Tisdel’s Tirades: Predictions for the 2010 Green Bay Packers
Tisdel’s Tirades: My Predictions for the 2010 Green Bay Packers (Which Will, Along With A Dollar, Buy You Some Chex Mix At The Vending Machine)
So: This offense is perhaps the best offense I have seen in GB. From the starters all the way through the backups, there are no positions where the Packers are weak. We have great starters at QB, TE and WR, good starters on the line and at RB and FB, and quality backups at EVERY position. This is pretty much my dream: if one of the stars goes down, we won’t be able to replace their production but we will damn sure be able to plug the next, capable and experienced, player into the system and move right along. Perhaps best of all, the Packers are solid on the offensive line. The tackles are the best we have, the interior linemen are very solid, and in case of injury we know what’s going to happen. Bulaga can fill in in the event of an injury to Clifton, which will happen. Lang backs up at RT and LG, and Spitz can play any of the interior positions. For at least the first injury, the Packers know what they’ll do if a starter goes down, which is worth a lot of money in protecting Aaron Rodgers.
The defense is not nearly as sound. We have three quality starters on the line and a good backup in Mike Neal, but losing Jolly hurts. There’s not much depth here with the oft-injured Harrell and C.J.Wilson here. The same goes for OLB. The starters are good, and could even be great in the case of Clay Matthews, but not acquiring more depth in case Matthews (who has a history of hamstring problems) goes down could prove to be a mistake. I like Brady Poppinga too, but neither he nor Brandon Chillar nor Frank Zombo will come close to replacing Matthews’ production. That’s the simple fact. This is likely all worrying over nothing, but every NFL team has injuries. You have to be prepared for this eventuality. The Packers are thoroughly prepared on offense, but not really on defense.
It’s been really hard to know how the pass-rush will look, what with Matthews and Brad Jones missing extended time and Dom Capers being unwilling to dial up the super-blitzes in the preseason. I’m optimistic about the complicated looks we can throw at a first-year starter in Kevin Kolb, but at the same time, one wonders about how far that’ll get us over the course of the season. Coaches can scheme and plan all they want, but at the end of the day, you have to have people with pass-rush talent that can beat the guy in front of them. Matthews and Cullen Jenkins (and maybe Mike Neal) are our only guys who can do that. And a good pass rush makes the secondary better.
I think that the Packers will beat the Eagles in Philadelphia. They’ll beat the Bills, Bears, Lions and Redskins before dropping a game against Miami, although the Bears at Soldier Field could be tricky. I think we’ll beat the Vikings, lose to the Jets and beat the Cowboys at Lambeau. Even after the bye week, I’m not sure the Packers can win against Favre in the Metrodome, so mark that as a loss. But the stretch run gets going after that with wins against Atlanta, San Fran and Detroit before a tough loss to New England. The Packers will take the last two games against New York and Chicago for a 12-4 record and the division title. (4-0 against the NFC East would be a hell of a feat, but I think these Packers can do it.)
Without going through it game-by-game, I think we’ll see the Vikings end up at 10-6, the Bears at 9-7 and the Lions a surprising 6-10.
Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley and Josh Sitton will make the Pro Bowl for the offense. On defense, Nick Collins and Charles Woodson will repeat as Pro Bowlers. I’m undecided on whether I think Matthews will make it. If Al Harris makes a successful return, he has a serious shot at being the Comeback Player of the Year. Talk of Aaron Rodgers as the offensive POY is not out of the question.
This, of course, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes to team success.
I do not think the Packers will overtake the Saints, and it’s possible that they’ll be fighting Dallas for the No. 2 seed. But I definitely think they’ll capture the No. 3 seed and get a home playoff game, which I think they will win. I could see these Packers winning two posteason games to get to the NFC Championship, but then losing to the Saints. A lot depends on Al Harris coming back to make the secondary a position of strength again. However, this is me being less than optimistic, and the possibility definitely exists for the Packers to win a Super Bowl. Their offense is powerful, their defense can be solid and the special teams will coalesce in time.
The only thing I would worry about is that, in the past, similar teams to the current makeup tended not to do very well with high expectations placed on them. Mike McCarthy’s Packers struggled early last year and early in the playoff game, when all expectations were that they would win. The 2007 Packers roared through their early schedule and beat two playoff teams in the process, but dropped a NFC Championship game that they were favored to win. However, all indications from training camp were that a) McCarthy was taking a much tougher approach with the team and not building up their image of themselves, and b) that their confidence this year comes from experience, not from mere talk. So there’s grounds for hope that that sort of misstep won’t happen again.