The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the Green Bay Packers
Music to listen to: People Everyday by Arrested Development
This was the jam back in junior high school.
Current State: When Brett Farve left Green Bay for Minnesota two seasons ago, the first thought was how would the Packers franchise survive the loss of the one man that had been the face of it for more than a decade.
The first year post-Farve was not a winning one, the Packers went 6-10, but new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers proved that he had the skills to lead the team to better things.
Last season, Green Bay finished 11-5 and Rodgers continued to improve along with a solid defense that embraced its now 3-4 system. However, the Vikings, led by Farve, swept the Packers and won the NFC North. Furthermore, the Packers previously solid defense got exposed by Arizona in a playoffs and lost to the Cardinals 51-45.
Biggest Offseason Change: I went though some expected rosters and previews and really didn’t see any changes worthy of discussion. While this would seem like a good thing, you would have expected some changes on defense. However, the impression I’m getting is that the defense will hope that another year under the current system will help them.
Uniform Grade: Green Bay has had the same uniforms since the 1950’s. They won’t change for any reason and that’s fine. The green and gold colors work well for them. Grade: B
Best Player: Rodgers has slowly crept his way into the conversation as a top-five quarterback in the NFL. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are locks. The other two positions are open for interpretation.
Rodgers can make all of the throws, shows poise in the pocket and has been a full-time starter for two full seasons. He will have a full compliment of offensive players to assist him.
The Packers hope a healthier offensive line will not only help improve the rushing attack with running back Ryan Grant but will also give Rodgers more protection because the quarterback took more sacks than necessary.
Rodgers has excellent chemistry with receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver as well.
Most Important Player: Rodgers can be in consideration but I’ll look at the defensive side of the ball.
The first choice can be cornerback Charles Woodson, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He had a great season last year and was used correctly by Dom Capers in the defensive scheme.
Clay Matthews is a Pro Bowler and is one of the top rushing linebackers in the league but I’m going to move closer to the ball for my most important player.
For any 3-4 defense to reach its maximum, the nose tackle must play a crucial role in not only occupying offensive linemen but also show pass rushing ability. B.J. Raji showed both of these abilities in a big way last season in his rookie year. If he can improve on these skills even more, the Packers defense will improve more and match the production of the offense. If this happens, the Packers can be the NFC favorite.
Best Case: The defense continues to evolve in scheme. The offensive line stays healthy and Grant has a productive year rushing. NFC champions.
Worst Case: The defense actually regresses and the offensive line doesn’t hold up. They still make the playoffs but lose their first game.
Coaching: The divorce of Farve and the Packers showed that head coach Mike McCarthy is the main man in charge in Green Bay. He stuck with Rodgers thorough all of the controversy and now the entire organization is stronger for it.
The best move that he has done in his tenure was bringing in Capers to revamp the defense.
First memory of team: It was Farve. Its really disappointing about all of the stuff that went down the past three years with him leaving Green Bay, going to the Jets and than to Minnesota because when he was fully with the Packers, he was an enjoyable player to watch.
His run of three consecutive MVP trophies from 1995-98 was one of the most spectacular runs of play you will ever see in the NFL. Even now, despite all of the drama, he’s still performing at an above-average level in the most difficult position in sports as a 40-year old. Even haters of the media attention like me have to respect that.
Schedule: The Packers will have to deal with Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota in the division.
The home games are against Buffalo, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco and the New York Giants. The away games are at Philadelphia, Washington, New York Jets, Atlanta and New England.
City Nicknames: I didn’t find any.
Fantasy Focus: Everyone is up for being picked on offense. The only caution I would have is with Ryan Grant at running back. I think he’ll be a productive running back for the Packers but won’t get you as many fantasy points as you would like if you took him.
Overall Outlook: I picked the Packers to go to the Super Bowl last year and got burned with that. I still willing to make that step. I will say that they are on the short list at least in the NFC with New Orleans and Minnesota. The offense produces points. The defense has had good moments as well but lacks consistency. If Green Bay doesn’t at least make the NFC title game, its fans should be disappointed.
Final Record: 11-5
Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews: