Welcome to an exciting new year of sports here at the Siskiyou Newspaper. My name is Evan Ream and I am the new sports editor. I will be using this space each week to voice my opinion on anything happening in sports currently whether it is professional, collegiate or even at the grassroots level.
This week I want to talk about the Green Bay Packers. The Super Bowl XLV champions are looking to be the first team to repeat since the Patriots won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX in 2003 and 2004. Green Bay is off to a 3-0 start (my deadline is sadly before their game this weekend, but they ‘re playing the 1-2 Broncos at home and are 13 point favorites so it’s safe to say by the time this runs that they will be 4-0), beating two playoff teams already and averaging 33 points per game. The scary thing is though, that they haven’t really been clicking; their team has yet to play a completely dominating 60 minutes. Once they get it all together, they could be unstoppable.
Last year the Packers didn’t really put everything together until week 16 where they started their 6 game winning streak concluding with a Super Bowl win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This years’ team is mostly the same as last years’ edition. They are led by Super Bowl XLV MVP and the highest rated passer (120.9) in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, who is either the best or second best quarterback in the league depending on how you feel about Tom Brady, has even more weapons to play with this year than he did last. The re-emergence of Jermichael Finley, who went out for the season in week 5 last year, gives Rodgers the best pass catching tight end in the league to go with a receiving corps that goes 5 deep with the addition of exciting rookie Randall Cobb.
Green Bay’s offense was somewhat one dimensional last year; they couldn’t really run the ball after Ryan Grant got hurt in week 1. The Packers were forced to throw the ball most of the time, and because teams knew that this was coming, they could easily trot out their nickel or dime packages on first down, but they still couldn’t stop Rodgers. This year they have a two pronged rushing attack with Ryan Grant and surprise postseason star James Starks. The Green Bay offense now has balance, making it more unstoppable than last years’ team.
The only question about this team is the pass defense. This whole season they have been shutting down the run game using an unconventional 2-4 defense led by B.J. Raji. However, their defense against the pass has been suspect at best. They have been intercepting the quarterback a lot (5 times in 3 games) and getting a decent amount of pressure (10 sacks in 3 games) but they have still allowed opposing quarterbacks pass for 1,078 yards. Part of that number is skewed by the fact that the Packers are usually winning, forcing their opponents to pass, but part of it has been incompetence in coverage. Former Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson is past his prime and the loss of Pro Bowl Safety Nick Collins to a season ending neck injury is devastating. Luckily the NFL has changed and if you can score, you can win. A good offense is more important than a good defense now.
Last year the Packers led the league in injuries and still won the Super Bowl. This year should be no different assuming Aaron Rodgers stays healthy. I, and I think many others, would be very surprised if the Packers did not repeat this year.