Aug 9, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Get To Know Your Foe: Green Bay Packers


Tomorrow night, the St. Louis Rams take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 of the NFL preseason. To get some inside information on Packers’ camp, we went behind enemy lines and spoke with Dan Dahlke, one of the staff writers at LombardiAvenue.com, the Green Bay Packers site within the Fansided Network. Since it is only preseason and the starters will likely ride the bench after the first half, it seemed odd to have any “final predictions.” Instead, here are seven questions that should help us get a better overall impression of the “new” Green Bay Packers…

Also, be sure to check out Ramblin’ Fan’s answer to the Packers’ questions; click here to see!

 

1. The Packers started off slow in 2012, losing three of their first five games. What will Green Bay do this season to prevent that some happening again, and will they be able to fend off the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears?

Last year, it took them a bit to get their offense going. Teams played a lot of Cover Two against the Packers and limited their ability to throw down the field. It wasn’t until week six against the Texans did the Packers offense really got on a roll.

This year the hope is that an effective running game will pull teams out of the deep safety looks and force eight defenders in the box. If this happens, the Packers can then get some single man looks and exploit mismatches in the passing game. They can also run an effective play action and get some open looks down field. They need to get the big play back on offense.

Minnesota has had a good offseason and will be a tougher team this year. Of course, they have Adrian Peterson and he will always be a handful for the Green Bay defense, but they also added former Packer Greg Jennings and drafted big wideout Cordarrelle Patterson. You throw in tight end Rudolph who really came on last year and their offense suddenly looks pretty tough. Of course, Ponder will have to show up.

With Rodgers, the Packers will always have the edge at quarterback over the divisional teams. So we’re very fortunate there. I’m not too worried about the Bears. They have a lot of talented players, but I’m just not convinced Cutler is a real threat at quarterback. Plus with a new coach, they may take a step back this year.

 

2. Going off the previous question, what have they done this offseason to improve as a team? 

The running game was the obvious Achilles heel of the offense last year. They haven’t had good production from running back since Ryan Grant in 2009. This year they drafted two really talented backs in Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin. They’re both very different. Lacy is the big power back with quick feet and Franklin is a smaller, shiftier back that will make guys miss in the open field. The rookie backs bring some depth and added competition to the Packers’ backfield.

The Packers really struggled against mobile quarterbacks last year— just look at how Kaepernick demolished them in the playoff loss. They lacked athleticism on the defensive line so they went out and drafted defensive end Datone Jones from UCLA in the first round. Jones is a great fit for the Packers 3-4 defense. He has the strength to seal the edge and hold up against the run and he has the burst to bring some pressure from the line in their nickel sets.

 

3. Aaron Rodgers was the most sacks quarterback in football last season. With the sad news of Bryan Bugala’s season-ending ACL injury, what will the Packers do this season to keep their quarterback upright? 

Yes, the amount of times Rodgers has been sacked the last few years is very frustrating for Packers fans. Bulaga was supposed to be the Packers’ answer at left tackle this year, but his injury was a huge blow to the team.

Fortunately, the Packers drafted David Bakhtiari in the fourth round out of the University of Colorado. He flew under the radar on most draft boards because he’s a bit undersized (6-4, 300 pounds) and Colorado only won one game last year. Bakhtiari has been one of the more impressive young players in camp so far, so Green Bay feels confident he can hold up at left tackle.

Still, we’re all a little nervous about a rookie being responsible for protecting Rodgers’ blindside. They’re really dealing with injuries on the offensive line, so there aren’t a lot of other viable options at this point. This could be an area of concern heading into the season.

 

4. The Packers lost both Donald Driver and Greg Jennings this offseason. However, they went out and drafted two of the top running back prospects in the NFL Draft. How will these roster changes affect the Green Bay offense, if at all? 

Yeah, the Packers lost Driver and Jennings, but they still really like what they have at wide receiver. Their top three receivers from last year are still with them-James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb. Cobb is a rising star that they’re really excited about. Nelson and Jones are veteran receivers that are highly underrated. Jones led the league in receiving touchdowns last year with 14, and Nelson was the team’s leading receiver two years ago. The Packers also like what they have in young receivers Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross, and Tyrone Walker.

The Packers will look to improve their ground game with the additions of the rookie backs, but as long as they have Rodgers under center they’ll still be a pass-first offense. They’ll still spread teams out with multiple receiver sets and exploit mismatches in the passing game. You throw in a more effective running game, and the hope is that they’ll be tough to defend.

 

5. What is the best position battle happening in camp so far? 

They have quite a few, but the most scrutinized is running back. They have the two rookies, Lacy and Franklin, but they also have returning veterans James Starks, Alex Green, and DuJuan Harris. The team really likes Harris. He came on strong for them at the end of last year. Green and Starks have both been dealing with injuries the past few years, but are finally healthy this year. And Starks, specifically, looks better than he ever has before and could push Lacy and Harris for playing time. Right now though, Lacy and Harris are still the favorites for the featured back role with Franklin pegged as their third down back.

 

6. Who are some surprise players in camp so far? 

Undrafted rookie receiver Tyrone Walker has really impressed people so far in camp. He’s an undersized guy, 5-10, 191 pounds, and lacks blazing speed, but runs crisp routes and catches everything thrown to him. He’s really making a push for a roster spot.

Rookies Datone Jones, Bakhtiari, and Lacy have all impressed early in camp. Another guy not many people are talking about is fifth round rookie Micah Hyde. He has had a really strong camp so far. There have been a lot of injuries at cornerback, so he’s gotten a lot of snaps in the Packers starting nickel packages. He reminds a lot of people of Casey Hayward, the Packers breakout rookie last year. Hyde is very instinctual. He’s a good tackler. Played some safety in college. He doesn’t have great straight-line speed, so he can get burned on occasion, but he’s a physical player and sticks with guys in coverage.

 

7. What area of the team do you see the Packers improving the most this season? 

Well we’ve already talked about the running game a lot, which should improve, but I also think their run defense should get better this season. Their struggles defending the run was overlooked last year because of their struggles against Kaepernick. However, they gave up big games to backs like Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. Stopping Peterson should be just as much their focus this year as slowing down Kaepernick and the read option. Peterson has had their number the past few years.

They’re hoping first round pick Jones will help with this, but even more so, they are getting their 2012 first round pick back this year. Nick Perry was drafted to be the outside linebacker lining up opposite Clay Matthews, but he was lost for the season after week six.

Perry is a big linebacker 6-3, 265 pounds, and has excellent strength (35 bench reps) and speed (4.6 40). He’s an athletic freak, and a big improvement from the guys they had filling in at LOLB last year. The Packers have high hopes for him this season. He will definitely improve their linebacker play. He’s a great run defender on the strong side. He could be the difference on defense this year.

Next Rams Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep12:00Minnesota VikingsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Green Bay Packers St. Louis Rams

  • Boobs McGee

    Keep sleeping on the Bears. That’s what we want you to do.

    • Nathan Kearns

      The Bears did appear to go to “sleep” last year at the end of the season…

    • Dan

      Watching Cutler play will make me sleep.

  • Pingback: Posts about the Rams from other Great Blogs issue #1 | Rams - NFC Wild West | St Louis Rams Blog

  • JaKa

    Looking at the Packers as separate areas can be somewhat misleading. We’ve all seen the team get “up” during games, after picking up a fumble or a 45 yard pass completion, a pick, or so many types of big plays. This is one of the key factors, or so it seems to me. Once Green Bay gets that uppity thing going, they are hard to get off it. With the whole team on the same page, it doesn’t matter in separate areas as much because they all are doing their best and that’s all that matters.
    Distractions can bring a few guys down and off it. The next thing the whole defense or offense seems to be or not be playing to good, depending which way things went, up or down. I began looking at games this way when Favre started back in 92. Once they got hot and started rolling, nobody can stop the freight-train, as John Madden put it many years ago now. Time has proven him right, about 95% of the time. The other 5% is when they lose after taking that control, and giving up a couple turnovers or start missing tackles and not wrapping them up. What happened last year, after a season with only one loss. Sure they wanted to make it a 16 win season, and started up good on things. Then somehow had distractions, i.e. The papers had stories about Jennings not getting his share, and Rodgers being human… two losses in a row. Then they came back winning several more games, and Jennings took another interview and the same thing happened again. His complaints made the papers and things unraveled for two more losses. These kind of things happen to losing teams all the time. Let’s hope this year Jennings can start talking about what’s wrong in the Land of the Vikings. That has to be easy for him. The roof doesn’t open when it’s hot or some kind of thing nobody else ever thinks about.

    Without these distractions this team is beyond the freight-train now, with the weapons they have on both sides of the ball. Just watch and wait for that break. Once it’s established, they get rolling and rolling. One after the other, it seems whoever touches that ball is going some place with it. They all seem to be cracking smiles, high and low fives increase, and at the end of the day another W goes up on the board.
    All they need is another season without those distractions. The coaches will do their jobs to limit things from getting out of hand. Some disgruntled comment can cause things to fall apart and if all those things come from Jennings move him West and keep on going 1000 miles past the Seahawks, where he can complain about what should be or whatever he wants. There is no need for those complaints here. In Green Bay we preach that only winners wear green & gold. That’s how it was, how it is now, and forever shall be. “Winning is the only thing.” If you deny that from happening, you do not deserve to be a part of this tradition. This staff has a right to hold this attitude, they are the winning-est team the division has seen in memory going back quite a while. This dynasty has that right, to do what is best to win – even if it hurts sometimes, like DD had to go through, or Brett also. Take those great days home and keep them. You were the best around, but for everything the time changes, and today is for some tomorrow. It’s kind of sad, but how would things go to keep anyone who was a nice guy, but getting older now, or losing what he used to have, that made him so good? It would cut down the chances of winning, and that’s.. back to page one.