Five Key Players Who Will Make the Packers Offense Go
We all know about the Green Bay Packers offense.
Thirty-five points per game last season.
A quarterback who was all-world.
A receiving corps that was the best in the league across the board.
But there are key players who will make this offense even better in 2012. Whether it's the play along the line, efforts from the backfield or the talents of those lining up on the outside, this is a team that can strike from just about anywhere on the field.
We take a look at five key players who will make this offense go this season.
As Aaron Rodgers goes, so go the Packers. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
OK, so this is a no-brainer.
Aaron Rodgers, the league's MVP, the top vote-getter as the best of the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012, the guy who led the Packers to 13 straight wins last season and a quarterback whose touchdown-to-interception ratio is something Brett Favre could only dream about.
But if there's a single player who will have more impact on the Packers' offensive production this coming season, it will be Rodgers. As Rodgers goes, so go the Packers. He's guided by a talented group around him: receivers who can get open and have consistently led the league in yards after the catch and an offensive line which takes pride in keeping his uniform clean.
Aaron Rodgers, in his eighth season, understands the Packers' offensive schemes and has worked with Head Coach Mike McCarthy in designing game plans that play to his strengths. Rodgers' arm strength, uncanny ability to evade a pass rush and his knowledge of the offense are huge factors in his development over the past five seasons.
He has taken this team to the ultimate pinnacle and it's his competitive drive, the chip on his shoulder, and his talent that will surely get them back to the Super Bowl.
Aaron Rodgers is THE key to the Packers offense. He can only get better this coming season: a factor that should take the Packers to another level.
Cedric Benson should give the Packers a new dimension to their run game.
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He proved that with three straight 1,000 yard seasons in Cincinnati and he hopes to carry that on with the Packers.
His presence alone should force defenses to game plan differently when facing the Packers. No longer will defenses focus only on the passing game; coordinators are going to have to scheme to stop the run, a fact that should help Aaron Rodgers and the receivers.
No longer will the Packers give a cursory glance into the backfield. The team now has a runner who will grind out the four or five yards per carry to set up second-and-short situations and allow the Packers to move the chains utilizing both the run and the pass.
Benson brings an aggressive running style, one that can soften the middle of any defense and do it while punishing linebackers and defensive backs who won't like tackling him.
He has the potential to substantially alter how teams view the Packers. Yes, the Packers are going to continue to rely on their passing game to win games. But with Benson in the mix, they have a player who can run the clock down in the fourth quarter and grind out game-clinching yards, all while taking much of the pressure off the quarterback and receivers.
Cedric Benson was a great acquisition by the Packers, one that will give this team's running game a heartbeat...one that could help lead the team to the promised land.
Jeff Saturday will anchor a Packers offensive line that will need to stay healthy.
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After having just let Scott Wells walk, the Packers were without someone to snap the ball to the MVP quarterback.
That didn't last long as Thompson aggressively landed Saturday.
Thompson not only saw that fact in Saturday, but he saw his intelligence, toughness and skills in handling the offensive-line calls.
Saturday brings to the Packers a will to win, the experience and knowledge in winning a Super Bowl. He's a consummate pro who should fit into the Packers offense seamlessly.
He will lead not only on the field, but in the locker room. On a team that continuously rebuilds with younger players, Saturday is the antithesis of the model. Despite that, he will add the intangibles that won't show up on the statistics sheet, but will be clear to anyone who follows the game.
Ted Thompson made several moves during the offseason, both in free agency and the draft, but if there was one move that brought consistency and experience to the team, it was the signing of Jeff Saturday.
He will contribute more than you and I will see...Saturday could be the linchpin that makes this offense go.
Jordy Nelson must duplicate his numbers from 2011 to help lead the Green Bay Packers to another Super Bowl.
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Not many expected the Kansas State graduate to become the National Football League player that he has evolved into, nor did anyone expect that his meteoric rise would propel him into the Packers' leading receiver and one of the best in the entire league.
When the Packers' top receiver, Greg Jennings, went down late last season, Nelson offered a target for Aaron Rodgers, one that was consistent and productive.
Rodgers became so comfortable in finding Nelson in clutch situations that the receiver ended up as the team's leading pass-catcher, continuously coming up with huge plays to move the sticks and keep the offense moving.
One just need look at the Giants and Tampa Bay regular-season games last year. When Rodgers needed to lead the Packers to a field goal to defeat the Giants, he found Nelson down the left sideline for a huge gain that pushed the Packers into Mason Crosby's range for the win.
When the Packers offense wasn't playing to the levels they expect when they played Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field last year, Rodgers found Nelson, again down the left sideline, for a game-winning touchdown in the final minutes.
Those are just two examples that come to mind two examples as to why Nelson is fast becoming the team's most valued receiver.
Should he duplicate last year's numbers, he will play a huge role in the Packers' success in 2012.
This is a crucial year for Jermichael Finley. Raymond T. Rivard photograph
Jermichael Finley. Love him. Dislike him. Whatever you think, he's going to be a key to the Packers' run toward their goal of another championship.
We all have a distaste in our mouths from the last time we saw Finley on the field. His drops against the Giants in last season's Divisional Playoff Game at Lambeau Field took wind from the Packers' sails and almost seemed contagious.
Certainly, we can't blame Finley for the Packers failures in that game. That would be foolish.
But we all know how important this man is to the success of the Packers. Though injured and admitting that he wasn't on the same page as the team's MVP QB, Finley has to step it up this year. Fresh off a new two-year contract, this season is crucial to Finley's future in Green Bay.
If he continues to build on his career-best statistics from last season, Finley may be considered a long-term player in Green Bay.
Much of that depends upon whether he can keep his mouth shut and produce during an injury-free season. If he doesn't, he will most likely be traded or allowed to walk in free agency once his contract is up.
But in the meantime, now is the time for this guy. He brings a presence on the field that few are able to command. His size and speed are freakish. His ability to play both on the line and out wide causes huge matchup problems for defenses.
These are factors that few defenses can stop.
It will be up to him to accept game plans by the coach. It will be up to him to get on the same page with his MVP QB. It will be up to him to improve his lot and to contribute to the Packers run in 2012.
The Packers need him to play well. He needs the Packers to win. Each aren't exclusive.
If Finley does this, he will be successful and so will the Packers.