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.
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.