The Key On Offense

I, as much as anyone, am guilty of much hyperbole and gnashing of teeth when it comes to the dearth of playmakers provided to the offense by GM Ted Thompson. But in reality, the success of the offense will be dictated mostly by improvement on the offensive line.

More than Brett Favre, more than whomever will be running the ball, more than whomever will be catching the ball, the five men charged with opening holes and fending off defensive pressure are the key to the Packers offense. The running game was sporadic last season, to put it mildly. Most of this can be attributed to a young, assignment-shaky offensive line that was a bit light in the legs and not nearly strong enough at the point of attack. Time and time again, we saw the line cave in towards the ball carrier, rather than exploding off the line and clearing a cutback lane. The backside seal was a problem almost all season. There were signs in the last month that the backside problems had been corrected. Hopefully, line coach James Campen has been able to hold the progress made last season and is expanding on it. (His thoughts in the linked article clearly indicate that he has and is).

With strong play upfront, the offense will be able to develop far beyond the mostly basic designs we saw last season into (hopefully) something more dynamic. The hope is that with more players out in patterns, Favre will have more options with which to attack the defense. The worry, highlighted by Brandon Jacksons horrible displays of blitz pick up, is that this will leave inexperienced backs as the last refuge between Favre and a season/career ending blindside hit.
It's a delicate balance, one that McCarthy worked around last season by a)having Ahman Green and b) motioning TE's into the backfield to block. The Packers no longer have the luxury that was Green's rock-solid pass blocking. And I'm pretty sure McCarthy would prefer to have his TE's out in the defensive backfield, catching passes. The group that can ensure they are is the offensive line.

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