Should be an exciting game. I expect both offenses to be difficult to stop – though the Packers’ defense is better than the Saints’ defense so ultimately I think the Packers offense will be harder to stop.
Tonight will be a big test for Mike McCarthy. The pressing question I have heading into tonight’s game is this: can McCarthy effectively organize and coordinate all of the healthy offensive talent we’ll have available? Last year, when Finley was healthy, the WRs weren’t excelling. My concern heading into tonight again is with healthy RBs, WRs, and like 15 healthy TEs – how will McCarthy balance this offense and establish rhythm while at the same time, spread the ball around and remain creative and unpredictable. Talent everywhere is definitely a nice problem to have, but balancing an offense and effectively coordinating talent can be a difficult task.
Sean Payton scares me. I don’t know of many coaches I’d say that about. But the guy’s guts, his planning and in-game adjustments scare me. I took particular satisfaction in the Pack winning the Super Bowl last year because it meant I no longer needed to wonder what the Pack would be like with Payton at the helm. He is an excellent coach.
Randall Cobb could play an important role in this game. If he can get us in better field position than we’re used to especially on punts, that could be a huge advantage for Rodgers and company.
One particular guy I’m concerned about on the Saints is Darren Sproles. He was good in San Diego where Norv Turner used him somewhat effectively. But I think Sean Payton is going to figure out more and better ways to use Sproles. I worry that with Jenkins gone, Payton may figure out how to exploit that side of the D using Sproles. And once Sproles is in the open field, he’s tough to tackle.
TEs David Thomas and Jimmie Graham are two other guys to watch. While Brees will still throw plenty to his WRs, I can see Payton and Brees intentionally working the center of our defense in an effort to attack the second level of our defense (LBs) where we’re softest in coverage. As much as I love Bishop, he’s not an extraordinary cover guy – and Hawk is not very good in coverage either. (Actually, none of our LBs are great in coverage come to think of it.) The key to plugging up the middle and complicating this may be Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett. Of course, these two also have to be mindful of the possibility that Payton/Brees will set up short pass decoys to create space for the homerun – especially to WR Robert Meacham.
I don’t like the Saints’ defense very much even though they were actually ranked one spot higher than the Pack’s defense last year (they were #4 overall). I know Gregg Williams is regarded highly throughout the league but I see the Saints’ D having considerable trouble slowing down the Packers’ offense in this game.
A huge key to stopping the Saints’ D will be to keep Rodgers upright. If Williams can figure out a way to really harass Rodgers, the Packers could lose this game. But doing this will be extra challenging for Williams and the Saints’ D not because we have an impenetrable O-Line, but because our offense when it clicks, moves quickly and Rodgers usually doesn’t need to hang onto the ball.
I’ll be very interested to see how Grant and Starks are used. My guess is that they will be quite involved in the offense – and not just running the ball. I think both of these guys will be catching passes out of the backfield.
I’d like to see 2 things in particular tonight that I think could really cause headaches for New Orleans: the no huddle offense and screens. The Pack has worked on the no huddle a few times in the preseason and it seemed fairly apparent from interviews that Rodgers is a big fan of it. Stopping a talent-loaded, high-powered offense that is on fast forward should be virtually impossible. I also want Rodgers/McCarthy to call some screens. Against NO tonight screens could be particularly effective because the defense will already be pulling its collective hair out trying to figure out which pass target to focus on.
Final Score: 37 – 24 Packers.
This entry was posted on September 8, 2011 at 10:39 am and is filed under Packers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
I think Starks out of the backfield can be an awesome weapon. Its been overlooked, I believe, how good a receiver he was in college and how good he’s looked as a Packer when he had the opportunity to catch out of the b/f.
AZ – I too think Starks could do some serious damage out of the backfield as a receiver. The way he runs he strikes me as a guy secondary-types probably aren’t too excited to tackle when he has some speed worked up.
And Ron – I do share you concerns re the O-Line. The O-Line in the preseason was definitely questionable and tonight they’ll face defensive intensity 10x greater than the preseason. Still, I’ll hold onto my hope that Lang will quickly make us forget about Colledge and the rest of the guys start clicking as soon as the first quarter. We’ll see.