As all of us enter into the NFL (Green Bay Packers) regular season, beginning next Sunday, Sept. 8, at 3 pm CDT at San Francisco, we normally, both you and me, try to predict what Green Bay’s record will be at the end of the season.
I myself, in trying to come up with an answer, begin by analyzing the roster, looking for reasons for success, and realities of why some area’s may not be.
Football as a whole is always all about the trenches, the offensive and defensive lines. If a team wins that area of the game on both sides of the ball you increase your chances of winning more than any other area of the game could. The Packers defensive line seems to be in good to great shape, with the new additions and Mike Daniels improvement.
But the Offensive Line is another matter.
The interior line you can draw some confidence, with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang manning the left and right guard positions, respectively. Strong as an ox, undrafted rookie Lane Taylor, a three-year starter at Oklahoma State, will be backing them up (for now).
At Center, you have Evan Dietrich-Smith, solid, not great, but assignment sure, and Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is comfortable with him. Backing him up is a Harvard Man, Greg Van Roten, who over the off season claimed to put on close to 20 pounds of muscle.
So from this, we can see that the interior of the line is serviceable, if nothing else. It’s at tackle where all the question marks are in my mind. Rookie Left Tackle David Bakhtiari and second year player Don Barclay ideally should have another 25 pounds each on their frame now, as is NFL standard. And there it is, our biggest concern in the trenches, our young undersized Offensive Tackles. Those two can make or break our season, figuring everyone else in the trenches on both sides of the ball play well.
Backing them up is last year’s starter at Left Tackle, Marshall Newhouse, who, prior to training camp had questions about whether he belonges. Why bother to bring him to camp? Now I find myself comfortable in the knowledge he is the swing tackle.
One “ace in the hole,” I have been waiting to shout from the mountain top is Andrew Quarless is back, and close to where he left prior to his knee injury at the end of 2011. However, we have not been able to do that yet, but it sounds like he may “dress” for opening day. If, and I know it is a fingers crossed IF – but if Quarless can become that nasty, in your face, mean son of a gun blocker he had become, it will help those young tackles out in the running game quite a bit.
A healthy, all the way back Andrew Quarless, combined with bruising rookie running back Eddie ‘the Big Bang Theory’ Lacy, well, let’s just say with these new additions to Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood, it should be a good year.
Packers win the NFC North at 11-5 if the two young tackles (or somebody else in those spots) play well.
What’s your prediction?