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Friday, August 20, 2010

Green Bay Packers Team Preview and Prediction

Last Years Record 11-5
Wins: Chicago Bears (x2), St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions (x2), Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals,
Losses: Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings (x2), Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers
Biggest Playmaker Aaron Rodgers
QB, California, Drafted #24, 6th Year
After spending two years behind Brett Favre, Rodgers has certainly made a name for himself. Last season evidenced the remarkable strides Rodgers has made in becoming a better, smarter, and more efficient passer. With Jermichael Finley firmly entrenched for a full year as the team’s starting TE, Rodgers now has an extra receiving weapon that can stretch the field vertically. Rodgers not only can make every throw, but his ability to run has been a major factor in why the offense does not bog down. Although the Packers had awful O-Line play in 2009, Rodgers ability to scramble and make plays kept the Packers in many games. Expect much of the same, if not better from Rodgers, as he heads into the 2010 with a lot of momentum and confidence, stemming from a solid 2009 campaign.
Impact Player Charles Woodson
CB, Michigan, Drafted #4, 13th Year
Woodson in 2009 tied for the league lead with 9 interceptions and also tied for most touchdowns scored by a defensive back with 3 touchdowns. Woodson is a veteran leader who has helped turn the Packer defense into one of the best in the league. A tough physical corner, Woodson is very skilled at jamming receivers at the LOS and breaking up routes. The mid play reactions to balls thrown his way are unbelievable, and Woodson is excellent at breaking up passes. From what I saw last season, it does not seem like he will be done anytime soon. Look for Woodson to once again be a solid leader for this young, athletic defense.
Biggest Offseason Addition & Draft Steal Bryan Bulaga
OT, Iowa, Drafted #23, Rookie
The Packers in the 2010 offseason did not make a splash at all in the free agency surprisingly enough; however they did make a splash with Bryan Bulaga late in the first round of the 2010 April Draft. Adding to the depth of the team’s O-Line. Bulaga is an excellent prospect from the University of Iowa, who is a talented run blocker, a gifted pass blocker, has long arms and solid potential. He won’t make an immediate impact in 2010, but is a surefire insurance policy to often injured, Chad Clifton.
Biggest Offseason Loss Aaron Kampman
DE, Iowa, Drafted #156, 9th Year
A year following a scheme change and positional change, the Packers released Kampman who didn’t transition well as a 3-4 OLB. Although Kampman was a fabulous pass rusher, he did not fit in well with the team’s scheme due to his inability as a LB and lack of size as a 3-4 DE. He was a good character in the locker-room and brought intensity to this D-Line, nevertheless it was a necessary loss. The direction of the Packers is towards a Super Bowl, and they look poised for a deep playoff run in 2010.
Biggest Draft Mistake None
In April’s 2010 NFL Draft the Packers addressed their lack of depth on the offensive line, while also compiling talent at multiple positions. Mike Neal, DE from Purdue, as well as Morgan Burnett, SS from Ga. Tech, are solid prospects that provide depth to their respective positions. Also Marshall Newhouse is a big body that brings depth to a constantly injured O-Line. All in all the Packers executed a balanced draft, in which they addressed numerous needs involving the team’s depth at many positions.
Offseason Grade B
Other than the Draft, no real acquisitions were made by the Packers in the 2010 offseason and nor should there have been. The organization has kept a strong nucleus of players they believe can ultimately win them a Super Bowl. I completely agree with this plan of action which involves the development of young players inside of the team currently; guys like, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Clay Matthews, and others too numerous to mention.
X-Factor Greg Jennings
WR, Western Michigan, Drafted #52, 5th Year
Jennings is one of the smoothest route runners you will ever watch in the NFL, has elite level speed, and adjusts very well on downfield passes. Jennings has set himself apart over the course of the last two seasons as the Packers #1 WR. His 21 catches of 40 yards or more over the past 3 seasons are the most by any receiver in that same time period. Jennings is not only a downfield weapon, but can also consistently move the chains. He runs an impressive slant route, and an even better slant-and-go. Look for another solid season from the young receiver.
Name You Should Know B.J. Raji/ Clay Matthews
DT, Boston College, Drafted #9, 2nd Year
OLB, USC, Drafted #26, 2nd Year
Both drafted in the 2009 NFL draft, Raji and Matthews turned in solid rookie seasons in which both instantly contributed to the Packers Defense. Although B.J. Raji only started one game, he recorded a sack, as well as 19 tackles. Matthews on the other hand started 13 of 16 in 2009, while recording 36 tackles, forcing three fumbles, and returning one fumble recovery for a touchdown. These two young prospects are the future of the Packers defense and look for both to have major impacts in 2010.
Rising Star Jermichael Finley
TE, Texas, Drafted #91, 3rd Year
Essentially playing only half of a full season in 2009, Finley posted monster numbers to close out the year; from week 15 into the teams only playoff game, Finley caught 31 passes for 496 yards and 4 touchdowns. If you were to stretch the production in limited action in 2009 for Finley over the course of an entire season, he could have caught anywhere from 80-100 catches, for over 1100 yards, and at least 8 touchdowns. At times, the Packers even split Finley out as a WR on the goal line, utilizing his size against smaller cornerbacks in one-on-one situations. If he can stay involved in 2010, look for a breakout year for the third year player in Finley.
Offensive Outlook A+
The Packers offense in 2010 could post top 3 numbers in 2010 as seemingly all the pieces needed for success are in place; franchise QB, solid receiving core, one-cut RB, red-zone production, and offensive line depth. All it comes down to now is execution, and with the progress Aaron Rodgers has made over the last few seasons, I feel this is Green Bay’s best chance at a Super Bowl to date. The talent on this team is there, and the leadership is definitely there. This offense will rip into defenses this season; look for another stellar year from all aspects.
Defensive Outlook B+
In a methodical fashion, the Packers over the decade have assembled a very strong defense that was atop the league in turnovers forced last season in 2009. With a years experience for both B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews, as afore mentioned, the Packers look to get even better. They have top 5 defensive backs in the league, and an ever improving inside box. Look for another stellar season, as this unit will prove in 2010 that they are here to stay.
Special Teams Outlook B-
Last season did not turn out to be the best year for first time coordinator Shawn Slocum, as Mason Crosby and Jeremy Kapinos struggled in the punting and kicking department. Also return man Will Blackmon was lost for the season in October due to a knee injury, another hamper to the unit’s effectiveness. Nevertheless with new Australian punter, Chris Bryan battling Tim Masthay for the punting duties, Slocum looks to improve from his failures in 2010. Will Blackmon needs to return to his electrifying form and make big plays for the Packers, and Crosby needs to return to his former consistency as a kicker.
Projected 2010 Record 12-4
Overall I feel very optimistic for a similar season in 2010, the pieces of last years remarkable team are in place, leading me to believe that this experienced team can make a deep playoff run. A carbon copy regular season of 2009 should be expected from this team, however the difference this year is that the team has gained valuable experience from the awful loss handed down by the Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully this will have furthered the intensity of offseason season workouts, and provided the passion with which the Packers look to improve upon. Look for the Pack to be dominant in 2010.

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