The Pack is looking both good and bad this fall.
Aaron Rodgers looks good and accurate. However, he seems to be having trouble reading the new defense. This doesn’t surprise me, as Rodgers tends to hold the ball longer than he should. He doesn’t seem to understand yet just how quick of a decision is needed to defeat the NFL blitz.
Jermichael Finley looks good. He has the size and tools to make an excellent NFL tight end.
The offensive line looks bad. This is a ragtag group of players who don’t seem to know why they’re on the field with each other or even who each other is going to be from snap to snap. This needs to get worked out if Rodgers is going to have another good year.
A.J. Hawk is not playing anywhere near the caliber of a No. 5 overall pick. Aaron Kampman looks out of place in pass coverage.
Cullen Jenkins looks great on the defensive line.
Special teams have not improved at this point but why would they?
The safeties seem confused but Charles Woodson looks spectacular blitzing and covering.
This brings me to my areas of concern for the 2009 Green Bay Packers:
Aaron Rodgers and a makeshift line handling pressure
If Rodgers cannot learn to get rid of the ball and the offensive line doesn’t come together, pressure is going to be the team’s undoing. It is rare to have a quarterback who can beat the blitz without a good line; either Rodgers develops that rare skill, or the line learns to protect him longer.
Don’t be surprised to see some finger pointing between the line and the quarterback this season if things don’t go as planned.
The linebackers and safeties in pass coverage
A.J. Hawk doesn’t look good in practice, and B.J. Raji is not even at practice. These two guys are keys to the defensive switch. I question whether this linebacking crew can cover receivers well enough. They were eaten alive last year.
In this defense, the safeties are going to have to come up and cover hot receivers. Nothing I have seen from Nick Collins or any of the other safeties leads me to believe they will be able to do this. If the defense starts getting burned when it blitzes, the game is over.
The special teams
Field position is everything. What have the Packets done to improve the coverage game, their return game and their punting game? I don’t know. It seems like they treat special teams as an afterthought.
I think the Packers have to solve all three of my concerns if they are going to win the division. If the line and the quarterback cannot handle pressure, they will continue to blow games. If the linebackers and safeties cannot pass cover, they will continue to have trouble on third down and will not be able to get off the field. If the special teams stink, well, we all know what happens.