Offense? What offense?'s Doug Ritchay explains why the Green Bay Packers will struggle to score points this season after missing the boat early in the NFL draft to add firepower for Brett Favre.

Quick question: How many times during Brett Favre's career have the Green Bay Packers selected a skilled player on offense in the first round?

Answer: Two. Javon Walker in 2002 and Bubba Franks in 2000.

Beyond that, the Packers have done little for their future Hall of Fame quarterback. So when the Packers had the 16th pick in April's draft and running back Marshawn Lynch was snagged by Buffalo at No. 12, I was thinking maybe the Packers would finally do Favre a favor and pick either Robert Meachem or Dwayne Bowe — both wide receivers — to give the offense some desperately-needed firepower. Bowe was taken by Kansas City with the 23rd overall pick, and Meachem went to New Orleans four picks later.

Then the Packers picked defensive tackle Justin Harrell and I my jaw dropped quicker than it did when I saw Jessica Alba on TV at a recent NBA playoff game.

I was dumbfounded.

I'm thinking GM Ted Thompson is thinking the way to help Favre is to strengthen the defense, making Favre feel like he doesn't have to take wild chances. It has been noted Favre makes most of mistakes when the Packers are behind, which makes sense. He's trying to make, maybe force, plays.

That may be Thompson's thought, but I kept watching the first round of the draft and it came to the Colts' pick. We all know they have offense, but who did they pick? Ohio State wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez to replace Brandon Stokley as the team's No. 3 wideout.

Considering the Colts have Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, another receiving threat wasn't a necessity. But not for Indianapolis.

The Colts' thinking is this: ‘We have Peyton Manning and what better way to improve our team than to give our No. 1 weapon another weapon at his disposal.'

Now Manning is full loaded to attack defenses again, and what could be more scary for an opponent?

This is nothing new in Indy, though. Since Manning arrived in 1998, the Colts have drafted four wide receivers (Jerome Pathon, E.G. Green, Wayne and Gonzalez) in the first or second rounds, a tight end (Clark) in the first and two running backs (Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai) in the first. They haven't hit on every pick, but they haven't stopped trying to add to Manning's stable.

On the other hand, the Packers, in the same time period, have drafted four receivers (Robert Ferguson, Walker, Terrence Murphy and Greg Jennings), one tight end (Franks) and one running back (Brandon Jackson) in the first two rounds.

Among them, Walker was the best pick until he became a cancer and was traded to Denver.

Jennings may develop, but Murphy's career was ended by injury and Ferguson is always injured. Furthermore, Franks has practically disappeared from the offense after three Pro Bowl invites.

The Packers' best offensive pick in this time is Donald Driver, who was a seventh-round pick. Let's be honest, he wasn't picked because of Pro Bowl potential. He was picked as a potential No. 3 receiver, at best. That's what seventh-rounders are, and many never make teams.

With the Packers' offensive personnel short on playmakers, Thompson turned to defense and drafted Harrell. Maybe this becomes a great pick, and it better be.

What has changed on offense for the Packers this off-season that makes you think this unit will be more productive? Running back Ahman Green is gone, leaving the running game in the hands, or should we say in the feet, of Jackson and Vernand Morency. The key to the passing game may be Jennings staying healthy and no-names Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday stepping up big-time. Fellow receiver Koren Robinson won't join Green Bay until the season is under way, due to his one-year suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, and how much can he help when he can't practice or play in preseason games?

With so few options for Favre to turn to, wouldn't it have made sense for the Packers to turn to offense in the first round? I know Harrell ranked as Thompson's best player available at the time, but does this best player available, who joined the team's deepest position, actually make this team better than adding Meachem or Bowe?

Yes, rookie receivers struggle, but that shouldn't prevent a team from picking a player who could add juice to an offense for years to come. An offense, which some day won't have Favre under center. Not addressing offense this off-season will be why the Packers don't improve on 8-8 this coming season.

The offense isn't good enough, but maybe with a few moves it could've been.

Doug Ritchay

Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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