This also gives me the chance to hand the baton to another Lincoln-Sudbury guy … ace Packer beat guy Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (check him out here and here, too.) Here’s his breakdown of what’s ahead in Green Bay …
Where they’re good: The passing offense and run defense. QB Aaron Rodgers blossomed last season during a Pro Bowl campaign. He has always put up nice numbers, but he finally started making the key plays to carry the team in the second half of the season, starting with a must-win over Dallas that set the stage for the post-season run.
The run defense was tops in the league and many teams just avoided the ground altogether because the Packers have an active line and good flow linebackers.
The big camp questions: Can the secondary shore up the weak spots that were exposed against top-flight QBs with quick releases?
When will CB Al Harris be able to play and how effective will he be? Will Brad Jones bring enough at LOLB to keep people from constantly doubling Clay Matthews?
Will the offensive line start another season slow? Can the special teams become adequate?
This needs to happen to win big: Defend the pass better. The Packers got torched last year against playoff-caliber teams and quarterbacks. If they don’t improve — a better pass rush would help — they’ll be another early exit from the playoffs.
Where they stack up: There’s no reason why this Packers team shouldn’t take another step and be a Super Bowl contender. If the offensive line holds, they should have one of the top offenses in the league with TE Jermichael Finley poised to be the league’s best at the position. And if Dom Capers can tinker a little bit in his second season, and if the special teams can even be mediocre, the Packers should go head-to-head with the Vikings for the NFC North title. The Packers must go 6-0, 5-1 against a softy early schedule.
SCOUTING THE SCHEDULE SERIES
July 14: Bengals
July 20: Browns
July 22: Colts