Gazing into crystal ball for 2007

Predictions on Favre, Jennings, and other team positions

For the Green Bay Packers to improve on their 8-8 performance of 2006 and to gain entrance to the playoff round, certain players or units will have to improve. I am not Nostradamus, but I will try to predict what players or units will be improved.

Brett Favre
The 2006 season was a big improvement for Favre compared to the 2005 season. But still, 18 touchdown passes compared to 18 interceptions is not a typical Favre season. Some say Favre will never have the type of year that he exhibited in the past. That would be 30-plus touchdown passes and around 16 or 17 interceptions. But I think Favre will be much better in 2007 as his offense gains maturity. Therefore, I feel Favre will statistically improve not only with TD passes vs. interceptions, but also improve his quarterback rating. Do not be surprised if Favre gets a Pro Bowl invitation.

Greg Jennings
Jennings was having a monster rookie year until he suffered an ankle injury against the Dolphins. Jennings was never able to return to form as the Packer offense suffered as well after his injury. Jennings adapted very well to the Packer offensive scheme as a rookie and looked like a veteran before his injury. Jennings is healthy in 2007 and expect a big year from No. 85. That added incentive, will only aid Pro Bowl receiver Donald Driver.

Running Back by Committee
For the first time in a long time, the Packers will be without Ahman Green. But it appeared to me that Green had lost a step in 2006 as he came back from a quad injury. Still, Green rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

I believe the Packers will have an even better ground attack in 2007. First, the offensive line will be better in executing the zone blocking technique. Second, the committee that will rush the ball, Vernand Morency, rookie Brandon Jackson and Noah Herron will all have strong years.

The Offensive Line
The Packers at times started three rookies in their offensive line in 2006. The three rookies, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll, all played very respectfully. The verterans of the unit, Mark Tauscher, Scott Wells and Chad Clifton were steady, although Clifton should be much healthier in 2007. The line also had to learn a zone blocking technique. Overall, the line performed well and will only get better as the the young players evolve.

The Defense
The Green Bay defense played well down the stretch in 2006. The unit should continue that in 2007. The defensive line will be strong again with Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins, and rush assistance from Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. The defensive tackles will be have a very nice rotation with Ryan Pickett, Corey Williams and rookie Justin Harrell. The linebackers are the stength of the defense with Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk. Brady Poppinga will need to be steady as others will vie for his job. The secondary should be better as well. Cornerback will be steady as usual, with Al Harris and Charles Woodson. The Packers are hopeful the secondary will also have an improved nickel back in either Will Blackmon or Frank Walker. The safeties should be improved as Nick Collins matures and Marquand Manuel is healthy for 2007, unlike 2006. Either way, expect Manuel to be pushed by Marviel Underwood and rookie Aaron Rouse.

Special Teams
These units need to improve for the Packers to see solid field position. That means better kick and punt coverage and a solid return game. The kickers need to be better as well, and the Packers now have a contest ongoing with incumbent kicker Dave Raynor and rookie Mason Crosby. Punter Jon Ryan has a strong leg, but needs to get more consistent. The coverage units should improve with the likes of rookies Korey Hall, Desmond Bishop and Rouse. The return game is still a mystery, but someone needs to step up. Perhaps Shaun Bodiford, Will Blackmon or rookie David Clowney.

Miscellaneous
There are still areas that need to improve, like tight end. The Packers aren't even starting Bubba Franks, at least now. Franks, or someone, has to solidify that position. The Packers also need more improvement in the other wide receivers.

I like most observers, think Robert Ferguson is ripe for the waiver wire. But maybe he will FINALLY show something. Rookie James Jones has definitely shown the coaching staff ability. Carlyle Holiday and Ruvell Martin need to step up after decent auditions in 2006. All in all, the Green Bay Packers should be a better team in 2007 then they were in 2006. Time will tell.

Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at greenbaybob@hotmail.com.


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