Packers Preview

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 03: Helmets sit on the field during the Green Bay Packers practice at summer training camp on August 3, 2009 at the Ray Nitschke Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)Recently, I went back and forth with a great Green Bay Packers blog, Ol’ Bag of Donuts. Adam, Chris, and Gene do a great job with their blog, and are a great source of info from a Packer perspective. I answered their Bills questions, which you can find at their site, and we thank Adam Somers who did a great job answering some Packers questions for us.

What are your general thoughts on the Bills?
It is tough to see the Bills continue to go through a constant rebuilding process the past decade because our their history and such a strong fan base. Green Bay is probably more similar to Buffalo than any other city in the league and the fans’ passion and dedication is on par with the Packers.  When I was an impressionable kid in the early 1990’s, I loved watching the Bills almost as much as the Packers, so I’m rooting for them to turn it around.  I think even though running back wasn’t an area of need, C.J. Spiller could be a godsend to the city if he reaches his potential because of the energy he brings.  That being said, the Bills need a quarterback.  The days of an average quarterback being a caretaker are gone.  If Trent Edwards has a great season and turns around his career, fantastic because he has shown the potential before, but the team can’t wait around any longer if Jake Locker is available.

Is there anything specifically about the Bills that worries the Packers?
Even though Miami shut him down, C.J. Spiller worries me because I think he will figure it out sooner than later and I don’t want the Packers to be that opponent when he does.  However, Green Bay has one of the best run defenses in the league so the area that worries me is the defensive unit as a whole.  They played Miami a lot tougher than I thought and if they can continue that into this week it could keep Rodgers at bay longer than expected.  If they can force any early turnover or a few punts, it may start to worry not only fans, but players who think this could be a cakewalk game.  So overconfidence may be the biggest threat to Green Bay this weekend.

The Packers are deemed Super Bowl contenders, what potential flaws could hold the Packers back from a potential title?
Three things in my mind: 1) The health of the offensive line.  The unit has gotten a lot of flack (and rightfully so) for all the sacks they have allowed.  Rodgers can’t take a beating again, but last year the line wasn’t fully healthy until near the end of the year when they started to play better.  If all five can stay healthy, they will be fine.  But that is a big ‘if’. 2) The secondary depth.  I will go to battle with the Packers’ four starters: Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Nick Collins and Morgan Burnett, any day of the week.  There isn’t much behind them though and until Al Harris returns midseason, this team is vulnerable to multiple receiver sets. 3) Aaron Rodgers ability to take the next step.  Many claim Rodgers hasn’t won the ‘big game’ yet, but I think that is overrated.  However, you need to win ugly in the playoffs sometimes when things aren’t going your way.  Rodgers played poorly last week against Philadelphia and still won, so that is a definite step into the right direction.  You can’t put Rodgers on the level of Brees, Manning and Brady yet, but he is very close and needs to make that step this season.  Can he win the big game if things aren’t going well?

Who is a player, or players, on the Packers that may not be getting a lot publicity but is vital to the Packers’ success?
Their defensive line, hands down.  Everyone knows Woodson and Matthews, but the starting D-Line of Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji deserve a lot more accolades.  These guys play a lot more snaps than most linemen on the 3-4 and tie up multiple blockers constantly to open up rush lanes for guys like Matthews and Nick Barnett.  Jenkins has been on a Pro Bowl for the last couple years and don’t be surprised if Raji makes it there soon.  A lineman in this scheme is a very inglorious position, but as vital as anyone else.  Look at the championship teams of New England and Pittsburgh, they most likely wouldn’t have won it all without their dominant play of their D-Lines.  This holds true with the Packers.

How concerned are Packers’ fans with Ryan Grant’s season-ending injury, and how capable are the backups?
Not that concerned because the feeling of most is that Brandon Jackson is a more than capable backup.  He was a former second-round pick drafted to be a starter, so here is his chance.  Truth be told, Mike McCarthy likes to pass a lot more than run, so if Rodgers flings it more often now, Jackson is almost a better fit.  He he played the 3rd down role since last season and is better blitz buster and also pass catcher than Grant.  The depth is what is concerning because there isn’t much.  John Kuhn is a very capable fullback and is currently their #2 RB behind Jackson.  He runs hard and has some burst, but you can’t rely on him to carry the load if need be.  The Packers signed RB Dmitri Nance off of Atlanta’s practice squad this week to round out the depth chart.  So fans are a lot more concerned about the depth than Jackson as a starter.

Would Marshawn Lynch be something Packer fans would want on their team, and at what price?
Right now I think fans are kind of split due to Lynch’s off-field issues, but I think everyone is enamored by his talent.  I know for sure one of our bloggers Chris Lempesis really wants the team to make a push for him and I wouldn’t mind it either.  The Packers and their fans were really high on him in the draft a few years ago and when he didn’t fall to the Packers, they ended up drafting Justin Harrell (who?!).  The asking price is the big issue right now.  I don’t think anyone would argue about bring Lynch in on the cheap, but the belief is that Buffalo is asking for too much.  GM Ted Thompson guards his draft picks like they are his children, so giving up higher than a 5th round conditional pick would shock most people, especially for a guy who is burried on the depth chart.  Personally, I can’t disagree with that either. However, that could change if Jackson isn’t able to step up or gets hurt.  Rodgers has been outspoken about liking the idea of trading for his former college teammate and we know Thompson liked him coming out of college.  If anything happens it won’t be for a few weeks until the team knows what they have without Grant.  And don’t believe these A.J. Hawk rumors.  Yes, Hawk’s agent has came out and said he would welcome a trade, but Hawk is scheduled to make $10 million next year.  No team wants to take on that salary.

Anything else about Sunday’s game you’ll be keeping an eye on?
I probably won’t make many friends among Bills fans, but I am curious to see if the Packers can find their killer instinct this week.  They had Philadelphia on the ropes a couple times last week, but didn’t go for the dagger and put the game out of reach.  The Eagles hung around and made the game too close for comfort at the end.  Trent Edwards isn’t Michael Vick, but if the Packers get up by a couple scores, I don’t want them rest on the laurels again and instead impose their will and really put the game out of hand.  This team needs to find their killer instinct again.

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