The bye week has proven to be both good and bad for the fortunes of NFL franchises. For the Minnesota Vikings, their "boat ride" debacle on Lake Minnetonka last week may have set a new low for directing the fortunes of an NFL franchise. For most professional football teams though, the bye week provides time for healing and reflection on where the team is heading. Certainly the Packers have lots of players that need healing and Packer management is not content with a 1 - 4 start to the 2005 season. The blow-out win against the Saints last week was encouraging, but where do the Packers go from here?
The offense thus far has been an enigma which wasn't anticipated. Ahman Green's lackluster performance to-date may be attributable to the changes in the offensive line, injuries, or maybe a lost step. Javon Walker's early exit due to a season-ending injury was a huge blow to Brett Favre's aerial assault and other injuries have taken a toll as well. Second-year center Scott Wells seems to have the talent and leadership skills to take over at center. Wells may be needed to take over for aging and injured Mike Flanagan if the running game is to turn around this year.
Brett Favre has to be frustrated with the demise of the running game and the injuries to Walker and others. His 36th birthday last week factors huge into the Packers' future. Number 1 draft pick Aaron Rodgers has to be grateful for his internship under Favre this year rather than being thrown to the lions like so many quarterbacks who are drafted in the first round of the draft and prematurely thrust into leadership assignments. Rodgers' development may seem insignificant this year because he isn't playing, but future Packer success likely is dependent on what Rodgers is learning this year.
The 2005 defense, under new defensive coordinator Jim Bates' guidance, has been a pleasant surprise thus far for Cheeseheads. The "no name" defensive line has shown potential and the green and gold have some good young players in that rotation that just might emerge into impact players. Corey Williams, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Montgomery are three such players. Rookie linebacker Ray Manning has been a pleasant surprise and fellow rookie Nick Collins shows significant promise at safety. There are still issues at cornerback and linebacker, but the trend is positive.
Next Sunday the Packers travel to the Humpty Dump to play the beleaguered 1 - 4 Vikings. Picked by some to contend for the super bowl this year, the Vikes have disappointed just about everybody, except some smiling Cheeseheads who revel in their recent demise. That being said, these two 1 - 4 teams still have talent and one or the other could possibly still win the North division of the NFC given the current state of competition. If Ahman Green is healthy next week, look for the Packer running game to return to form. If that happens, look for Viking management to start handing out pink slips by the boat load and the Packers attempt to salvage their 2005 season.