The 2009 preseason is a nice fit for a Packers team that is making a lot of changes.
The first game was against Cleveland. Last year's Browns team wasn't very good and they have made little improvement this year. However, for the Packersand their new defense, Clevland was the perfect team to cut our teeth on.
Tomorrow’s game, against the Buffalo Bills, will certainly be a step up from the Cleveland Browns. We’ll be challenged much more by a Bills team that gained 375 yards against a Bears defense that was very good last season.
In the Packers’ third preseason game, the one in which the starters will get more reps, they meet the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers will have two preseason games before they have meet the reigning NFC champions. Most issues should have been worked out by that time. If GreenBay can hold their own against Arizona, we’ll know they’re ready for the regular season. If not…
The last game of the preseason is against Tennessee, and if the Titans play this one like last year’s game, their starters will play most of the game. This will give McCarthy and company a great look at which #2s and #3s are ready to play and which are not. Backups will be fighting for their jobs against the Titan starters. It’s a great chance for them to prove themselves.
Both teams and coaches have a lot to accomplish in preseason and this Packer preseason appears to give GreenBay a good chance to develop as a team and prepare for the games that matter.
The Packers drafted B.J. Raji in the 2009 NFL Draft out of concern that their current nose tackle, Ryan Pickett, wouldn't be able to fill the middle of the defensive line effectively for an entire game. The Packers brought Dom Capers on board to coordinate their defense and his intended transition to a 3-4 defense has called into question whether Pickett is a real fit in that defensive scheme.
However, Raji apparently won't be simply thrown into the nose tackle position. He'll have to compete with Pickett for the position. If Pickett can hold his own and keep his starting position, B.J. Raji will be cross-trained as a defensive end.
The biggest advantage this would give Capers and the Packer defense is versatility and the element of surprize. With Pickett still holding down the fort in the middle and an experienced nose tackle playing defensive end, the Packers could easily shift from 3-4 to 4-3 with little personnel changes. In fact, if Aaron Kampman gets moved to the fourth linebacker position, the Packers could actually make that transition in the middle of an audible by the opposing quarterback.
We'll see how things pan out at the nose tackle position for the Green Bay Packers, but things could get interesting on defense for a team that was abysmal against the run last year.
I've never been a big fan of giving players big raises after a single big year. I've seen too many one hit wonders have an outstanding season and then have trouble repeating their productivity in succeeding seasons. Every player should have to prove that their outstanding season wasn't an anomoly.
Put together back-to-back seasons, and then you're worth the money.
It's too late to implement that philosophy in Aaron Rodgers' case, but it's not too late for him to prove that his consistent play last season was the real deal.
What do you think? Was 2008 the kind of play we can consistently expect out of Aaron Rodgers? Is he the real deal?
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