Most Green Bay Packers fans are extremely high on the 2010 squad. You can include me in that group.
Still, they are not a team without flaws – no team is in the salary cap era.
Much has been written about the Pack’s seemingly biggest flaw – the pass defense – this offseason. But what are some other things that could bring the team down this year? With training camp just nine days away – again, holy crap – it seemed like a good time to take a closer look.
And, as usual, I’ll spare you the obvious “avoiding injuries to key players, particularly Aaron Rodgers” storyline. Folks who tap that storyline are just being lazy.
In no particular order:
- No one steps up to fill the void created by the Johnny Jolly 2010 Suspension Tour
On Monday, I wrote that the team still has plenty of options in terms of filling Mr. Purple Drank’s void. I haven’t changed my opinion on that, but if you’re talking worst-case scenarios for this team, an inability to replace Jolly is certainly one of them.
The starting trio of Cullen Jenkins/B.J. Raji/Ryan Pickett has the potential to be very, very good. But those three will simply not be enough to last an entire season, not to mention the postseason. Players must step up in order to form a rotation, especially when you factor in an injury-prone player like Jenkins.
If no one steps up, you can kiss any shot of repeating as the league’s No. 1 run defense goodbye. Players like Jolly and Pickett were crucial in tying up o-linemen and allowing the linebackers to get to the ballcarrier quickly. Not only that, but the pass rush/pass defense will be even worse, because a tired/ineffective line won’t be able to eat up blocks and allow the rushers to do their thing. And if they can’t, a seemingly thin corner group will be forced to cover longer than they are capable of.
The result of all that? More 300-plus yard passing games for opponents. Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn and Justin Harrell – the time is now.
- Another season of poor special teams play
Am I serious, listing special teams second on this list? You bet I am.
Last season, the Packers were extremely lucky that their atrocious special teams play didn’t hurt them more than it did (and even then, it was a key factor in at least two losses, to Cincinnati and Tampa Bay).
In short, the group did nothing right. That can not happen again, especially when you factor in what appears to be a much tougher 2010 schedule. Two players, in particular, have got to be better: Mason Crosby and whomever wins the punter battle.
Green Bay’s offense should be lethal, but it can not be expected to hit paydirt every single time out. Sometimes, drives stall. If that happens within field goal range, Crosby has to come through. This is a make-or-break season for him, no question about it. I’m sick of the excuses (lack of confidence, a revolving door of holders, etc.). Just make the damn kicks.
And if the drive stalls out of field goal range, the punter has to come through. No more shanks or balls off the side of your foot. Even terrible offenses can put points up if they consistently start at their own 40. Pin them back. Give the defense a chance.
Oh, and if the return units could break one every now and then, that’d be nice too, considering that happened almost never last season.
In today’s NFL, there’s a Kate Moss-thin line between winning and losing. Special teams tilts than line much more than most fans care to admit.
- Mike McCarthy forgets what worked for the offense over the second half of 2009
I like McCarthy, as a coach. Really, I do. The way he kept this team together after the awful start last season was a rather impressive job of coaching.
A big key in that was his ability to change on the fly as a playcaller. He ditched the seven-step drops and went with a precise passing game which let the receivers get the ball in their hands quickly and rack up the YAC.
But I can’t shake this nagging feeling that he’s going to revert back to first-half-of-2009 form, that the seven-step drops and constant home run chasing will return. The offensive line appears to be solidified, which only furthers that nagging feeling.
“Hey, our line’s better now – let’s start heaving ‘em up there again!”
He needs to stick with what worked. If he doesn’t, Rodgers will go back to hanging on to the damn ball too long, which will lead to more punishment – bank on that.
- Confidence is nice, but it’s better to be hungry
The Packers were riding high coming out of the 2009 preseason. We all saw what happened next. The team was lazy, uninspired and just plain unprepared for what happened when the games counted.
And that happened after just a couple of months of everyone blowing smoke up their you-know-whats. Since, seemingly, mid-February, everyone’s been tabbing the 2010 Packers as a definite Super Bowl contender. Imagine the bad habits that can result after THAT long?
McCarthy and the rest of the coaching staff will have to doggedly guard against any overconfidence. Every season, the road is littered with the corpses of teams that were “destined for greatness” only to show nothing once the season started. In many ways, keeping this team hungry will be one of McCarthy’s toughest challenges to date as coach of this team.
You’d like to think these guys could do that on their own – after all, they were the ones that had to go through the players-only “Come to Jesus” meeting last November – but, in reality, that buck will stop with Mike Mac.
My intent here was not to harsh the collective vibe we feel about the team – again, it should be really, really good – but simply to point out some things to watch out for.
What are some things you guys and gals think could bring the 2010 Packers down? Comment, baby, comment!