2004 Green Bay Packers Season Preview

<b>Head Coach: </b> Mike Sherman, fifth season, 45-24-0 (.652) <br><br><b>Last Season's Record: </b> 10-6, 1st in NFC North, fourth in NFC <br><br>Last Playoff Appearance: Jan. 11, 2004 , lost 20-17 in OT to Philadelphia Eagles

09/13/04 @Carolina
09/19/04 Chicago 
09/26/04 @Indianapolis
10/03/04 NY Giants
10/11/04 Tennessee 
10/17/04 @Detroit
10/24/04 Dallas 
10/31/04 @Washington
11/14/04 Minnesota 
11/21/04 @Houston
11/29/04 St. Louis
12/05/04 @Philadelphia
12/12/04 Detroit 
12/19/04 Jacksonville 
12/24/04 @Minnesota
01/02/05 @Chicago
Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers looks for an open pass.
Getty Images/Andy Lions
Key matchup(s): Sept. 13 at Carolina (ABC); Sept. 26 at Indianapolis (Fox); Nov. 14 vs. Minnesota (Fox); Dec. 5 at Philadelphia (Fox); Dec. 24 at Minnesota (Fox)

Star Power: Brett Favre, QB, 14th season; 6-2, 224; Ahman Green, RB, 7th season, 6-0, 218; Donald Driver, WR, sixth season, 6-0, 192; Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, DE, 5th season, 6-4, 252; Darren Sharper, S, eighth season, 6-2, 210; Nick Barnett, MLB, 2nd season, 6-2, 233.

Notable Additions: Mark Roman, S, Cincinnati, 5-11, 200; Bryan Barker, P, Washington, 6-1, 205; Ahmad Carroll, CB, 5-10, 185; first round, Arkansas; Joey Thomas, CB, 6-1, 195; third round, Montana State

Notable Subtractions: Josh Bidwell, P, Tampa Bay, UFA, Marques Anderson, S, Oakland, Antuan Edwards, S, Miami

Notable Returnees: Chad Clifton, OT, fifth season, 6-5, 330; Michael Hawthorne, CB, fifth season, 6-3, 204

Offensive Overview: The Packers return all 11 starters from an offense that ranked fourth overall in total yardage in the NFL last year (362.4 avg. per game). QB Brett Favre is coming off one of his better seasons. Favre was selected to his third straight Pro Bowl by leading the NFL in touchdown passes for a record-tying fourth time. He ranked second among NFC QBs in passer rating, despite breaking the thumb on his throwing hand midway through the season. Ahman Green also is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he rushed for a career- and team-record 1,883 yards (5.3 avg. per carry). The Packers have turned into a run-first offense, which has taken pressure off of Favre. Green Bay still needs better production from its receiving trio of Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker. Driver led Green Bay's receivers with 52 catches. Walker led the team with nine touchdown catches and is poised to have a breakout season.

Defensive Overview: New defensive coordinator Bob Slowik has introduced a more aggressive, blitzing style of defense in training camp this season. The Packers are looking to get more big plays out of their linebackers – Nick Barnett, Na'il Diggs and Hannibal Navies – and more pressure on the quarterback. The Packers ranked 24th in the league in sacks in 2003 with 34 and must get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has had double-digit sacks the last three seasons. Without disgruntled CB Mike McKenzie on the team, Green Bay will begin the season with Michael Hawthorne as the starter at LCB, but it won't be long before first round pick Ahmad Carroll takes over for Hawthorne. Carroll came on strong near the end of training camp as did third-round CB Joey Thomas.

Special Teams Overview: Ryan Longwell, Green Bay's all-time leading scorer, gives the Packers stability at the kicking position. But Green Bay's punting situation is a mess. The Packers used a third-round pick on Ohio State's B.J. Sander, but he has struggled. Green Bay signed veteran Bryan Barker as a safety net at punter. Antonio Chatman will return punts for the second straight season, and Najeh Davenport will return kickoffs.

The Packers will finish with an 11-5 record and advance to the NFC Championship Game if their defense improves by putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

TheInsiders.com 2004 NFL Football Preview
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