Green Bay Packers: Observations from All Three Phases of the Game
After a lengthy lockout, football is officially back, and what better way to start it than with the two previous Super Bowl Champions.
The Saints came to Lambeau Field thinking that their offseason team-organized workouts would give them an advantage coming into the season, but clearly that didn't turn out in a win for them.
The Green Bay Packers, however, decided to take advantage of such a long offseason to heal their bodies, and it certainly showed in the first game of the regular season.
However, it was also clear that the Packers have slipped a little bit in their discipline and their ability to play clean football.
Here are some of the key observations that we can take from the first game.
The Defense Really Needs to Make Some Strides from the Season Opener
The Green Bay Packers were able to contain Drew Brees in the first half, but afterwards, things began to just fall apart. Sure, it made for a great first game of the season, but I can't say that I’m not very disappointed with the way the defense played.
It may have been Drew Brees and the Saints, but allowing Brees to throw for 419 yards and three touchdowns, and then letting their running backs gain 81 yards is simply unacceptable. Period.
It seemed as though Drew was pressured on most plays and struggled to keep a smooth flow going, but anytime that he did manage to find even the slightest room, it was all he needed to keep his offense and his team in the game.
The only thing that the defense did right was stuffing the Saints rushing attack. The Saints were one out of five in the red zone. But outside of that, the Packers defense was simply not the same it was back in their Super Bowl run.
Tramon Williams leaving the game while holding his hand is a cause for concern. Nick Barnett's season ended last season with a hand injury, and Brian Urlacher the year before that.
The Packers have a whole ten days to heal before Carolina rolls around, and they may not even need Williams in that game. That gives Williams more than two weeks to heal his hand, and God willing, it will be enough.
We don't know anything yet, and I don't mean to panic anyone, but a hand injury is simply not good. In my opinion, if Williams ends up on IR, it would be the most devastating loss that Green Bay has suffered among any of the players that were lost last season.
Aaron Rodgers Is an Absolute Stud, and the Packers Offense Is Unstoppable
I take absolutely no shame in admitting that I was wrong about Aaron Rodgers.
I felt as though he would start the first half the season a little slow, much like how he has in the past two seasons, but he threw three touchdowns in just the first quarter alone.
It would have been nice to see him throw more touchdowns as the game went on, but hey, 42 points is a lot, especially against a defense like what the Saints have.
Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings seemed to connect on just about every ball thrown their way. Nelson and Cobb were also big contributors in the passing game, with a total of 112 yards between the two.
It's games like this that are making me more and more convinced that Green Bay simply should have James Jones go.
James Starks and Ryan Grant should be a duo to take seriously from this point on, as the New Orleans Saints learned the hard way. Starks was an efficient 12 carries for 57 yards (or 4.7 yards per carry), while Grant was 9 for 40 yards (or 4.4 yards per carry).
I have to say that I'm confident in the run game again. A duo like this should be enough to occupy any defense's attention. If they don't pay attention to the run, they'll get crammed by Aaron Rodgers, and vice versa.
You have to give the offensive line credit for really picking it up after such a shaky start in the preseason.
T.J. Lang had two false starts, but let's give the guy some time before we really say anything about him. Daryn Colledge wasn't very solid on the false starts himself, and this was only his first game at left guard anyway. I have to say he did a very solid job, overall.
The line only allowed two sacks in the game, and that is mightily impressive considering that the Saints have one of the better front sevens in the NFL.
Special Teams Stink, Then Don't Stink, Then Stink Again
I'm not sure just what exactly the Packers see in Shawn Slocum. The guy has improved a thing or two since he became the special teams coordinator, but returns for a touchdown—like what we saw against New Orleans—don't seem to be going away anytime soon.
The play just made me have bad memories that have been going on since 2009. (Stink).
But here comes Randall Cobb who becomes the first player ever to return a touchdown from the new 35 yard line kickoff rule. The man was down but did, as my old pal Skippy from StarFox once said, "Do a barrel roll" Unbelievable play. (They don't stink).
Dare I say that this kid is the next Percy Harvin?
Then Darren Sproles returns it for another 38 yards. (Then they stink again).
I just don't think Slocum has done anything to keep his job for as long as he has. Because honestly, I think Green Bay has so much potential with Tim Masthay and Mason Crosby and their strong legs, and now Randall Cobb and his return abilities.
With that much potential, the Packers special teams ought to be playing a whole lot better than this. Slocum, like I've said 100 times, needs to go.
The defense needs to get their act together, and as time goes by, I fully expect that to happen. The Packers won't be facing another offense as big as the Saints again this season, and they're only facing Carolina next week to help them get some practice in before they face Chicago.
As far as their offense goes, I'm going to go out on a limb as say that this could potentially become the best offense in the league. Aaron Rodgers with decent protection and a run game that can match any defense in the league makes a combination unlike any other in recent memory.
I'm optimistic for the season, but there are clearly some things the Packers need to work on.