Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm Looking Forward to Football

This has been kind of a dead time for Michigan hockey news, so I apologize for the lack of anything interesting to read about. One thing of note, Jack Johnson's official website has launched. They've got a lot of fun products in the store. They're still getting it up and running, but I look forward to seeing the features that they come up with.

Anyway, I've been toying with the idea of what to do with this blog as it relates to things like the Packers, Nascar, the Pistons, and to a lesser extent the Red Wings (they're more on topic since most of the people that read this blog are hockey fans, and I'd assume many of you are Red Wing fans as well). I like writing about those things, but I feel that (especially with the Packers and Nascar) it's not the best audience. It almost feels useless to write about the Packers, and I don't write about them enough to feel good about ever advertising this as a Packers blog.

So, as you may have noticed, I've joined the Yardbarker Network, and I'm in the process of getting the site modified to reflect that. I feel that the majority of my posts about those other teams will be over there. My "column" is linked here (and in the next round of updates, I'll add it to the sidebar).

Here are a few quick thoughts on the Packers, though, now that we're three games into the preseason:

Their defense is going to be extremely good. The changes they made at the end of last year paid off and they're looking to be successful this year as well. The defensive line is just stellar. I'm really looking forward to seeing KGB in a part-time role, Cullen Jenkins has been a beast outside, and Corey Williams looks great in the middle. And I didn't even mention the NFL's second-leading sacker, Aaron Kampman. Hawk and Barnett have been great and Poppinga looks like he's more comfortable as well. Add in two top corners in Woodson and Harris, along with a good safety in Nick Collins and they're going to be tough to score against. The only real question mark is the SS position. Atari Bigby looks to have that starting spot locked down, and if nothing else he provides an athletic upgrade from Marquand Manuel. We'll see if he can cover. He definitely can stop the run and get to the quarterback on blitzes.

The offense I'm less happy with. The running game just hasn't been there in the preseason thusfar. Granted the projected starting running back is hurt (Morency) and they've been without Miree, the top fullback as well. And granted they've played two top run defenses in Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, but the running game hasn't been good. Jackson has shown flashes, but nothing consistent. If Morency comes back, I think they could be alright in the running game though.

As for the passing game it's been pretty good. They torched Seattle, Jacksonville, and Pittsburgh's backups through the air. Apart from the Pittsburgh game Favre has been sharp. Rodgers has been wonderful the whole time. He looks like a completely different player than a year ago. James Jones has been very impressive as the slot receiver (and if you've got a big roster in your fantasy league, I highly recommend picking him up). Driver has been great, and thankfully it looks like the injury he suffered last night isn't as serious as it looked. ::exhale:: Even Bubba Franks looks better than last year.

The big areas that needed improvement from last year were the special teams and the red zone. The special teams have gotten a shot in the arm with all these new draftees the last couple of years. Mason Crosby is going to beat out Dave Rayner for the kicker job (they may keep both of them). Jon Ryan looks to be improved as well. He was (understandably) kind of a mess last year with the impending death of his father. Will Blackmon won the returner job with an 83 yard dash against Seattle. The coverage units can use some work but guys like Hunter, Hall, White (if he makes the team) and even Barbre look like they'll be a big help in that area.

The red zone is still a problem. Again last night, Favre led a long drive down the field, they got inside the 10 and it stalled. One two of the plays, Favre had guys open (Mathis made a great play on Driver and the other pass got just tipped at the line) but the result was the same as last year. A field goal (again, pick up Crosby in your fantasy league). I hope a big body in James Jones along with the resurgence of Bubba Franks will help in there, but we haven't seen it yet.

Overall though, I'm very happy with what I've seen this preseason. No one has done anything against the Packers first-string defense, and they've played three pretty good offenses. They have the look of a dominating defense. They took the ball away a lot last year (2nd in the NFL). They got sacks a lot last year (4th in the NFL). They just gave up too many big plays. A year in the system, as well as a year of experience for guys like Hawk, Collins, Poppinga, Williams and Jenkins should pay some huge dividends. They're going to be tough to score on. If the offense can get it going, they should be right in the thick of the hunt for the division crown, or at least a playoff spot.

Mike Holmgren always said that the journey is the reward. And throughout last season, and I'm sure throughout this season, it's been an absolute joy watching this team mature right before my eyes. The foundation is in place for a very good defense, which should ease the transition to the Aaron Rodgers era, whenever it happens. And unlike the last two years, I now feel that Rodgers can be a starting QB in this league, and a pretty good one to boot. He's doing his best Hasselbeck impression against the backups, and he's led scoring drives when he's been with the starters. And that's all you want to see in the preseason.

One last thing today: This is quite possibly the worst idea ever. I'm pretty sure someone should get fired for okaying this.


Anonymous said...

Nice comment in the JMFJ guestbook Tim. I guess that site basically confirms he'll be wearing #3 for the Kings this season (as it should be).

colin said...

Man, I checked that link. What the hell? That's horrible. Really really horrible.