The Green Bay Packers could be in for a more difficult season than we’ve become accustomed to during the Aaron Rodgers era.
When you break it down, the green and gold have only two blue-chip players — QB Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews.
The pasted together offensive line, featuring three new starters, reminds me of a few years ago when general manager Ted Thompson thought he could make it go with two untested youngsters only to bring back two veterans to finish off the season. But this year there are no more old-timers to bring out of mothballs.
Receivers? Sure, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are solid veterans and tight end Jermichael Finley seems primed for a contract-year revival. But how much of their reputations are built on the arm of Aaron Rodgers?
If the Packers ever lost Rodgers, new backup Vince Young might scramble them to a couple of victories but not much more.
Bottom line: This team rides on Rodgers even more than it has in the past.
True, there’s some hope with the drafting of power running back Eddie Lacy.
But power backs like Lacy breakdown eventually if they don’t have blocking.
He was running behind the second team line Friday night and barely got out of his stance before he was plastered by defenders. The fact is that the offensive line is not built for a running game and head coach Mike McCarthy has never put much effort into running anyway.
With the no-huddle the Packers seem to favor these days, the Packers may keep defenses off balance for a while, but like any scheme in the NFL, teams eventually catch up.
As for defense, I’m not sure there’s reason to believe they’ve grown much. Matthews might be the best linebacker in football, but he can only do so much and last so long if he doesn’t have someone else to take the pressure off him.
None of the Packers much-heralded linebackers and D-linemen draft picks have really done much. When Johnny Jolly, fresh from prison, looks like your best bet during the exhibition season, there’s limited reason for optimism.
In the offseason they replaced hard-hitting Desmond Bishop with nondescript Brad Jones and brought back A.J. Hawk, who epitomizes the term journeyman. It was probably wise to cut ties with aging Charles Woodson, but they’ve replaced him with, well, nobody.
Tramon Williams is injured and seems to have forgotten football is a contact sport. Sam Shields has the jets, but you know he’s going to get burned a few times, too. Morgan Burnett hasn’t made anyone forget Nick Collins and Devon House seems to have regressed.
Finally, does anyone really trust Mason Crosby to hit an important field goal? (Note: As of presstime, a decision still hadn’t been made on a field goal kicker, but indications are that McCarthy is giving Crosby every chance to retain the spot).
True, all those shortcomings may be hidden if Rodgers has another one of his astonishing years.
But you’d like to see more from a lot of other players.
Not to worry, I will remain a Packer fan.
One of my earliest football memories is of aging linebacker Chuck Bednarik stopping my hero Jim Taylor short of the goal line in the 1960 championship game.
I broke down in tears and it scarred me forever.
I have always kept the faith.
This year, I’m just a little jittery.
I hope my preseason negativity is way off the mark… and that Time-Warner and WTMJ kiss and makeup before the real season begins.
Boo to pre-season pessimism.
P.S. I’m going out on a limb a bit considering the Packers will be cutting players Tuesday, after our deadline. But what’s more fun than going out on a limb involving sports? If you fall, it’s really not very important in the scheme of things.)
Halverson is interim sports editor of the Regional News.