The backup quarterback circus in Green Bay has stolen the media’s attention just days before the regular season kicks off. In all likelihood, this conversation won’t be nearly as relevant during the season as some of the decisions made at linebacker and wide receiver. The Packers have left themselves particularly thin at offensive line and safety but are padded with depth on the defensive front seven, where a number of unlikely names stuck.
Defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Josh Boyd faced uphill battles in cracking the final 53-man roster but ultimately prevailed, thanks to strong training camps and promising showings during the preseason. Likewise, James Starks beat the odds in the backfield, where the Packers were loaded with talent in July but only ended up retaining three halfbacks. Camp Cindellera Tyrone Walker fell shy of a roster spot, disappointing some that favored the rookie receiver over return specialist Jeremy Ross.
Not even one week into the regular season, the injury bug has bitten the Packers, already down two starters for the entire season. Depth has traditionally been a staple to Ted Thompson’s rosters but is nowhere to be found at safety, wide receiver and offensive line this year. Without several household names – Greg Jennings, Desmond Bishop and Charles Woodson – Green Bay will need young guns like Randall Cobb and Morgan Burnett to step up this fall.
The Packers face four 2012 playoff teams in the first five games of the season, three of which are on the road. That doesn’t bode well for Mike McCarthy’s teams which, with the exception of 2007 and 2011, have posted very marginal first halves of the season. McCarthy has, however, found a way to win when it counts and likely will this season as well. What’s in store for a Packers team that owns the league’s best quarterback but shows no sign of improvement on defense?
Add another Packer to the list of those not returning this season. After reinjuring his knee in the Packers’ third preseason game, DuJuan Harris will be placed on Injured Reserve, bringing his 2013 season to a close even before it began. In his short time with the Packers, Harris has added value as both a runner and receiver, leaving shoes to fill in the backfield. But with the running back position crowded to begin with, the doors are now open for other ball carriers as the preseason nears its end.
Perhaps the biggest benefactor of Harris’ injury is third-year back Alex Green, who now appears to be more of a roster lock than before. Green has had a solid camp but simply hasn’t produced in live action since being drafted in 2011. And despite his poor track record, Green offers greater versatility and durability than injury-plagued James Starks, who was also on the roster bubble heading into the final preseason game.
In the late 1990s, the Packers were unstoppable on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. Teams feared to come into our house and their fans, when predicting their team’s season record, would religiously mark a loss next to any games their team played at Lambeau Field.
In 1997, on their way to their second straight Super Bowl, the Packers largely walked through the regular season on their way to post season play and recorded all wins in the legendary stadium. But on October 5, 1998, the Vikings closed the door on a shocking win at Lambeau and created a crack in the impenetrable wall that surrounded the Packers’ home record.
In the seasons that followed, from 1999 to 2009, what was once an easy win was no longer. In those years, the Packers suffered 31 losses at home. The Lambeau mystique was gone and Packer fans were wondering where it went, and, more importantly, when it would come back.
In recent years, there have been some rumblings that indicate that the mighty Lambeau advantage may be rolling back into town. Continue reading