My Wholly Non-Expert Preseason Outlook on the 2013-2014 Green Bay Packers
Basically no one reads this blog other than myself (to proofread, for which I often find mistakes and get frivolously upset). However, I have something in common with sports writers: nobody will hold me accountable for my flaccid sports ken. I can make valid predictions based on firm indicators and, as a result, be the guy three months from now saying, “See, I totally called that. Everyone should respect how smart I am.” But more likely than not, I’ll be the guy who loudly praises Jermichael Finley having a breakout (can he still have one?) year while he drops a wide-open pop-pass against New York to put the Packers in what South Park would call “a sticky situation.” To which an arbitrary friend from a generic network scripted comedy would simply sound, “HEEEEE HAWWWW!”
Disclaimer: If you do not know much about me, I teach kids, which means I have a lot of free time when the weather is nice. By extension, I have made it an obsession to read Packers’ news like Kevin Spacey in Seven. I do trust my own observations as well as the observations\opinions from my fellow Packer brethren (you likely know who you are). Unfortunately I haven’t been watching the preseason games as close as I’d like. The first, I watched at a bar. I absolutely loathe watching games at the bar. Girls, you don’t want to be interrupted with the possible–but probably wrong–identity guesses of “A” while watching a Pretty Little Liars right? Same idea. I like to watch games with the same attentive detail with which I watch Breaking Bad.
The second game I watched while consuming rather strong libations. My Walter White-like precision just wasn’t where I’d like it to be. (I’ve now reached the point in my life where I’m critiquing my TV watching skills). I’m done with the gibberish, though. I’m optimistic this season and here’s why.
Eddie Lacy is not fat
Despite that photo, Lacy is not the rotund, out-of-shape bowling ball that Vikings fans want him to be. Listen, I have to see myself shirtless everyday I actually shower. I know what fat looks like. I’ve been this way for quite awhile, and I’m somewhat of an adjunct professor at strategically concealing it. The photo has since been debunked when Lacy ran all over St. Louis. I know it’s preseason, but the difference between Lacy and the other backs I’ve seen run behind Rodgers is simply this: he has vision. He has light feet and can press the circle button on a dime, which is fortuitous for a man his size, but there are plenty of athletic freaks in the NFL. What separates him is the simple fact that he reads the line much better.
Packers run a zone blocking scheme, which means they all drive block on the same angle, and, in turn, create a cut back lane. This is different than the inside-on-over-outside blocking scheme which often has a clear hole dictated for the back to run through. I believe Lacy will have a nice year. He may not have huge numbers because of Aaron Rodgers, but it’s converting those sticky 3-and-1s without throwing hopeless bombs to Jordy Nelson that count.
Newsflash: Aaron Rodgers is still the best player in the NFL
The quarterback is the most important position in football. You can argue with me about that but then you’d be an idiot. Rodgers is the best QB in football. I don’t care what talking heads on ESPN say. He’s mobile! He’s agile! He hostile! Too many superficial fans of football whom I deem “Madden” fans get caught up on useless rankings. Let’s go through a couple common QB comparison arguments. 1. “Brady doesn’t have the receivers Rodgers has.” Response: When Gronkowski was healthy and Aaron Hernandez wasn’t trying to be a storyline on The Bridge, Brady had three top-tier targets to throw to with Welker in the mix. Brady is really, really good. Don’t get me wrong, but this argument annoys me. Also, this year, don’t sleep on Wes Welker Redux, a.k.a. Danny Amendola. When healthy, Amendola was a very good wide receiver with Sam Bradford. This was the smartest move New England made in the offseason.
2. “Aaron Rodgers can’t win the big game.” Response: Ok, I’ll use this one (conveniently) to compare him to Manning. Manning is great.
Probably the greatest all-time. But right now, in 2013, he’s not Aaron Rodgers. They both have the same number of Super Bowls. Manning’s late interception wasn’t necessarily 90s MJ. Oh, and last year, I’d like you to come up with a better word than “anemic” for the Packers defense (this year should be vastly improved, and I’ll get to that). Manning had leather-bound bookends last year with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Let’s make an analogy because they’re fun. If Rodgers was an incumbent politician running for reelection, he only wins if he garners 70 percent of the electorate. Whereas most QBs need 50-55 percent to win, and 60 is considered a landslide, Rodgers has been playing an uphill battle for most of his career.
Don’t laugh at me until I’m wrong: The defense will make drastic improvements this year
Ever since Green Bay lost Cullen Jenkins, the defense hasn’t been the same. They lacked tenacity (absent Clay Matthews). I’m not going to say that playing with more of an edge will curtail their fledgling play the last few years. That is simply an attitude. A smart student with an attitude is still a smart kid. A dumb kid with an attitude is still dumb. A porous defense with an attitude is still porous. However, they’ve slowly added some key pieces for which we haven’t quite seen in total concert yet. This preseason, Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams have been out but are due back. By the very nature of preseason, pass rushers aren’t going to metaphorically run out in a trench coat naked and flash brilliance. We know what Clay Matthews can do. He’s a top notch passer and a highly-underrated run stopper. Nick Perry has much to prove. But practice reports seem to indicate that he’s getting it. Remember, he was a defensive lineman in college. This is his second year in a new position. Remember how badly you sucked at your job the first few months? I remembered how much I sucked.
Here are some other tidbits. Micah Hyde has been the surprise of camp. He played quite well against Tavon Austin last week in St. Louis. Davon House, after his admittedly terrible outing against Arizona, played much better against St. Louis and would have beaten out Sam Shields last year in camp if he hadn’t been injured. So we have Tramon Williams (starter), Sam Shields (starter), Casey Hayward (very good), Micah Hyde>Davon House>Jerrett Bush OR Davon House>Micah Hyde>Jerrett Bush. Either way, _________ > Jerrett Bush. The Packers have serious depth at cornerback. Speaking of depth, the defensive line is really starting to come around if a few variables play out like I think they will. Ryan Pickett is getting old, but is solid nonetheless. Raji is in a contract year. First round pick Datone Jones, by all reports, has been as good as advertised. And by that I mean he’s playing like his Twitter profile picture, which looks downright Heisenberg-ish. If Jones plays up to his potential, he can free up Nick Perry to make plays, which in turn frees up Clay Matthews, which in turn lessens the burden on a talented secondary. You see what I did with that turnstile, run-on sentence? We have a domino effect of what-ifs on defense. But I’m feeling quite optimistic about it. It’s going to take time, though. I don’t expect instant success, but by week 8, we should start seeing them gel into a cohesive force (or at least something that is similarly reminiscent of 2010).
Packers 2013 schedule and, coincidentally, my Wing Stop eating schedule
- at San Francisco 49ers Sept. 8 @3:25
- Washington Redskins Sept. 15 @Noon
- at Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 22 @Noon
- Detroit Lions Oct. 6 @Noon*
- at Baltimore Ravens Oct. 13 @Noon
- Cleveland Browns Oct. 20 @3:25
- at Minnesota Vikings Oct. 27 @7:30
- Chicago Bears Nov. 4 @7:40
- Philadelphia Eagles Nov. 10 @Noon*
- at New York Giants Nov. 17 @7:30
- Minnesota Vikings Nov. 24 @Noon
- at Detroit Lions Nov. 28 @11:30am
- Atlanta Falcons Dec. 8 @7:30
- At Dallas Cowboys Dec. 15 @3:25
- Pittsburgh Steelers Dec. 22 @3:25
- at Chicago Bears Dec. 29 @Noon
*Denotes games I will be at
BOLD=games the Packers may likely lose
The first four games the Packers play are very tough. All three are going to be playoff contenders, and two of them may be Super Bowl contenders. I don’t expect Green Bay to win the San Francisco game. I think they’ll be a little raw, and their defense won’t quite be ready. But they aren’t going to lose all those games in bold. They’ll lose some of them, probably half. But you also have to account for the fact that they will drop a turd somewhere, like Cleveland or at Detroit. We don’t know where the turd happens. It’s not unlike those old commercials where the guy has to get out of his car and run to the gas station bathroom because he may ruin his day. It just poops (sic) up at any time, and always the wrong time. So if the Packers lose all the bold games, that puts them at 11-5. I say they’ll lose three of the five but drop a game they should win, which puts them at 12-4. I think that’s a fair assessment. I think 11-5 to 13-3 is the range where Green Bay fits. They just need to make the preseason. Once that happens, anything is possible as we saw in 2010. Why? Well, Aaron Rodgers, the Kwan. Remember the Arizona game in the 2009 postseason. He was absolutely ridiculous. The only difference was that Green Bay’s defense was slightly more horrid than Arizona’s. Let’s hope for big things, and don’t listen to what you see on TV. They are paid to talk for hours. Brevity is the soul of
wit intelligence. The more one speaks, the more likely incompetence will seep out. Let’s enjoy this season, and let’s not get too distraught when a few bumps in the road inevitably occur. I’ll try, but I’ll likely become a hypocrite to my own Packer fan constitution.
Final edit: They could likely lose some divisional games against Chicago, Detroit, or Minnesota. The NFC North will be one of the two best divisions in football this year. Still, I hold my prediction of 11-5 to 13-3. This schedule is difficult. At least Green Bay will be battle tested going into the late season.