NFL PREVIEW: GREEN BAY PACKERS
June 28, 2012INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
NFL PREVIEW: KELCI BAKER, EIHSS SPORTS
Green Bay Packers
Last year: 15-1, 1st in NFC North, lost divisional round
This heavily favored No. 1 seed suffered a 17-point loss at home. Certainly not a fact to be overlooked but the Packers also have to deal with the 37-20 rout imposed by the New York Giants. They were 15-1 before the abrupt postseason end. They go into the next season with conversation of possibly winning a Super Bowl title in the next 3 years. With the most explosive offense in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers is at the controls in keeping them intact. Rodgers, the returning MVP, had a record breaking season. Because of his efforts, the Packers racked up 560 points, the second in league history. Where the offense strives, the defense fails. They've hit rock bottom, ranking last for total yards and net passing yards.
The Packers run the west coast style under coordinator Tom Clements. Knocking on the door of greatness is Rodgers who is going in to his fifth season as a starter. Torching opposing defenses, he threw for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns with six interceptions during the near-perfect season. It all surmounted to a passer rating of 122.5, a league record. Rodgers has an embarrassment of receiving riches, led by Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley who stayed a prospective free agent. They've lost Pro Bowl center Scott Wells to the St. Louis Rams. He will be replaced by Jeff Saturday, a former Indianapolis Colt. The running game goes far behind in the mind of Coach Mike McCarthy who prefers a vertical offense. The problem is Green Bay doesn't have a proven commodity at halfback. Veteran Ryan Grant is unsigned as a free agent. Last season, he split the lead-back duties with James Stark. Potentially replacing Grant but coming back from a knee injury is Alex Green. The offseason release of 12-year starter Chad Clifton throws one of two younger prospects in Marshall Newhouse or Derek Sherrod into a full-time role at left tackle.
The 3-4 defense under coordinator Dom Capers only produced 29 sacks and allowed more than 70 passes of 20-plus yards. They struggled to apply pressure and general manager Ted Thompson has responded by signing linemen and taking defensive players with his first six picks in the 2012 draft. It was topped with first-round selection, pass rusher Nick Perry. It came as no surprise with the pre-draft cut of Pro Bowl Nick Collins because of his surgically repaired neck but it was a surprise when no replacement was found for him in the draft. That leaves us to speculate that 35-year-old cornerback Charles Woodson will take the role.
Special teams for the Packers is led by coordinator Shawn Slocum. Returning is kicker Mason Crosby who had a career high field goal percentage of 85.7 in 2011. Also returning is Tim Masthay as a solid tandem for a third season. With a great turnout in his rookie season, Randall Cobb will play a bigger part on offense as a slot receiver and boasts two touchdown runbacks to his name. Coverage ace Jarrett Bush has also re-signed.
McCarthy has full faith in his defense while the departure of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to the Miami Dolphins as head coach is cause for some concern. Several promotions took place with Clements named coordinator along with Alex Van Pelt, an ex-NFL quarterback to coach the running backs.
2012 Draft Recap
After the draft the Packers had picked up eight new players but the overall best pick was LB Nick Perry of Southern Cal. They wanted to take pressure away from Clay Matthews III who was held to a career low of six tackles in 2011. They'll be counted on him to not only start, but to deliver.
LB Nick Perry. Southern California
First round. 28th pick overall.
DE Jerel Worthy. Michigan State
Second round. 51st pick overall.
Worthy will fill the void alongside B.J. Raji for the Green Bay Packers
CB Casey Hayward. Vanderbilt
Second round. 62nd pick overall.
He should contribute soon in a nickel-back heavy scheme because he's aggressive and a playmaker
DT Mike Daniels. Iowa
Fourth round. 132nd pick overall.
He has an tough injury history and is undersized but he still led the Hawkeyes in tackles for loss and sacks
S Jerron McMillian. Maine
Fourth round. 133rd pick overall.
He has decent skills in the back end but the Packers were most impressed with his upside as a big hitter in the box
LB Terrell Manning. North Carolina State
Fifth round. 163rd pick overall.
He's well known for his play making but also known for knee injuries
T Andrew Datko. Florida State
Seventh round. 241st pick overall.
Four games into last season, a continuing shoulder injury ended it early
QB B.J. Coleman. Tennessee-Chattanooga
Seventh round. 243rd pick overall.
Small-school product has the tools to succeed
2012 PACKERS SCHEDULE
Week 2 9/13: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears 8:20 p.m. EST, NFL Network
Week 3 9/24: Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks 8:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
Week 4 9/30: Green Bay Packers vs New Orleans Saints 4:15 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 5 10/7: Green Bay Packers @ Indianapolis Colts 1 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 6 10/14: Green Bay Packers @ Houston Texans 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC
Week 7 10/21: Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams 1 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 8 10/28: Green Bay Packers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 1 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 9 11/4: Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals 1 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 10 : BYE
Week 11 11/18: Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions 1 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 12 11/25: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC
Week 13 12/2: Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings 1 p.m. EST FOX
Week 14 12/9: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC
Week 15 12/16: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears 1 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 16 12/23: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans 1 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 17 12/30: Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings 1 p.m. EST, FOX