Aaron Rodgers is the reigning NFL MVP. Clay
Matthews is a perennial Pro Bowler and as good of a playmaker on defense as
there is. The Packers receiving core is the deepest in the league. In his
limited appearances, Cedric Benson appears to be a solid compliment to the
passing game that Green Bay has been looking for. Charles Woodson’s move to
safety will allow him to utilize his best skill, and attack the ball as well as
open a spot for young cornerback talent to step up.
However, none of the aforementioned roster spots is the most
pivotal to the Packer’s success this season.
Rodger’s will be great, that is as close to a guarantee as
there is in the NFL right now. He’s just that good.
With rookie linebacker Nick Perry lined up on the opposite
side, Matthew’s production and impact can only go up. Matthews won’t have to
fight through a double team every snap now, and will be able to get into the
backfield and blow plays up like he always has.
Depending on how Jennings comes back from the concussion he
suffered in the preseason; he, along with Jordy Nelson should have great
seasons, in addition to James Jones, a budding Randall Cobb and a still effective
Donald Driver. The lone question mark in the receiving core seems to be
Jermichael Finley and how productive he will be. When healthy and mentally
prepared, Finley has the ability to be the best tight end in the league.
Benson is still getting used to the Packers offense and got
limited carries during the preseason. However, the fact that he was picked up
by a contender after he was out of work and few wanted to take a chance on him
should motivate him to do as much as he can with this opportunity. When Benson
did get the ball, he gouged the defense between the tackles and ran with great
As the years go by Woodson just keeps producing. He is always
near the top in interceptions and forced fumbles. He is one of the best
tacklers on the team which for a player in the secondary is wildly important.
He can still cover ground and run with receivers, but the move to safety will
allow him the opportunity to help over the top more.
two most important positions for Green Bay this season are the kicker and the
many of you may think this seems dumb, but just think for a minute.
season the Packers had six games decided by a touchdown or less, including
their lone regular season loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. Seven if you
count the season opener against the New Orleans Saints which could have gone to
overtime with a touchdown and two point conversion.
reason those games were close was because last season Green Bay either blew out
the other team, or decided for some reason that they wanted to make the game
interesting so they weren’t going to play very good defense. On paper the
Packers had a great defense. They had a very similar looking roster as the year
before when they won the Super Bowl. One glaring difference was the loss of
time I thought little of his absence. Like Aaron Kampman’s departure, I figured
that the Packers were losing a good player that could definitely help, but
someone would fill the role. Especially since BJ Raji and Ryan Pickett would
still be there to get an interior rush. That did not happen. The Green Bay pass
rush from 2010 was almost nonexistent in 2011, which allowed opposing
quarterbacks a day and a half to wait until coverage broke down then hit an open
their offense was so high powered that oftentimes they were able to just
outscore their opponent, regardless of how their defense was playing. That
“bend don’t break” attitude only works for so long, however, and we saw that in
the NFC Championship against the Giants.
improved as I think the defense will be this season, I don’t have total faith
in their ability to keep teams out of the end zone. I foresee some games going
just like last season, when they unnecessarily came down to the wire simply
because the defense had lapses at terrible times. That is why I think Mason
Crosby will be so important this season.
his rookie year, he has established that he’s one of the best kickers in the
league. His accuracy and leg strength aren’t a problem, but I do question his
concentration at times because he seems to randomly miss a field goal here and
there when you’d think it would be nearly automatic.
many games a season do we see decided by a field goal? Quite a few. And if the
Packers defense is as spotty as it was a season ago, we’ll need Crosby more
than ever in order to stay in the Super Bowl picture.
brings me to Graham Harrell. We all saw him this preseason and cringed as he
did his best Matt Flynn impersonation. Towards the end he looked leaps and
bounds better, but the question remains if he can be a quality backup in this
offense. Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school seems as though it could
turn Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico into a productive quarterback, that’s why I
find it hard to believe that Harrell just isn’t good. It just appears as though
he hasn’t progressed the same way other backups have in the system.
past two seasons we saw Matt Flynn twice in big games. He nearly led the
Packers to a comeback victory over the Patriots in 2010, and last season he set
the Green Bay record for most touchdown passes in a game in the season finale
against the Lions. He performed when given the chance, however rare it was.
far, Rodgers hasn’t had any major injuries aside from his concussion. And with
the increased protection that quarterbacks get from referees the likelihood
seems ever slimmer. However, football is still a game of violence, and as long
as that remains true there is always the chance that he could tear, break, or
severely injure something.
happens and Harrell is unprepared, the Packers immediately go from a Super Bowl
contender to an outside chance. People had confidence in Matt Flynn. Not
everyone has confidence in Graham Harrell. If he gets a chance again he needs
to show he’s someone that can be relied on.
these picks are against the grain, but I firmly believe that these two
positions are vital for the success of this year’s Green Bay Packers.
I’ve been wrong before.