To say the Green Bay Packers, a year after finishing 6-10, will win the Super Bowl this year is a bold prediction. However, not even considering the team a true contender to win the big game would simply be foolish.
For those who want to discount the Packers’ preseason success because it’s preseason, let it be noted that it’s still pro football, the objective is still to beat the other team, and there’s still competition for starting positions yet to be determined so players still have something to play for.
And it’s one thing to just win the game, but for the starting units to completely crush the opposition like they have is really making a statement.
Beginning this discussion with the defense, hands down the best offseason pickup of any team was the Packers’ signing of Dom Capers as defensive coordinator. He has completely turned this defense around and has the team excited about continuing their preseason dominance into the regular season.
The defensive scheme last year ran by Bob Sanders was painfully bland and predictable. That, coupled with a few injuries, left the defense seemingly on its heels in most games.
But with Capers running the show, the defense, for lack of a better word, is on its toes attacking, intimidating, and setting the tone when the opposition’s offense steps onto the field.
Charles Woodson will be an All-Pro when everything is said and done. Capers has been using him in a number of blitz packages and Woodson has been incredibly productive off those blitzes.
Woodson has top-notch football IQ and is a very talented defensive back. He has practically patented this tomahawk chop he does when making a tackle from behind and often times will force a fumble doing so.
Woodson also has great ball skills which he’s demonstrated throughout his career and with the new scheme heavily favoring zone coverage, Woodson will have increased vision to the quarterback. No longer will he have to cover with his back to the ball.
This will benefit Woodson immensely as he is a master of dissecting plays when he’s playing zone or off coverage. His ability to diagnose what the quarterback is trying to do can be attributed to his superior instincts and intense film study.
Woodson and the rest of the Packers defense have transitioned seamlessly to the new scheme. They are playing fast and with excitement. What a difference a unit’s enthusiasm can make on their effectiveness and execution.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense came up short last year in some tight matchups, but for the most part that was only after the defense lost the lead by allowing a score late in those games.
The offense overall ranked fifth in the league, highlighted by a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers, and a 1,200-yard rusher.
They are looking to improve on that ranking with a healthy Ryan Grant and an experienced Rodgers entering his second year as the starter (oh and Brett Favre is out disrupting a different training camp this year).
Rodgers has been nearly perfect in the preseason, throwing for six touchdowns and no picks while racking up a 147.9 quarterback rating. However, those stats, as impressive as they are, don’t even begin to tell the story of how effective Rodgers will be this season.
Throughout OTA’s, mini camp, training camp, and the preseason games, Rodgers has been accurate and disciplined with his throws and decisions, respectively. He throws quite possibly the best deep ball out of any quarterback in the league, hitting his receivers in stride and where only they can catch the ball.
He is quick to get the ball out of his hands or tuck and run if nobody’s open, and it’s evident from his 34-yard scamper against Arizona that he’s got some wheels.
Without a sliver of a doubt, Rodgers has mastered Mike McCarthy’s offensive system and not only that, but he is the unquestioned leader of the team. Everyone on the team was pushing Rodgers to lead this squad and he has through his play on the field and his voice on and off the field.
Rodgers will lead this team to a division title, his first (but not only) league MVP award, and a Super Bowl victory in this 2009 season.
It may seem like outlandish predictions, but this team is better than it was in 2007. Names like Cullen Jenkins, Johnny Jolly, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones will surface around the league while better-known names like Rodgers, Woodson, and Greg Jennings will become very well-known names.
This team has a very bright future and the future is six days away.