Return of the Playmakers
I hate reading message board comments or feedback on articles, but I have to admit they can give a fairly good indication as to the general feelings of a particular audience. Case in point: there's been a very obvious undercurrent of uneasiness among Packer fans responding to articles on Packers.com in recent weeks in relation to the Green and Gold's lackluster performance in their first two preseason games. Comments have lamented imprecise passes, poor blocking, and a generally poor output by the offensive unit.
There may be some merit to the concern, but I have a hard time worrying a whole lot about it given how much the team has been missing on the offensive side of the ball.
Here are some numbers: 122, 1716, and 17. That's the combined catches, yards, and touchdowns from last year that returned to the Packers' offensive lineup when Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings took to the field for the first time in over two weeks. You may recognize those names as the two of the team's three best pass catchers. I think it's totally fair to assume they had something to do with the team's recent offensive struggles.
Another contributing factor to the less than shining performance from the offensive side may be the lack of a running game worth mentioning. James Starks' struggles have been well chronicled, but even beyond him, things haven't been terribly exciting. Alex Green's participation in the first two contests has been strictly limited, and with an injury keeping Brandon Saine on the sideline, rookie Marc Tyler has had to carry basically the entire load. Unfortunately he hasn't carried it very far, only gaining 38 yards on 21 carries.
Fortunately, there should be some relief coming in that area too, with Green slowly being let off his leash and newly acquired Cedric Benson finally getting into the mix. If nothing else, Benson should have fresh legs, which might be enough to get the Packers' running attack off the ground. At this point, it seems like you might be able to get to the depth chart at running back by having nothing more than a pair of fully functional legs.
My point is that it's probably unfair to judge the offense with what we've seen so far. However, I'll qualify that by saying this week should be pretty telling as far as what we could expect from the team, at least in the early parts of the year. Traditionally, starters get a much more extended look in the third preseason game, so if there's going to be any offensive fireworks, it'll be this week.
At any rate, let's not panic until Aaron Rodgers gets to throw more than eleven passes in a game. Deal?