The game told me that the Packers are a very good team filled with tremendous athletes, especially in the skill positions. Unfortunately, I still worry about what is going to happen in the trenches. As I looked at the matchups this past weekend the Packers should have won every one, but they didn't and that happened up front.
I couldn't believe that the defensive line couldn't put more pressure on the Panthers offensive line. They gave the old dude, Vinny Testaverde, all day to throw, only sacking him twice. So as I'm sitting here I am wondering what might Jon Kitna do with his receivers if Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins, Corey Williams and Kabeer can't win the one on one battles?
As I see it, that will be the test for the next two weeks for this defensive line. I want to believe that it can answer the challenge but after what I saw against Carolina I'm not sure. I know the Kitna has been sacked the most of the quarterbacks in the NFC, but defensively they will face a mirror of themselves. The Lions like to spread the field and let the receivers do their thing, then hit you with running back Kevin Jones on draws and quick hitters. This defensive secondary will be tested. Al Harris and Charles Woodson will get plenty of action as they face two young outstanding receivers in Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams, make no mistake about it. But the biggest battle in the secondary will probably come between the Packers' third and fourth cover man because I hope that Jarrett Bush, Frank Walker or Tramon Williams will be able to cover the Lions' third and fourth receivers that are very good in Mike Furrey and Shawn McDonald.
That's what I was paying attention to in the last couple of games because I was looking ahead to the upcoming match ups. As I think about Kitna, I know the only way he can hurt the Packers is if he is allowed time to do so, and that falls on the guys responsible to get after him, and that's the front four. As I see it, Bob Sanders has to believe and hope that Kampman, Jenkins, Williams and Kabeer can get to Kitna because this is one of those games he really doesn't want to blitz and will have to rely on everyone making sure tackles. Whenever a team uses a blitz, it is one broken tackle away from giving up seven points. This is one of those games that the Packers can't allow Kitna time to go to his third or fourth receivers in progression.
Just like this game will be about how the defensive line will play, let's not forget the other side of the ball. The offensive line had a battle with the Panthers defensive line on Sunday in Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker, and Cullen Jenkins' big brother Kris. But they will face the cream of the crop this week when they go into Detroit and have to deal with Shaun Rogers. Like I have said over and over, this game will be about the trenches and this offensive line might as well get a great tuneup for what they are going to face a couple weeks from now when they go visit the Dallas Cowboys.
It's not just pass protection, either, because the offensive line must open holes for Ryan Grant. As we have seen, he doesn't need much room to get his shoulders squared, and he will get positive yards. This should set up the play-action pass which has opened so much more of the offense. That's why Donald Lee has become more of a threat.
This team is sitting at 9-1, but in order for it to go where it really wants to go the guys up front have to take over. The greatest thing about it is that THERE'S NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT.
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.