Age.

The Packers entered the season with an average age of 25.57 among the 53 players on their active roster, making them the youngest team in the NFL by that standard.

I'm a bit wary of going in this direction, considering all the veteran players the Packers have at key positions -- from cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson, to defensive linemen Aaron Kampman and Ryan Pickett, to offensive tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, to receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. (But on the flip side, the Packers have almost exclusively young and inexperienced players as backups. There are very few positions, including quarterback, that have an experienced veteran as the top backup.)

We'll save that argument for a later day. But I did find it notable that coach Mike McCarthy didn't disagree with a suggestion Monday that the age of his roster might have compounded some problems this season.

Asked if mistakes are generally coming from young players, or whether veterans are at fault as well, McCarthy said:

"There is plenty to go around. You could probably point more toward the youth. We've had some situations where guys, they don't have as much experience in certain situations where it's not clean for them. Frankly the number of conversations that I've had with some of our younger players last week and the week before, in some of the one-on-ones that I had, that was one of the topics that came off. That's just a part of the growth that you have with younger players and everybody goes through it. Some of the older players, I think maybe they are trying to do too much. We've talked about that..."