It’s too late. I drank the kool-aid, bought into the hype, hopped on board and strapped myself in for dear life. For once, optimism has runneth over my normally dominant, negative alter-ego. To avoid bad luck, I have been sporting a garlic necklace, eating my Lucky charms (not just for kids), and shaving my formerly black cat daily since Training Camp began. It’s done. There is too much potential ready to be realized on this Packers squad, and I refuse to believe Green Bay will not make a deep playoff run in 2010.

But…

No matter how many times I knock on wood, the realist within reers its head. There is no doubt Green Bay has a very talented team. Statistically they were at or near the top of the NFL in many offensive and defensive categories. But we all remember the poor start to 2009, the few late game collapses, the siv-like defensive backfield and the shaky offensive line play that nearly left Aaron Rodgers crippled before week 8. Despite the high expectations, there is still reason to worry…

“Ted should have learned last year that you can’t go into the playoffs with Jarrett Bush as your third corner.” -Leroy Butler

In an interview with Rob Reischel for Packer Plus , Leroy Butler voiced the concerns of many. Green Bay’s defense was electric at times last year, but the weaknesses were apparent. Without pressure, opposing quarterbacks were able to scorch the secondary with obvious ease. Heck, Josh Freeman looked like a world-beater in the 4th quarter of that Tampa Bay debacle. Yeah, the same Josh Freeman who threw 10 touchdowns all season and racked up an impressive quarterback rating of less than 60. Man oh man, and Ben Roethlisberger (d-bag) torched the defense for a career high 500+ yards during the last second Steelers’ loss. Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson and teammates like Clay Matthews and Nick Collins helped created a mirage with their array of clutch plays and turnovers. But the defensive backfield was often a weakness and a headache for the millions of us watching each week.

Can  Al Harris rebound from his torn knee and return to impact form? Will Tramon Williams take that next step and become an every down player? Can the ageless Woodson continue to play like an MVP? Can the starters stay healthy? Is rookie Morgan Burnett the answer to the vacant safetey slot? Is  Nintendo Bigby ? There are too many questions that remain unanswered. Harris will be gimping all season. Will Blackmon will almost assuredly get hurt. Tramon Williams is decent, but that’s the extent of his talent. Woodson’s age will finally catch up with him, and  Jarrett Bush will inevitably be inserted into the starting lineup (God help us all). Geez, even the high praise for Morgan Burnett is worrisome. He’s a 3rd round draft pick! Do we really think he will step on the field and be able to keep up with the likes of Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall or Desean Jackson? Uh oh…

Schedule

It’s not who you play but when. That saying has proven true time and time again. However, the 2010 schedule is going to be rough no matter what their record says. The Packers open on the road against the Eagles. Later, they play the Dolphins, Vikings, Jets and Cowboys in succession prior to the bye week. Regardless of the outcomes, Green Bay is going to be beaten and battered following those 4 games. Other tough matchups include the Atlanta Falcons away, the New England Patriots on the road and the new York Giants at home. Mix in the upstart 49ers, the Redskins and the always competitive NFC North matchups, and the Pack are looking at a battlefield chock full of land mines and booby traps. Yikes…

Offensive Line

Let’s keep this short. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 41 times in the first 9 games last season. That’s 4.6 per game for those without a calculator. I don’t care who you are. Be it  Donovan McNabb , “Big Ben” Roethlisberger or even Iron-man-#4, the law of averages says taking that many hits bound to cause a season-ender eventually. Remarkably, Rodgers powered through last season like a champ, but what did we all think (say) about him a couple years back? He was a softy, a pretty boy from California, and that broken foot in mop-up duty seemed to prove it .

Who’s protecting Rodgers this year? Mark Tauscher on crutches, steady but aging  Chad Clifton , and a musical chairs-array of centers and guards? Daryn Colledge strikes fear into the heart of no one. If forced into action, T.J. Lang is going to step in and be a lockdown tackle, and rookie Bryan Bulaga will be more than capable right off the bat. Yeah right. Green Bay allowed a league worst 51 sacks during the 2009 season, and Kyle Vanden Bosch , Julius Peppers and that one guy with the mullet are licking their chops at the thought of facing this mess. Oh God, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t stand a chance…

A kicker? A kicker.

Mason Crosby has a big leg; we know that. He can nail field goals from 50+ yards with ease. There is only one problem, he doesn’t. After making nearly 80% of his field goals in 2007 and 2008, he has relapsed to 75% in 2009. The 2-6 from 50+ is acceptable, because from that length it’s like flipping a coin anyways. However, the 4-7 from 40-49, the 7-9 from 30-39 and the missed extra point are cause for concern. He also missed an important field goal during the Wild Card loss as well. His stats aren’t horrific by any means, but in today’s NFL, 27-36 with several crucial whiffs simply does not cut it. 

Maybe it’s Mike McCarthy’s fault for trotting him out there to attempt kicks longer than Rodgers can throw, but Crosby’s misses along with his lack of confidence have become an issue. Mix that in with the fact that Ted Thompson has not brought in any competition (NONE!), and we are left with a player who has procured a false sense of security. If that’s not an invitation for complacency, I’m not sure what it. Crosby is losing confidence by the kick, rather the step, and yet there is nowhere else to turn. Without confidence in your kicker, play-calling changes dramatically, pressure mounts on the offense to convert, and turnovers on 3rd and longs will pile up. Misses also result in a short field for opposing offenses, and sure-fire W’s morph into gut-wrenching losses. If Green Bay were a South American soccer club, Mason Crosby would be fearing for his life at this point. I’m terrified…

______________________

If a weak secondary, tough schedule, aging and inexperienced offensive line and “The Curious Case of Mason Crosby” aren’t enough reasons to push the panic button, then the loss of Johnny Jolly , imminent injuries, the law of averages and pitiful special teams coverage absolutely are. I haven’t even mentioned the lack of a reliable punter. Is an Aussie who has never punted in competitive football really going to be their saving grace? You know Derrick Frost is just waiting for his phone to ring. 

This season is a wash. Start prepping for the draft. At least the Bucks have a chance to compete…

Nunca! Nyet! No! The many question marks surrounding the 2010 Green Bay Packers will not be their downfall. The positives vastly outweigh the negatives this time around, and according to many “experts,” Green Bay has an excellent shot at contending. Optimists see very few reasons why the Packers won’t be at or near the top of the NFC. There appears to be a swagger, a quiet confidence forming, and last season’s playoff run has left Rodgers and friends craving for more. This team has been growing and maturing together, and they are primed to explode onto the 2010 football scene. There are too many good stories, too many exciting headlines and potential All-Pro players on the Packers for 2010 to be a failure. I can envision the possibilities, and I can’t wait…but…what…if…?

 

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  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    Boy, for someone who is so confident and positive, you sound an awful lot like me.