32 teams in 32 days: Green Bay
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Mar 14, 2008
We continue our team-by-team early off-season look at the NFL with the ...
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Even Aussies agree, Green Bay is the "best place in the world to watch football."
show video here
2007 record: 13-3 (435-291)
Record vs. Quality Opponents: 3-1
Expected W-L (based on PF/PA): 11.5-4.5
All-time franchise record: 637-503-36 (.557)
Playoff record: 25-15 (.625)
Last five seasons: 45-35 (.563)
Best game of 2007: 34-0 at home vs. Minnesota (Week 10). Green Bay improved to 8-1 by playing its most complete game in years, thoroughly dominating a division rival in every phase of battle. The Packers banged out 488 yards of total offense, to just 247 for the Vikings. They also controlled the clock by greater than 2 to 1 (40:40 to 19:20) against a team that proved to have one of the single greatest rushing attacks in NFL history. Brett Favre was brilliant (33 for 46, 71.7%, 351 yards, 7.6 YPA, 3 TD, 0 INT, 115.4 rating) while running back Ryan Grant had a breakout performance to pace the ground game (25 for 119, 4.8 YPA, 1 TD). Minnesota phenom Adrian Peterson was held to 45 yards on 11 attempts before leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury. The day also provided a bit of history at Lambeau: Favre surpassed the 60,000-yard milestone, joining Dan Marino in the exclusive club of passers.
Strength: All-around solidity. It was hard to find a single dominating aspect of Green Bay's game in 2007. But, perhaps more importantly, it was hard to find a single weakness, either. The Packers ranked between 3rd and 7th in every single one of our Quality Stats last year, which made them the most consistent statistical team in football last year.
Weakness: See above.
Most underrated player: MLB Nick Barnett. Sure, he was a Pro Bowler in 2007, his fifth year in the league, but Barnett probably doesn't get the acclaim around the country that he deserves. Maybe a series of off-field legal issues – including a nightclub brawl last spring – has hurt his reputation. But typically, in the crazy world of "there's no such thing as bad publicity," these off-field incidents tend to elevate a player's profile. In any case, you could make an argument that Barnett is the single best linebacker in the NFL. His production compares quite favorably, for example, to that of Brian Urlacher, the name that rolls off most tongues when asked to pick the league's top middle linebacker. And many "pundits" might consider the highly publicized A.J. Hawk, not Barnett, as Green Bay's best 'backer. But Barnett has been highly productive during his five years in Green Bay (more than 100 total tackles each season) and he had a career year in 2007, with personal highs in solo tackles (102) and sacks (3.5). He also picked off two passes while anchoring a unit that finished seventh in the league in scoring defense (18.2 PPG) and was among the league leaders in every one of our defensive Quality Stats.
Unit on the rise: Defensive Hogs. Green Bay's front seven is seasoned but still relatively young, and fresh off a year in which it was among the best in the league (No. 3 in our Defensive Hog Index). The Packers also devoted their top pick last year to defensive tackle Justin Harrell, the No. 16 overall selection. He saw limited playing time as a rookie but has the potential to develop into a premier player at his position. Green Bay's Defensive Hogs should be a formidable force for several years to come.
Silly-season activity: The free-agent period has been relatively quiet in Green Bay this year, save for the departure of apparently some guy who was pretty good at quarterback. Not sure if you heard about it. Perhaps the second biggest story has been the release of Bubba Franks, a seven-year starter at tight end for the Pack and three-time Pro Bowler before last year's injury-plagued season. They picked up a second-round pick from Cleveland for DT Corey Williams as well.
Youth/experience: The Packers were one of the youngest teams in football in 2007. Now, with the departure of Brett Favre, the Packers average starter next year will be just 14 years old. Seriously, a young team that's already proven it can win 13 NFL games is one to be feared going forward. But it remains to be seen just how much the Favre Experience factor impacted the young team last year. We do know this, if only from limited evidence: back-up Aaron Rodgers replaced an injured Favre in the second quarter of the Cowboys game last year, and instantly added – and we know this is heresy punishable by death in certain Wisconsin counties – a spark to the offense that had been missing earlier in the game with Favre. Rodgers went 18 of 26 for 201 yards and 1 TD. Favre had completed just 5 of 14 passes for 56 yards with 2 INT.
2007 Draft grade: B-. The Packers benefitted from 11 picks in the 2007 draft, and nine of those players made the roster (another sign of the team's youth). There were no superstars to emerge, but a couple rookies stood out. Perhaps the biggest gem was Korey Hall, taken out of Boise State as a linebacker in the sixth round. He was converted to fullback in training camp, cracked the opening day line-up and was on the field with the Packers offense for most of the season. Kicker Mason Crosby (also selected in the sixth round) handled all of Green Bay's kicking duties last year and finished among the middle of the pack in most kickoff categories, while connecting on 31 of 39 field goals (79.5%), with a long of 53 and 1 blocked, and all 48 extra points he attempted. Justin Harrell, the No. 1 pick, will be expected to move into Williams' spot at DT after making two starts. James Jones, a wide receiver selected in the third round out of San Jose State, caught 47 passes for 676 yards, 14.4 YPC, and 2 TDs. That's actually pretty darn good production out of a position that rarely ever makes a sudden impact on the NFL. Finally, DeShawn Wynn, a running back tabbed in the 7th round, contributed with 50 attempts for 203 yards and, for a brief period before the surprising ascension of Ryan Grant, looked like he might become Green Bay's featured back. Those are some nice contributors. But given the fact that Green Bay had 11 picks, you might have expected a bit more splash out of the Class of 2007.
2008 Draft power: 1st (30), 2nd (57), 2nd (61), 3rd (92), 4th (126), 5th (157), 7th (222)
General Draft strategies: The Packers have selected an amazing 34 players in the last three drafts, more than 50 percent more than the average team over that period (21 picks). With that many picks, they've been able to afford a few mulligans. And they've had a few. But Green Bay won't have that luxury this year. Barring some major wheeling and dealing between now and draft day, the Pack will select just six players in the 2008 draft. You have to go all the way back to 1960 to find a Green Bay team that made fewer draft-day selections. The good news is that the Packers have few major weaknesses they need to shore up through the draft. The bad news is that it only takes one bad draft class in the NFL and your team takes a major step backward. The pressure is on Ted Thompson & Co. to build upon the momentum of 2007.
Coaching: After two years at the helm, Mike McCarthy has quickly proven more than an able NFL coach. He took over in 2006 a team that had been a dismal 4-12 in 2005, tying it for the worst Green Bay team of the post-Lombardi Era. He won the last four games of his rookie season, to finish at 8-8. Then, of course, came last year's stellar 13-3 campaign. If the Packers can stand out among the leaders of the NFC in their first post-Favre season, McCarthy could rise in stature to be considered among the best coaches in the league. If the Packers stumble, McCarthy might be seen as Just Another Coach in a league in which reputations are built or shredded often upon the results of a single season or even a single performance. Overall, it's a relatively young, unproven staff that's making its name right here in Green Bay. Offensive coordinator Joe Philpin, for example, has spent just five years in the NFL, all of them with the Packers. The 2008 season will be his second as a coordinator. Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has been in the NFL for only seven seasons. The next season will be his third running the Packers D and it's improved considerably under his tutelage.
Overview: The Packers have plenty of incentive and plenty to prove in 2008. The team needs to prove that 13-3 was no fluke. The youngsters need to prove they can take it to the next level. The coaching staff needs to prove that it is in fact one of the great collections of young leadership talent in the game today, as the past two seasons have seemed to indicate. The talented Aaron Rodgers needs to prove that the Packers were correct expending a No. 1 pick on him back in the 2005 draft. And the entire organization needs to prove that it was much more than a one-man show, as the hype surrounding its former quarterback – usually at the expense of every other contributor on the team – often seemed to indicate. Finally, the Packers need to prove they can recapture some of that old Lambeau magic, which has certainly turned to dust as the team has lost three of its last four playoff games at home, after winning every single home playoff game in its previous history. How do they prove they can recapture the magic? A trip to Super Bowl might be the only way. Overall, 2008 is a very big – and exciting – year for the Pack.
Forearm Shiver: the CHFF Blog
- Hockey Announcer Gone Wild: You Want To Party (Maybe) With This Guy
- Best Pass Defense Ever: Ronde Barber And The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Reese Witherspoon Arrest Video: Hot, Bothered And Handcuffed
- Sam Adams In A Can, Just In Time For Summer Drinking Season
- Live From Radio City: Reporter Punks NFL Draft Fans
- The 5.0 Club: Best Rushing Teams in NFL History
- Sieves: The Worst Run Defenses In NFL History
- Monsters of the Midway: We Need The Chicago Bears More Than Ever
- Boston, Sports, Patriotism And Terror
- The 100 Stingiest Defenses In Football History
- NFL Crown Rule: Will It Dethrone Rushing King Adrian Peterson?
- Year Of The Offensive Tackle: Not Always The 'Safe' Draft Bet
- Draft Habits: NFL Teams Covet LBs, Duped By False Temptress WRs
- Big Tease: 2012 New England Patriots And NFL's History Of Offensive Failures
- Epic Fail: The Wide Receiver Draft Class Of 2012
Must See Videos