Commentary: No time to panic

Reports of the Packers' demise have been greatly exaggerated.<P> The recent bumps in the road are not nearly enough to throw the Packers completely out of contention, although to read recent reports, one might think the 2004 season was all but over.<P>

A fight between rookie cornerbacks? Please. Can you say slow news day?

The Mike McKenzie trade talks? Yawn.

Brett Favre's shoulder? Any injury to No. 4 is potentially catastrophic. However, a two-year-old injury to his non-throwing shoulder is preferable to a broken bone in his right hand, a bone floating around in his ankle, or anything to do with either knee. Favre has played, and won, through all of the above.

A 1-2 start? That's a little more serious, but even prognosticators who boldy predicted a third-consecutive NFC North title (like myself) had to see two of the first three as possible losses. Granted, I was worried about Carolina, not Chicago, but the numbers add up the same way.

Here's another doomsday scenario I read over my morning coffee: If the Packers lose Sunday, they'll be 1-3. Yeah, and if they lose the 12 after that, they'll be 1-15. The 1-3 horror story isn't news, it's just math.

This week's game is one they should win. The Giants are a pleasant surprise, but a hungry Green Bay should handle them at home. The Packers can gain a half-game on Minnesota and Detroit while those teams are enjoying a bye week.

By the way, the last time the Packers were 1-3 was 1993, a year in which they had a winning record (9-7), lost the division by a single game - the season finale - to 10-6 Detroit, and made the playoffs as a wildcard. The Packers then won a playoff game on the road for the first time since the Lombardi Era - against none other than Detroit.

Everyone would agree that the Packers had a shot in the Colts game until the Javon Walker fumble. So if the ball bounced the Packers' way and the mighty Colts with MVP Peyton Manning had fallen to 1-2 instead, do you think anyone would write them off? And when it's all said and done, the Colts' defense isn't much better than Green Bay's. Indy gave up 31 points and were well on their way to giving up more, not to mention the three they would have surrendered if Ryan Longwell's 52-yard field goal attempt had traveled one more foot.

A look at the North shows Minnesota and Detroit tied at 2-1 followed by Green Bay and Chicago at 1-2. That relegates Green Bay to last place by virtue of its loss to the Bears. However, the cliche that the Packers' game is the Bears' Super Bowl is looking like the truth. After losing four of their top players to injury already, the Bears don't have much to look forward to other than rewinding that Week 2 tape over and over.

Rather than losing sleep over any of the above, I'd rather worry about the real concern - the defense.

Injuries have thrust third-stringers into matchups with Pro Bowlers, and the results haven't been pretty. Time and luck are needed to heal nose tackleGrady Jackson and nearly the entire roster of cornerbacks. Jackson's return has already been bumped mercifully closer.

After injuries, the main concern on D is DC Bob Slowik. Unproven at best, Slowik admitted he was slow to adjust against Indy. Then again, so were his players. Trying to combat Manning with Jason Horton, et al, shouldn't be used as an indictment of the scheme. Instead the plans to blitz and leave inexperienced DBs on their own could be used against him. What else worries me is Slowik's pedigree, part of the Jimmy Johnson coaching tree from which little good has ever come.

Ahmad and Joey will shake and make up. Green Bay will not go 1-15. Favre will play hurt as he has quietly done throughout his 13 seasons here. The injuries will heal. While some coaching questions may remain, things are not yet serious enough to toss the trophy out with the tailgating coals this weekend.

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