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Keys to 2009

Keys to 2009

topten

 

What needs to happen in 2009 for the Packers to be successful? Here are the top ten musts as I see it right now.

 

 

 

 

10. A Fast Start

Winning cures all woes. Winning right away breeds confidence. A solid Packer team could go anywhere from 6-2 to 8-0 with the current first half of the season schedule. Coming out hard and strong will go a long way in instilling self-belief into the players and the fan base alike. Go .500 or less in the first half of the season, and it’s going to turn into a long, long year.

 

9. B.J. Raji

Apparently, the guy is a stud. Can he bring it to the field? I can’t think of a time in the last decade when a defensive lineman has been more heralded. Can he live up to the hype? He is going to need to if the Pack has a shot at stopping anybody.

 

8. Jeremy Thompson and Clay Matthews

This could drop off the list with a solid training camp by either player. I am not sold on Jeremy Thompson yet, but a lot of people seem to be. If Matthews can overtake him, or make a solid contribution elsewhere, this might not be a problem at all. Unfortunately, a lot of that has yet to be seen. I see opposing offenses trying to eat these guys up as much as possible. Let’s all hope they live up to the hype.

 

7. Security at Safety

Nick Collins? Who knows. Atari Bigby? Who knows. Anthony Smith? Who knows. Aaron Rouse? Sucks. Charlie Peprah? Surrrre. We need some solid answers at safety. As of today, we really don’t have any. Two of these four guys need to make a statement in camp (if they are in camp). This could easily be number one in my book.

 

6. Punting

Derrick Frost anyone? It brings anger to my being just thinking about it. Luckily, Kapinos was able to step in and deliver at least something that looked like a punt late last season. We need a solid punter who isn’t worrying about where his next paycheck is coming from. If you can’t win the field position battle, you can’t win.

 

5. Short Yardage

Can the Packers get the tough yard this season? They couldn’t get it done last year. Who is going to step up and get the dirty yard on fourth down when we need it? It may fall on the players, it may fall on the play call, regardless, if we can’t get that first and short when we need it, it’s all for naught.

 

4. Barnett Comes Back Healthy

Much like Cullen, the loss of Nick Barnett last season was huge. An emotional leader, a fiery leader, and a strong voice on the field, the return of Nick Barnett and his role as boss of the Bay will be crucial from day one.

 

3. Aaron Kampman

I feel like there are a lot of eggs in this basket. What happens if Kamp doesn’t show up like he needs to? If Kamp can’t get it done I don’t know who will. How well Aaron Kampman can learn his new position may very well determine how good the Green Bay Packers are.

 

2. Cullen Jenkins Returns to Form

I don’t think there is a more overlooked body on the team right now. Cullen Jenkins was an obvious difference maker early last season. When he went down, the line was never the same. Cullen needs to come back healthy and return to last season’s form right out of the gate.

 

1. Aaron Rodgers Stays Healthy

I think this one is undisputable. Aaron Rodgers needs to play, and play all year. I like the positive thinking from all you Brohm and Flynn fans, but let’s get serious… no one wants to see that.

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Comments (8)

Graham's picture

Undisputable is right.. AR is the key.

I think Collins for all his crap is going to be just fine. The guy did make the pro bowl and he might be stupid but he is a football player. He plays his butt off so lets remember all the heart I see on the field. He will be fine. Bigby? who knows love to shee him health along with Jenkins, Harell (i just puked a little) and all those other injuries.

Looking forward to August 1st and then September 13 when we get to play the Bears and test out our 3-4 and Jay Cutler. Should be fun to watch!!

Asshalo's picture

I don't necesarily agree with Collins. The 3-4 is such a decentralized, communication-reliant scheme that we can't afford any dummies on defense. They need to be intuitively smart.

Greg C.'s picture

10. A fast start would be nice, but there might be a couple of extra losses early due to the new defense not yet hitting its stride.

9. "I can’t think of a time in the last decade when a defensive lineman has been more heralded." Not since...Jamaal Reynolds. Oops. Sorry.

8. I'm hoping for Matthews to overtake Thompson, as I think he has more upside.

7. Between the top three guys, I think we can get good performances out of two of them, and maybe Rouse will be okay as a backup with another year of experience. The safety position is not secure, though. I agree with you.

6. Getting rid of a perfectly good punter was one of Ted Thompson's biggest mistakes as Packers GM. All I want is an average punter, like Ryan. With the exception of him, that position sure has been a headache since Hentrich got away in the late 90s.

5. I thought the QB sneak was effective early in the 2008 season. But then they got too predictable with that fullback dive with Kuhn. That's the problem with having an O-line that is built for finesse rather than nastiness. I think they should just go back to what worked: the QB sneak.

4. Agreed on the importance of Barnett.

3. Ditto for Kampman.

2. Ditto for Jenkins.

1. Yeah, the Packers could get into a big hole if Rodgers goes down for even a few games. But there is still time for one of these backups to show something before the season starts.

Asshalo's picture

Nice Post. Very true that the majority of our question marks come on the defensive side of the ball. Our early schedule being easier may help the transition. I have faith Capers will make due. He's turned around a lot of defenses. They don't need to be great-- like in 2007. Our overall stats weren't amazing, but we kept points off the board.

Normally "10. A Fast Start" isn't a must being many successfull teams have surged late (the '95 pack, '05 steelers, and '07 giants). But given our opening schedule is much easier than our later in the year, it's crucial we win those early ones-- especially since this figures to be a pretty close division race.

CheeseheadTV had a very informative post on Thompson (props Aaron and TP) being the best rounded OLB for pass coverage and Matthews being better suited for QB preasure. Here's to hoping the can both do their roles and then some.

"5. Short Yardage" That goes for defense as well. The vikings got so many 4th downs that first game and it carried over the rest of the season. We rarely stopped 3rd/4th and short.

Justin Case's picture

Lets not get too giddy on Jeremy Thompson, he's only showed 'something' in the OTAs. As Alan Barbre has showed it's training camp where the truth is really found. I think Mathews jumps ahead at Training Camp for sure. Thompson couldn't do a thing last season (albeit in a 4-3 DE capacity) why should he be hugely better in the 3-4?

Jersey Al's picture

I think Raji and Jenkins should be grouped together at #2 because they are our Plan A, B, C and D. We have little behind them.

Many would call me crazy, but I would put punting at #3. If you look at the field position stats from last year, it's a horror show. Field position determines the outcome of many games.

PackersRS's picture

With punter, ST play all along. Except for Blackmon, it was horrid. Jarret freaking Bush was the tackling leader in ST. That says A LOT about our performance. TT apparently solved that problem, drafting ST standout after ST standout. 3 were selected ST Player of the Year by their teams.

Globalpack's picture

What is dangerous is that improved O-line play didn't even make the top ten. The O-line last year was inconsistent and bad establishing the run. This year the Center, RG and RT could be new starters. How the OL plays is probably a big key to '09 success and it can't even crack the top ten of question marks for the '09 season. I think the Packers will be greatly improved over last year, but a lot of pieces really need to come together.

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