22

June

Packers Tough Opponents More Worrisome than Quirky Early-Season Schedule

Packers Training Camp

There is not much structure in the Packers early-season schedule.

I’m one of those people that shows up early to work and tries to get as much done as possible before other people start filing into the office and my phone starts ringing.

Yeah, it’s no fun dragging myself out of bed at 5:15 a.m., but once I get to the office and get rolling, it’s nice to have a few hours of relative quiet time so I can get my busy work out of the way before tackling the tasks that require me to interact with other human beings.

With the Packers first four games starting at 3:15 p.m., 7:20 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., rising early is not an option.

The training camp schedule also is a little different. After a week of practices starting at 8:15 a.m., the Packers will have seven consecutive practices at night, followed by a week of practices that start at 11 or 11:15 a.m.

McCarthy originally thought about eliminating night practices this season, but changed his mind once he saw the quirky start times for his team’s first four games. From PackerReport:

“The fact that we come out of the gate and play Sunday afternoon on national TV at home, then play Thursday night at home and then go away 11 days later on a Monday night, and then on a short week here at home, I wanted to make sure our players were challenged from the fact of the regularity is going to be a little up and down to start the season,” McCarthy said.

Many Packers fans might be asking why start times and dates of games are such a big deal. To us, it probably isn’t that big of a deal. And in all likelihood, it probably won’t be that big of a deal to the Packers, either.

But this is the kind of stuff that drives an NFL coach crazy. Coaches want their teams to get into a routine. Players like routine, too. Routine helps coaches control their players and it helps players develop positive work habits and structure.

If the Packers were an unproven team filled with players that had questionable levels of maturity, this lack of an early-season routine might be cause for concern. But they’re not. They’re a team with a lot of talent and very few players that won’t be able to handle a quirky schedule (as far as I know, anyway).

Instead of worrying about practice times and whether the Packers play on Sunday, Monday or Thursday, we should focus all of our worrying on the Packers first four opponents.

San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and New Orleans is a rough way to start the season.

  • The 49ers pass rush will test the Packers’ offensive line, especially whomever is at left tackle and new center Jeff Saturday. McCarthy needs to gameplan to make sure Aaron Rodgers escapes with all of his limbs intact.
  • Yes, he’s fun to mock and ridicule, but Jay Cutler is an outstanding quarterback. I don’t see the Packers sweeping the Bears again this season. Could this game be a loss?
  • After 10 days off, it’ll be time for a trip to Seattle to play Matt Flynn and the Seahawks in one of the loudest stadiums in sports on Monday night. This will likely be one of those road games where the Packers need to find a way to win even when everything isn’t clicking as well as it should (like the Falcons game last season).
  • What is New Orleans going to be like? Out of whack and freefalling after Bountygate? Or ticked off and ready to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Roger Goodell’s face to avenge the punishments he handed down?

After a noon game with Indianapolis and another night game with Houston, things settle a bit and it’s mostly noon games the rest of the way.

Obviously, if you had to choose, you’d rather have your team playing well at the end of the season instead of at the beginning. But those early-season games count, too. It’s huge if the Packers can go 4-0 or 3-1 against four conference opponents on a quirky schedule to open the season.

McCarthy and the Packers might not care for the logistics they’ll have to deal with, but once training camp kicks in and the games start counting, logistics will be the least of their concerns.

They’ll be focused on containing Justin Smith, making Jay Cuter pout, reminding Matt Flynn why he was a backup and kicking the Saints while they’re down.

The Packers are more than capable of accomplishing these tasks, whether they’re workday begins at noon, 3:15, 7:20, 7:30 or midnight.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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33 Responses to “Packers Tough Opponents More Worrisome than Quirky Early-Season Schedule”

  1. Dan says:

    I hope the D is improved coming out of the gate, if so, 4-0 or 3-1 is do-able

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    The Bears at in Lambeau in Sep right? I see the Saints being in freefall mode, and SEA should be a fair test, but GB is a better team.

    9ers will be a tossup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. BubbaOne says:

    Positive spin Bubba says: MM does an awesome job when he has time to prepare…SF, we win…Bears w/ 4 defensive starters over 30 on a short week don’t recover…Bears, you lose…the only west coast trip and we get an extra day, ah the football gods are smiling on my team…Seahawks, nice try but you lose…home game vs a Saints team w/ all sorts of upheaval and no coach…Saints, Packers win at home.
    Bottom line Packers go 5-0 scoring 396 points; opponents -3.

    Also I like that the 3 straight away games include two short jaunts vs weak teams. Intead of Colts-Texans-Rams it could have been Seahawks-Texans-Giants…yuk.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

    • Mojo says:

      I’m with Bubba on this one. However, I don’t see where our opponents will score 3 points. Or is that minus 3? Then I agree. 19 & 0.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Adam Czech says:

      -3 points…..now that’s a defensive turnaround.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    This is my take-

    Niners: will be a knock down drag out fight. the niners defense makes offenses play ugly. that is not normally a strong suit of the packers who like a rhythm offense. the o-line has to bring their A game and MM has to make protecting AR priority #1.

    Bears: Just like the niners, the bears make you go 80 yards in 6 yard chunks to score. Even if the packers win the fans will be saying, “what is wrong with the offense this year?” nothing, just great defenses.

    Seattle: this is a trap game. after two tough games this one can sneak up on the packers. seattle can rush the passer at times. similar team to the chiefs last year.

    New Orleans: This will be a tough game. Free fall? they still have drew brees, a good offensive line, darren sproles, receivers all over the place. They will not have Payton, but I am guessing Brees knows this offense pretty well. I do not think they will miss payton early in the year, i think they will miss him late in the year when they are tired and facing more adversity.

    I would be very happy with a 3-1 record. if they lose hopefully it is to the seahawks. I would rather have tie breakers with the other 3 teams on the schedule.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. James david Marsh says:

    MM always has the first game well researched, so I expect a win. I believe that the GB offense will be better in 2012/13 than in 2011/12. I fully expect to see the defense play much better this year. I also think that all of the better teams have gotten better. However, SF needs a QB, CHI needs to have better OL play, SEA will need time for their offense to gell, and NO will not only be looking to beat GB because of last year, but to stick it to the NFL in general. No team can take anybody too lightly or they will get beat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. Big T says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

    • CSS says:

      What exactly did either one do last year that would lead you to believe they had large egos, let alone egos that got in the way of advancing in the playoffs?

      Where didn’t they remain completely focused despite the adverse events occurring during years end?

      Do tell……

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy says:

      MM and TT have big egos?

      That’s the red flag of an old-school Favre apologist…

      I guess you can say MM does have a prideful ego, but it typically results in his team performing well- like when the Rodgers-less Packers had to walk into Gillette and face the off-the-charts-at-home Patriots, and he declared, “We’re nobody’s underdog”, during the 2010 season.

      TT is as humble and low-key as humanly possible.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. Nerd's Laptop says:

    The 9ers will come back down to earth next year. They aren’t as good as their record from last year.

    The Bears always have a fighting chance against us. It’s always tough, no matter what. Anything can and does happen in those games.

    Seattle’s not that good.

    As for the Saints, they could be reeling, but they could also have a “backs to the wall” sort of “us against the world” mentality.

    Still, we’re better than them at this point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I disagree on the 49ers. i think they will be BETTER than last season. They picked up some good players in free agency and the draft and it will be year two of Harbaugh’s system. Toughest game on the schedule for Green Bay.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • James david Marsh says:

        Please see MM first game stats. At Houston will be the best test for GB.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        • BubbaOne says:

          I agree and so does Las Vegas. The Packers are favored in all 15 games the bookies gave odds for w/ the Texans game being the smallest margin.

          What if Capers come out w/ a hybrid 3-4 defense like the Elephant some have mentioned. Not only would it give us an edge in the 1st game vs the 49ers but it would minimize the Bears ability to prepare for it 4 days later.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          • Oppy says:

            Las Vegas/bookies aren’t in the business of accurately predicting winners and losers.

            This is one of the biggest misconceptions in sports.

            When they set odds/spread, they are trying to find a number that will attract even betting for and against. In other words, they are in the business of predicting public perception and then determining what type of pay outs they need to set to entice gamblers to put up about even money on both sides of the equation.

            Professional oddsmakers/sport books make their livings on taking the Vig (a fee of roughly 5% from a winners’ payout). The idea is to ensure the amount of money placed on the loosing team equals the amount of money paid out on the winning team, and then make your money on the percent you take from the winners.

            This is why odds and spreads shift and change as the game draws near- to influence the amount of money being placed on a given side of the bet.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

            • Adam Czech says:

              You’re right about bookies not being in the business of predicting winners or losers, but not entirely right about wanting to draw even money on both sides. Many bookies like to gamble just as much, if not more than, their customers.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

              • Oppy says:

                The people who make their living as odds setters and sport books (professionals) will not be in business for long if they attempt to make their income based on being on the “winning side” of the bets they take.. Upsets are ever-looming. They make their money by balancing the sheet and taking the percentage.

                Those that attempt to make money by winning the bets they keep are not professional, they’re hobbyists who will soon end up with people hunting them down for the winnings they can’t afford to cover. ;)

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              • Adam Czech says:

                Nope. Many gamble with the lines just like their customers. Read Chad Millman’s “The Odds” for some good insight into the mind of a Vegas bookmaker.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • PackersRS says:

        I disagree. I think last year they got lucky in a lot of ways, most importantly in turnovers.

        I doubt their offense will be able to have the same ball security, specially their QB, and it will be their downfall.

        They’re trying to fix their inept deep passing game with receivers, but it’s a double-edged sword. They’ll have to throw more deep balls, but Smith doesn’t have the arm to do it, and he’ll end up turning it over.

        The passing game doesn’t work that way, that you plug in guys and suddenly you have a more explosive offense. It takes rythm and synch, which takes more passing snaps. No QB can work going run run deep pass, and that’s the feeling I get from what they’ve done this offseason.

        I don’t think they will be able to hide Alex Smith this year…

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

          AJ Jenkins, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James – all added to that offense. The plan is obviously to lower the expectations of Alex Smith.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

          • PackersRS says:

            With all those weapons it’ll have the opposite effect. If he doesn’t perform there won’t be the excuse of lacking offensive weapons.

            With Moss, Manningham, Jenkins, Crabtree, Davis, they’re going to have to spread the field and pass more. A lot of players are going to complain if they don’t. I see what happened to the Jets happening to the 49ers.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Wagszilla says:

        The 49ers defense is fearsome but I’ll take Aaron Rodgers over “Week One” Alex Smith on the road any day of the week.

        Speaking of Alex’s… I could see an Alex Green coming out party this game.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

        • Oppy says:

          I’d love to agree with you, wagz- I think the Packers’ current A. Green could be as explosive as his predecessor, but he is coming of reconstructive knee surgery, and while I do think he’ll play this year, he probably won’t be near enough to 100% to truly make an impact until mid to late season.

          I hope he gets touches early in the season, but I think the team will take their time getting Green back into the swing of things

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          • Wagszilla says:

            Good point. I didn’t familiarize myself with his injury too much.

            Guess it’ll be Saine catching the check downs and Starks on the draws then.

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  8. Adam Czech says:

    Agree that 49ers game will be super tough. Same goes for Texans game, but 49ers will be a bit tougher.

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  9. Chad Lundberg says:

    You’re all just scared to say it.

    Packers go 16-0, lol.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Wagszilla says:

    It’ll be interesting to see the Defense without Hargrove for the first 8 games.

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    • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

      As compared to ….him never being in our defense.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Wagszilla says:

        Here’s why I’m interested:

        The problems in the defense seems to stem from a lack of a pass rush. Sure Collins going down was a huge blow but even the greatest secondary (dare I say, Green Bay’s) can’t cover forever.

        Hargrove is the only new guy I have faith in making an immediate impact. Sure I’d love Worthy or Perry to make a huge splash but as rookies I’m not sure that’s entirely realistic.

        Will the rookies be more of a force than the likes of Jarius Wynn or Erik Walden? Absolutely. But they’re green (pardon the pun) and still have yet to play a down in the NFL.

        Contrarily, Hargrove is a known quantity and can contribute immediately.

        I guess all this to say, the first 8 games without Hargrove will prove if this defense has turned a page or not. Can they stimulate pressure from the D-Line or not?

        It’s too bad the Pack couldn’t get Tollefson was well. That would have been great.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

        • cow42 says:

          so you’d be more excited about hargrove/tollefson than you are about worthy/perry.

          can’t agree with you on that one, bro.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

          • Wagszilla says:

            This season? Yes.

            I think he’ll make a bigger contribution.

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