Sidelines: The sky is not falling - yet

I'll have to admit that sometimes I'm as big a skeptic as it gets. But after reading all of the negative reports and listening to all of the negative comments, particularly on certain sports talk shows, in the wake of the Packers' performance in the Family Night scrimmage, I think the time is right to say five little words.

C'mon, say them with me. Softly. Slowly.

It was only a scrimmage.

Do the Packers have problems as we stand at the threshold of the 2005 season? Of course! They've got to find a way to replace Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, two outstanding guards in their offensive line. They need to find a way to get Bubba Franks into camp because the tight end position is looking absolutely anemic without him.

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay has to figure out how to muster up a decent pass rush – with or without Grady Jackson. Ditto for Cletidus Hunt. Will Donnell Washington find a way to actually show up on game day and maximize his tremendous potential? When the dust settles, who will step up at cornerback? At safety? And how about the linebacking corps? Without question, defensive coordinator Jim Bates has a monumental task in retooling this defense so it won't be the embarrassment it was a season ago.

On special teams, will B. J. Sander finally be up to the challenge now that he's the only punter in town? That certainly would be welcome because he's also a decent holder for kicker Ryan Longwell. It would kill two birds with one smooth stone.

Oh, and do I need to recount all the injuries so far? Javon Walker. Na'il Diggs. Al Harris. Najeh Davenport. David Martin. Brady Poppinga. Joey Thomas. Jason Horton.

Yes, the Packers have plenty of problems and question marks. But to hear all the pundits and self-appointed experts spouting off the past several days, you'd think the Packers should just mail this season in. Why? Because they didn't look good in a scrimmage? I've been watching these scrimmages for a long, long time and I can't ever remember shouting from the mountain tops with joy or wanting to jump from a tall building based on their performance.

It was only a scrimmage.

And, while I'm at it, pre-season games don't always paint an accurate picture, either. Remember 1999? The Packers went 4-0 and then tanked at 8-8 in the regular season for head coach Ray Rhodes who was summarily dismissed.

My point here is that while the Packers certainly do have lots of question marks, they also have another month to start finding the answers. To watch one scrimmage and conclude that the sky is falling and that there is absolutely no hope for this team is simply ridiculous.

Tom Andrews

Editor's Note: Tom Andrews began covering the Packers in 1974 as a reporter for Milwaukee radio stations WZUU and WOKY. He has been a contributing writer to Packer Report since 1999 and his articles have also appeared in the Green Bay Packers Yearbook, Packer Profiles, Packer Tracker and Sports Collectors Digest among other publications. Andrews is also president of Andrews Media Ventures, a Milwaukee area media and communications consultancy. Email him at

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