Bye Week Scouting: Green Bay Packers

In Part 2 of this look around the NFC North, Bear Report checks in on the rival Packers as they take on the Miami Dolphins in South Florida on Sunday. The Bears destroyed Green Bay at Lambeau Field 26-0 back in the season-opener, and they get to host The Pack on New Year's Eve in Week 17. Let's see if Brett Favre & Company have improved at all since Week 1's shutout.

After an awful 1-4 start to the 2006 season, the Packers had a chance to lick their wounds and get healthy again with a bye in Week 6.

New head coach Mike McCarthy has seen his team have trouble denting the scoreboard, putting up an average of only 17.4 points through five games. Future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre is yet to recapture the magic that made him one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but the offense is cranking out 252 passing yards per game. Tailback Ahman Green is dealing with injuries again, and the Packers have struggled to run the ball behind an inexperienced offensive line. On defense, Green Bay has been shredded to the tune of 27.6 points per game. They are allowing 275.8 yards per game through the air and 102.2 yards per game on the ground, both huge numbers.

The Monsters of the Midway shut out the Packers 26-0 in Week 1 on the soon-to-be-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, as kicker Robbie Gould was perfect on all four of his field goal attempts. The Bears were largeley ineffective in the red zone, but the defense played so well that it didn't really matter. Rookie Devin Hester capped off the day with an electrifying 84-yard punt return for a touchdown to bring a close to the scoring.

Green Bay traveled to the Sunshine State to take on the 1-5 Dolphins on the shores of South Beach in Week 7.

It appears that new quarterback Daunte Culpepper came back way too soon from last season's devastating knee injury, and he has since been benched in favor of Joey Harrington. Young tailback Ronnie Brown is the workhorse now with the mercurial Ricky Williams serving a year-long suspension, and he appears to be a very well-rounded player. Wideout Chris Chambers was the best player at his position during the second half of 2005, but he is yet to get it going this season. Defensive stars like Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas aren't getting any younger, but the Dolphins D is still one of the best in football. They are surrendering just 18.5 points per game. Nevertheless, last season's strong finish seems like a long time ago as head coach Nick Saban's club has been a major disappointment.

The Packers overcame a 10-6 deficit and scored 28 second half points to defeat the Dolphins 34-24 before plenty of empty seats in Miami for a much-needed win.

Favre was very efficient on the day, completing 19 of 36 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Green was bottled up for the majority of the afternoon, but he exploded for a 70-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. He finished with 118 yards on 18 carries and that score. Donald Driver was wide open from start to finish, catching 10 passes for 93 yards and a 34-yard touchdown reception. Rookie linebacker A.J. Hawk is starting to show his first-round talent, leading the team with 12 total tackles and recording a sack.

For the Dolphins, Harrington attempted a ridiculous 62 passes on Sunday, completing 33 of them for 414 yards. He fired two TD strikes, one each to receivers Marty Booker and Derek Hagan, but threw three interceptions and was sacked four times. Brown ran for 59 yards despite only 15 attempts, and he also caught five balls out of the backfield for 63 more yards. Booker and tight end Randy McMichael tied for the team lead with seven grabs, although Chambers was kept in check with just two catches for 29 yards. Taylor had a huge game on defense, sacking Favre twice and forcing a pair of fumbles.

The win moved the Packers to 2-4, a game ahead of the Lions at the bottom of the NFC North. Green Bay has a reasonable chance to get back to .500 on the season as they face Arizona at home next week before travelling to Buffalo in Week 9. Nevertheless, this is a team in need of some major rebuilding and should be well out of the playoff hunt when they come to Soldier Field to close the season.

JC


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