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Packer Partisan: Another Season! (09/08/2004)
By Dave DeLano


     
The Green Bay Packers open their 86th season on Monday Night Football next week when they travel to Carolina to lock horns with the Panthers. As always for cheeseheads, expectations are running high. Brett Favre set the bar high by stating that 2004 will be a bust if the Packers don't make it to the Super Bowl. Here are a couple observations on the 2004 squad.

The Packers' offense returns from last year intact. They have a talented and experienced offensive line, young and skilled receivers, one of the NFL's elite running backs in Ahman Green, and Brett Favre to direct the attack. I don't see any weak links on offense. The Packers did attempt to upgrade their # 2 quarterback by signing Tim Couch in the off-season. Couch was the first player taken in the draft a couple years ago. Unfortunately, Couch was a total bust in Titletown and couldn't even make the team as the # 3 quarterback. Couch was terminated and the Pack will have to search elsewhere to find the eventual successor to Favre.

The defense has a few chinks in its armor although they have played quite well in pre-season exhibitions. Off-season acquisition Mark Roman appears to be a nice upgrade at strong safety, but the no-show of disgruntled cornerback Mike McKenzie leaves the Packers in a bit of a bind. The two rookie cornerbacks taken in the draft have looked pretty good in camp, and I suspect Batman Carroll will eventually fill the gap. Look for some mistakes in the secondary though as this unit goes through some growing pains.

The linebackers played well last year and should be even better this year. Coach Mike Sherman chose to go with a "youth movement" with his defensive line this year, but there appears to be adequate talent to get the job done. Bob Slowik is the new defensive coordinator, and he is supposed to be more aggressive than his predecessor, who was forced to walk the plank last year following the horrible fourth and 26 collapse against the Eagles. Aggression is a good thing in football. Look for super-aggressive 2nd year linebacker Nick Barnett to take a more active leadership role this year.

The Packers allowed punter Josh Bidwell to drift away via free agency during the off-season and then used a third round draft pick to replace him. Using a pick that high for a punter is almost unheard of, but B. J. Sander was supposed to be a nice upgrade. Instead, Sander has been a complete disaster thus far. The Packers currently have two punters on their roster, Sander and a recently picked-up 40-year-old journeyman. Mike Sherman has egg on his face for this situation and I am not sure that holding roster spots for two mediocre punters is a healthy situation. I have no clue how this situation will play out, but it should be interesting.

It's showtime and cheeseheads are upbeat about the Packers chances in 2004. I can hardly wait.

D H D 

 

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