Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Initial thoughts from camp
Most of my excitement stems from obvious sources. We have the best young QB in the league, Aaron Rodgers, coming off of his first Pro Bowl season. He's got an arsenal of receivers to throw to: Jennings, Driver, Finley, Nelson, and Jones. The O-line dramatically improved the last half of the season and adding Bulaga addresses the depth questions at LT. Ryan Grant is by far the most underrated RB in the NFL and is coming into camp completely healthy.
Can't forget about the reigning Defensive Player of the Year either:
This could also be the breakout year for B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews (if last year didn't count as a "breakout year"). Matthews also enjoys a consensus JonBob's man-crush, joining the likes of Rodgers and Woodson, to name a few.
A couple of rookies appear poised to step up and bolster the defensive backfield. We've already talked about safety Morgan Burnett. Now that Bigby's already out with an ankle injury, it seems Burnett could very easily play his way into the starting lineup. Another guy we'll be keeping a close eye on is undrafted free agent Sam Shields. Primarily a special teams gunner, Shields has started to turn heads with his play in the secondary. In fact, he intercepted a pass and took it to the house on the first day of camp.
Mason Crosby is still missing field goals. We don't have a real punter. Will our return game be better this year? Special teams is undoubtedly Green Bay's biggest concern. It's fair to say that the Packers are more likely to lose a game, rather than win one because of special teams. Coverage was pretty good last year, blocking was alright. It's the specialty-special teams players that need to step it up BIG TIME. My faith in Crosby has been completely shaken. If a game comes down to a field goal, I'm nearly resigned to defeat. It's hard to be optimistic about this unit as a whole.
In a press conference on Friday, McCarthy alluded to giving different players more opportunities to rush the passer, specifically referring to Cullen Jenkins and Nick Barnett. What does this mean? Could we see Cullen lining up at OLB every now and then? He's certainly our most versatile defensive lineman, but he's a big boy. Maybe McCarthy and Capers are thinking about hybridizing into a 4-3 in certain situations. There's an interesting thought. Jenkins at one end, Raji and Pickett in the middle (holy crap!), and Mike Neal on the other side. That's a big, effin' D-line (1,276 lbs). Then take Hawk and Jones out and stick Chillar in with Barnett and Matthews at the linebacker positions. I think this scenario is more likely than Jenkins taking his hand off the ground. But what about MM's comment concerning Barnett? Are we just going to call more ILB blitzes this year? Could he be moved back and forth from the inside to OLB during the course of a game? Does Desmond Bishop come in the game if this happens? Maybe this is how the Packers get him more playing time. I really have no idea. I like my Cullen Jenkins theory, but I can't make sense of the Barnett situation.
McCarthy also said that he wouldn't be surprised if Al Harris was ready by the time the regular season started... Really?? From potential PUP list to week 1 starter? This sounds utterly ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see all bustin' heads at Philly, but come on... Then again, why would he make such a bold statement if there wasn't a chance it could happen? I suppose if anyone could do it, Al would be the guy. But damn you, Mike McCarthy. I'm too much of an optimist for you to feed me this. I'll eat it all up. And I'll look forward to seeing Al Harris make his comeback against his former team on September 12.
Whaddaya think, JB readers?