We locked up our core guys to long term deals. We didn't have a lot of cap space, and there weren't many guys available who actually would have improved the team. That being said, I still think Tannenbaum has something up his sleeve.
As for this misconception that we lost a lot of players? Brad Smith had 4 catches for 44 yards last year. The new kick return rules (moving up 5 yards) will make that loss easier to deal with as well. Not to mention Mike Westhoff is generally considered one of, if not the best, special teams coaches of all time and has consistently shown that he can just plug anyone in there at kick returner. During his tenure with the Jets, he's had 6 different guys bring back kicks for touchdowns and two different pro bowlers (neither of which were Smith). Smith's loss will only really be noticed on the wildcat, which Schottenheimer always horribly mismanaged anyway. Also, we drafted Jeremy Kerley who ran the wildcat at TCU, and LaDanian Tomlinson has experience there as well. I'll miss Smith, he was one of my favorite players, but is he replaceable? Yes, very much so.
So who did we lose? Drew Coleman? We replaced him, and upgraded, with Donald Strickland. Shaun Ellis? We still may bring him back, though the combined production of Mohammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Ropati Pitoitua coming back from injury will make up for him if we don't.
So how did the team improve? Through the draft and natural progression. We picked up three guys in the draft (Wilkerson who is currently pegged as the starter, K. Ellis, and Kerley) who I think we see a significant amount of playing time and make a positive impact on this team. Dislike Sanchez all you want, but logic dictates he'll show a degree of improvement. The coaching staff is also high on third year LB Jamal Westermann who was hurt last year after showing flashes as a rookie. DE Ropati Pitoitua was expected to make a big impact last season after a monster training camp before sustaining an injury as well. The Packers never seem to add anyone, that's always worked out for them. If you want to suggest we didn't improve the roster, that's fine, but to suggest we got so much worse that we aren't a playoff team is ridiculous. We only really lost one significant player. It remains to be seen how Plax will do replacing Braylon or what kind of shape he's in, but Braylon is not the difference between this team making or missing the playoffs, and as well all know, once you make it to the playoffs, anything can happen.