Green Bay Packers fans love this time of year.
Like all fans of teams in the National Football League, Packers fans know their team is 0-0 and looking once again like a Super Bowl contender.
This is the time of year when we get to watch players run free in shorts, helmets and cleats, with quarterbacks easily throwing darts to receivers who make their job look easy.
That will all change in the coming weeks and months and when the regular season rolls around we’ll be talking about strengths and weaknesses, as well as how the preseason injuries and cutdowns have affected the look and feel of the unit.
We expect those players will produce at a high level.
We expect that the offense will score points with the high-powered attack they bring each week.
We’re not so sure about the defense … in fact, we’re pretty leery about what that unit will do once again under Dom Capers.
That said, in my mind, there are a couple of factors on that side of the ball that could determine whether the Packers win the NFC North Division and have another chance to run deep into the playoffs, and possibly make it to the Super Bowl.
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The pass rush and the cornerbacks will be key for Green Bay this season.
We could consider the flux of the running game and the influx of young players in the offensive backfield.
I believe that part of the game will take care of itself.
It’s the defense that we’re most concerned about … and it all begins up front and will spill into the linebacking corps and defensive backfield.
The Packers will be relying on Daniels, Ricky Jean-Francois, second year defensive lineman Kenny Clark and rookie Montravius Adams to provide the needed push up the middle, while the play of young guys like Kyler Fackrell, Dean Lowry and Christian Ringo will also play into the mix.
Most critical, however, will be the play of the defensive backfield, and most especially that of rookie Kevin King and once-again-Packer Davon House. Throw in Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and Ladarius Gunter – three players who weren’t quite ready for prime time last season – and you might have a mix of individuals who could make it happen.
It starts with the pass rush. They have to be consistent enough to put pressure on quarterbacks to force them into quick reads. If the pass rush does its job in containing the opposing offenses, it will give the defensive backfield time to make plays.
If one were to do a 30,000-foot look at this team, those two areas of the defense could spell success or failure in 2017 – regardless of what Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson do on the other side of the ball.
Green Bay cannot be asked to score 30-plus points every week. It’s not going to happen and if the opposition scores 31, the Packers are in trouble.
As we approach training camp, let’s get excited about where this team is going, but let’s also be cautious about the team’s weaknesses.
If they figure it out, the Green Bay Packers have the potential to go very deep into the playoffs and possibly to the Super Bowl.