2006 Green Bay Packers Preview

I stand corrected. After watching the Green Bay Packers’ horrific preseason annihilation at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, I think it is entirely possible that the Pack may not reach six wins even with Brett Favre at quarterback.

The worst part though, is the fact that the Packers, who are years away from being competitive, don’t even appear as if they have a clue as to how to get this team back on the track to respectability.

I certainly don’t envy new head coach, Mike McCarthy and suggest that he keep his desk drawer full of some updated resumes because he’s going to need them sooner rather than later, although you just never know with the inexplicable front office in Green Bay.

One thing I do know is that it’s going to be a long season for all of those “Cheeseheads” who used to populate Packers games when the team was perennially among the best in the league. Here’s my 2006 preview on the Green Bay Packers.

Quarterback
As much as I hate to point out the truth sometimes, that’s exactly what I get paid to do. Having said that, it is painfully obvious that Brett Favre made the wrong decision in coming back for the 2006 season and should be currently enjoying the benefits of being “retired” instead of running for his life for 16 weeks and possibly diminishing any of the luster he has put on an absolutely stellar career that will one day land Favre in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It wasn’t pleasant seeing Favre toss those 29 picks last season, and with the Packers roster, 2006 certainly isn’t going to be much better.

One other thing about Favre coming back for another season is that his presence is impeding the growth and maturation of the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, last season’s first round draft pick, who desperately needs the experience – not to mention the fact that the Packers need to find out immediately if he has what it takes to succeed Favre as their permanent starter.

Succinctly put, the Packers quarterback situation is tenuous at best. At worst, the Packers will lose Favre following this season and find out that Rodgers is a sham next year. Either way, I wouldn’t want to be head coach Mike McCarthy with this bunch.

Running Backs
The Packers have several talented backs on their roster, beginning with former Pro Bowler, Ahman Green. It would appear that Green has won his starting job back after missing almost all of last season with a nagging quadriceps injury.

In his absence last season, youngster, Samkon Gado stepped in and provided a glimpse of what the Packers backfield should hold. Gado rushed for 582 yards and six touchdowns, including a Packers rookie record, 171-yard performance against the Detroit Lions.

At fullback, William Henderson, one of the more competent players on Green Bay’s roster returns as the lead blocker for whomever lines up at tailback. On the whole, I’d have to say that Green Bay is much better of for having found out what Gado can do last year, which will allow them to spell Green a little more often in 2006.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Many people may not recognize the fact that Donald Driver is a Pro Bowl caliber receiver, however, his numbers from last season state just that. Driver was nothing short of spectacular posting 86 catches and 1,221 receiving yards. Unfortunately for the Packers, as good as Driver is, that’s how maddeningly inconsistent – and unproven – the rest of Green Bay’s receivers are.

The team’s other starting wide receiver, Robert Ferguson, can absolutely disappear at times, and former first-round draft pick, Rod Gardner, has been a career underachiever as well. Tight end Bubba Franks is nearing the end of his proficient career, but the Packers have another young tight end in Donald Lee who appears as if he is ready to step in and start right now. However, this bunch as a group leaves a lot to be desired.

Offensive Line
Tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton lead this uninspiring unit to whatever moral victories they can get each week. Center Scott Wells and guards, Daryn Colledge and Will Whitticker, leave a lot to be desired, So much in fact, that they wouldn’t be on my roster, but hey, that’s just me.

One thing I do know however, is that if this offensive line doesn’t improve quick, fast and in a hurry, last year’s 30th ranked rushing offense – not to mention the 29 interceptions and numerous sacks quarterback Brett Favre suffered through, it’s going to be a sequel of epic proportions in 2006.

Defensive Line
The Packers actually have a nice pair of defensive ends in sack leader, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and youngster, Aaron Kampman, who had an incredible 105 tackles last season. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was signed as a free agent to start alongside of Cullen Jenkins, who is mediocre at best.

Linebackers
It doesn’t say a lot for the talent level of your team when first-round draft pick, A.J. Hawk instantly becomes your best linebacker the day you selected him. Veterans, Nick Barnett and Ben Taylor will combine with Hawk to form the starting trio for this group, which will need some major contributions off the bench form backups, Roy Manning and Abdul Hodge.

Defensive Backs
The Packers secondary was supposed to be better this season with the addition of cornerback, Charles Woodson, although I have to admit that he’s never lived up to his billing. Green Bay’s other starting cornerback, Al Harris is an excellent cover corner when he stays mentally focused, which is always a question.

Free agent acquisition, veteran safety, Marquand Manuel should provide some much needed experience, although I’m not certain he’s not a career backup – and second-year man, Nick Collins is only going to get better with each passing game.
I know the Packers tried to address this issue this offseason, but the reality of the situation is, that if the Packers don’t get some pressure from up front, this unit may not fare much better than it did in 2005.

Special Teams
The Packers went out and signed inconsistent former Dallas Cowboys kicker, Billy Cardiff to go along with the rest of their mediocre team, including punter, B.J. Sander who had better straighten up his act as well. The Packers punt and kickoff return duties will be handled by what appears to be a “committee” of whomever will hold on to the damn ball. On the whole, the Packers may want to make some more adjustments to their special teams – like getting two real kickers.

Coaching
What the Packers needed was an established veteran head coach, or a hotshot young one, who could whip their young players into some kind of cohesive unit that actually plays with some kind of sense of direction. What the Packers went out and did was hire McCarthy, a man with no prior head coaching experience at either the collegiate or professional level.

Don’t get me wrong, McCarthy could turn out to be the next Vince Lombardi – not!

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