We’re trying to look in-depth at every team during their bye week.
Better than the champs
The Packers offense is better than it was during their Super Bowl season. To put it more precisely: The Packers’ 2010 playoff offense has carried over into the 2011 regular season.
Pete Doughtery of the Green Bay Press-Gazette asked the question of the Packers season this week. Do Green Bay’s defense issues matter when the offense is this ridiculous? The answer so far is no.
Rodgers easily the MVP
It’s early, but Aaron Rodgers has been the best player in the league. He’s throwing for 9.9 yards-per-attempt. That would tie Kurt Warner for the highest number since the 1950′s. Rodgers’ accuracy, decision-making, and play-making under duress has been epic.
Yes, the schedule set up well for Green Bay early. Few teams faced an easier early slate. But Rodgers is having a historical season.
Jermichael Finley is healthy and catching touchdowns. It says a lot about this offense that Rodgers doesn’t need Finley to be a huge factor each week. Jordy Nelson consolidated his playoff success; he’s on pace for 1,000 yards. Randall Cobb isn’t a consistent threat, but he brings a new dimension to the offense. Greg Jennings and James Jones are who they have always been.
This is simply a better group than a year ago. Only the Saints have scored more points. Almost all the receivers are in their prime and know Mike McCarthy’s system well. Donald Driver’s decline barely matters; he’s the fourth or fifth wideout.
Line has held up
There were concerns in the preseason about the offensive line, but it has held up fairly well despite tackle Chad Clifton’s injury. Marshall Newhouse played well on the left side until facing the Vikings. The interior is strong. There may not be a better guard-center combo in the league than Scott Wells and Josh Sitton. Bryan Bulaga has continued to develop at right tackle.
More of the same from run game
This is not a great running team, but they aren’t as bad as the numbers indicate. The Packers rank 26th in yards–per-carry at 3.8. They were 25th last year. But the two key runners are better than that.
James Starks is at 4.5 yards-per-carry and Ryan Grant is at 4.0. Grant isn’t quite his old self and Starks could be more consistent, but it’s not a terrible group. Starks impressively closed out the win over Minnesota.
Defense takes step back
Green Bay’s defense gives up a lot of yards, but they rank tenth in points allowed. Points matter, not yards. The Packers are a good red zone defense team. They could stand to get better play from some of their young core cuys.
Clay Matthews has been good so far, but not to his 2010 level. The same is true for B.J. Raji. Tramon Williams hasn’t been 100%. Get that trio playing at a higher level, and the Packers defense could surge late in the year like in 2010. So far they have been ordinary.
Schedule gets much tougher
The Packers have benefited from one of the easiest schedules in the league. It gets tougher with road dates against the Chargers, Chiefs, Lions, and Giants. The Packers only face one team the rest of the way that currently has a losing record.
An undefeated season is very unlikely, but something around 14-2 sounds about right. That would result in the No. 1 seed in the NFC, a great spot from which to try to win another championship.