Packers Brimming With Confidence

And for good reason, with Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense running roughshod through the preseason. Everyone from Peyton Manning to Ron Jaworski has trumpeted the Packers' talent.

The Packers will carry an air of supreme confidence into the season.

Open talk and even printed T-shirts compliments of linebacker Nick Barnett that expressed the Super Bowl aspirations harbored by the team at the start of training camp in July was backed up by what was accomplished on the field the ensuing five weeks.

The Aaron Rodgers-led offense took center stage, running the defenses of the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts ragged in the first three preseason games. With yards through the air and points aplenty for the starting group, plenty of people have taken notice, including those of an influential ilk.

"He had a really good year last year and has a lot of weapons," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said of Rodgers, who threw for 195 yards and three touchdowns in only one half in their teams' exhibition meeting Aug. 26.

"They really do some things that play to his strengths," Manning added. "He throws the ball down the field really, really well. He's a got a ton of ability."

The ESPN crew that called the Packers-Colts game also was duly impressed.

"There's a real positive vibe coming out of Green Bay," former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski said in a conference call on Wednesday. "Sometimes that chemistry in the locker room, belief in each other, can take you a long way. Then you pile on that with the talent they've assembled, particularly on the offensive side. Being out at practice with Jermichael Finley, I wish I could still throw the football to a guy like that. He's going to be an amazing matchup problem for any defense the Packers have to face…In my opinion right now, they are better than the Minnesota Vikings, but time will tell."

Former NFL head coach and Packers assistant Jon Gruden's praise was just a bit more guarded.

"I'm a big believer in the Green Bay Packers," he said. "I don't know that they're going to win the division, but I think it's going to come down to the last two or three weeks of the season. I really like the skill that the Green Bay Packers have. I think the offensive line has to prove it from Week 1 to Week 16. I want to see the Packers play well against a great quarterback. I know they played well against (Tony) Romo last year, but they didn't play their best in the playoffs against (Kurt) Warner. They struggled in the two games against Brett Favre, and I thought Ben Roethlisberger had a huge day against them also. They feasted on a lot of young and inexperienced quarterbacks. I think it's important for them to regain their swagger, their confidence. If they can do that, they can certainly win this division."

Rodgers, who sat out the preseason finale at the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, summed up his play in August as "very productive." That may be an understatement.

"The last two years, I felt real good about where we've been at the end of preseason, but I feel better this year because I think we have a little bit more of an identity on offense, where last year we made a lot of big plays but I don't really felt like we ever established kind of what we wanted to do," Rodgers said. "And, now it's pretty obvious. We're going to find ways to get the ball to (tight end) Jermichael (Finley) and find ways to get the ball to (receivers) Donald (Driver) and Greg (Jennings), Jordy (Nelson), James (Jones).

"When we get into a rhythm like we have this preseason on offense, we're going to be tough to stop. It's fun."

The Packers were all about fun times the second half of last season. They won seven of their final eight games to finish 11-5 and seemed poised to make a deep postseason run.

Putting up 45 points on scoreboard in an NFC wild-card game at the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 10 wasn't enough for the Packers to advance, however. Arizona did them six points better, winning 51-45 in overtime on a fumble return by Karlos Dansby after a sack of Rodgers in the NFL's highest-scoring playoff game.

"I think we were as hot as any team in the league," Packers president Mark Murphy said. "It was a heartbreaking loss, but I think it's the kind of loss that will inspire us and help us in the future."

Cornerback Charles Woodson, one of the team's veteran leaders, couldn't let the sting of that loss go seven months later amid the heat of training camp.

"Defensively, we just dropped the ball," Woodson, last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year, said before sitting out Thursday. "Didn't make any plays, let them run up and down the field, picking up completions on third down and scoring touchdowns and that sort of thing.

"We don't want to go into this season thinking we have an offense that can put up points so we can just go out there (as a defense) and whatever happens, happens. That's not taking any pride in what you do as a professional. We won't go out there like that."

Just the kind of tough talk to be expected from a team that is thinking big this season.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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