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January 29, 2008

My Hopes for the '08 Off-Season

I'm just now recovering from the pure devastation resulting from the Pack's loss in the NFC Championship. I will not be watching the Super Bowl, I don't care who wins, and I've now added the Giants to my short list of hated NFL franchises (joining the ranks of the Vikings, Cowboys, and sometimes Bears). However, I still love the Pack and football in general, and do have some opinions I'd like to present on what should happen this off-season. Continue reading if you give a shit.

Following an extremely impressive '07 season that exceeded even my own inflated predictions of Packers' success, I have a new-found confidence in General Manager Ted Thompson. I was VERY critical of TT's decision to pass on the Randy Moss deal last season, and questioned several of his draft picks early on. Additionally, I was slightly annoyed by his stubborn refusal to bring in any free agent of importance last year. All of these decisions, after witnessing nearly every minute of this past season (I missed week one to go golfing at Whistling Straits, I know, I know), turned out to work in our favor. Although Randy Moss had a ridiculous year, I don't think our team could have been much better had he been on the roster.

Posted by abai0001 at 4:14 PM

January 12, 2008

'07 Secondary Evaluation

How does the Packers' secondary look after the 2007 regular season?

In my opinion, the Packers' starting cornerback tandem is second to none in the league. Al Harris is extremely effective in man coverage. His ability to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage makes it difficult for any wide out to run an effective route. He is surprisingly strong for his size, and still has the top-end speed needed to match up against today's speedy receivers. An obvious knock on Harris is his poor ball skills, evidenced by his perenial low interception totals. He does pick some balls off every year, but his focus is clearly on preventing a completion, not taking one to the house himself. He does seem to struggle against big, strong receivers (Burress, T.O., Vincent Jackson). Charles Woodson is a natural play-maker that has a nose for the ball. Although he gives up more catches than Harris, he is still solid in man coverage. His superb ball skills allow him to create loads of turnovers. In addition, Woodson supports the run game with his viscious tackling and pure tenacity. The biggest negative for Charles is his inability to stay healthy. While he does not miss too many games, he is a regular on the injury report, meaning his play is likely inhibited by nagging injuries. The biggest downside for this dynamic duo is their age. At 31 and 32 years old, they may not be long for professional football. The laundry list of players who fill the nickel and dime cornerback spots are virtually interchangeable. Williams, Blackmon, Walker, and Bush can all play well in spot duty, but not one is deserving of an NFL starting position. At safety, the Packers are good, but not great. It seems as though the recurring problem at SS has been solved, rather assuaged, for the time being by Atari Bigby. Atari is Japanese for 'attack,' and the shoe fits for Bigby. He is a devastating tackler with a propensity for dramatics. He has made some big plays this year in both coverage and run support, but has plenty of room for improvement. He needs to mature in terms of understanding his place on the field, and simply controlling his emotions. Please keep the crushing hits coming Atari, I can't get enough of them. Across from Atari is Nick Collins, who has been one of my favorite Packers since he was drafted. He plays the game with passion and truly loves what he does. Although his sophomore slump (more accurately, sophomore stagnation) carried over into the '07 season, I believe he will make strides before the start of next year. He is very fast and has an excellent closing burst, his man coverage skills and run support are above-average for a FS, and he flashes good ball skills on occasion. In order to improve, I look for Nick to move from a solid player to a standout player. That is, I would love to see him make more impact plays (i.e. turnovers, 3rd down stops, etc.) during the '08 season. If we don't see this kind of improvement, look for over-achieving backup Aaron Rouse to compete for the starting FS job.

Posted by abai0001 at 12:26 AM