For a team whose 2014 season ended in excruciating manner, there was a very positive vibe coming from the team as organized team activities opened this past week. The team had good attendance and the injured players from last year appear to be on track for full recoveries.
The Packers are once again one of the elite teams in NFL. If you bet on NFL football, you will find Sportsbook.ag has the Packers over/under for wins this season at 11, tied with the Seattle Seahawks for highest in the league. Those two teams will play each other in week two in a crucial NFC matchup that may determine home field field advantage in the playoffs.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back and feeling no ill effects from his calf injury that hindered him in the playoffs last season. As usual, if the reigning NFL MVP starts another 16 or more games this year the Packers will be again vying for a championship.
On defense the Packers have made it clear that all-world linebacker Clay Matthews will again be playing inside linebacker like the did in the second half of last season. The Packers defense was a different unit after the bye week last year and if isn’t broke, no need to fix it. Opponents now have to account for Matthews at the snap instead of counting on him to be in his usual outside linebacker position. Head coach Mike McCarthy even hinted at using him at other positions, which could be interesting.
Elsewhere the Packers will have B.J. Raji back at nose tackle and by all accounts he is looking like he’s going to have a monster year. With Letroy Guion also back the Packers’ defensive line is looking to excel from the start this year.
The Packers have also rebuilt their secondary after losses in free agency and that competition will, in my view, make the unit better than it was last year. Tramon Williams was OK but in the end he was definitely not the player he was in previous years. His last play was getting burned for the game-winner in the NFC Championship.
On special teams the Packers will finally have a new coordinator, Ron Zook, and the very watchful eye of McCarthy, who gave up play calling duties this offseason so he can focus on all phases of the team. It was special teams that cost the Packers the loss in Seattle last year but I’m guessing it won’t be a problem this year.
As the newly bearded McCarthy said, this is a fun time of year. It is a good football team with a good veteran base for the first time under McCarthy, who is entering his tenth season as a head coach and a new chapter of his career.
Surely a lot can change in the 100-plus days until the season opener, but right now life is good in Green Bay.