Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers: 7 Breaks the Pack Must Catch in 2011

Matt SmithContributor IIIMay 21, 2011

Green Bay Packers: 7 Breaks the Pack Must Catch in 2011

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Sam Shields #37 of the Green Bay Packers readies to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    As we know, the Green Bay Packers overcame many issues that occurred both late in the season and early in the season to win the Super Bowl.

    They didn't do it without a little luck, though. No, their journey had it's fill of lucky breaks.

    This season the Packers look to return players from the IR and be an even scarier team than they were.

    Even though they're good, it doesn't mean they're invincible. And if they want to get far and make a run this season, there are seven important breaks the Pack must catch to make it to the Super Bowl in 2011.

Start the Season off Strong

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    IRVING - NOVEMBER 29:  Aaron Rodgers #12 and Scott Wells #63 of the Green Bay Packers prepare to snap the ball during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Texas Stadium on November 29, 2007 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Image
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Being the Super Bowl Champions, the Packers kick off the 2011 season with a home game against the New Orleans Saints. That is, if there is a season by then.

    But look at the first five games of the Packers season. They have what should be easy games against Carolina and Denver, but the other three are no laughing matter.

    There are games against three NFC teams that made the playoffs. They are vs. New Orleans, at Chicago and at Atlanta.

    These teams owned the five, two and one seeds, respectively.

    Don't expect the Packers to lose all of them, and if the Packers win two or three, then they'll be off to a great start.

Figure out the Linebacker Spot Opposite Clay Matthews

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 31-25. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    In 2009, the Packers and Clay Matthews agreed to a five-year contract that could be worth up to $13.275 million dollars, according to ESPN.com.

    If you ask me, Matthews is way underpaid. But anyway, back to the subject.

    Matthews was drawing double teams a lot last year, partially due to the inadequate play of the linebackers opposite him.

    Currently it seems as if Frank Zombo and Erik Walden will be the top candidates for the spot opposite of Matthews.

    Walden had one amazing game with 12 tackles and 3 sacks but hasn't been as productive since. Zombo had four sacks in about 600 plays. That type of production isn't going to cut it.

    If the Packers can find a solid pass rusher at the open outside linebacker spot, it will take a huge amount of pressure off of Matthews.

Mike Neal Fills a Void at Defensive End Left by Cullen Jenkins

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    Cullen Jenkins
    Cullen JenkinsJamie Squire/Getty Images

    This ties into a prediction somewhat.

    Cullen Jenkins feels that he's "99 percent sure" that he won't be coming back to Green Bay. It's safe to say he won't be a Packer next season.

    Before injuring his shoulder and ending his rookie season, Mike Neal showed incredible promise with both strength and speed.

    He looks to be one of the starters at defensive end for the Packers if he improves his technique.

    If the Packers want to replace Jenkins' 7.5 sacks last season, then they better get someone to fill in for him. And that person is Mike Neal.

    Side Note: Jenkins spoke highly of Neal's work ethic, brute strength and speed.

Aaron Rodgers Learns How to Slide

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Last season, Rodgers suffered two concussions, one against Washington and one against the Lions.

    Concussions are a big deal, as enough of them have ended players' careers. Let us hope that it doesn't do the same to Aaron Rodgers.

    When taking off and running, Green Bay's star quarterback has a tendency to wait until he gets tackled.

    That resulted in the concussion against Detroit.

    Fans appreciate when their quarterback wants to work to gain the extra yards, but if Rodgers wants to stay healthy, then he better learn to slide.

Stay Healthy as a Team

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers runs onto the field during pregame introductions and festivities against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Ph
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Injuries weren't completely bad for the Packers.

    In fact, they paved the way for several young, promising players.

    Take for instance James Starks, who took over for Ryan Grant. Or Andrew Quarless, who saw his playing time increase after Jermichael Finley got injured. And what about Bryan Bulaga starting after Mark Tauscher went down?

    Some good came out of it, but it'd be best if the injury bug stayed away.

    If the Pack can stay healthy, the team will just be that much more dangerous.

    If they can't, then this season might not end the same way last season did.

Wide Receivers Stop Dropping Passes

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    LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 13:  Randall Cobb #18 of the Kentucky Wildcats runs with the ball while defended by Sean Richardson #21 of the Vanderbilt Commodores during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    With the addition of Randall Cobb, the league's arguably best receiving unit just got better.

    However, there was one thing in 2010-2011 that the Packers' receivers weren't even close to the best at: dropped passes.

    And it wasn't just one specific player, although James Jones did have some notable drops in the playoffs.

    In the Super Bowl, Jordy Nelson had a huge game. He snagged the ball nine times for 140 yards, seemingly a great game.

    But the former Kansas State star also dropped three balls he should've caught.

    The Packers as a whole had tons of passes go through their hands on the season. 

    If the Packers and new addition Randall Cobb can keep their hands on the ball, more wins should come their way.

Maintain Locker Room Attitude

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  The Green Bay Packers celebrate in the locker room after winning Super Bowl XLV 31-25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    During last year's magical Super Bowl run, there was something special about the locker room.

    As the Packers went on a 6-0 run to end the season with their Super Bowl, the team really seemed to fit together.

    When Charles Woodson got injured, he claimed that other players on the team went up to him and told him that they wanted to win the Super Bowl for him.

    It's that type of cohesive locker room attitude that helps a team get through the season.

    If they retain that magical locker room feeling, nothing will get in their way.

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