With Camp Starting Today: Why Not Green Bay?

General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy have all the pieces in place to bring the title back to Titletown. McCarthy says it's the best team he's coached, but can he navigate around some nagging issues? The road to the big game starts today.

This season will be a culmination of Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy's five-year master plan.

At least that's the hope.

"I just had our team meeting and we talked about winning the Super Bowl," McCarthy told reporters on Friday, one day before training camp kicks off. "We talked about where it is played at and the relevance of our team meeting room. The only team pictures that are in that room are the team pictures of the world champions of the Green Bay Packers. Everything that we have done throughout the offseason and everything that we'll do starting tomorrow will be taking a step to being the next team up on that wall. That's our goal."

While the roster isn't perfect, Thompson has built and McCarthy has overseen the coaching of an offense and defense that have no glaring holes and feature game-changing players on both sides of the ball. The quarterback is in place, the skill players are superb and the offensive line almost certainly will be better. Even through the growing pains of sweeping changes to the defensive scheme, the Packers finished the year ranked second. McCarthy's track record is the team will take care of the football and take it away.

So, why not? Why not Green Bay?

"I stand up here every year, and maybe you laughed at me in the past four years, I have no idea, but it is no different from my viewpoint. I have every intention and belief that we have the capability of winning the Super Bowl," McCarthy said. "Every decision that we make toward our football team, toward our program, toward our environment is always trying to improve our football team. Whether it is adding depth, redoing our facilities, anything to try to find a way to keep building toward winning that Super Bowl here in Green Bay. That is definitely our goal."

What will it take to fulfill that goal? And what factors could torpedo that trip to Arlington, Texas, for the Super Bowl?

Thrill of victories

1. The thrill of skill: The Bengals have the Two Big Mouths, the Patriots have Moss and Welker. The Vikings have Peterson, Rice and Harvin. But the Packers' cast of playmakers just might be the best of all. Greg Jennings is a big-play machine who is so good that he's almost taken for granted. Donald Driver has never been so explosive. James Jones and Jordy Nelson are playmaking role players. And who cares what the stats will say at the end of the year: There isn't a more dangerous tight end in the game than Jermichael Finley. All of which makes life relatively easy for Ryan Grant.

2. Oldies but goodies: When Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton settled in to their jobs last season, the offense went from good to great. Tauscher returned to the starting lineup for good in the San Francisco game. In the final eight games (including playoffs), the Packers averaged 34.3 points per game — including a stunning 40.5 in the last four.

3. Grand theft football: Combined, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and Atari Bigby had 23 interceptions. Watch out if the Packers find a consistent rusher or rushers opposite Clay Matthews.

Agony of defeats

1. Corner crunch: Every team battles injuries, but the Packers were clobbered last year by losing three of their top five cornerbacks. Looking at the schedule, the Packers face Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Eli Manning — not to mention six matchups against the NFC North's triumvirate of Brett Favre, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford. Whoever lines up at cornerback, they need to play better than last year's cast of fill-in characters.

2. CM3 can't beat everyone: If Matthews can't meet or exceed last year's 10 sacks, it won't be his fault. Somehow, someway, the Packers must find a way to get to the quarterback. Opposing defenses are going to be game-planning to keep Matthews as far away from the passer as possible. If Brad Jones or Cullen Jenkins aren't the solution — and Dom Capers can't find the solution — the Packers will have no chance against elite passing games.

3. Trouble at tackle: Last year, the powder keg at offensive tackle blew the offense into smithereens. The Packers bet the ranch on Clifton staying healthy. He didn't, and Daryn Colledge and, to a lesser extend, T.J. Lang failed in Clifton's place. Barbre was unspeakably bad at right tackle until being relieved by Tauscher. The Packers have better options as backup tackles this year with first-round pick Bryan Bulaga at left tackle and Lang at right tackle, but they're hardly sure things.

If the strengths remain strengths and the team can mitigate its weaknesses, then why not? Why not Green Bay?

"I'm excited about starting tomorrow," McCarthy said. "On paper, this may be the best team that we have assembled in my time here, but the reality is it doesn't mean anything until you take advantage and build it the right way, and that starts in training camp practice No. 1."

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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. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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