Worst things first

Is this the beginning of the end or the darkness before the dawn? Hints of both could be found in the season-opening 17-3 loss to the Lions in Detroit Sunday.

Worst things first: It's too late to take back the ill-advised loss of not one but two of Brett Favre's chief protectors. When both starting guards were let go via free agency, the team took a gamble that they could at least reach status quo for a cheaper price. The cost now appears much steeper than cap trouble.

Adrian Klemm and William Whitticker were the chief culprits in allowing four sacks of Brett Favre. They weren't coverage sacks, either. They were "watch Favre get slammed into the ground and pray he gets up" sacks.

Also on the doomsday side of the scale was the record amount of penalties. Even if we give the Packers credit for a couple of blown calls, it was still a disgraceful display. Is Ahmad Carroll a marked man or is he truly unable keep his hands where they belong? Either way, the Packers have a big problem.

Dropped passes, tipped balls and blown routes all contributed to the debacle. The Pack looked mistake-prone in the preseason and the opener did little to offer hope that things can or will get better.

That's the pessimistic, and probably realistic view. But every story has two sides. Some good things did happen, including a few pleasant surprises.

Praising the punter sounds like the cry of the truly desperate, like when B.J. Sander was the overwhelming winner of the Bishop's Charities game MVP voting last month. After his inauspicious start as a Packer, however, Sander's consistent strong performances this year may finally put the regret over Craig Hentrich to rest. Sander punted early and often and came up with a respectable 41.3-yard average. More importantly, he got enough hang-time to allow the coverage to limit speedster Eddie Drummond to a paltry 2-yards per return.

Some aspects of the much-maligned defense gave the multitude of Packer fans in Ford Field something to cheer about. Against the run the Packers produced a couple stuffs at key times and kept Kevin Jones in double digits. With two TD passes – and the all important win – to his credit, Lions QB Joey Harrington is probably feeling pretty good about things, but he wasn't feeling great when Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins came up with crushing sacks that had eluded Packer pass rushers in the recent past.

The secondary, however, was responsible for most of the Packers' defensive woes. We knew this was coming, but it didn't make it easy to watch. Mark Roman and Al Harris, for example, provided hope by breaking up passes in dramatic fashion, then turned around and looked like spectators themselves.

See, the glass is half-empty again.

Next week is the Lambeau opener against Cleveland, which took a beating at home at the hands of the Bengals Sunday. Will the Packer D be able to handle Trent Dilfer? Can Green Bay quit blocking in the back and reaching for the facemask? Can the makeshift offensive line keep the Browns off of Favre and keep Favre off the ground?

If the answer any of those questions is "no," then I think we'll know the answer to the bigger questions as well.

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