The Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the game.
And since the quarterback is the end-all for success in the new-look pass-happy NFL, the Packers are insulated from outside problems.
The Packers may have been able to get by with one of its top receivers. Heck, they may have been able to get by without two of them. But losing Jermichael Finley, who has the body of a linebacker and the agility and explosiveness of a wide receiver, is too much too handle.
Trotting out unproven players like Jarrett Boykin, Myles White and even Andrew Quarless — who caught more than 20 passes in a season only once in this his fourth season is a lot to ask.
Randall Cobb will be out until at least the middle of December, James Jones looks to be out until Nov. 4 after missing practice on Wednesday. And Jermichael Finley, who took a hit that has made mothers cringe and could potentially bring this sport to its knees, might very well hang up his cleats forever.
Which is why the Packers will be forced to lean on its running game and defense more than they ever had since 1997. During that regular season, Dorsey Levens had 1,435 yards on the ground and the defense was seventh in the league based on yardage and fifth based on points.
Can they do it again? Well, general manager Ted Thompson got it right with the pick of workhorse running back Eddie Lacy. Packers fans are going to love this guy hit the four-wheel-drive button on his powerful legs to churn through the ice and mud of December.
And the defense may not be as good as the ’97 team but what will help this team is that their schedule is pretty soft until heading to Detroit on Thanksgiving. Even after that game, a Dallas road game looks to be the most difficult.
Rodgers will continue to toss missiles at opposing defenses but Lacy and this defense will carry it into the postseason.
But in order for that to happen, defensive coordinator Dom Capers needs to keep preaching thievery. Last year, the defense had 23 takeaways and in 2011 the Packers had an amazing 38 takeaways. And this year, they have only seven takeaways.
It is so cliché to keep bringing up turnovers, but this team has lived off them. Teams are now playing offense under a lock and key against the Packers. They are a lot more conservative with the ball and are more inclined to melt the clock than take a risk with a big play only to get it intercepted.
Lacy is the perfect guy for Green Bay to lean on. He’s big, he falls forward and he constantly keeps his legs pumping to keep the chains moving.
But unless this defense starts the takeaway machine, a deep playoff run just isn’t in the cards.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn