Sunday is inching closer and closer.
The Eagles will open their season with a very talented Packers team and will be tested right off the bat. In order to find out a little more about the Packers, I was able to interview Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV.com.
I’d like to thank Brian for taking the time out to answer my questions, and I hope everyone enjoys the interview.
BirdsFan.com: Aaron Rodgers used to be known as the guy waiting for Brett Favre to hang it up. He’s now considered to be one of the elite quarterbacks in the game. Does Rodgers deserve this title or is he still a few steps from being on that level?
CheeseheadTV.com: Aaron Rodgers might be behind guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees in the pecking order of elite NFL quarterbacks because of their success in the playoffs, but it’s really only a matter of time until he’s is in the same breath as those guys. Rodgers’ attention to detail is stunning and he should put up crazy-good numbers this year.
BF: Many have compared Kevin Kolb’s situation to what happened with Rodgers. Do you see Kolb having the type of success Rodgers has had?
CTV: I don’t think it’s going to all come together in year number one for Kevin Kolb, but I don’t see why he can’t have near the same success as Aaron Rodgers. He’s going to have to go through the growing pains and learning curve that comes with being a starting quarterback for a full 16-game NFL schedule. But by next year or two years out, I think Kolb can be a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback.
BF: How big of a defensive impact does losing Al Harris and Atari Bigby make? Who will start in their absence, and are you confident in those players?
CTV: The secondary is a big concern in Green Bay right now considering they were burned by teams that spread the field, put receivers in bunch and stack formation and generally confused the Packers last season. Third-round draft choice Morgan Burnett will replace Atari Bigby at safety. While Burnett has shown promise, he’s still just a rookie and Packers fans will be happy as long as he doesn’t give up the big play. Tramon Williams will start at cornerback in place of Al Harris. While Williams figures to be okay, it’s the nickel cornerback position that is the bigger problem. Right now it appears as if undrafted rookie Sam Shields will be the Packers’ nickel back on Sunday, and I expect Kolb to go after him early and often.
BF: What areas have the Packers improved upon from 2009? Have they declined in any areas?
CTV: Pass protection should be better for the Packers in 2010 than it was in 2009 when Aaron Rodgers was sacked more than 50 times. The starting offensive line has been intact since the beginning of training camp, and the Packers should reap the benefits of that continuity. Plus, there’s good depth along the line as well.
An area they may have declined is experience in the secondary. With rookie Morgan Burnett and Sam Shields expected to play such big roles, they’re not going to be able to rely on the experience like Al Harris or Atari Bigby might have.
BF: What worries you the most about the Eagles offense? Eagles defense?
CTV: The young wide receivers of the Eagles scare me–DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. I fear they’ll be able to take advantage of a young secondary. Even if one of them isn’t open, the other might be. Now throw in Brent Celek and the pass coverage of the Packers will have their work cut out for them. On the other side, I want to see how the Packers are able to handle the Eagles pass rush. If Trent Cole and company can get to Aaron Rodgers, it could make a long day for the Packers offense.
BF: Where do you see the Packers having an advantage on offense? On defense?
CTV: As much as I like the Eagles wide receivers, the Packers passing game will have the advantage. Their receiving options go five or six deep. The Packers starting wide receivers–Greg Jennings and Donald Driver–are among the best in the game. And look out for tight end Jermichael Finley who’s developing into one of the better tight ends in the game. On top of that, the Packers No. 3 and No. 4 receivers–James Jones and Jordy Nelson–can not be overlooked. The Packers defense ranked No. 1 against the rush in the NFL last season, which will make it hard for the Eagles run game to have any success. And if the Eagles become one dimensional, it’s only going to help the young secondary.
BF: What player will be the Packers x-factor on Sunday? Why?
CTV: Tight end Jermichael Finley will be the difference in the Packers passing game. He’s able to take advantage of match-ups against slower and smaller safeties and tight ends like few other tight ends in the NFL. And if the Eagles do all they can to take away Finley, then either Jennings or Driver will be the beneficiary.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
CTV: I see a high-scoring game, but I think the Packers will come out on top 30-27.