These guys are about the X's and O's, and this year they better be darned good at it, because on both sides of the ball, things might have to change in order to compete. Let me explain.
What will Mike McCarthy do with this offense, because I'm not sure he will be able to call the game the way he has in the last couple of years because he doesn't have Brett Favre running the show.
With Brett, you had a coach on the field that McCarthy had all the confidence in the world that he would get the offense out of bad plays and take advantages of mismatches. Brett would have a series of three to four plays he could go to at any time, and I'm wondering whether Aaron Rodgers will have that same latitude.
Not only that, I expect defenses to play the Packers' offense differently this year because the Favre factor isn't there. I expect defenses to attack the offense by having eight in the box to stop the run, just like teams did and will do to the Vikings. I believe defensive coordinators will try to stop Ryan Grant and the run game first, because they aren't going to give Rodgers respect until he earns it.
I also expect coordinators to try and blitz Rodgers to try and rattle him and get him out of any rhythm. Brett avoided many sacks because of his ability to drift back and throw from any angle or off of his back foot.
Even the offensive line will have to do a better job of pass protection because even though Rodgers is younger and has the ability to scramble, he might scramble to run whereas Brett scrambled to throw. So, even for the offensive line, things will be so different.
Can you imagine how different it will be for Grant? He won't have Brett handing the ball to him, so he'll have a bull's-eye squarely on his chest. With Brett gone, we will find out whether it's the players or the system, won't we!!!!!
What has really changed other than they signed linebacker Brandon Chillar to possibly replace Brady Poppinga? Otherwise, they have the same faces on this side of the ball. I don't know if that's good enough, unless defensive coordinator Bob Sanders changes, and does anyone see that happening?
This defense is built for aggression, but how can it be when it's not allowed to be? In order for Sanders to use his players' strengths, they will have to be willing to blitz a lot and lock Harris and Woodson on receivers and Chillar on the tight end and send linebackers Nick Barnett or A.J. Hawk to put pressure on the quarterback. It doesn't make sense for this defense to sit back and play conservative, because this defense doesn't play that style well.
So, as you can tell, I'm really excited for this upcoming season. I am curious to see just what changes the offense will make to compensate for having a new quarterback at the helm. Will McCarthy and the offensive staff try and build the offense around the run and Grant, or will he trust Rodgers with the five-receiver set? On the defensive side of the ball, will Sanders turn his athletes lose? I guess the biggest question is will the Packers stand pat or will there be a CHANGE OF PHILOSOPHY?
Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.