The preseason is over, the new defensive scheme has been fully installed, the roster has been determined (maybe) and Cheeseheads are ready for the Packers’ kickoff of their 91st season. The Chicago Bears will be in Titletown next Sunday for a night game which should be a dandy.
The big news this past week was the roster cuts to get down to the 53-man limit. Ted Thompson pulled a couple of mild surprises, but nothing of major proportion. After watching the preseason games, I thought running back Tyrell Sutton and safety Anthony Smith showed enough talent to warrant roster spots, but that was not the case. Thompson cut those two as well as quarterback Brian Brohm, kept three fullbacks and traded for Derrick Martin, a safety whom he apparently regarded higher than Smith. Thompson also cut all-around-good-guy Ruvell Martin and replaced him with wide receiver Brett Swain.
Brohm, a second-round draft pick in 2008, has been a major disappointment. He was re-signed to the practice squad after the cuts, but it seems a stretch to think he has a career ahead of him in Green Bay. The Packers will enter the season with two quarterbacks, with the venerable Donald Driver serving as an emergency QB. Swain, a seventh-round draft pick a year ago, apparently has worked hard to convince the coaches that he has an upside with his versatility and special teams contributions.
In reviewing the new Packer depth charts, it appears to your humble scribe that the 2009 Packers have plenty of offensive firepower to light up the scoreboards this year, providing the newcomers inserted into the right side of the offensive line (Josh Sitton at Guard and Allen Barbre at Tackle) can carry the load. The defense appears to me to be the key to success in ’09. So far the new coaching staff and the 3-4 scheme have looked great. It will be interesting to see if the defense can step it up a couple notches and if they do, this just could be a very fun season in the Land of Cheese.
It is a bit disappointing that the Packers’ two first-round draft picks will not be in the starting lineup on Sunday. B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews had both been expected to step right in and contribute… and maybe they will do that soon. But Raji held out in a contract dispute and Matthews got hurt so they won’t be on the field as much as Cheeseheads may have anticipated. Bummer.
The Bears have upgraded their offense in the off season by acquiring quarterback Jay Cutler from the Denver Broncos. Cutler is a pinhead, but a very talented pinhead. He has a Howitzer of an arm which is an enormous change for a Bears’ QB. I cannot recall a Bear quarterback who had anything better than an average arm over the last several decades, so this will be a new spectacle. Now that the Bears have a quarterback, they will need some receivers to catch the balls and that just might be a problem for them this year.
Cheeseheads have been waiting nine long months… and it all begins anew Sunday night.