The Green Bay Packers have done some good things in the preseason. Aaron Rodgers looks fit and sharp and the no huddle offense looks to be ready to impose itself on defenses from the start of the year. The defensive pass-rush has already shown improvement even though they are playing things close to the vest right now and Julius Peppers looks to be a guy that can help us get to the next level in that regard. The backfield is still suspect and we still show a weakness when ILB’s end up in pass coverage but really…that will always be a problem because that is exactly the kind of mismatch offenses try to create.
But there is one problem that has not gone away and it WILL hurt us against the Seahawks…
The Packers need help in the return game. The Seahawks coverage teams are killer…that’s all there is to it. If the Packers don’t resolve the weak return game (and all the penalties), the domino effect will be as follows:
- Return game, if it doesn’t turn the ball over, continues to force Green Bay to cover 90 yards to get to the end-zone.
- The offense, while it will put up points, will struggle at times against a really good defense which will lead to three-and-outs…
- Three-and-outs put pressure on the defense, keeping them on the field too long and taking the edge off the pass rush. Throw in a couple runs by Russell Wilson and the glaring weaknesses of last year’s defense could once again rear its ugly head.
The Packers have not had a respectable return game since Randall Cobb moved to full-time receiver. And Cobb has been called on again from time to time to return the ball because we have failed to get even an adequate replacement. We can’t even find anyone who can catch the ball consistently, and to me there is absolutely NO excuse for dropping a punt or kickoff. The fundamentals that our returners exhibit is flawed and it needs to be fixed. Shawn Slocum gotta coach ‘em up!
Just imagine the difference between Aaron Rodgers’ numbers if his average starting field position was between the 25 and 30 yardline, rather than the 5-10 yardline. Dangerous becomes deadly with a swing of just ten yards. If DuJuan Harris or Janis can secure the ball and start getting a groove for picking up a few extra yards in the return game, and if we can eliminate the penalties we have seen on returns in the preseason, the results could be significant…especially in the season opener against the Seahawks.