Listen to A-Rod: OK to be Excited

The latest scintillating preseason performance provides more reason to jump on the bandwagon. What's not to like, with the starting offense scoring a touchdown on practically every possession and the defense forcing turnovers galore?

Sure, the Packers are 3-0, but it's only the preseason.

Fine, the first-team offense hasn't punted, but don't get too excited.

OK, the No. 1 defense is a swarming, turnover-producing machine, but let's not rush out to get those playoff tickets just yet.

Yeah, all of what you saw in the first half on Friday night was impressive, but repeat after me: The Lions went 4-0 in the preseason last year, then made history by going 0-16 in the regular season. If the regular season is a steak, the preseason is Spam.

Listen to Mr. Cool himself, Aaron Rodgers. He'll remind you of all of those things.

"I thought we were great tonight," Rodgers said after Friday's 44-37 victory at Arizona. "Three games, no punts for the first team, 31 points tonight."

OK, fine. If you're on the Packers' bandwagon, enjoy the ride while there's still a little leg room. The preseason-opening victory over Cleveland was nice. Last week's victory over Buffalo was an eye-opener. Friday's victory over the defending NFC champions? Choose your adjective to describe the 31-point first-half onslaught: scintillating, breathtaking, overpowering. They all apply.

"It's exciting, it really is," Rodgers said in choosing his own adjective. "To have the defense playing the way they're playing and offensively to go out and score points and capitalize on the mistakes, it's exciting. People are going to say, ‘It's preseason,' and we've been downplaying it a little bit, but this is the dress rehearsal for the whole season. To be able to go out and play the way we played today, you can't help but be excited in Packer Nation."

Actually, Packer Nation can barely contain its glee. In 12 possessions, the No. 1 offense has scored nine touchdowns and a field goal. Rodgers' stats are bordering on ludicrous: 27-of-38 passing for 458 yards with six touchdowns. Rodgers got the ball six times against the Cardinals. The first four went for three touchdowns and a field goal. The fifth ended in a missed field goal, but an interception gave Rodgers another chance, and he hit Jermichael Finley for a touchdown just before halftime that made it 38-10.

With the laundry staff having little reason to wash Rodgers' jersey because the offensive line has kept opposing defenses at bay, Rodgers said: "It's just pitch and catch out there."

On defense, the Packers should be flagged for 12 men on the field, because unless my eyes deceive, there are two 21s on the field on every play. Charles Woodson had two sacks and forced three fumbles in the first half on Friday night, including one returned by Aaron Kampman for a 24-yard touchdown. Facing one of the NFL's most prolific offenses, the Packers forced three turnovers and yielded 10 points in the first half.

"That's the kind of defense we want to be," Woodson said. "It's been fun this preseason being an attacking defense, getting turnovers. That's the one thing we know we want to carry over into the regular season."

But as the 2008 Lions prove, it's buyer beware in the preseason. Detroit, the only undefeated team last preseason, posted a plus-48 scoring margin and averaged just 8.0 points allowed in those four games. Heck, the ill-fated Ray Rhodes team of 1999 went 4-0 in the preseason. Maybe these Packers are playing with more energy in these meaningless games. Maybe they're preparing more for these games than their opponents.

Still, this Packers team has a special feel about it. How can you think otherwise after watching the Packers' first unit dismantle the first unit of the team that almost won the Super Bowl? Rodgers has been a maestro, and the development of Finley adds another weapon to an already-explosive offense. Maybe this defense won't be quite so good once the regular-season scouting process is under way, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers' track record is impeccable and there's no doubt the players are drinking Capers' Kool-Aid by the pitcher.

Sure, it's only the preseason and the Packers' dominance means nothing. But after a disastrous 6-10 season last year, the players believe. If the players believe, why can't the rest of us?


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


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