The Green Bay Packers are ready for the 2010 season to get underway and are primed for a special season.
Last year their season ended on a bitter note, as the Cardinals knocked them out of the playoffs in a shootout that ended with a sack and fumble by Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers finished the 2009 season playing at a high level and seemed to have everything clicking for a deep playoff run, but the Cardinals changed that. There were some questionable calls, such as the facemask in overtime, and bad play by the defense. Rodgers had a few turnovers, but looked pretty good. They also found out how deadly Jermicheal Finley could be as he had a monster game against the Cardinals.
However, that season is over, and now the 2010 season is about to begin with two weeks before the first game. The Packers open the season at Philadephia. The Packers offense and defense seem to be better and even the special teams looks better. Here is a preview of the Packers offense, defense, special teams, schedule, and how this team could do in 2010.
The Green Bay Packers offense showed teams that it can be very good last season, and this season there are high expectations for them. The Packers have 20-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl in 2011.
It all starts with the offensive line. If they can protect Rodgers and let him do what he does best, which is throw touchdowns and make big yardage plays, then they will be successful.
The starters appear to be left and right tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, who are the veterans on the line. They will need to stay healthy because they were one of the reasons the line wasn't giving up as many sacks in the second half of the season. Tauscher and Clifton are getting older, but they still have a little left in the tank, and the Packers will need that to perform up to their high expectations in 2010.
The Packers also have left guard Daryn Colledge, right guard Josh Sitton, and center Scott Wells as starters on the line. These guys have experience. Hopefully they can use it to protect Rodgers this season.
Rookie Bryan Bulaga has been practicing some with the first team offense and could also get some playing time on the line when Colledge needs a rest. The Packers were very fortunate that he fell into their laps on draft day last April. Bulaga could be a left tackle or a guard.
We can't forget about T.J. Lang. Last season he played well, especially in the second half of the season. Look for Lang to see some playing time as well. Jason Spitz could also get some playing time as Wells' backup. One great stat that has amazed me this preseason is that the Packers offensive line hasn't allowed a sack yet. Hopefully they can hold up and protect Rodgers this upcoming regular season.
Which brings us to the quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. He is ready for an even bigger year and has shown that he is ready with a great preseason. The quarterback is the leader of the team, and the Packers will need Aaron Rodgers to be a leader. Rodgers has shown the Packers he has great playmaking ability, leadership, and guts throughout the last few years with the team.
Rodgers may have been sacked a lot last season, but never once complained about the offensive line. He just got right back up and tried to help this team win. That's what you need out of a quarterback. Rodgers lets his play on the field do the talking.
Last season, Rodgers made it to his first Pro Bowl and led the Packers to a Wild Card berth. During the year, Rodgers threw 30 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also had an astounding 103.2 passer rating.
This preseason has shown me that Rodgers is ready for a huge year in 2010. Granted, the preseason doesn't matter, but it does prepare one for the season. Here are Rodgers 2010 preseason stats: 41 of 53 passes for 470 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He has completed 77.4 percent of his passes. Plus, he hasn't been sacked yet this preseason. Those stats are unbelievable and he is a great quarterback who can only get better.
Rodgers has some great receiving targets in Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Jermicheal Finley. The running game should also help Rodgers, as Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson can create big plays as well.
The running game played well last season, and doesn't take a back seat to the Packers passing game. Grant ran for 1,200 yards, and Jackson is a good third down running back who has shown that he can give the Packers another running threat with his speed and ability to get in open field. Look for Grant to go over 1,000 yards again, and Jackson to get some carries. Grant is the type of back that can get first downs, get into the open field, and can turn small yardage into bigger yardage. The Packers will need the running game to succeed in order to be a dual threat offense and a real contender in the NFC and NFL.
The receivers on this team have tremendous talent and give Rodgers the playmakers he needs. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are the number one and two receiving threats. They catch lots of balls and then get excellent yardage after the catch. Last year, they both hauled in long touchdowns of 83, and 71 yards, respectively. Jennings averaged 16.4 yards a reception, and Driver, 15.2.
Jennings had a down year last season, but also dealt with injuries. He sat out the third preseason game with back spasms, and hopefully he will be set for another great year in 2010.
The Packers also have young receivers, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson. Nelson, to me, is like a Wes Welker type receiver. Nelson caught a 51 yard touchdown last season, and averaged 14.5 yards per reception. Jones is a tall, agile receiver, and is a red zone threat for Rodgers. He averaged 13.8 yards per reception last season.
The Packers also love tight ends. Starter Jermicheal Finley is quickly becoming a great target for Rodgers. He is tall, agile, quick, a red zone threat, and can get up and down the field with ease. Last year he caught a lot of passes in the middle of the field and burned safeties. For example, at Minnesota, Rodgers hit Finley with a deep ball down middle of field in the open and Finley ran it in for a score. Finley caught 55 balls for 676 yards, averaged 12.3 yards a reception, and had five touchdowns, including a 62 yard score. His biggest game came in the playoffs when he had six receptions for 159 yards. Finley is also a good blocker on the line.
At tight end the Packers also have Donald Lee—who has been with the team for awhile—along with Spencer Havner, and rookie Andrew Quarless, who was drafted out of Penn State. Quarless is a big target, and could see some playing time in 2010.
On defense, the Packers didn't lose anybody except Johnny Jolly, who is out with a year long suspension. The Packers are in year two of Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme, and looked a lot better in the third preseason game against the Colts last week.
On the defensive line, the Packers moved Ryan Pickett to defensive end. B.J. Raji, a first round pick in 2009, will start at nose tackle for the team. Cullen Jenkins will get the start at the other defensive end position.
Pickett had 33 total tackles, 22 of which were solo tackles. Jenkins had five sacks along with 32 tackles, 23 of which were solo tackles. Raji is in his second year with the team. He was injured last season, but saw some playing time. He will look to stifle opponents running games and get to quarterback this season.
Other defensive lineman are rookies Mike Neal, and C.J. Wilson who will see some playing time in 2010. Justin Harrell will also look to find playing time, along with Anthony Toribio.
The linebackers really had a great season last year.
Middle linebacker Nick Barnett led the team with 105 tackles, 82 of which were solo tackles. He also had four sacks. A.J. Hawk will start again as a middle linebacker. He was second on the team with 89 tackles, 67 of which were solo. Clay Matthews had a terrific rookie season at outside linebacker, and will start again. He had a team-high ten sacks, and added 51 tackles. Matthew sat out the last preseason game as a precaution, but will more than likely be ready for the season opener against the Eagles.
The other linebacker position will be filled by Brad Jones, Brady Poppinga, Brandon Chillar, and possibly, Frank Zombo, who has impressed during the preseason.
The secondary is led by reigning defensive player of the year Charles Woodson, who was third on the team with 74 tackles, 66 of which were solo. He also recorded nine interceptions and managed to get one sack and four fumble recoveries. The other cornerback will more than likely be Tramon Williams, as right now Al Harris is still recovering from a season ending knee injury from last year. Brandon Underwood, Pat Lee, and Jarrett Bush are all back up cornerbacks.
At the safety position, Nick Collins is coming off a great year at free safety. Starting alongside him will likely be rookie Morgan Burnett out of Georgia Tech. He had an interception last week against the Colts, and batted down passes intended for receivers. However, he will need to improve on his tackling. Charlie Peprah, a hard hitting safety, will back-up Burnett along with Will Blackmon. Burnett is taking a starting job from Atari Bigby, who is recovering from a surgery earlier this month.
On special teams, the Packers return kicker Mason Crosby; however, Crosby will have to be a lot more consistent this year. He missed a lot of kicks he shouldn't have last year and will need to use his big, strong leg to help propel the Packers to wins in 2010.
The Packers have a new punter this year in Tim Masthay. Mike McCarthy has said that the punting should be better this year. I hope he's right because last year the punting wasn't that good.
In the return game, Will Blackmon is back. He is a great return man, as evidenced by previous years' work. He is speedy, and can take punts and kicks all the way back for touchdowns.
The Packers special team coverage must also be better. They need to eliminate penalties and make tackles on the field.
The Green Bay Packers 2010 schedule is tougher than last year. They will need everyone on the team to step up in order to for the team to be successful.
In Week One, the Packers are at Philadelphia. In the following weeks they play host to the Bills before travelling to Chicago, and then back home to face Detroit. Then they play at Washington and host Miami and Minnesota in consecutive weeks. Next they travel to the Meadowlands to play the Jets before coming home to play the Cowboys. They have a bye in Week 10. After that they go to Minnesota, then to Atlanta before returning home to play San Francisco. They play Detroit and New England on the road in consecutive weeks and close out the regular season by playing at home against the New York Giants and Chicago Bears.
The Packers have high expectations in 2010. I could see the team winning anywhere from 11 to 13 games this season. They could be NFC North champions this year, but that will depend on how well they play and how well the Vikings play. This team is definitely a playoff team, and could very well be a Super Bowl team. I hope so.
So now, go out and enjoy the 2010 season as it's start is quickly approaching. Also, cheer for the Green Bay Packers to do magical things this year.