Going into the recent offseasons there were many questions about this team. There were questions about the defense that during this training camp got answered.
We as fans were wondering what was going to happen at the safety position. Everyone knew that Marquand Manuel had to be replaced. Up to this point Atari Bigby has made everyone say good-bye to him as we saw a more aggressive and athletic replacement. Bigby seems to, thus far, be able to make those instinctive plays that at the safety position this team was lacking.
In the secondary, even though Al Harris and Charles Woodson can play zone, they are more lock down, get in your face corners that I believe will have a better year because they won't have to cover for Marquand's short coming, or lack of play-making ability. This secondary when you throw in hopefully a more seasoned Nick Collins shouldn't take a back seat to any team. Going into training camp someone might have considered the secondary the weak link to the chain, but not anymore.
The defense will be as good as it wants to be. The sky is the limit. The linebacking unit isn't led by Nick Barnett or A.J. Hawk. It is led by Winston Moss, the assistant head coach, and he will have them playing their butts off. It's not like this unit needs any incentive to play hard because that seems to be their make-up, but I'm not the only one seeing how much potential these guys have. Even Stevie Wonder can see how good they can be, so I just hope they come through.
The defensive line will be anchored by Aaron Kampman who had a great year last year. He knows he is going to have to duplicate it or be better because if he doesn't or his play drops off everyone will wonder if his a one-hit wonder. I used to doubt his ability, but last year he made me a believer and now Cullen Jenkins is in the same boat. I guess I don't give anyone any real respect until they earn it. Now because they have made Cullen Jenkins the starter at end, Kabeer can do what he does best and that's rush the passer, and be fresh while he's out there. Having a fresh pass rusher is a great luxury for any defensive coordinator, just like having the ability to not to have to rush Justin Harrell into action. We can all see he's not ready to be a contributing player yet at this level. He's just a body, a high priced body.
I believe Ryan Pickett, Colin Cole, Corey Williams and the rest of the guys will be able to be a solid force up front. I see no weakness in this defense as long as it can stay healthy, and this concerns me at the linebacker position because there is not much depth besides Desmond Bishop.
Training camp did what it was supposed to do on defense and that's was to solidify the defense, getting players to compete, and letting the cream rise to the top. I saw competition between defensive players which made them better and, at the same time, made the team better, and I wish I saw that on offense.
I know we saw competition on offense, especially at wide receiver with the battle between Greg Jennings and James Jones, was a good thing because both are really unproven. Jones caught a bunch of passes during preseason but so what? So did Greg Jennings last year, but then again what happened during regular season? He would flash here and there, but on the whole he did just enough to make the Packers go get Jones in the draft didn't he?
As I see it, Brett Favre gets to throw to Donald Driver who is the heart and soul of the passing game, and if he doesn't come through it's going to be a long year. Not because Jones, Jennings, Martin and Holiday are good receivers because they are, but they aren't any better than most of the corners that will be covering them. At this level with good comes average, but with great comes success which translates to a better chance of winning.
Now that I brought up average I wish I could say that the running backs were a little better than average, but if I said that I would be lying. Right now on The Packers they don't have a running back that would even make another team's roster let alone be a starter. I know when Mike McCarthy talked about backs by committee I don't think he had this in mind. I just want to make sure I'm getting this right and you the readers understand what I mean. I'm not knocking the backs because they are doing the best they can do. They are what they are. Unfortunately, their best won't be good enough to take the pressure off of Brett or make the linemen better.
Think about this: Favre is starting out on maybe his last season with records staring him right in the face, records that say he is the best. People often ask me to compare Montana and Favre and I have my reasons why I might pick Joe over Brett, but either way I can't go wrong because they are the best. So with saying that I'm trying to imagine Brett in the huddle looking into the eyes of his offensive playmakers on opening day when the bullets are real and everyone is playing for keeps. Then he realizes that instead of veterans like Ahman Green and William Henderson in the backfield, guys that really had his back, he is staring at Brandon Jackson and Korey Hall. Can you imagine how big their eyes are? For that matter his third down back Noah Herron is out for the year because of a knee injury, so who will that guy be? I really hope Jackson, Morency, Wynn, Hall and Grant can get it done and everything works out for Brett because HE DESERVES BETTER!!!!!!!!
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at email@example.com.