The Green Bay Packers kick off the preseason Thursday night in New England and there is no doubt the Packers have one of the best teams in the league. So what do the Packers need to work on this preseason? Here are my thoughts.
The Packers’ offense is loaded to the gills with blue chip players, at least among the starters. The Packers do have depth at receiver and running back and I don’t really care about depth at quarterback because there is only one Aaron Rodgers and without him the Packers can’t win a Super Bowl. My concerns on offense are depth at tight end and especially offensive line.
At tight end the Packers have Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless and nobody else. Those two are workable players the Packers can live with because they compliment each other with different styles of play. However, lose one of them and the Packers would be scrambling to adjust. I don’t think guys like Justin Perillo, Kennard Backman, Michell Henry or Harold Spears are going to put the fear of God in anybody. The Packers still have not found a replacement for Jermichael Finley and are an injury away from deep trouble.
At offensive line the Packers are returning all five starters from what is arguably the best unit in the NFL. Given Rodgers’ tendency to hold the ball until the last second I highly doubt any other line in the league would have give up fewer sacks than the 28 they did last year. With Pro Bowlers or potential Pro Bowlers at every position, this group has the makings to be very special. But what happens if one of them goes down?
How far could the Packers go with Jeremy Vujnovich or Vince Kowalski at left tackle? The Packers do have some depth at center with JC Tretter and at right tackle with Donnie Barclay, but guard is another area of concern where Lane Taylor has some experience but after that we are looking at Josh Walker or Matt Rotheram. Not exactly household names.
With that said I will be focusing my preseason attention to how the second team offensive line performs. Which of those no-names can step up and make the team and be able to fill in if needed. I will be shocked if the Packers don’t lose one lineman to injury either before the season or during it, so to me it is critical to have capable backups, preferably without having to move three guys to replace one position.
On the defensive side it is easy to find areas to watch. It’s all of them! There are question marks all over the place. Who will be the inside linebackers when Clay Matthews moves outside? Who will be the outside linebackers when Clay is inside? How will B.J. Raji bounce back from injury and the move back to nose tackle? Do the Packers have enough depth on the defensive line to overcome the suspensions they are facing the first three weeks of the season? How will top draft picks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins fit into the secondary? I could go on and on.
Obviously guys like Matthews, Raji, Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels and Sam Shields won’t see much action so that means guys like Josh Boyd, Mike Pennel, Nate Palmer, Jake Ryan and Jayrone Elliott among others, will have plenty of opportunities. In the secondary the biggest question is who starts are left cornerback so that will be fun to watch.
Finally, it would be nice to see a little improvement in special teams. Confidence is not high there, but at least I don’t have Sean Slocum to kick around anymore (pun intended).
I love the preseason. You don’t have to get all worried during the game and you get to see all these young guys fighting for their NFL lives. While it may not be the best football ever played, these guys are playing their heart out.
So bring on the Patriots. Let’s see what we got.