The Green Bay Packers Defense: Preseason Surprise?
Something doesn't seem to make sense here.
The first team offense looked stellar, and was helped immensely by the aforementioned takeaways. Green Bay has managed nine picks in two games and have only given the ball up three times, which is superb.
So what is it? What is it that seemingly makes no sense?
The Packers that's who. They don't make any sense at all right now.
This is a team that is supposed to be falling apart; a once proud contender on the decline ready to resume a not so distantly forgotten place in the basement of the NFC.
Their franchise quarterback is playing for a hated rival. They have a mystifying general manager who is attempting to build a team primarily out of rookie free agents and unheralded draft picks. They have a new defensive coordinator with a new defensive scheme, the 3-4, that is unfamiliar to many of the Packers personnel. They posted a 6-10 record last year in the remarkably weak NFC north and so on and so forth.
Surprise, surprise; it seems someone forgot to tell the 2009 Packers these things. Or, more likely, they know and they just don't care.
These are some perceptive people we're talking about here; it's part of their job to pay attention.
This 2009 Packers squad is so delightfully confusing it's getting very hard for a fan such as myself to wait as long as September 13th and the Chicago Bears.
The Packers have taken to Dom Capers' 3-4 like ducks to water.
Capers has a history of turning defenses around fast, but I was not aware that positive change would be visible so quickly.
This certainly is a surprise, and a pleasant one. Why are the Packers showing such progress so soon? Just what the Mandarich (perfect substitute for a curse word there people) is going on in Green Bay?
I'm going to run three names up the flag pole here and we'll see if you salute; or not.
Ted Thompson, Mark Murphy and Bob Harlan.
Ron Wolf was one of the greatest Green Bay general managers in team history, if not the greatest. He worked side by side with Harlan to rebuild a franchise into a yearly contender and a home for classy, responsible players and coaches.
Now, Bob Harlan wasn't perfect. Remember Ray Rhodes anyone? Anyone?
No. I understand completely.
Not perfect no, but what I feel about Bob Harlan could fill three pages on its own and most of it would be positive if not down right school girlish.
In brief, Bob Harlan means the past twenty years and the future as well to Packers fans. He built the Brett Favre dynasty and he stayed the course near the end of his career to see that the Packers were in Murphy's capable hands instead of John Jones.
I think Mark Murphy has done a fantastic job replacing Harlan as Packers CEO. He has joined Thompson in the quest to bring the Lombardi trophy home and their plan is ever nearing fruition.
This plan has become somewhat clearer to me as I've been writing a series on the past five Packers drafts. These are men who don't believe in quick fixes and band-aid solutions.
Why draft an inside linebacker fifth overall the year after you were last in rushing? Because you have vision and foresight, that's why.
Yes, that's what it ultimately comes down to with the Packers front office these days. Staffed with men of vision, always looking to the future and trying to win in an ever changing financial NFL.
Try to wrap your head around this: Thompson, Harlan and Murphy have been hard at work the last five years at their plans. This might be the year it all comes together.
The real question for the Packers is can their defense adjust to the change in schemes quickly enough to bring them into contention in the NFC this year?
I think they can, and here's why.
The players on the defensive side for the Packers may be a bit more ready for this switch than anybody gives them credit for. Ted Thompson is not a GM who drafts on yearly needs. He's been looking to the future for a while now; and who really knows how long ago he made up his mind that the Packers would be a 3-4 team in 2009?
I don't. He does. I don't have his number; can someone arrange an interview? Oh, he's busy? Makes sense, really...
It's possible that the Packers have been, well, waiting for this. The 3-4 is known for putting the right player in the right place at the right time; plays just have to be made.
I believe the Packers have players who will thrive within this philosophy. Packers fans know them, but they're not household names on Sunday afternoons.
Names like Jenkins, Bishop, Hawk and Williams. Is this their year? I certainly hope so.
Preseason predictions are what they are. Someone always seems to mention the Lions at this point and their record over the last few seasons being perfect.
If you were a Detroit Lion wouldn't you try to win every football game you were in harder than you ever tried to do anything in your life?
Think about it.
I do like to play it safe, but based on what the Packers have shown so far this preseason I have to say I am confident they will fight for and hopefully win the NFC north. They are definitely in the picture.
Of course, everybody's in the picture right now. Oh God September 13th, won't you ever come?
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