Voice of the fan

The Green Bay Packers are at a key point in the 2002 season. The team is 2-1 through three games, but there are a lot of problems that must be addressed.

The Packers will be facing the surprisingly 3-0 Carolina Panthers this upcoming Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Panthers have been solid at all three phases of their football team...offense, defense, and special teams. The Packers have been solid in one phase...offense. The Packers have a chance this Sunday to improve the other phases that need adjustment. I believe they will.

First of all, the biggest problem facing the Packers right now is injuries. The Packers have already lost their best offensive lineman, RT Mark Tauscher, to a season ending knee injury. The team has also lost it's most consistent DL, Vonnie Holliday, to a torn pectoral muscle for at least 6-8 weeks. Both starting RB's have also been nicked up with injuries. Ahman Green has missed one game with a quad injury, and it appears that William Henderson will miss at least one with a knee injury. Promising rookie WR Javon Walker looks like he won't play this week because of a quad problem, and WR Terry Glenn has been plagued by concussion issues since week one. Starting S Antuan Edwards will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken forearm. That injury might be a blessing for both Edwards and the Packers. Edwards has been consistently out of position, and he needs to really spend some time looking at tape. The Packers, meanwhile, can now look at two promising safeties in Matt Bowen and rookie Marques Anderson.

The Packer's defensive and special team play has been disappointing. I believe the problems are correctable. I believe one way the Packers could help solve these issues would be to hire Leroy Butler as an assistant coach.

Butler could help in three areas. He would be able to help with the overall defensive scheming. He could help elevate the game of the team's young safeties. He also could bring some young energy into helping the special teams units become reliable and consistent. Butler wants to be part of the Packer organization. This is a perfect time to make that happen.

Much has been said about the lackluster play of the defense, specifically the play of DE Joe Johnson and MLB Hardy Nickerson. Some have already written off Nickerson. I believe that Nickerson and Johnson will show Packer fans the reason for their acquisition. Nickerson and Johnson are proud veterans. Both players have been consistent. Consistently good. This Sunday will go along way into proving whether or not I am correct. The Packers' defense has a chance this Sunday against the 3-0 Panthers to prove their skeptics wrong. I think the front 7 will play much better, and the safety play with Bowen getting the start, will be more consistent.

When Mike Sherman cut RB Rondell Mealy, he was sending a message. The message should be loud and clear to the special teams players. K Ryan Longwell, P Josh Bidwell, and LS Rob Davis have been fine. Najeh Davenport and Javon Walker have looked okay returning kicks. Just about everything else has been abysmal. I think Sherman made the move for two reasons. One was because of injury and depth questions. The other was to let everyone on special teams know that their job is on the line every week. That means staying in your lane and keeping containment. That means blocking in the front and not the back. That means averaging more than 2 yards on punt returns.

The Packers have been pretty consistent on offense. QB Brett Favre is playing like the 3-time MVP that he is. Favre and the offense is playing at a high level. It's time for the defense and special teams to join that club.

Editor's note: Bob Fox is a freelance writer from Tampa, Fla. To submit a story for voice of the fan, e-mail your story to Packer Report managing editor Todd Korth at packrepted@aol.com.

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