Packers Report Card

Here are overall grades for the Green Bay Packers on their 2003 season:<p>

Offense: A-

Green Bay fielded an offense that was as potent as in the team's 1996 Super Bowl XXXI championship season. The Packers averaged 362.4 yards and nearly 28 points per game. Brett Favre had another Pro Bowl season, and a very memorable game a day after his father died. He had a career-high .654 completion percentage. Ahman Green led a rushing attack that finished with a franchise record 2,558 rushing yards, third in the league behind Baltimore and Denver. The offensive line stayed healthy and, thus, was outstanding protecting Favre and clearing holes for Green. Play-calling was questionable at times, especially against the Eagles in both games.

Defense: C

The Packers began the season with new faces at four starting positions. The Packers have gotten very little production from high-priced veteran DE Joe Johnson and nothing from Jamal Reynolds. Thanks to the additions of nose tackle Grady Jackson and defensive back Michael Hawthorne, the defense improved over the second half of the season, especially defending the run. The Packers finished 17th in the league overall in defense, giving up 318.8 yarrds per game. Their inability to stop the Eagles on a fourth-and-26 in the Divisional playoff, along with other collapes during the regular season to the Kansas City Chiefs and Eagles, led to the firing of coordinator Ed Donatell.

Special teams: C

Antonio Chatman gave the Packers sure hands as a punt returner, but little else. Chatman ran out of gas early in the season, and the decision to release Reggie Swinton after trading with the Cowboys for him in late October backfired. Swinton came through for Detroit with a couple of returns for touchdowns while Chatman did not have one return for a touchdown. Ryan Longwell was solid as usual and is now the Packers' all-time leading scorer. Putting Najeh Davenport and Robert Ferguson back to return kickoffs was a great move by the Packers. Davenport averaged a whopping 31.6 yards per return. Punter Josh Bidwell is on shaky ground after a mediocre season. He ranked in the middle of the pack among other punters, but struggled in the playoffs.

Coaching: C

It is fair to say that the Packers have the talent to win games, and they did with an 11-7 overall record. But the Packers didn't have half as many season-ending injuries to key players this year as they did in 2002, and they finished with less victories. Part of the reason for Green Bay's success in 2002 was younger players getting "coached-up." The same can be said for this season when the coaching staff, at times, didn't get the most out of the team, like in losses to Arizona and Detroit. Some coaching decisions made against Philadelphia also hurt the team's chance to advance to the NFC Championship Game.


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