Well rounded team

Balance has helped Packers to impressive start this season

The 2007 Green Bay Packers are 6-1 right now and are coming off their most well-rounded game in the 2007 season Monday in Denver. The game was more of a struggle than the Packers wanted, but the offense had an equal amount of good running and good passing. Actually GREAT passing on the deep patterns.

But Ryan Grant finally showed the world that the Packers could run the ball effectively. Grant gained 104 yards against the Broncos Monday night after starting RB DeShawn Wynn went down early with a shoulder injury. But the Broncos were one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run. But then again, the Broncos have two of the best shutdown corners in the game in Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly. And Favre burned them both on long TD passes. But the Packers had exactly the same amount of runs vs. passes attempted. 27 apiece. Now that's well rounded.

It also got the team their first-ever win in Denver. Now most people expect the Packers to be a pass-first team with Favre throwing to the likes of Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones, but it was nice to see a consistent ground attack. Grant will get the chance to be THE guy at HB now as Wynn was put on IR because of a stinger problem in his neck and shoulder area. Vernand Morency and Brandon Jackson will also get their chances.

The defense is rounding into shape as well. The defensive line is becoming the force that most expected it to be. Aaron Kampman was defensive player of the month in the NFL in October and he now has 8 sacks in the season. Cullen Jenkins is still trying to come back from nagging injuries, but he also is becoming a factor. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is also playing well as he has 5 sacks.

The defensive tackle position has been well manned as well. Corey Williams, Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett have all played very well in defensing the run. 1st round pick Justin Harrell was also coming around until he recently hurt his ankle in practice. The line play has been exceptional of late for the Pack.

The linebacker play is led by Nick Barnett, who is having a Pro Bowl season. A.J. Hawk has had a quiet year in 2007, but the same was said in 2006 when he led the team in tackles. Brady Poppinga has a big motor and plays the run very well, but still struggles in coverage. Overall, this unit has been very good of late, although TE Tony Gonzalez will be a huge test for Poppinga and Hawk. There should be safety help in terms of covering Gonzalez as well.

Speaking of safeties, this is the one part of the defense that has to get more consistent. Atari Bigby has played well overall in 2007, but he made several mistakes in the Bronco game. Nick Collins sometimes plays like an All-Pro, but also makes you scratch your head. The safeties will have to get much more consistent for the Packer defense to really become elite.

Speaking of elite, that is what the Packer cornerbacks are. Both Al Harris and Charles Woodson are having great seasons, even with nagging injuries. Both play press coverage and are very physical. Even nickelback Jarrett Bush has played pretty well of late. Bush had issues earlier in the year, but now appears to be more consistent. But Harris and Woodson are the ones that make this secondary a force.

The kicking and punting game has been pretty good as well as of late. Except for the Redskin game, Mason Crosby has been virtually automatic. P Jon Ryan has punted very well recently. The coverage units have been good. And the return game should get a boost with the addition of Koren Robinson.

Overall, the Packers are becoming tougher to defense and also tougher to attack. That is a great combination. Green Bay will play 5 games in November. If the Packers can win 3 out of those 5, then the team will be 9-3 going into December. That would be a pretty good achievement. But the Packers appear to be playing one game at a time. Which is wise.

So depending on how the November schedule starts out against the Chiefs, the Packers could perhaps do even better in November than 3-2. After the Chiefs road game, the Packers will play the Vikings and Panthers at home. Then the Pack will travel to Detroit on Thanksgiving and to Dallas the Thursday after that.

The end part of the November schedule is very important as the Lions are the Packers chief rival in the NFC North right now and the Cowboys share the best record in the NFC right now with Green Bay. But even though those games will be huge, the Packers have to keep their one game at a time mentality. Their mantra has been one play, one series and one game. Just ask the Broncos. The Packers proved that mantra in the overtime period in Denver.

Kansas City is next, and it won't be easy. The Chiefs have the best home record in the NFL since 1990. They are also 21-4 against the NFC at home since 1995 at Arrowhead. But head coach Mike McCarthy has coached in KC and has also proven that his teams can win on the road. The Pack is 3-0 on the road in 2007 and 8-3 overall under McCarthy. The Pack should do well if they remember to be balanced and also to remember their mantra.

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

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