Pack It Up: Green Bay Packers 2010 Review and 2011 Preview

Posted: September 8, 2011 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up

Super Bowl XLV Champion Green Bay Packers

2010 Review and 2011 Preview

Your 13-Time World Champion Green Bay Packers:

Green Bay is the original Titletown, U.S.A. where Coaches Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi were able to put together 11 World Championships. The organization had a tough time keeping the winning tradition alive after Lombardi and just couldn’t win. Green Bay was led back to glory by QB Brett Favre during the early 90’s and kept them relevant until his departure in 2007. When it came to the transition of Favre to QB Aaron Rodgers it had dramatic affects among the fan base. GM Ted Thompson was scrutinized for “bullying” Favre out of the Packers and treating the HoF’er with disrespect. There was some wonder why the organization wouldn’t want to bring back a QB that had a 13-3 record and was an INT away from getting the Packers to their 3rd SB appearance under Favre.

That was 2007 and in 2008 the Packers finished 6-10 and some fans questioned whether or not it was the right decision. Then Favre signed with the hated Minnesota Vikings and it just so happened that A-Rodge blew up and led the Packers to the Playoffs with an 11-5 record. In 2010 Rodgers led the Packers to a 10-6 record and the final Wild Card spot in the NFC Playoffs, just ahead of the Giants and Buccaneers, while Favre and the Vikings finished last in the NFC North for the first time in 10 years. Rodgers has not been afraid of the pressure put on him and has flourished into one of the best QBs in the NFL and won his first SB faster than Favre did in his time with Green Bay. Rodgers has Packer Nation buzzing about bringing the Lombardi trophy back to Titletown and the Packers have strong core of players that could keep the trophy where it belongs.

The Packers had an up and down regular season winning 3 of their first 4 games but then losing in Overtime to the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. The Packers were 3-3 but rattled off 4 straight wins including two against the Vikings. They faced the Detroit Lions in week 14 but lost QB Aaron Rodgers to his first NFL concussion and eventually lost the game 7-3. Rodgers was ruled out against the Patriots the following week and people began to worry but back-up QB Matt Flynn nearly won the game and Rodgers returned the next week to beat the Giants and the Bears at Lambeau to lock up that Playoff spot.

The Packers were one of the most balanced teams in the NFL last season on offense and defense. Led by Aaron Rodgers the Packers ranked 10th in points scored and 9th in total yards. Rodgers missed a game and a half but he and Flynn led the Packers to the 5th best passing offense with the 4th most passing TDs and just 8 teams had less INTs thrown. The Rush offense was scrutinized for being obsolete but by the end of the season they had a 100+ rushing yards per game average but still ranked 24th in rushing yards. The Packers lost RB Ryan Grant early in the season for the entire year and relied heavily on RB Brandon Jackson and FB John Kuhn, but the Packers got a necessary boost when RB James Starks returned for the final 3 games of the regular season and the Playoff run.

Green Bay had a explosive offense but their defense was even better allowing the 2nd fewest point in the NFL and ranked 5th in total yards allowed. The Packers were stingy and allowed just 270 First Downs and only 3 teams in the NFL allowed fewer. The Packers ranked 5th in pass defense and ranked 4th in passing TD allowing just 16 all year long but also had 24 INTs the 2nd most by any team. The Packers had a great pass rush Sacking the opposing QB 47 times during the regular season, just 1 less than the NFL leading Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers rush defense ranked 18th but they allowed just 6 rushing TDs all year long and only two teams had allowed less during the regular season.

Playoffs We’re Talking About Playoffs!?!?!?!

Rodgers had led the Packers to the Playoffs in ’09 and lost to the Arizona Cardinals in an Overtime shootout but that loss left a bitter taste in the team’s mouths. The Packers had to travel to Philadelphia to play Mike Vick and the Eagles in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs and didn’t want to leave feeling the same way they had flying home from Phoenix in 2009. Rodgers threw for 3 TDs in their game against Philly but it was CB Tramon Williams INT of QB Mike Vick in the end-zone that solidified the Packers a chance to play the Falcons in the Divisional round.

The Packers had played the Falcons in week 12 of the regular season and lost 20-17 after being unable to make a comeback during Green Bay’s two minute drill. Green Bay came back to Atlanta for revenge and they destroyed the Falcons outscoring them 28-14 in the first half and 20-7 in the second half to win the game 48-21. The Packers were in a nail-biter until the middle of the 2nd quarter after Falcons return-man Eric Weems ran a 102 kick return back for a TD after the Packers had just tied it at 7. The Pack put two great drives together to take a lead 21-14 but the Falcons had the ball and enough time to head into halftime tied or down just one score. Tramon Williams struck again and grabbed his second Playoff INT but this time he returned it 70 yards for a TD and you could hear the Georgia Dome deflating.

The Packers had gotten back to the NFC Championship and were to face their division foes the Chicago Bears. Soldier Field isn’t a very easy place for the Packers to get a win, especially in a Playoff appearance, but the Packers relied on their running game and Bears QB Jay Cutler. Cutler basically quit on his team after injuring his knee and the Bears were forced to put in QBs Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie. The Packers QB Aaron Rodgers to a big hit in the first half of the game and I swear that he was suffering from some sort of concussion symptoms because he just wasn’t himself in the second half. Luckily during Caleb Hanie’s attempt to get the Bears back in the game he threw it directly to DT B.J. Raji and the big fella ran it in 17 yards and guaranteed the Packers a Super Bowl appearance and an NFC Championship.

Super Bowl XLV

SBXLV was held in Arlington, Texas and put two of the NFL’s most historic franchises against one another, the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay never trailed in the Super Bowl after jumping to a quick 14-0 lead on a Jordy Nelson 29 yard TD catch from A-Rodge and then a 37 yard INT return for a TD by S Nick Collins. Greg Jennings caught a 2nd quarter TD and another in the beginning of the 4th quarter to put the Pack up 28-17. Green Bay fans got nervous as Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger began to march down the field and it looked like he was going to try and recreate the magic he and the Steelers had against the Cardinals in 2008. The Steelers however were ultimately unsuccessful and the Packers won the game 31-25 and had brought the Lombardi trophy back to Green Bay.

Outlook:

The Packers made the Playoffs as a Wild Card team but won their final 6 games on their way to becoming SBXLV Champs. Aaron Rodgers led his troops on the battlefield and would not allow them to give up and was named SBXLV MVP (a feat Favre never accomplished) and with a solid defensive unit behind him the Packers won the biggest game of the year. Green Bay will be the defending SB Champions going into the 2011 season but what really matters is that they have so many players returning next season. They did lose some key players but overall they have nearly their entire core group of talent, not to mention they will be getting a couple of stars back from the Injured Reserve. The Packers are looking to be the first team to win back-to-back SB Championships since the 04-05 New England Patriots and hope to add another trophy among their NFL leading 13 World Championships.

OFFENSE

Quarterback:

Aaron Rodgers has become one of the best QBs in the league and finished last season 312-475, a 65.7 completion percentage with 3922 yards 28 TDs and just 11 INTs. Rodgers has averaged a completion rate of 64%+ as well as 4100+ yards passing, 28+ TDs and 10 INTs over his first three years as a Starter for the Packers. There is no reason to believe that A-Rodge will be a top tier QB once again in 2011 and could be in store for his best season yet because the Packers have improved the offense from 2010. The back-up situation in Green Bay is one that you might need to worry about with Rodgers missing time and feeling fuzzy from concussion symptoms but QB Matt Flynn is a great second option.

Flynn may not be the guy you want for the entire season but when he stepped in last season against the best team in the league, the Patriots, Flynn found his inner Aaron Rodgers. Matt Flynn was 24-37 with 251 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in his only NFL start and lost to a team that finished 14-2 by just 4 points. Flynn did have an opportunity to snatch the victory away from the Patriots at Gillette Stadium but the QB fell just short, but if he is called upon again he has shown that he has the skill set to win games.

Running Back:

The RB situation in Green Bay in 2011 will likely be a committee effort led by RBs Ryan Grant, James Starks, John Kuhn and Rookie Alex Green. Last season Ryan Grant was lost for the year after just 8 rushing attempts in the first game and the Packers had to rely on back-up RB Brandon Jackson. Grant was coming off of back-to-back 1200+ yard seasons and 16 total TDs in two years but was replaced by a player who had just 626 rushing yards and 4 TDs in his first 3 seasons. Jackson finished the year with over 700 yards and 3 TDs but was an afterthought in the final few games of the regular season and Playoffs.

James Starks was the fresh pair of legs that forced the Packers to push Jackson to the wayside and eventually felt comfortable enough to release Jackson this off-season. Starks has been hyped by Packers personnel and the Green Bay fan-base as the future RB star but he rushed for just over 100 yards in the 3 regular season games he appeared in and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. Not to mention during the Playoffs when he was the main RB he had 81 rushes for 315 yards averaging just 3.89 yards per attempt and had just 1 TD and 3 total receptions for 15 yards. Some Packers fans have written Ryan Grant off but if he still has anything left in his surgically repaired ankle he will be a great mentor to Starks and neither should be the only option, but should rather embrace the RB committee.

The third piece to the committee is going to be fan favorite John Kuhn and Rookie Hawaii RB Alex Green, filling in as the short yardage and 3rd down backs. Kuhn had just 18 rushing attempts in his previous 4 seasons in the NFL before 2010 and the RB became the Packers short yardage and goal-line specialist. He had 84 rushing attempts and tallied 281 rushing yards and 4 TDs as well as 15 receptions for 97 yards and another 2 TDs. Alex Green may not be used early on in the 2011 season but he has the size and abilities to be a great 3rd down option later in the season. He struggled in pre-season rushing the ball 16 times and gaining just 23 yards averaging 1.4 yards per carry. Green did have 1 reception for 25 yards and is used to catching the ball from playing in Hawaii’s spread offense during college.

Wide Receivers:

The Green Bay Packers had 4 WRs with 45+ receptions, 550+ yards and 2+ TDs. The Packers had 7 players with 20+ receptions and were one of the most prolific passing offenses in the league under Aaron Rodgers. The Packers receiving corps was led by Greg Jennings who caught 76 balls for 1265 yards 12 TDs and a catch that went for 86 yards a career high. This is the third straight season Jennings has had more than 1100+ receiving yards and has become Rodgers favorite target. Jennings seemed to make big catches in big spots and even pulled in 2 TDs in SBXLV against the Steelers who only allowed 15 TDs in the regular season. Jennings is going to continue to be Rodgers main target but in an offense that really has 6-8 options you don’t know how many times Jennings is going to see the ball.

Donald Driver has been a Packer for his entire career after being drafted by Green Bay in the 7th round of the 1999 NFL Draft. Driver has had an unbelievable career catching the most balls by any Packer in Green Bay history over his career and he is looking to become the all-time Packers receiving yards leader in 2011. Driver is just 41 yards behind James Lofton but the 36 year old WR doesn’t have much tread left on his tires and his age has started to catch up with him. Driver had 1000+ receiving yards in 6 straight seasons and 7 of 8 coming into 2010 but the Alcorn St. grad had just 565 yards on 51 catches and 4 TDs his most disappointing season since becoming a starting WR. Driver may no longer be a focal point of the pass offense but he has sure hands and when Rodgers needs a safety blanket and Jennings isn’t available he’ll look for Driver.

Luckily for the Packers they have some great WRs behind Driver and they won’t need to rely on a 36 year old starter. Jordy Nelson and James Jones have come up big for the Packers in some key spots, including the Playoffs and Super Bowl. The problem is that they can’t keep these guys on the field because the Green Bay offense has too many weapons. James Jones had 50 receptions for 679 yards and 5 TDs averaging 13.6 yards per catch, the 2nd most on the team, but had some issues dropping balls. Jones has great speed and is a solid route runner but there was a couple of plays too many in which the young WR just flat out dropped the ball and Aaron Rodgers started to lose confidence in him. Jordy Nelson is a solid slot WR who had 45 catches for 582 yards and 2 TDs in the regular season but in the Playoffs he had 21 catches for 286 yards and 2 TDs including a 9 catch, 140 yard, 1 TD game in SBXLV against the Steelers.

The Packers have a solid WR group and made it even better by drafting speedster WR Randall Cobb from Kentucky in the 2010 Draft. Cobb will likely act as the Packers return man but will slowly be implemented into the passing game and could act as that speed demon slot receiver in 4 and 5 WR sets. Overall the Packers have great WRs who have different strengths and weaknesses but don’t rely on one type of player. With their WRs skill set the Packers are able to device a lot of different passing looks into their offense which makes it even more difficult for Defensive Coordinators to scheme against.

Tight Ends:

The Packers and Aaron Rodgers are looking forward to having Jermichael Finley return to the Packers starting line-up after being lost for the season after the 5th game. Finley had 21 catches, 301 yards and 1 TD during his 5 starts in 2010, while his replacements had just 36 catches for 372 yards and 4 TDs in the 2010 season. The Packers shifted to a WR spread offense after losing their TE for the year but with his return the Packers should be able to show the league just what this guy is capable of. Jermichael has lost a lot of weight in the off-season and has improved his speed making him even more of a beast than he already was. Finley will be looked to early and often in the 2011 season and as long as the TE stays healthy he is likely to become one of Rodgers favorite targets behind Jennings.

The Packers still have Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree to fill in during rushing downs but also Drafted D.J. Williams out of Arkansas just in case Finley gets hurt again. Quarless was the only TE with over 100+ receiving yards in 2010 while Tom Crabtree was a great Special Teams player and blocking TE. Williams was the 2010 John Mackey Award winner, given to the nation’s best TE as well as winning the Disney Spirit Award for College Football’s most inspirational player. Williams is a good kid and a big body, 6’2” 245 pounds, with reliable hands and a good burst off the line and after the catch. Williams is the Packer organization’s safety blanket if for some reason Finley doesn’t stay healthy in the future.

Offensive Line:

After a 2009 season where the Packers allowed a league worst 51 Sacks in 2009 the O-line allowed just 38 in all of 2010 which still ranked 20th in the NFL. Think about this though, the ’09 Packers offense had allowed 37 Sacks in just the first half of the season in ’09 so the improvement was tremendous in 2010 and look to do the same in 2011. To say that there was an improvement is an understatement, people who despised the Packers claim their O-Line is terrible but really it’s not as bad as people think when you look at it. The starting O-Line should be LT- Chad Clifton, LG- T.J. Lang, C- Scott Wells, RG- Josh Sitton and RT- Bryan Bulaga in 2011. The Packers spent their first round pick of the NFL Draft on Mississippi St. OL Derek Sherrod who is mountain of a man that is capable of playing both the T and G position and will give the Packers some great depth.

Clifton missed a few games in ’09 but still allowed 7.5 Sacks in the 12 games he did play, but he allowed just 8.5 Sacks and started every game in 2010. Clifton isn’t getting younger, turning 35 over the summer and Sherrod may just be the grizzled veteran’s replacement. T.J. Lang was Drafted by the Packers in ’09 hoping that he could replace Daryn Colledge at LG who is considered the weakest player from the 2010 O-Line. Lang was hampered by a wrist injury and was unable to compete for most of the season but the Packers have shown him a vote in confidence by releasing Colledge and moving forward with Lang.

After a shakey 2009 season at Center, Scott Wells came back to have a phenomenal year in 2010 and create a great chemistry between he and Rodgers. It is hard for me to remember a botched snap by Wells in 2010 and his play against Casey Hampton in SBXLV stands out. He was a borderline Pro-Bowl Center in 2010 and his success is significant to the improvement of the O-Line but also for the offense as a whole. Josh Sitton was one of the biggest improvements on the O-Line and his play was rewarded when he signed a contract extension this off-season. Sitton has become the most reliable player on the Packers O-Line playing 37 straight games without missing a snap. Sitton was another player on the Packers line that was left off of the Pro-Bowl team but played outstanding throughout the year.

Bryan Bulaga was the Packers first round Draft pick from 2010 selected out of Iowa where he started 23 of 26 games in his final two seasons. Bulaga was where Sherrod is now, last season he was fighting for a starting position in the pre-season but finished as the best reserve player going into the season. Bulaga however was able to start the final 12 games of 2010 when Mark Tauscher was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Bulaga did allow 11 Sacks and was called for 9 penalties in 2010 but there is going to be a transition period for an Rookie player getting used to starting against NFL caliber DEs. Sherrod is 6’6” 315 pounds who started in 47 of the 49 games he played in as a Bulldog and 36 of those came at LT. He is a big body that is a great run blocker, having the key block in 44 of the 62 rushing TDs that Miss. St. had during his career. The Packers have used a first round pick on OL two years in a row, knowing that it’s important to protect their franchise QB and a strong O-Line will help improve their weak rush offense.

DEFENSE

 Defensive Line:

The Packers D-Line is really going to miss Cullen Jenkins who was not retained by the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 off-season. Jenkins had 7  Sacks and 19.5 hurries which led all Packers defensive linemen and he was able to fill in any position on that front line in Green Bay’s 3-4 system. The Packers GM Ted Thompson has been renowned for his achievements in the NFL Draft but his selection of Tennessee DT Justin Harrell has brought nothing but disappointment. The Packers have many interesting defensive packages under DC Dom Capers but when they do set three DL on the line of scrimmage it is going to be LE- Ryan Pickett, NT B.J. Raji and RE Howard Green.

These three are not small men in any sense, totaling over 1000 pounds they are the NFL’s largest D-Line of all the 3-4 defenses. Pickett is an 11 year veteran from Ohio State that was a first round selection by St. Louis. Pickett is 6’2” 340 pounds moved to LE after Raji moved back to NT and was a vital part to the Packers #1 rated rush defense in 2009 and key to their success in 2010 and the future. B.J. Raji is 6’3” 337 pounds and started all 16 games at NT finishing the year with 6.5 Sacks and 39 total tackles. Everyone will remember when he had an INT against Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the Playoffs that the big fell was able to return for a TD. He excited fans with his celebrations which included “doing the Raji” a little dance from a big man as well as pulling off a giant size belt celebration inspired by his QB.

Green Bay will have somewhat of a committee effort at RE with Howard Green getting the first opportunity to secure the starting position while 2nd year player Mike Neal chomps at his heels. Green is 6’2” 340 pounds but has just 15 starts under his belt while appearing in 60 games. 3 of those starts happened last year and he recorded 7 tackles and 1 Forced Fumble. Green is a big body but may not be the long term option at RE and I could see Neal taking over if he is able to stay healthy. Neal was tearing up training camp in 2010 before a muscle strain in his mid-section and a major shoulder issue held him out for all but 2 games last season. This year Neal had the same excitement and buzz that surrounded him last season but once again he is battling through a left knee injury and the Packers are unsure if he will be able to play in the season opener.

Linebackers:

The Packers had a lot of injuries take place in 2010 and none were more significant than when ILB Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar were injured for the season. The injury to Barnett allowed Desmond Bishop step up and show the Packers what he was capable of. Barnett has had season ending injuries in 2 of the past 3 seasons and made the decision easy on Ted Thompson on who the Packers needed to resign between Barnett and A.J. Hawk.  Hawk was able to hush critics after Chillar was hurt for the year and the entire burden was placed upon Hawk’s shoulders. The starting LBs for the Packers will likely be LOLB Clay Matthews, LILB A.J. Hawk, RILB Desmond Bishop and ROLB Erik Walden.

Clay Matthews is the only Packer since 1982 to record 10+ Sacks in their first 2 seasons as well as the first player to be named to the Pro-Bowl in their first 2 seasons since RB John Brockington did it in 1971-72. Matthews was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 after finishing the season with 60 tackles, 13.5 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles and 1 INT. Matthews has transitioned from USC to the NFL flawlessly and is one of the most dangerous players on the defensive side of the ball. Matthews has 23.5 Sacks in his first two years and that ranks 3rd in the NFL over that period and the young LOLB looks to improve on his already fruitful career, hoping to become one of the best LBs in Packers history and hopefully the NFL.

A.J. Hawk started 15 games for Green Bay last season and in all 5 seasons he has either led the team or finished second in tackles, finishing with 134 tackles last season he was again the team leader. The Packers have had a lot of issues over time with their LBs and injury woes but Hawk has appeared in all 80 games and started in 77 of them. Hawk had a career high 3 INTs in 2010 and was asked to cover a lot more and deflected another 9 passes, another career high. He has shown that he is able to be a reliable tackler and is now confident in pass defense making him an all-around LB and a huge benefit to the Packers defense.

Desmond Bishop came out of nowhere to blow people’s minds with the ability of this kid playing behind Nick Barnett. He started the final 12 games of the season for the Packers and finished 2nd in tackles with 121 a career high, as well as career highs in Sacks (3) INTs (1) and pass deflections (10) which was the most amongst the Packers LB corps. Bishop did lead the Pac-10 in 2006 when he recorded 126 tackles as a California Golden Bear and was the first Cal player to lead the conference in 13 years. He had a huge impact on the Packers Special Teams before he was given a shot as a starting LB and the young man ran with the job and isn’t looking back while Barnett has moved on to play as a Buffalo Bill.

Erik Walden was picked up by the Packers on Oct. 27 of 2010 and played in Green Bay’s final 9 games while starting in a career high 2 games. Walden replaced Frank Zombo and had career highs in nearly every category recording 25 tackles, 3 Sacks and 1 pass deflection. He absolutely exploded in the Packers final game against the Bears in week 17 when he posted a career high 16 tackles and 3 Sacks on the way to clinching a Playoff berth for the Packers and a NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Walden. Dom Capers has a lot of confidence in Walden but if he isn’t able to handle the pressure the Packers still have 2nd year player Zombo waiting in the wings. Zombo started 8 games for the Packers last year and recorded 38 total tackles, 4 Sacks and 2 Forced Fumbles before getting hurt and missing a significant period of time. Zombo did replace Walden in SBXLV after Walden hurt his ankle and the Rookie LB had 6 tackles, 2 for a loss and recorded the only Sack against Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Cornerbacks:

Green Bay has some of the best CBs in the league and they were a big reason why the Packers were able to win SBXLV. Charles Woodson won defensive player of the year in 2009 when he had 9 INTs and the Michigan Alumni has resurrected his career since joining the Packers in 2006. Woodson has had a huge impact on the development of Tramon Williams and with the two of them starting at CB for Green Bay they ranked 5th in pass defense and only 3 teams allowed less passing TDs. The Packers were able to find a wonderful Nickel CB in 2010 un-Drafted free agent Sam Shields from the University of Miami.

Charles Woodson started every game for the Packers last year and he posted career highs in tackles and Forced Fumbles, 92 and 5 respectively. He also had 2 Sacks and 2 INTs and 1 he returned for a TD the 10th of his career and moved him to 3rd on the all-time list. Woodson had a great year receiving his 3rd straight Pro-Bowl selection, 7th career and gave the Packers a heart-felt message during halftime of SBXLV after he was removed from the game with a broken collarbone. Charles was had offenses target his WR 71 times completing 37 of those passes for 445 yards, 24 first downs, 4 TDs and 2 INTs, giving him a TD percentage of 5.63 and INT percentage of 2.81 in the regular season. Woodson is one of the best CBs in the league but he is 34 years old and you must start wondering when Green Bay will think about playing him at S but know that in 2011 he will be an elite CB yet again.

Tramon Williams was given his first opportunity to start every game at CB and the young fella took it and flew with it. Williams had 9 total INTs during the regular season and Playoffs ranking him 1st in the NFL but 3 of those picks came in the Playoff in big spots. The 6 regular season INTs was good enough to rank Tied for 5th in the NFL. Williams had 57 total tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Forced Fumble, 3 Fumble Recoveries and a career and team high 20 pass deflections. Williams WRs were targeted 82 times and the pass was complete 35 times accumulating 427 yards, 22 first downs, 2 TDs and his 6 INTs, which leads to a TD percentage of just 2.43 and an INT percentage rate of 7.32. Williams made some huge INTs in the Playoffs that he was able to completely shift the momentum of games, especially since he had one in the end-zone against a team they beat by less than a TD and another that he returned for a TD to give his team a 14 point lead.

Sam Shields turned out to be a huge acquisition for the Packers and he was brought in as an un-Drafted free agent and became the Packers starting Nickel CB. Williams played in all but 2 games and recorded 29 tackles, 2 INTs and 6 pass deflections, which is impressive considering he played WR for 3 of his 4 seasons at Miami. The Rookie CB had a huge game against their division rival Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship. He had 4 solo tackles, 1 Sack, 2 INTs and 2 more pass deflections and became the 5th player in Packers history with 2 INTs in one Playoff game. He also became the first Rookie in the NFL since 1982 that had 2 INTs and at least 1 recorded Sack. Shields was a huge boost to the Packers secondary and he will have a solid impact on the Packers pass defense this season.

Safeties:

The Packers have one of the best Safeties in the game with their 7 year veteran out of Bethune-Cookman, Nick Collins. Nick “the pick” had a solid year recording 70 total tackles, 2 Fumble Recoveries, 4 INTs and 12 pass defenses and was voted to the Pro-Bowl for the 3rd straight season. He is 2nd in the league with 17 INTs since 2008 and ranks 2nd in INT return yards with 439 and seems to always be aware of the field after picking the ball from the air. Collins has been a rock in the Packers defensive backfield missing just 3 games in his entire career, all of which occurred due to a knee injury in 2007. During the Packers Playoff run he had 13 tackles, 12 solo, 1 INT and 6 pass defenses. Collins will continue to be a ball hawk and help give an explosive Packers offense the ball back in their hands.

The Packers other starting S was Georgia Tech Rookie Morgan Burnett who started the first 4 games before getting a season ending knee injury in that 4th game against the Lions. Burnett had 14 tackles, 12 solo, 1 INT and 1 pass defense in his first NFL experience. Burnett was replaced by Charlie Peprah who did a good job recording 63 tackles, 46 solo, 2 INTs and 5 pass defenses. Peprah really came through in the Playoffs ranking 2nd on the team with 26 tackles, 23 solo and had the team high with 10 tackles in SBXLV. Burnett will be given another opportunity to start at S but Capers and HC Mike McCarthy know that they have a reliable back-up with Peprah behind him.

Outlook:

I know that many of you who read this know that I am a Green Bay Packer fan, but I am a football fan first. That being said the Green Bay Packers have to be seen as one of the best teams entering the 2011 season. The Packers are likely going to win their division but won’t dominate, as top to bottom the NFC North may be the toughest division in all of the NFL. I do believe that the Packers will finish the season 11-5 and enter the Playoffs as the Division Champ rather than Wild Card team. The Packers have a lot of their team returning in 2011 and have many players returning from injury who could improve a team that won SBXLV.

The Packers offensive situation couldn’t look better with their corps group of players returning on offense. They have one of the best QBs in the league and an extremely dangerous and deep passing attack. Greg Jennings is one of the best WRs in the game and they hope Jermichael Finley will achieve the same feat at the TE position. Their offensive line has improved dramatically from 2009 and look to get younger while taking steps forward in pass and rush protection.

The Packers defense relies heavily on its LBs and defensive backfield because although they are big the Packers defensive line could be better. B.J. Raji is the truth and will plug the middle but the Pack could use some upgrades on DE after the departure of Cullen Jenkins. The Packers LBs may be the best unit in all of football but they need players like Bishop and Walden to prove they aren’t one hit wonders. The Packers will have a lot of pressure on S Morgan Burnett but the fact that he has Collins, Woodson,  and Williams working around him I’m sure he’ll be fine.

 

Straight to the Top!

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Comments
  1. Rob says:

    This was an excellent, interesting, well thought out article to read. However, I caught a couple of miscues:

    When you said: “Tramon Williams struck again and grabbed his second Playoff INT” it was actually his 3rd Playoff INT this season. There was the one in the end zone that ended the game in Philly, another end zone interception in Atlanta & then the interception for a 70 yard touchdown to put the game out of reach of the Atlanta Falcons. Does this mean Tramon was the 4th player in Packers history to intercept 2 passes in the playoffs since Sam Shields was the 5th? That’s cool if he & Shields did it in back to back games.

    Then when you said under “Defensive Line”: “Everyone will remember when he had an INT against Matt Ryan and the Falcons in the Playoffs that the big fell was able to return for a TD.” Matt Ryan only through picks to Tramon Williams in Atlanta. BJ Raji had the INT against Caleb Hanie and the Bears in the Playoffs that he returned for the memorable TD in Chicago. You mentioned this fact correctly earlier.

    Despite these 2 errors I found, I really enjoyed reading this article. You had very good stats to go along with very good information.

    Also, don’t forget about Rookie TE Ryan Taylor, he outplayed D.J. Williams in the preseason. It will be very interesting to see how Mike McCarthy & the Green Bay Packers use 5 Tight Ends this season for the offense.

    Your 11–5 prediction is realistic, hopefully they can win a game or 2 more than that to secure home field advantage!

    Go Pack!

    Rob

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