10 Reasons Green Bay Packers Fans Should Be Excited About 2012 Season
Coming off two highly successful seasons, the Green Bay Packers head into the 2012-2013 campaign as the favorites on the odds to make it to Super Bowl XLVII.
Should that occur, Packers fans will be ecstatic, but there are many other things to be excited about when it comes to the team from the league's smallest market.
With that in mind, we take a look at 10 reasons why Packers fans should be excited about the 2012 season.
Aaron Rodgers is the leader of the Pack. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
If you thought Rodgers has been good the past two seasons, I find it difficult to fathom just how good he will be this year. I think we caught only a glimpse of what he is capable of doing in that third preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He wins with his arm, but he also knows when to take off running.
With a receiving corps like none other, Rodgers can only get better. The Green Bay Packers are going to utilize his talents in better ways this year, not just dropping him back or having him release the ball quickly on the two-and-three-step drops; he’s going to be working on moving out of pockets, throwing more screen passes and working more play-action into the script with the team’s improved running game.
Will Rodgers win his second straight MVP award? Anything’s possible. He’s got the individual tools and the talent around him to make it happen.
Ask Rodgers if he’s shooting for the MVP title again, and the player’s player will simply say he’s reaching for another opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Clay Matthews zeroes in on Jay Cutler. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
Ted Thompson is no dummy despite his inability to wipe that caught-in-the-headlights look on his face. He demonstrated his football intelligence this past offseason by pulling off one of his best efforts in last April’s NFL Draft.
Defense is what this team needed, and he didn’t shy away from opportunities to draft players like Casey Hayward and Jerel Worthy in the second round.
His first round selection of USC Nick Perry was solid as were his later round picks, most notably Jerron McMillian who has shined brightly at safety.
With these moves and the addition of Dezman Moses—the undrafted free agent who has wowed everyone—the Packers can only improve from their last place defensive ranking of 2011.
Our hope is that the Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers continues to show why he is considered one of the top defensive minds in the league. He’s got to come up with creative ways to utilize his front seven to put pressure on the opposing quarterback so that his back end defensive players can take the ball away.
It will be an interesting evolution to follow.
Charles Woodson is a champion. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
Sir Charles, the veteran leader of the Green Bay Packers is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He brings leadership, skill, experience and respect to the football team and displays it week in and week out on the field.
But it’s the intangibles that make this guy something special. His focus on the fundamentals, his ability to always be around the ball, and his knack for making the big plays at the right time are why he is such an important member of the Packers franchise.
We expect great things from him, and he delivers.
Jordy Nelson will pick up where he left off last season. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
What else can be said about the Green Bay Packers receiving corps that hasn’t already been said?
Talent, depth and production are how I would best describe this group.
With Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Donald Driver making up the top five, you’ve got a group that is not just good but great.
Add to that group tight end Jermichael Finley and undrafted rookie receiver Jarrett Boykin, and you’ve got yourself a mix that is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to stop.
The only disappointing aspect of this group last year was overall consistency. Without pointing fingers, one could look at the number of drops, especially at crucial times, by several members of this squad. Many will readily name Finley as the most guilty of committing these infractions, but nearly all the receivers had their moments.
But that’s really a small blip on the screen for this unit. They have all—with the exception of the rookie and Cobb —been playing with Rodgers long enough to be able to run the offense in their sleep.
Though defenses have schemed to stop his passes in the past, Rodgers will find somebody open and throw with an excellent rate of completion given enough time.
This group has the opportunity to really shine this season, and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be able to replicate what they’ve done in the past or to exceed even their own expectations.
Packers rookie Jerel Worthy should prove valuable to the Packers defensive line.
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
The Green Bay Packers have new faces who will most likely make a huge impact this season.
Consider the likes of Nick Perry, Casey Hayward, Jerron McMillian, Dezman Moses, Terrell Manning, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels, Don Barclay and most impressively, Jarrett Boykin, and you’ve got a list of players who will most likely be called to produce right away.
Boykin, Barclay and Moses are three undrafted free agents who have made a big splash on the team. Boykin had a solid camp and came through in the final preseason game to cement his spot on a highly competitive squad of wide receivers. What was really impressive was that he beat Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel in the process. Those were two highly regarded wide receivers who were on the Packers practice squad last year and were expected to make the final roster this year.
Boykin obviously had something to say about that.
Barclay also had a solid performance in camp and impressed coaches with his talents. He could play an important role for the Packers this season, especially if the team has to endure injuries in which they don’t have too much depth.
Moses was simply all over the field throughout camp and during preseason games. He showed up whenever his bell was rang. His speed and strength were evident as he was always around the football at opportune times. He will be a solid addition and could be around for many years to come. All three of those free agent rookies were definite diamonds.
Improved Running Game
The Packers are hoping Cedric Benson will add a new dimension to the team's running game.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Everyone was sky-high when they saw the emergence of Cedric Benson in his first preseason game in Cincinnati.
Though his fumble on the first snap of the Packers offense in the final preseason game deflated his stock a bit, the team’s running game took a huge leap forward when they signed the veteran.
He will bring aggression and the ability to run hard between tackles—something that has been sorely lacking in consistency for the Packers the past couple of years.
When you add Benson to the mix that includes a healthy recovering James Starks, Alex Green and John Kuhn, you’ve got a new dimension added to your running game. If the offense is already good without a running game, I can’t imagine just how much better it will be with a solid one.
Green showed his explosiveness and ability to sniff out the goal line in the final preseason game, and Kuhn will again add his ability to grind out important yards when the Packers need them. If and when Starks gets back on the field, he will add another dimension and option for Aaron Rodgers.
At least on paper, this looks to be the most balanced running game the Green Bay Packers have had in years.
NFC North Division is considered one of the best in all of the NFL. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
As usual throw out the records, and just let them play. Each of these divisional games are special no matter who is projected to go to the Super Bowl and who is expected to win only a few games.
When Chicago comes into Lambeau Field, there is a different aura. When Minnesota and the Green Bay Packers line up, memories flood back, and when Detroit and the Packers play against each other, the indelible image of Mr. Ndamukong Suh stomping will forever be etched into our memories.
These games will decide who will have a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl run. They are must-win games that will only continue to build the division’s history.
Nationally Televised Games
The Packers' schedule is far from "easy." Raymond T. Rivard photograph
Going 15-1 last season after winning a Super Bowl the season before has placed the Green Bay Packers squarely in the sights of NFL schedulers.
It all starts against the San Francisco 49ers' opening weekend on September 9 and continues four days later when the Packers host the Chicago Bears to open the Thursday Night schedule.
The national exposure continues in Week 3 when the Packers travel to Seattle for a Monday Night Football game against the Seahawks. When the New Orleans Saints come marching into Lambeau Field on September 30, they will play the Packers in the 3:25 p.m. late game.
The Packers travel to St. Louis for a noon game against Rams, starting a streak of four straight.
When the Packers travel to New York to take on the Giants on November 25, that game will be played on a Sunday night. It’s back to a noon start at Lambeau Field against the Minnesota Vikings before one last national game when the Packers host the Detroit Lions on Sunday night on December 9.
The Packers finish the season with three straight noon games against Chicago, Tennessee and Minnesota.
If there are Packers fans who don’t like noon games on Sunday, this is probably as good as it gets.
The Packers begin the 2012 season by hosting the 49ers.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
If you look at the overall numbers, the Green Bay Packers have what one might consider to be one of the easiest schedules in the NFL
That may be true if you’re a numbers guy, but we all know about this rule: It’s not who you play in the NFL, it’s when you play them.
While teams such as Indianapolis are factored in using last season’s record, early indications about the Colts show an improved team with a guy by the name of Andrew Luck who seems to be the real deal.
Though the Colts’ record was abysmal last year, the addition of a decent quarterback makes playing the Colts a different game.
Getting through the first four games of the season will be a big test for the Packers. You’ve got the San Francisco 49ers coming into Lambeau Field for the opener, but the Packers turn around four days later to host the Chicago Bears for the Thursday Night Football opener.
Throw in a West Coast trip to Seattle to take on the Seahawks, and follow that up with a home game against the New Orleans Saints, and you’ve got a slate of games that will challenge even the best.
The Packers go on the road for the first three weeks of October, traveling to Indianapolis, Houston and St. Louis.
It’s back on the road for the Packers who will visit the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants on November 18 and 25 respectively before they play three of their final five games at home.
The Packers host Minnesota and Detroit on December 2 and 9 respectively, travel to Chicago, and come back to host Tennessee before finishing the regular season in Minnesota.
You could call that an easy schedule, but just remember the rule mentioned above.
New Video Boards
The new video boards are in place at Lambeau Field.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Though the entire project to add about 7,000 new seats and other amenities to the south end of Lambeau Field won’t be competed until next year, fans will be watching replays at the stadium this season on state-of-the-art video monitors that have been installed at both the south and north end zones.
If you’ve been to Lambeau, you know how 1990s the old video screens were. The new screens will go above and beyond what most might expect and are just one way teams including the Green Bay Packers are trying to expand and improve the game day experience for fans.