It begins tonight; can the Packers of 08 really pull it off?
As much as the saga strained my passion for the game of football this summer, I am confident that we can be very successful this season. And to be perfectly honest, I think the keys to returning to the playoffs this season is essentially three fold, and none of them begins with the QB. Dont get me wrong, these arent the only three factors, but in my opinion we will only go as far as these two aspects take us.
1) Offensive line play If the line plays as inconsistent as last season, meaning a couple of good weeks followed by a couple of blah weeks; we as a team are in trouble. I would love to say, it is only reserved for the interior line, but that isnt the case. For as much depth as this team has acquired, we are razor thin along the offensive line for solid depth.
Our front line tackles are exceptional; Clifton and Tauscher in my opinion are still in a top 5 combos in the league. However we have virtually no trusted depth behind them, we have a rookie whom isnt ready to play in the NFL and two sliders along the line. In the NFL, that is razor thin.
At the interior, we have a couple of players in their third year and a sophomore that havent proven they can line up weekly and play to their ability. I know I sound critical of these gents, but honestly, the only time Colledge really plays well is after he has gotten threatened with being sat and his tail end chewed upon. Spitz and Wells are pretty solid and Sitton is green and will have his troubles.
Can we win with this group, yes we can. But with concerns about the health of our starting QB and TB, they need to step it up, play focused with solid techniques and path the way for this offense this season. We have talent on the field, they just need to allow whomever is at QB to have time to function to their ability.
2) Defensive Adjustments On the defensive side of the ball, we have enough talent and experience to have a very solid to exceptional defensive unit. But we have to be flexible enough to adjust away from our strengths if they are being exposed and mix it up for the opposing QB and OC.
While a vanilla scheme with the bulk of the passing defense being shouldered by a couple of the grizzled veteran CBs is a defense that masks some of the youthful mistakes, it also is prone to being exposed from time to time with bigger receivers that use their hands well coming off the line of scrimmage.
For as much verbal chatter about learning from the loss in the championship game and making sure that it isnt repeated, this is as critical as any other possible issue we faced this offseason. Sanders has to gain a feel for the game, have the comfort to alter the scheme if it is being exposed and have the confidence in his backend of the defense to make them play on the field; not trying to minimize their exposure in coverage.
3) This team has to stay unified There will be more storms to weather this season than a year ago and that very element will test the fabric of this team more so than any opponent this season.
Through the preseason, they have maintained a united front with all the press and changes occurring. That bodes well for the chances of this team to withstand the rough waters that surely lie ahead.
Whether it is the QB play, injuries or the nonstop prodding of the press when this team loses a game or two; there will have to be a level of trust and unification amongst this team. If the bloodthirsty sharks that pose as reporters seem a hint of team breakdown, it will become a all out feeding frenzy until the bleeding stops. We cant allow that to start to snowball to this youthful team, like I said, it will test every fiber of this team until the final whistle blows.
I could go on and on about the Xs and Os, the matchup problems we could project upon other teams, the skill level and depth of this team, but if the above fail to measure up it is going to be a season of great challenges met with increased struggle.
Here is to putting the past behind us, not forgetting but moving forward with the excitement of a new era in the chronicles of the Packers long and proud history.
Win or lose tonight, it doesnt really change the season ahead.. for it is only one game on the path of growth.
- Pack93z, a twisted fellow that bleeds Green and Gold.
Enjoy the game all..