10

September

2010 Packers Week One Preview: Fireworks in Philly?

As they embark on a journey they hope will end with a victory in Dallas and hoisting the Lombardi trophy, the Green Bay Packers open the 2010 season on the road staring at what looks like a mirror image of themselves just two short seasons ago.

A franchise quarterback traded, despite deep divisions in the fan base. A new starting quarterback that remains largely untested. A core of young receivers that have shown great promise, yet they haven’t truly had that breakout season.

The 2010 Green Bay Packers no doubt look at the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles the same way the looked at themselves in 2008.

Playing the role of Brett Favre is Donovan McNabb, who was traded to the Redskins this past offseason. The part of Aaron Rodgers would be played by new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb, drafted in the second round in 2007 out of Houston.

Both teams enter their first game, as the other 30 teams in the NFL do, with Super Bowl aspirations. That said, the Packers are widely regarded as one of (if not THE) favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLV while the Eagles are expected to finish second or third in an always difficult NFC East.

A loss by either team in this game is not the end of the world. For the Packers however, starting off another season slowly would severely jeopardize any hopes of getting home field advantage in the playoffs. Getting off to a fast start was a strong point of emphasis for Mike McCarthy this offseason. For the Eagles, they have rallied from holes in the standings before so a loss would not cripple their hopes either.

Breaking down the Eagles

Obviously, all eyes are on Kolb and how he performs. He has drawn many comparisons to Rodgers. He is entering his first season as “the guy” and will no doubt be learning as he goes along. Teams will be bringing the pressure early and often against Kolb and the Packers will be no different. Is Kolb a strength or a hindrance to this team? It’s too soon to tell. Check back in November.

The biggest strength of the Eagles is their receiving corps. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are one the best young receiving duos in the league. Both are incredibly agile and very fast with good hands and should pose a difficult challenge for the Packers’ aging secondary.

On defense, the Eagles secondary should be a primary concern for the Packers. Asante Samuel, despite recent struggles, remains a pick-six threat every time he gets near the ball and Ellis Hobbs remains an underrated threat as well. The Packers also should not look past the Eagles linebacking corps either, with Ernie Sims playing on the outside.

The biggest weakness for the Eagles on offense would have to be their running game. While getting rid of the oft-injured Brian Westbrook was overall a good move, the Eagles now move forward with an unknown quantity in LeSean McCoy. Westbrook could provide instant points when he was healthy and while McCoy has shown flashes, it remains to be seen what he can do over the course of a 16 game season.

On defense, the Eagles have a fairly weak defensive line. Upon viewing their depth chart, I read the names of the four lineman and my first thought was “who?!” With rookie Brandon Graham starting on the left end, the Eagles certainly set themselves up for some growing pains on the d-line.

When the Packers have the ball….

Look for a heavy dose of Ryan Grant early. It will give everyone the chance to see if the Packers offensive line can hold up, albeit against a weak defensive line. Of course, Rodgers and the receiving corps are a threat to score at any given moment, so look for McCarthy to take advantage of the other side of the Eagles secondary.

Don’t be surprised if the Eagles are blitz heavy in the beginning, either. Everyone knew the Packers offensive line was the team’s Achilles heel a year ago and Andy Reid will no doubt be only too happy to test it in the season opener.

When the Eagles have the ball….

With a brand new starter under center, look for Dom Capers to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Kolb. With most of the defensive starters that missed camp back in the lineup, look for the linebackers to be giving Kolb fits all day.

Also, the Eagles will no doubt be targeting wherever Charles Woodson is NOT. They no doubt will try and take advantage of rookie Morgan Burnett and corner Tramon Williams with quick slant routes and the occasional deep ball.

Three Keys to the Game

1. Will the Packers O-line hold up?
This no doubt will be the key question for the Packers throughout the season. If they can withstand crazy blitz packages from the Eagles LBs, there could be good reason for optimism.

2. Will Kevin Kolb be Aaron Rodgers…or Jay Fiedler?
This is the key to the Eagles for 2010. If the Packers can force Kolb into some mistakes and rushed throws and create some turnovers, there is no reason the Packers can’t win this game.

3. Who will win the coaching battle?
McCarthy and Reid are two of the best offensive minds in the game today. Both have had to deal with distractions involving their previous starting quarterbacks and young receiving corps yet their offenses keep scoring points. This will be a fun chess game to watch.

Prediction

Packers 38, Eagles 27

This no doubt will be an awesome display of offensive fireworks. With a weak Eagles defensive line and the Packers linebackers still getting their sea legs, there will be shortage of highlight reel plays in this game.

The Packers get off to a strong start to the season and the march to Super Bowl XLV has begun.

HERE’S TO FOOTBALL BEING BACK!


——————

Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

——————

20 Responses to “2010 Packers Week One Preview: Fireworks in Philly?”

  1. Eagles were third in the league in total sacks last season I think so a good test for our O-line. I think this will be a good first test and if they can hold without having to keep the TE in all the time, we will be over thirty points. I don’t see the Eagles scoring more than 24 on us though. Can’t wait, thanks for the post! Over to catch up on Cheesehead Radio.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Thanks, Brady. I don’t think the Eagles even reach 20 pts. I am expecting Capers to try to make Kolb’s life miserable and force him into mistakes.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

      Thank you all for the comments. Due to a weird glitch I can’t reply to individual comments so I will do my best here.

      Brady–Like I said it is a good thing to get Kolb early and I agree this is a good test for the Packers o-line.

      JR–Perhaps “aging secondary“ is wrong. The youth do need to step up (this means YOU Tramon) if Woodson hits a wall which could happen to ANY athlete.

      Holly–I meant more household names. That said Cole is definitely headed that way.

      I still say Asante Samuel is a threat. Way too much potential. As for the Packers O line, Rodgers was droppes 50 times last year. A few of those plays, had they turned out different, could have turned some games and given the Packers the North. That is an Achilles heel to me, despite Rodgers’ incredible elusiveness.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Excellent work as always Al. I do have one question for you. Considering Woodson is coming off a Defensive Player of the Year season and is showing now real signs of slowing down, is it really the Packers “aging secondary” that concerns you? It seems to me that Woodson will continue to be solid and will do well against the Eagles. My concern would be with the youth in our secondary. I don’t expect Kolb to pick apart our defense like the Brett Favres and Drew Breeses of the league would, but I do expect them to make some mistakes. I just hope they aren’t game-changing mistakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Hey, you guys even comment together!

      I didn’t write this one, JR. Hopefully Kris will be able to stop in later and reply to your comment. As far as my perspective, Woodson is an exceptional athlete that I think can play at a high level for another 3 years, at least. The key to this game certainly is to make Kolb’s first real game as a starter a miserable one.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Herm Edwards says:

        hes started too games already (first qb with 300+ yrds in first 2 starts) expect it be three after sunday

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

          Sorry, I meant first time as “the” starter. If the Packers can’t dial up a consistant pass rush, 300+ yds is certainly attainable. Of course, I’m banking on the pass rush…

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Holly says:

    Trent Cole, with his 12.5 sacks in 2009 despite earning double teams most downs, is a “who?” ? I’m not sure I agree with that, but otherwise, I think you’ve got some really great nuggets here. I certainly am looking forward to the Reid/McCarthy matchup, all the moreso because they’ve had months to plan their mode of attack.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. PackersRS says:

    I disagree with some points on this one, Kris.

    The Eagles’ secondary isn’t a point of concern. Their safeties are one rookie and an average, though hard hitting Mikel. They really missed Dawkins last year, as they were the #19 in passing PPG, despite being #3 in sacks. Yes, their both starting corners are very good, but there’s not much depth after that.

    Their linebackers, excluding Stewart Bradley, are bad. Sims is bad, and so is Akeem Jordan. They were AWFUL against TEs.

    Their DL isn’t terrible as you say. Trent Cole is a top 10 DE in the NFL, and Patterson and Bunkley are very good DTs, and Brandon Graham figures to be a force. No, not a top 10 DL by any means, but not a weakness.

    I also don’t think that they’ll blitz because our OL was the Achilles Heel, as Rodgers was THE BEST QB against the rush in the NFL. They’ll blitz, certainly, but because, like you said, it’s in their DNA. I just disagree with the motive. The problem for the Packers were simple 4 man rushes, were our guys were plain beaten. Yes, early in the season, with Spitz calling the protections, sometimes blitzers came untouched, but not a concern with Wells IMHO.

    Overall, a nice article. Just some points I disagree with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. John Rehor John Rehor says:

    I think this game will be a good test for the Packers OL and defense. Can the much maligned OL from last year withstand the blitz heavy Eagles defense? If they can it should provide great optimism for their play for the rest of the year.

    On the other side of the ball, will Capers unleash the beast against Kolb with the shadow McNabb in the foreground? Again, if we can get pressure against the Eagles, it should help build for the rest of the season.

    Packers 27-17.

    Great job as always Al.

    Now all you need is Mike Davidsen to weigh in and GPN has fully represented ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. austin boller says:

    are u fucking me? weak eagles d line? third in sacks last season and when of the best de’s in the game trent cole, also a solid inside with bunkley and patterson. i think the eagles d line looks a hell of a alot stronger than the packers o line

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Cole is great, but bunkly and patterson are not exactly household names. I think you’re overrating them a bit, but then again, you are an eagles fan and know your players…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Herm Edwards says:

    trent cole is easily top 5 end in the nfl. btw sims and jordan are both consistent linebackers. sims came from one of the worst defenses to one of the best, expect a good season from him, and the philadelphia eagles

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Dab says:

    packers got it this season, nothing stoppin them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Ron LC says:

    I think it is critical that the defense establish it self as an aggressive force in this game. I want to see the same D that we saw against Dallas last year. Not the one we saw against Minn, Pitt, Cards and Tampa. Every time they dropped off the line and went soft they got torn apart. Attack, attack, attack!

    ST’s better cover, if not they will be a liability all year.

    TT used the draft and UFA to make the changes to the team. Will they help or hurt? We’ll know more Sunday night. This game will answer a lot of questions. As far as the prognosticators go – I don’t think think they know anymore than we do.

    I feel good about the Offense and the D and ST’s need to show what they can do. No predictions untii then? Oh hell, why not?

    Packers 28 – Eagles 21

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Putting forth a great defensive performance in game 1 would certainly help set the tone for the season.I hope Capers brings it…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Kris Burke Kris Burke says:

    I agree. Let the D loose, Matthews and Co. can run wild.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0