Woodson, Packers ready for a “run”

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Read here from Don Banks at cnnsi.com. Banks talks about how the Packers are one Super Bowl winner that could very well disrupt the recent pattern of Super-Bow-winners-puking-the-year-after-their-Super-Bowl win. I think he makes some good points and I like his take on this.

I have to admit that tough questions linger for me from last year: what if we’d missed the playoffs? how did we win like that with a such a marginal running game? were we really THAT good if we were lucky to make the playoffs? which was the real Packer team – the team that steamrolled through the playoffs or the team that only scored 3 points at Detroit?

Despite some of these lingering questions and despite my conscious effort to think of reasons to doubt the conviction I have in this team – it’s really hard to not like this Packer team. I like the guys we have coming back and the new guys in the fold. I actually don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the team this year has better personnel than the one last year (despite losing some guys). I do think the Jenkins loss will hurt some maybe initially, but that’s it. We’re better off at linebacker, great at corner, solid at safety, strong on the d-line, better and healthier at WR with Cobb in the mix and Driver healthy again, deeper at RB with Grant and Green, loaded at TE with Finley back, DJ Williams and 2 2nd year guys with valuable experience in Crabtree and Quarless, as good as we can be at QB and importantly, possibly much improved at O-Line.

Last year, the O-Line to me, wasn’t much above average though they did come together nicely at the end. This year, we’ll have Clifton, Wells and Sitton back – all 3 of whom are very solid (Sitton is fantastic). But we’ll also have a more experienced Bulaga and a likely upgrade at left guard in Sherrod (…I even think Lang would be an upgrade). I actually think one of the bigger changes for the o-line, especially if Sherrod gets the nod, could be run blocking. The Pack has had suspect run blocking now for a few years but something tells me that with the experience gained last year and with Colledge gone (a guy I think struggled significantly with run blocking), this line could not only excel at pass protection, but also get the job done on the ground. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if our running game catches more than a few folks off guard in the first half of this season.

Bottom line is – this should be a very good team this year and for the next few years in fact. This is a team loaded with “young veterans” as Nick Collins indicates in the article. And as Rodgers points out, each year the team is restocked by TT and the brain trust. I like Woodson’s thoughts on this: “”It’s fair to say we’ll be a good team…So do I think we’ll make another run this year or two? Absolutely. What happens after that, I don’t know. If we go on a five-year run, I’m going to be here. You can write that down.”

 

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17 Responses to “Woodson, Packers ready for a “run””

  1. Scott W Says:

    My concern with the Packers is special teams. I hear Cobb is wowing folks with his running ability and may be a huge factor in returning kicks. Still, Slocum is still the ST coach and ST has sucked the past couple years.

  2. DaveK Says:

    The biggest impact on repeating is injuries. This is true of all the contenders as every team has a few guys that take them to the next level. Be smart in camp and pre-season. Don’t use key players to field punts! Most importantly and something this team struggled during the regular season is to finish off teams. They need to learn to step on the throat of their opponent early in games so key starters are sharing the bench in the 4th quarter.

    The Packers cannot afford to lose Rodgers or Matthews. Rodgers is obvious. Matthews makes that defense work. You lose Matthews and they have to do everything differently on defense. You just cannot replace his production or impact on defense. Jennings, Clifton, and Woodson/Williams are three other guys that would be big losses but I think MM and Capers could manage without these three eventually.

    I agree with you on the o-line. Bulaga really struggled at times last year but he was good in the playoffs. He had a 20 game rookie season so I am guessing he really makes the 2nd year jump after a long break and is solid NFL RT. Clifton’s health is key early. I’d hate to have to reshuffle the line if Cliffy goes down or try to start Newhouse or Sherrod early at LT. But, I think they have more then enough horses in that stable to put 5 quality offensive lineman on the field even if they lose someone to injury. If this unit jells early and is solid this offense should be very fun to watch.

    One other thing that I think will make this team even more potent then last year is field position. The rule change on kickoffs and Crosby’s strong leg will dramatically improve kick coverage. No more long KR’s allowing teams back into games and stealing momentum. Our defense was close to the top in the league in points allowed and making teams drive 80 yards consistently makes them better. On the other side, from camp it appears Green is going to get work at KR and Cobb on PR. Both an improvement from last year and if they can improve starting field position by a 10 yard average that really helps flip the field position battle in close games.

  3. Mike B. Says:

    I have to disagree a little with you Scott there might have been times when our Special teams sucked last year but there were also times when they were outstanding. Such as the Jets game which we won 9-0 due in no small part to a magnificent job from our punter and our coverage team. Also the last 2 times we played the Bears i don’t remember even hearing Devin Hesters name at all. As far as being lucky last year we were maybe a little but you don’t go through a whole year and never trail by more than a touchdown and only lose 6 games by a total of 20 points by just being lucky. i prefer to think we were a team of incredible depth and resolve that wasn’t going to be denied. I mean how often does a road team get favored over higher seeds all the way through the playoffs? I have to say in TT and MM i trust. GO PACK GO!!

    • RayMidge Says:

      Excellent points. The “luck” at work last year was some early bad luck- two overtime losses along with some other close losses. The team that went on the playoff run was more reflective of what the internal statistics said about the Packers.

  4. Rusty Says:

    The change in special teams, new rules and new talent, lessens or eliminates GB one glaringly weakness. I’d guess the defense will drop off a bit without Jenkins. Having more offenses start at the 20 should help.

    A Matthews or Rodgers injury would most threaten the team’s chances. I think we all know this. Look at the games GB lost. Against Washington and Miami Matthews was down, and the offense was without Finley for the first two games. Finley injury meant a new incarnation of the offense. Rodgers was down for the New England and Detroit losses.

    One comment I take exception to, “strong on the d-line”. I am not convinced GB has quality depth on the d-line. Neal, Wilson, Wynn and Guy are all projection. We don’t really know what they can do. Pickett and Greene are a year older, and haven’t been in a team conditioning program. Raji is the only guy I’m sold on. That said, the Packers will probably be able to find enough serviceable guys in that group.

    • awhayes Says:

      Rusty – I agree with you that depth on the d-line is a concern. That’s a good point. But I think Pickett and Greene (despite their ages) are still very good players. Raji is top-notch and I think Mike Neal is going to be very good as well. But again, beyond those 4 guys I don’t think we have much in the way of depth and this could be a concern.

      • Rusty Says:

        I agree that there is a good chance Neal pans out. TT and MM abilities evaluating talent, and I have a lot of faith there. The reality is, my input is as reliable as a guess.

        I also feel GB should be able to get one solid/above average guy from Wilson, Wynn and Guy. This is an untested theory. If TT has several unknowns on the roster, but only needs one prospect to hit, he’ll get his man. Thompson is to sound as a evaluating talent to fail on all three players at the same position. With no injuries (always back to that), the Packers will probably be able to make do.

  5. nTracks Says:

    love Woodson’s quote! hopefully special teams can come together and we’ll be golden!

  6. Dave In Tucson Says:

    1. WRT to the struggles on offense: I really don’t think you have to look any further than the fact that we were missing our #1 RB and #1 TE for most of the season. The Packers are a team that likes to use tight ends a lot, and it hurt when we lost Finley. It also hurt that there was such a big drop-off to the next best TE.

    2. WRT the playoffs:

    –I don’t think it’s fair to say we steam-rolled through the playoffs. Except for the Divisional game @ the Falcons, every game came right down to the end, with the defense making one last play to win the game.

    –It’s not fair to call the running game (at least in the playoffs) marginal either. 138 yards @ the Eagles, 96 @ the Falcons, 120 @ the Bears… the Super Bowl was the only game was weak (50 yards!) But that was a play-calling issue: only 11 running plays (and a couple kneel-downs).

  7. awhayes Says:

    The marginal running game comment was referring to the whole season. We did open the running game up some in the playoffs, but for the season as a whole, we had a weak running game.

    • Dave in Tucson Says:

      Well, for the regular season, the reason we won as much as we did was 1) One of the best defenses in the league (and, in terms of points allowed, the best Packer D since 1996), and 2) a passing game that at least sometimes got on track.

      I remember what it was like going into the playoffs. I fully expected the Packers’ (as you say) marginal running game would lead to a loss in the playoffs. That first week, I was just hoping for one win, or at least a game that didn’t turn into an embarrassment by halftime. It wasn’t really until after the win @ the Falcons I felt like they had a real chance to get to the Super Bowl.

      The struggles the Packers had in 2010 can basically be explained by injuries to key players (including Rodgers and Matthews), along with TT/MM’s ability to take late-round and undrafted players and make difference-makers out of them. (You guys remember how we got Ryan Grant, right? He was on the Giants’ practice squad, and we traded a 6th-round pick for him. Some deal, huh?)

  8. tangysizzl Says:

    All the talk right now is about the Eagles and the Patriots, who would have thought GB would be an afterthought at this point already this season.

    I totally agree that this team is even better than last year. No glaring weaknesses and possibly addition by subtraction with Colledge leaving in FA. Lang will win the LG spot and we will forget all about the inconsistant Colledge by game 1 of the regular season.

    The D line and ILB are the only true ?s on this team and I have full faith TT and co will not leave the Pack vulnerable at either position.

    Charles Woodson is the man, I love that guy and will always be thankful he became a Packer.

  9. Packers Blog Roundup: Battle For Right Outside Linebacker Takes Shape | Cheesehead TV Says:

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  10. pkrNboro Says:

    While I think GB could use one more DLineman, I think CJ Wilson is legit. 2nd game last year, his pressure late in the game drew a hold — that wiped out a sure sack.

    He pressured the pocket; he drove his opponent backward.

    Although listed at 290, I’ve heard he’s put on 10-15 pounds — and that it’s muscle and he looks good — which will help against the run…

  11. Travis Says:

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/08/04/cap-room-snapshot-as-of-thursday/

    Well, apparently the Pack stand at 11 mil. We might as well try and lock somebody up, with so many key players nearing the end of their contracts.

    We could also bring in a guy or two at linebacker, and D line to add more depth. Depends on the situation. But if we are ok in depth, we should try and extend somebody like Finley or Nelson.

  12. Dave in Tucson Says:

    A couple exciting comments on Starks from GB Press Gazette’s live coverage of Friday night’s practice:

    * Starks just ripped through a hole in a short yardage drill. One of those 3rd and 1 runs that sometimes goes for like 40 yards

    * MM: Starks is as explosive as he was in playoffs. Think he looks more powerful than last year. Has had excellent camp.

    (that last one presumably a report from McCarthey’s after-practice presser)

    This could be really good–if the Packers have Grant and Starks as a one-two punch for the running game, and Rodgers passing to that receiving corps… wow. I’m trying to maintain a reasonable level of expectations here, but this could be a really good season.

    D∈T

  13. (unpaid) Packer writers | Picture Oswald Says:

    […] Packergeeks ramble incoherently about the 2011 team. “What if we’d missed¬†the playoffs?”. Well, Andy (Andy right?) I’d go out on a limb and say we wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl.¬† […]

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