After a 3-3 start to the season, Packers fans have to be happy with the way their team has responded, even if the victories haven’t been pretty. Injuries have hindered, but not yet decimated, one of the deepest squads in the league. With a significantly tougher schedule ahead of them, the Packers must get healthy if they are to challenge the Bears for the NFC North crown.
Let’s face it, the offense as a whole hasn’t been itself through nine games. A run offense ranked 23rd may not come as any surprise but the inconsistency seen in the passing game is puzzling. Part of the lackluster output can be attributed to shakiness on the offensive line where veteran center Jeff Saturday has not been as effective as some had hoped.
The Packers have been without Greg Jennings since Week 4 while Jermichael Finley has been nearly invisible this season. The man keeping the passing game alive? Second-year receiver Randall Cobb. Not only has the Kentucky product emerged as a receiver but he has also been a serviceable ball carrier when called upon. After Aaron Rodgers, No.18 has been the team’s MVP thus far.
When fully healthy, the Green Bay defense has looked nothing short of dominant. However, the unit is currently banged up and being forced to rely on younger players like Casey Hayward and M.D. Jennings. Tramon Williams has not been the playmaker he was in 2010 and Mike Neal has been only mildly impressive at full health.
Rushing the quarterback is likely to be a problem until Clay Matthews is fully healed from a hamstring injury. With Matthews sidelined and first-round pick Nick Perry shelved on Injured Reserve, Dom Capers will need to be creative with his blitz packages. Fortunately, the Packers have some depth at the position in 2010 hero Erik Walden and undrafted free agent Dezman Moses.
Crazy to say, but the Packers special teams may be the spotlight of the team up to this point in the season. Tim Masthay is having arguably his best season as a Packer while Randall Cobb continues to show why he’s needed on both return units. Mike McCarthy has incorporated trickery on special teams and has been largely successful up until now.
Perhaps the only dark area of the special teams unit is the placekicking of Mason Crosby. Crosby has made some ugly kicks in crucial situations and has not given the Packers much of a reason to believe in him should a game come down to a field goal again. If Crosby continues to struggle, one has to believe that Ted Thompson will reach out to a veteran kicker like Nate Kaeding or Ryan Longwell.