The Green Bay Ravens?

Little off-season love for offense puts pressure on defense to win games in 2007, says's Doug Ritchay

The last two NFL drafts the Green Bay Packers have had a chance to implement some firepower into their offense during the first round and both years the Packers passed on offense and went to defense. In 2006, the Packers selected linebacker A.J. Hawk over tight end Vernon Davis, which, few, if anyone, complained. This past April, the Packers picked oft-injured defensive tackle Justin Harrell over a handful of wide receivers, and this pick raised eyebrows.

Harrell wasn't only a health risk, he makes the deepest position on the roster even deeper, while offense remains a work in progress. Yes, the Packers drafted wide receiver Greg Jennings last year and running back Brandon Jackson this year, both in the second round, but with little receiver depth and no big-play people at tight end, the Packers' offense needed an infusion of explosiveness outside.

It didn't come, and during the off-season this direction made me wonder if the Packers are the second coming of the Baltimore Ravens, who won the Super Bowl after the 2000 season, mainly based on a running game and defense.

They had to, Trent Dilfer was the quarterback.

But with Brett Favre still under center for Green Bay, why haven't the Packers given him more help outside? My guess is GM Ted Thompson is trying to build from the inside out, which is common in the NFL. Start on the lines and move outside when you're set in the trenches.

The other idea is Thompson is bracing for LAB — Life After Brett. Knowing Aaron Rodgers is the untested heir apparent, Thompson is building the defense in an effort to not put pressure on Rodgers to score 30 points a game, when it's finally his turn. Makes sense, but what if the offense doesn't improve this season? The Packers can't win every week 14-10, the offense has to give it weeks off.

Thompson is building during Favre's final seasons, which is tricky. He's preparing for the future, while many NFL teams look at the future as now. The NFL has become a win-now league, but Thompson isn't flinching. He's picking the best players on his draft board and going from there. Ironically, Thompson has made 23 picks over the last two drafts and only 10 are defensive selections. This would give you the idea the Packers are on the offensive. They're not. Among the 13 offensive picks are four offensive linemen, one running back and one tight end picked in the seventh round (not likely to make impacts ever), one quarterback (third-stringer Ingle Martin) and one kicker.

The Packers had to remake their offensive line after the 2005 debacle and did so in 2006. Nonetheless, if the offense is going to make a marked improvement in 2007, the Packers need Jennings to be the picture of health, starting opposite Donald Driver, while Jackson better live up to his second-round grade the Packers gave him this past draft.

If one or both disappoint, Favre has every right to be ticked, because the offense has no other options. There is nothing proven beyond Green Bay's top two receivers, while tight end Bubba Franks has plummeted so far it seems unlikely he'll ever get close to being a factor again.

Receiver Koren Robinson may come back in September, but without the ability to work out with the team until he is reinstated after violating the league's substance abuse policy, the realistic expectation is he can help in the return game and maybe later in the season on offense.

Robert Ferguson, Ruvell Martin, Carlyle Holiday and draft picks James Jones and David Clowney don't exactly scare defenses, but one of them will be the team's No. 3 receiver to start the season.

The Packers' approach to this off-season was befuddling, at least on offense. They didn't acquire a veteran running back and are going with the combination of Vernand Morency and Jackson, which could be one of the five worst combinations in the league, starting out.

With no reliable depth at wide receiver the Packers waited until the third round to pick Jones and snapped up Clowney in the fifth. Picking at that stage of the draft, you can't expect either to do much. Receivers in the first two rounds struggle as rookies.

With this being the direction the Packers are going, they will rely on their defense to lead the way to the playoffs in 2007. And maybe, in time, the running game catches up as the offensive line looks solid.

Still, this team doesn't look that great. But who thought the Ravens were going to be that good in 2000? I guess there's hope, and that's all Packers fans have.

Doug Ritchay

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

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