It’s a loft goal and one that only a single team will realize.
But for lucky Packers fans, the likelihood that the team will at least get into the season-ending tournament is high. In fact, the Packers have qualified for the playoffs in 15 of the last 20 seasons and this year should be no different.
When you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers under center, it’s probably a pretty good bet that the team will qualify.
However, nothing in this world is for certain, and when it comes to the National Football League it’s even more uncertain. Anything can happen and one can never say never.
Therefore, there are plenty of things to worry about.
So, with that said, I’ve come up with five of my top worries as we head into the 2013 season. Of course, these are my worries and everyone else has other worries. Check mine out and if you have others of your own, let me know.
But in the meantime, start worrying right along with me …
5. Inside linebackers
With D.J. Smith and Desmond Bishop shipped out and the Packers’ commitment to Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk, the team heads into the 2013 season-opener in San Francisco with the same look as they had when they ended 2012 campaign at the same venue. While it didn’t end so well last year, our only hope is that Hawk and Jones have it together (as well as the outside linebackers and the rest of the defense) this time around.
The injuries to Smith and Bishop were severe enough for the Packers to turn their backs. What’s also become clear is that the coaches must be pretty confident in the young guys to move ahead without Smith and Bishop. Will Terrell Manning be the better player this year that everyone expects? What about Jamari Lattimore? Robert Francois? Rookie Sam Barrington?
There are a lot of question marks at the position and plenty of reasons for Packers fans to worry.
Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy didn’t dip into the draft for young, athletic legs to fortify the back end of their defensive backfield. Many have criticized them for that fact, but the Packers’ top guys have come out time and again saying they are confident in the safeties they have in-house. Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings and Jarron McMillian were the top guys last year and with the possible return of Sean Richardson to compete for a job at the position, the Packers feel they are in pretty good shape.
Learning under fire last year, this group held up pretty well. However, they are thin in bodies at the position. Many wonder why the Packers don’t go out and bring in a veteran to help strengthen the numbers back there. One injury and the Packers will be in deep trouble.
It’s a young group who have so far held up pretty well, but it’s certainly a position Packers fans should have some worry about.
3. The offensive line shakeup
In Mike McCarthy we trust … we have to. Especially with this grand experiment of flip-flopping the offensive line – moving Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton to the left side and T.J. Lang to the right, while opening the right tackle position for competition.
Clearly, McCarthy has solid reasons for making this move and is committed to it. The players, it seems, have also bought into the notion that it will improve the Packers pass protection and the team’s run game.
Something had to be done. Fifty-one sacks of the best quarterback in the game is simply inexcusable and can’t be tolerated. And now that he’s the highest paid quarterback in all the land, the need grows even more.
But what if it doesn’t work? Hopefully we won’t have to address that question, but there’s a 50-50 chance that it won’t. Will McCarthy flip-flop them back? Highly unlikely. He’s committed to making it work and we shouldn’t expect any kind of knee-jerk reaction by the coaching staff if there are bumps along the way – which we should all expect.
It’s a grand experiment that will be coined a stroke of genius if it works and a bust if it doesn’t.
Yes, it’s a reason to be worried.
2. The read-option
Head Coach Mike McCarthy promised us all that the defensive coaching staff has paid plenty of attention to stopping the newest and greatest offensive threat in the NFL: the read-option.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick schooled the Packers in the Divisional Playoff game last January – we all know he broke all the records for a rushing quarterback and we still see him in our nightmares running untouched through the Packers’ defense.
But will a trip to an offseason clinic to learn the ins and outs of the system be enough to turn things around this year? The Packers will find out right away when they visit San Francisco to start the season and then turn around and face RGIII and the Washington Redskins in the home opener.
You can bet the opposition is going to lean heavily on the read-option – as will many other teams. Until the Packers show they can stop it, their opponents are going to run it.
Is the read-option a legitimate weapon that’s here to stay? Will the Packers be able to counter it and force teams like San Francisco, Washington and Seattle to rethink their schemes? We shall see.
But yeah … it’s definitely something to worry about.
1. The backup quarterback
This one is a no-brainer. All we have to remember is the number 51 – that’s the number of times Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was brought down by a defensive player last year. Each time it happened, there was a collective cringe and gasp across Packers Nation.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s highest paid quarterback, cannot go down to injury. If he does, we will be stuck with either Graham Harrell or B.J. Coleman. Both are untested and we all know it wouldn’t be pretty with either one at the helm.
Remember when Harrell came in for the single snap against the Saints from the two-yard line? We all screamed when he tripped over an offensive lineman’s foot and tried to hand off to Cedric Benson. As the ball fell to the turf, we all thought the game was over … and it could have been … had Rodgers not come back into the game.
And what about Coleman? As a raw rookie on the practice squad last year, we’re sure he learned a lot and many expect him to compete with Harrell for the number two spot this year. Maybe he’s the next Rodgers? Who knows?
But if the unthinkable should occur, it won’t be pretty and it’s the number one reason why all of us Packers fans should be worried.