Time goes by faster the older you get, except for the time takes to get through the NFL offseason. Let’s play some damn ball already!
The Packers drew a worthy contender at home in Week 1 in the Seattle Seahawks. Though the Seahawks are not the machine they were a few years back, their name still stings the ears of Packers fans due to the Fail Mary (great way to cap off my wedding weekend) and the 2014 NFC title game where Jesus and all His glory (according to Russell Wilson) decided the Packers must choke in spectacular fashion and be denied entrance to the Super Bowl in a season where their quarterback was MVP and they had virtually no major injuries. No bitterness there at all…
Nevertheless, there are several storylines in a marquee NFC matchup this Sunday:
Injuries? What injuries?
Okay, the Packers didn’t skirt through the preseason without a scratch, but escaped without a catastrophe. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry were full participants in practice, though everyone knows that can instantly change. Even Bryan Bulaga and Montravius Adams were limited participants. All this will come crashing down in an instant with one more injury to the offensive line. The masses are stating this season hinges on the defense. That may be accurate, but it takes a back seat to the health of the offensive line. I said it before anyone else.
An Influx of New Faces on Defense
A banged up and atrocious secondary from 2016 has been reinforced with an old but new again face in Davon House and two rookies in Kevin King and Josh Jones, who are expected to immediately contribute. Management picked up two mainstays from one of the best defenses of the decade in former 49ers Ahmad Brooks and Quinton Dial. Additional depth to the defensive line rotation was brought in with Ricky Jean-Francois. Multiple veterans with proven track records have been acquired to instantly contribute. The armchair GMs may finally pipe down; or they’ll find something else to critique….yes, that’s exactly what will happen.
Almost anyone in the stands on Sunday would prefer to still see Eddie Lacy wearing green. If recent events had unfolded in a different sequence, he very well could still be in town. The man deserves a warm welcome when he steps onto the field and immediately turns around and runs to the nearest brat stand. Okay, I couldn’t avoid the cheap shot. His size was an advantage except in the 2015 season, and fat jokes are fun, so settle down. I’ll miss him. He ran like a man and has a lovable personality. I hope he flourishes with the Seahawks, but that his team still finishes 5-11. That’s a fair request.
New Toys for Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers has to be salivating at the prospects of what he can do with two major upgrades at tight end, especially in the red zone. If every defense decides to single cover Martellus Bennett with a linebacker at the goal line like the Redskins did in the preseason, then the Packers will become the first team to have a 100% conversion rate in the red zone for an entire season. In reality, there is still no excuse for red zone success to not increase with the new wrinkles that Bennett and Lance Kendricks offer.
Behind Ty Montgomery, a trio of rookie running backs will be scrapping for carries. More often than not, the team will quickly abandon the run like they always do after Mike McCarthy spends the week talking about his commitment to the run. Luckily, that works in todays NFL when you have a once-in-a-generation passer.
M.D. Jennings made one good play in his professional career, and it was erased by an all-time bad call. And if my kids play football, I hope they play with one of Russell Wilson’s kids so God can help them win.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.