While many euphoric Packers fans already have the team going to the Super Bowl based only on two preseason games, I am trying to keep a level head.
There are some great signs, to be sure, but let's not assume anything. Just ask the 0-16 Lions that were 4-0 in preseason last year. So, in the spirit of keeping things at a "McCarthy-like" even keel, let's take a calm, rational look at this past week's winners and losers.
The No. 1 defense forced three turnovers in four Buffalo drives, and the No. 1 offense scored three touchdowns in four possessions. But before anyone gets overly exuberant, lets watch this week's game against the Arizona Cardinals. If the Packers "Ones" repeat their dominant play, then I'll personally jump to the front of the bandwagon.
He finished 8-of-9 for 98 yards and two TD passes for a gaudy 151.6 quarterback rating. Rodgers completed passes to six different receivers and hasn't been sacked or even knocked down yet in preseason. That's a wonderful thing to see, as holding onto the ball too long was one of the few things you could justly criticize Rodgers for last season.
"A completely different person and player this year" is how Mike McCarthy has described him. It is showing with remarkable results on the field. While we all have witnessed his athleticism and pass-catching ability, he has worked hard on his attitude, his blocking and his route running. The results so far have been impressive. Along with the reliable Donald Lee, when the Packers go to a 2 tight end formation, there are now more options that the defense has to worry about. In this game, the Packers went with two tight ends on 13 of of the first 23 plays, when the "ones" were in the game.
Despite seeing limited action due to an ongoing ankle injury, Jolly recorded two sacks and a forced fumble in just 12 plays from scrimmage. What will he do when his ankle is OK? Jolly is another guy that looks like a completely different player out there. I have been critical of Jolly in the past for taking too many plays off. Lets hope he has found himself in this, his 4th NFL season.
Desmond "The Destroyer" Bishop
If you ever run into Desmond Bishop, just step out of his way. Packer fans have seen flashes of Desmond Bishop's talent the last two seasons, but there were also a plethora of mental mistakes to offset the big plays. As he starts his third season, it seems his mental game has caught up with his physical game. He has made an inarguable case for more playing time at linebacker, in addition to his role on special teams. I see a nice 4-man ILB rotation developing between Hawk, Barnett Bishop and Chillar, with Bishop earning more time as the season progresses.
In my mind, I think he has already made the team. The Packers coaches like the different look he presents to defenses. Sutton seems very comfortable with the zone blocking scheme, picks his holes quickly and seems to always be getting positive yardage. He's one of those guys that doesn't fit your perfect mold for a running back, but he just makes plays.
Hey, he improved his quarterback rating from 0 to 51 in just one week. What's not to like about that, right?
Besides the rantings of some lunatic blogger (yours truly) that insisted Lumpkin could be the Packers best running back, he has shown little this preseason. Yet prior to the Buffalo game, he was listed as third on the depth chart at RB, ahead of Deshawn Wynn.. That would probably be surprising to many Packers fans, but not to me. I think the Packers coaches see a lot of things they like in Kregg Lumpkin. Unfortunately, he had an awful day against Buffalo. He better turn it around next week or the practice squad will be looming.
Anytime you let your opponent sack your quarterback, and it results in your quarterback getting hurt, you wear the big L on your forehead. After the game, Coach McCarthy stated that he will look at the OL closely on film. He hopes to pick his starting offensive line before Friday's game against the Cardinals and let them play together for 3 quarters. Once he sees the films, look for McCarthy to name Alan Barbe as the starter.
Is there anyone on this team with less apparent competition in camp that has such an insecure grip on a job? The Packers worked out four punters during the week before the Cleveland game but kept none of them. Durant Brooks was scratched for the Buffalo game with a hip flexor injury. Kapinos is the #1 punter on the depth chart. And yet, the odds are pretty good that the Packers punter in 2009 is probably on someone else's roster right now. Of course, if the offense continues to play like it did against the Bills, who needs a punter, anyway? I'm just being facetious there, I happen to be a big believer that winning the field position battle leads to consistent success in the NFL. I've watched the Giants do it for years.
There was a mini-reunion after the game between some of the Packers players and former Packer defensive coordinator and current Buffalo defensive line coach Bob Sanders. There were smiles and hugs everywhere, and all the right things were said. Yet one has to feel sorry for Bob Sanders. If Dom Capers' amazing transformation of the Packers defense continues, with basically the same players Bob Sanders had, then what picture does that paint of Bob Sanders? How about a loser with a "kick me" sign on his back. I'm not saying it's right, just that it will happen. Even though he deserves better, many Packer fans will turn Bob Sanders into the second-most disrespected ex-Packer still in the NFL.
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