Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Green Bay Packers Season Preview - Offense

The Green Bay Packers are undefeated! For now, at least. Anyway, here is how I think the team shapes up and a preview of their schedule. Enjoy:
Quarterback has never been a question mark in Green Bay for a long, long time. However, as Brett Favre gets older, it is time to give a look to Aaron Rodgers, who is the quarterback of the future. There are many detractors on Rodgers, but has he really had a chance? He has not quarterbacked in a meaningful game or situation yet, so it is unfair to judge him. Rodgers had a very good offseason. It was reported by the coaches that he was showing great leadership and making strides in his development. Carlyle Holliday is listed as the third-string quarterback (and wide receiver) on, so some gimmick plays could be in order. If Favre goes down, Rodgers could step in and be an adequate backup. Don't forget about Paul Thompson on the practice squad.
Grade: I have to say a B. Favre getting older and the 23-year old Rodgers developing puts them right in the middle. After Rodgers though, the situation gets a little shady with two versatile athletes who have spent time at wide receiver (Holliday currently, Thompson in college).
Running Backs
This is most likely going to be a running back-by-committee for the season. Vernand Morency is penciled in as the starter, but is currently nursing a knee injury and it is doubtful he will start the season opener at Philadelphia. Brandon Jackson, a rookie out of Nebraska, is expected to take over the starting spot, but suffered a concussion in practice to go along with a mediocre preseason. suggests that Jackson will start the season opener against the Eagles, while Morency is eased back in in a third down role. However, also reports that Morency could take over for Jackson if he struggles early. Also on the roster are DeShawn Wynn, a seventh-round draft choice from Florida, and the newly acquired Ryan Grant, in his third year out of Notre Dame. Given the recent injuries to Morency and Jackson, Wynn and Grant could both see some action this season. Noah Herron, also a running back, was placed on injured reserve during training camp.
Grade: I have to say B-. With no clear cut starter, every running back on the roster is under pressure to produce and fill Ahman Green's shoes. All of these backs are somewhat young (Morency is the oldest at 27) and none of them have been in the league for more than three years.
If you are anything remotely close to a Packers fan, you know the Packers love their fullbacks. However, with the release of William Henderson this past offseason, the fullback situation becomes a question mark. Korey Hall, a rookie out of Boise State, is slated to be the starting fullback on What you may not know though, is that Hall is a converted linebacker learning a new position. Hall is also expected to be a special teams ace for the Packers this year and in the future. On the last day of camp, another fullback joined the party: John Kuhn, picked up off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kuhn saw action in nine games last year for the Steelers and is expected to compete with Hall for the starting job. I wouldn't put seeing them both on the field on the same time out of question either. The Packers do love their three back sets.
Grade: C. Didn't want to have to give them that grade, but when you honestly look at it, you have no clue what to expect from any of them. This grade may be pushing B or B+ by the end of the season if they produce.
Wide Receivers
Injuries aside, this is a pretty good group. Donald Driver leads the group and hopes to improve on last season's 92 reception, 1,295 yards, and eight touchdowns. When Brett Favre is your quarterback, it probably will happen. Or at least you'll come close. After Driver, however, the picture is a lot hazier. Greg Jennings, a second-year man out of Western Michigan, had a good rookie season, but disappointed in the preseason where rookie James Jones, shined. It's only preseason, but hey, it has to show something. Jennings will start the season as the starter, but may clear the way for Jones, depending on who Favre targets as his favorite receiver early on. Behind them on the depth chart are Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holliday. Martin has been on the bubble year in and year out, but closed out the 2006 season with a 100-yard game, quite a performance when you think of the impact Driver and Jennings had last year. Holliday is listed as the third string quarterback on, so, as I said before, some gimmick plays may be in order.
Grade: This is really tough because you have Driver, who is a stud, but after that, it is a crapshoot. I am going to have to say B-. The only reason for that low of a grade is the uncertainty between Jones and Jennings on who will be second and third receiver. This grade could easily change in either direction by Week 5.
Tight Ends
Currently, on the depth chart, Donald Lee is starting over Bubba Franks. Lee, in his fifth year out of Mississippi State is seen as a superior replacement to Bubba Franks. Franks, 29, was overcome last year with a case of the drops, which had many people calling for his removal from the lineup, not to mention Franks' production has been on the decline in recent years, scoring 0 touchdowns last year. Lee did not score as well last year, but averaged 15.0 yards per catch.
Grade: C+. Just not that good when you think about, but if Lee produces as well as some expect him to, he could very well bump the overall grade up to B.
Offensive Line
Long the strength of past Green Bay teams, the offensive line is looking up again with some young talent being mixed in with some crafty old vets. First, the vets. Chad Clifton (LT) returns for his eigth season with Packers, anchoring a young offensive line along with Mark Tauscher (RT), also returning for his eigth season. The line's midsection is manned by center
Scott Wells, in his fourth season from Tennessee, Daryn Colledge (LG), in his second year from Boise State, and Jason Spitz (RG), who is in his second season out of Louisville. The offensive line boasts some young backups in Tony Moll (G), Allen Barbre (G), Tony Palmer (G), and Junius Coston (T), who are all in their third year or younger. These young players could all develop into some fantastic players in time.
Grade: B. Nothing particularly stands out about this line besides Tauscher and Clifton. Wells has been solid, while Colledge and Spitz should be an improvement now in their second year in the NFL.

Overall, I would give the Packers offense a B-. It's not the greatest, but it will put up some points. There are also some question marks tied in with this offensive, such as the tight end position, too.

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