Thompson, McCarthy and Rodgers Have a Tall Task inií08
The 2008 season has had a rocky beginning for the Green Bay Packers. The minimal free agency signings and a lackluster April collegiate draft seemingly didnít bring many sure-fire football players to Titletown. Then the messy on-and-off retirement and eventual divorce from longtime quarterback Brett Favre has many Cheeseheads wondering where this yearís fortunes lie.
The Packersí incredible season last year of 13 wins and 3 losses was totally unexpected. Unfortunately the season didnít end well for the Pack with the NFC championship loss to the New York Giants. Ted Thompson saw the end of the line for Favre in that game and made a career-defining decision to move on without the three-time Most Valuable Player. Buttons apparently got pushed a little too fast for Favreís likingÖ which led to his emotional retirement announcement in March, and then his change of heart about playing another year in June. The Favre vs. Packer management brouhaha created a divisive situation for a good part of this past summer.
After Favreís NFL reinstatement in July, his subsequent meeting with Coach Mike McCarthy didnít go well and soon the terms of the Packersí divorce from Favre were arranged. It has been a difficult time for all Cheeseheads adjusting to his trade to the New York Jets. Mrs. Packer Partisan (that would be my wonderful wife) and Mr. Packer Partisan Junior (my son) think that I am nuts in supporting Packer management and that Packer management was way too rough in their handling of Favre. Time will tell how Favre plays with his new team and how the Packers do this year without him.
Caught up in the imbroglio is young quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, a top draft choice in 2005, has had three years to study under Favre and has the talent to succeed in the NFL, but he has been immersed in a pressure cooker unlike any other. Rodgers has never started an NFL game. Neither have the other two rookie quarterbacks who were drafted this year and will likely make up the Packer final roster. The 2008 Pack may set an NFL record in that respect when they match up with the Vikings on the opener of Monday Night Football at Lambeau on September 8.
The 2008 preseason has not been kind to the Pack injury wise. Some key starters from last yearís squad are hurting right now and that is concerning. McCarthy and staff seem high on backup contingencies and cross-training which takes some of the edge off injuries. That is a sign of good management.
The Packersí final preseason engagement against the Tennessee Titans Thursday will likely prove to be a battle for only a few roster spots on this highly talented team. Most pundits project the 2008 Packers as one of the better teams in the NFL even without Brett Favre and I concur. There are 16 regular season games to determine which direction fate takes the careers of Thompson, McCarthy and Rodgers. Cheeseheads are anxious to see how it plays out.