No Sweat: No. 1 Offense Rested and ... Ready?

At least when it comes to Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense, it's hard to imagine there's been a more irrelevant preseason in the Packers' 93 years in the NFL. If the offense starts fast next week, it certainly won't be because of preseason momentum.

I haven't covered the team since the Curly Lambeau era.

My memory is permanently doomed with two small children and a general lack of sleep.

Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine there's been a more irrelevant preseason in the Green Bay Packers' 93 years as a member of the National Football League as what we just witnessed.

So, as it says on your shampoo bottle, lather, rinse and repeat until the memory of Thursday night and the preseason as a whole is down the drain.

The Packers' offense was nothing short of abysmal on Thursday night and played terrible throughout the preseason, other than the 45 snaps coach Mike McCarthy was kind enough to let Aaron Rodgers play to provide some level of interest for the fans and us jaded scribes.

Of course, it's important to note that the offense McCarthy rolled out there on Thursday night will not resemble the offense he'll unveil against the 49ers next Sunday.

McCarthy has used the phrase "creating opportunities" so often that I should have created a keyboard shortcut to save my not-so-nimble fingers the tedious process of typing in those 22 characters.

Based on the four preseason games, Rodgers took the fewest snaps among the four quarterbacks. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb took the fewest snaps among the dozen receivers. Greg Van Roten played twice as many snaps as center Evan Dietrich-Smith, and Patrick Lewis and Lane Taylor played close to three times as many snaps as guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Eddie Lacy played the fewest snaps among the four running backs who were on Thursday night's roster. Andrew Datko and and Kevin Hughes won't be getting abused as the offensive tackles.

"You'd have to ask Mike (McCarthy) that, but I feel like I'm ready," Rodgers said. "I've played a lot of football around here and I did extra conditioning this week to make sure I'm ready for 60 minutes."

In a way, I almost understand McCarthy's intent. Rodgers is 29, is in his ninth season in the league and has been sharp in practice. Besides, what's the point in exposing him to risk behind a couple neophyte offensive tackles? Especially when two of the top guys he'll be throwing to in the regular season, Cobb and Nelson, were injured throughout the summer.

McCarthy had to figure out whether Graham Harrell or B.J. Coleman would be Rodgers' backup. When it turned out the answer was "C, None of the above," McCarthy had to turn his attention to Vince Young. With just three proven receivers, he needed to find Nos. 4 and 5. He had to sort out the offensive line on the fly after his grand offseason plan disintegrated with Bryan Bulaga's torn ACL and Derek Sherrod's perpetual recovery from a broken leg.

In a nutshell, there were bigger fish to fry than making sure Rodgers could complete a pass in a preseason game.

Nonetheless, McCarthy is setting himself up to be a genius or putting himself in front of a verbal firing squad for the way he handled the preseason. After all the talk about starting this season faster than it did in 2012, Green Bay's No. 1 offense played five series, didn't get in the end zone and settled for three field goals. If the offense starts fast next week, it certainly won't be because of preseason momentum.

Rodgers, with 17 games under his belt last year, couldn't solve San Francisco's defense. Will Rodgers, with five series under his belt in the summer, have any better luck against one of the best units in football?

"We're going to make sure Aaron's ready. We have a plan for it," quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, without elaborating, said earlier in the week.

Of course, it's worth nothing that only one starting quarterback has taken fewer preseason snaps than Rodgers. That would be San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick, who played just 35 snaps in the first three preseason games.

"No, not at all," McCarthy said when asked if it would be a problem for his team to flip the switch to the regular season.

If the starting offense isn't able to hit the ground running, it will be up the defense to carry the load. Maybe that unit is back to its Super Bowl form of 2010, when it allowed 17 or fewer points in 11 of 20 games. Maybe it won't be up to Rodgers and the passing game to drag the rest of the team along for the ride.

As lacking as the depth appears to be offense, the defense is overflowing with talent. The Packers have run stoppers, pass rushers and guys who can cover. With the addition of Datone Jones and Micah Hyde, the improvement of Mike Daniels and Nick Perry, the versatility of Mike Neal and the big-play production of Clay Matthews and Casey Hayward, defensive coordinator Dom Capers has a lot of options.

Of course, this is all talk. The first test comes Sunday.

Ready or not.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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