No Setback Here: Why the Packers Embrace Brett Favre's Return To the NFL
Sitting down writing this story, already gives me the feeling that I've done this at least two or three times before.
But here we all are once again. Three weeks away from Week One of the regular season, and of course Brett Favre has left it to the last possible minute to announce his return to football, even though the Vikings allegedly begged him to come back for one last round.
For some reason this offseason, the news wasn't quite as surprising as it has been in the past. While I didn't sit through numerous hours of ESPN round the clock Favre watch, it seems that people have lost interest a little in number fours indecisiveness, and would rather focus on new story lines such as Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, or Wes Welker's triumphant return in New England.
Throughout the Favre saga though, there has been one underlying issue—the Green Bay Packers.
When Favre supposedly hung up his boots three weeks ago, the debate began to arise about Favre possibly retiring as a Packer, much to the frustration of many Packer faithfuls.
However, now that Favre is back for what he deems as one last year, like a shadow, the Green Bay Packers still find themselves linked to this old time player that simply can't give away the game that he loves.
So what's the issue this time in this seemingly un-concluded story?
I don't think it's any news to you, but the the theory is simple. Seeing as though Favre has returned, the highly anticipated clash between the Vikings and Packers twice a year has once again been intensified to the next level.
Unfortunately for the entire G-Force nation, it isn't the type of intensity that they expected.
No, this time the Packers find themselves on the back foot of Favre's return for the second time in a row, as people choose to see Favre's return as a mere setback in the Green Bay Packers' hopes and dreams of the Lombardi Trophy.
But is this theory really true?
Is Favre blocking the path of the Green Bay Packers, and limiting them once again to an 11-5 season that sees the Packers only go as far as the Wild Card round?
Despite what people would have you believe, this simply is not the case.
For you see, this time around in the chapter of Brett Favre vs. Green Bay, the Packers have the upper hand.
The Packers' Defense
Firstly, Green Bay has the No. 2 ranked defense in the league, and with Favre making a living out of throwing the ball to the opposing team, this is already a strike against ole No. 4 and his rather young offense.
In 2009 Favre was reasonably solid when it came to passing against Green Bay. He succeeded in not throwing a single interception, and his explosive link ups with Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice certainly was exceptional.
But before Favre goes into the two annual games this season with a hot head of confidence, he must recognize how great Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews have looked in the past 12 months.
When Favre did face the Packers last season, Green Bay ultimately was not at their best. Both of the Vikings' match ups against the Packers came before Green Bay's impressive unbeaten run, and it is fair to say that the Packers 3-4 defense wasn't as strong as it was six weeks down the track.
This season, Favre will be wary of Dom Capers structure, but he may not have such a cakewalk. The Packers pressure on quarterbacks was great toward the end of last year, and if that continues, it may just rattle Favre a little this season.
The Packers New and Improved Offensive Line
Right now, the Packers don't have offensive line issues, or so it would seem. Last season saw the likes of Jared Allen punish the Packers weak protection, and every Green Bay fan would willingly admit that Aaron Rodgers had to make the most out of what little time was offered to him, particularly against Minnesota.
Luckily for each Packer fan, Green Bay answered their needs in the Draft by gaining Iowa prospect Bryan Bulaga, who is as tough as nails when it comes time to defend the passer.
Sure Bulaga is a rookie, but like Chris Berman said on the night he was drafted "This guy looks like an old school Packer" and that statement may just speak for his performance as well.
The case with the Packers offensive line is also similar to the defense. When Green Bay fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, questions of course were raised. Following that little slip up though, the Packer line seemed to remain stable until they met the likes of Pittsburgh and Arizona, and was giving Rodgers enough time behind center.
Green Bay has been adjusting the offensive line a little in the past two weeks, and Bulaga now finds himself at the left guard position for an indefinite amount of time.
Still, if Green Bay's offensive line can hold up against Philadelphia in Week One, you can't help but like their chances against Minnesota. Favre had enough time to have a cup of tea in the pocket last season, but this time around, he may not have time to think twice this season.
No fancy title is needed here, because the simplicity that Rodgers brings to the Packers is immense.
There's no doubt in anyone's mind that he is the real deal, and I would be a little shocked if he didn't make more than just a case for the MVP award this season.
Away from personal achievements though, last season Rodgers didn't get to play at his 100 percent best against the Vikings. As mentioned, he wasn't allowed enough time in the pocket, and more importantly he struggled to step into a stable rhythm from the beginning of the game.
So why should things change this season for Rodgers?
Well it's simple, he has more experience.
In many peoples opinions, with every game, Rodgers gets better, and I can't help but agree. He's now briefly tasted the playoffs, and was a fumble away from the Divisional round.
In Week One of preseason Rodgers left off where he finished last season, and had a great game against the Browns. This year, he knows Favre, and more importantly knows the Viking defense.
Last season Rodgers threw for a combined 671 yards against the Vikings, and even though he was rushed, those numbers are quite impressive.
More importantly Rodgers wants revenge and wants to get into the playoffs, lets hope that he everything goes right for him, as he sure to put up a great battle against the Viking defense.
Concluding, For Now
It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Packers are a much better side than they were a season ago. Not only is their defense in check, the addition of Jermichael Finley to the starting tight end position plus Ryan Grant's new found confidence gives them a lot more firepower this year.
However, perhaps the mental side of this rivalry will show more than the physical.
Green Bay have embraced Favre's return, and just like last year, Green Bay couldn't care less.
Yes, don't get me wrong, Favre is a great passer and a serious threat for the Packers in the NFC North, but it isn't anything that the Packers are unfamiliar with, let alone afraid of.
Watch it, record it, or just dream about it, these two affairs you won't want to miss.
Favre may be back for a final season, but the Packers are looking toward the Super Bowl, and better yet, the Super Bowl.
The NFC East the toughest division? Maybe.
But with Favre and Rodgers going strong, the NFC North puts up it's own argument.
Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.
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