Sunday, August 2, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- Green Bay Packers
GREEN BAY PACKERS
2008 RECORD: 6-10
(3rd in NFC North)
HEAD COACH: Mike McCarthy
Key Additions: S Anthony Smith (FA/Steelers) OL Duke Preston (FA/Bills)
Key Losses: WR Shaun Bodiford (FA/Giants) DT Colin Cole (FA/Seahawks) OL Mark Tauscher (FA)
Offense: The Packers will not have the soap opera of Brett Favre (will he or won't he?) hanging over them this season as training camp gets into full swing, so that is good news for Aaron Rodgers, who did put up good numbers a year ago.
Rodgers, in his first full season in the green and gold, threw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 13 interceptions and posted a 93.8 QB rating, good for third in the NFC. Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn are the backup quarterbacks.
Ryan Grant is the mainstay at running back after gaining 1,203 yards in 2008 and scoring four touchdowns. Brandon Jackson backs him up at halfback and Korey Hall is the fullback.
Donald Driver (74 catches and five touchdowns) and Greg Jennings (80 catches, 16.2 yards per catch average and nine TDs) are the wide receivers and the Tight End is Donald Lee, who made 39 catches and scored five touchdowns last season.
James Jones (20 catches) is also available along with Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley.
The Offensive Line consists of center Jason Spitz, tackles Chad Clifton and Breno Giacomini and guards Daryn Colledge and Josh Sitton. Duke Preston was signed as free agent from Buffalo and will push for a starting role in camp.
The Packers ranked eighth overall in total offense in the NFL last season in Rodgers' first season taking over for future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre. Not too shabby. They were also fifth in the league in scoring.
Defense: The Packers drafted Defensive Tackle B.J. Raji (from Boston College) to help shore up the run defense, which allowed too many yards a year ago. The Pack allowed 132 yards per game on the ground in '08 and in the NFC North, that is simply too much to give your opponents on the ground.
Linebacker Clay Matthews (USC) was also selected in the first round to help the defense. He will likely start alongside A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Aaron Kampman to give the Packers arguably the best tandem of linebackers in the NFL. Kampman led the team with 9.5 sacks a year ago.
Green Bay would like to see the defense get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they had just 27 sacks in '08.
The defensive line will see Ryan Pickett and Cullen Jenkins at the end positions and Raji is slated to start as the nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme. However, as of this posting, Raji remains unsigned but, the Packers expect to have him ready for the season opener.
The secondary was not bad in 2008, intercepting 22 passes (tied for third overall in NFL) and allowing 211 yards per game, which was ninth overall in the league.
Charles Woodson and Al Harris are the starting cornerbacks. Woodson (seven INT) shared the NFC lead for picks along with teammate and starting free saefty Nick Collins. The strong safety is Atari Bigby. Woodson's backup at left corner is Tramon Williams, who also snared five interceptions last year.
OUTLOOK: Look for Rodgers to continue to improve as he learns more in his second full season as Packers quarterback. The team can mix it up well on offense and Grant is a good, steady force at running back. The receivers are solid and the O-Line will look to give Rodgers better protection in '09.
The defense, while respectable, has to improve against the run for Green Bay to succeed in their division. Chicago and Minnesota are smash-mouth teams that run first and throw when necessary. The secondary for Green Bay is a ball-hawking unit that will keep opponents honest.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy has to feel good about his Packers' chances in '09 however, it seems that Rodgers still does not strike the kind of fear into opposing teams like Favre did for so many years. Another year like last year (numbers wise) would do wonders for Rodgers.
Green Bay will definitely be better than last season's 6-10 mark. Look for Green Bay to turn that record completely around and finish 10-6 as the Packers battle the Vikings and Bears all season long for NFC North supremacy. A playoff berth is not out of the question this season.
Week 1- vs. Chicago (Sept. 13)
Week 2- vs. Cincinnati (Sept. 20)
Week 3- at St. Louis (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at Minnesota (Oct. 5)
Week 5- BYE WEEK
Week 6- vs. Detroit (Oct. 18)
Week 7- at Cleveland (Oct. 25)
Week 8- vs. Minnesota (Nov. 1)
Week 9- at Tampa Bay (Nov. 8)
Week 10- vs. Dallas (Nov. 15)
Week 11- vs. San Francisco (Nov. 22)
Week 12- at Detroit (Nov. 26)
Week 13- vs. Baltimore (Dec. 7)
Week 14- at Chicago (Dec. 13)
Week 15- at Pittsburgh (Dec. 20)
Week 16- vs. Seattle (Dec. 27)
Week 17- at Arizona (Jan. 3)