Saturday, July 21, 2012

Packers training camp restores balance to the universe

Does that headline seem a little over the top? If you are a true Green 'n' Gold fan of the Green Bay Packers...nah, nothing but the truth in that statement.

During the offseason, Packer fans find themselves doing anything to distract themselves from the reality that things are just not right. How could they be? There's no Packers football for Pete's sake! Or anyone else's sake for that matter. We have to "entertain" ourselves with (shudder) basketball, baseball (well, OK, I guess), golf (fine to play and also a good way to get a nap in if watching on TV), soccor (don't dare call it football or futball...I don't care if you are European!), tennis (c'mon, who cares really?), or who knows what else?

Yes, it really is a cultural wasteland, isn't it?

But that's about to change this week, Packers fans! After new Packers' shareholders get to attend their first meeting inside Lambeau Field, the players will return to St. Norbert College and the Packers' training facilities for the start of camp. Yay! (By the way, if you are curious about St. Norbert College's connection with the Pack, check out this brief article for more.)

What's the outlook?
We are well aware of the fact that the Packers are, at least according to the early line in Vegas, favorites to not only win the NFC North and NFC Championship, but to also win the 2013 Super Bowl. It's good to be favored. But as we also know, even going 15-1, as the Packers did last season, is no guarantee of bringing another Lombardi Trophy back to where it rightfully belongs: Green Bay -- TitleTown USA.

There are some question marks, of course. First among them: things haven't started yet so who the heck knows what will happen? An injury in training camp or early in the season to a key player and the outlook changes dramatically. Beyond that, the sieve that was the defense last season has got to be improved. It was the team's Achilles Heal last season and prevented them from going to the big game. A couple of the new draft picks will be expected to step in and perform almost from the get-go. With Nick Collins now gone in the secondary, someone else will have to pick up the slack. There are a number of candidates, but all are unproven at this point. Getting a pass rush will do a great deal to help the secondary.

On offense, the line will have to gel after some key departures. Again, the Pack seems to have a number of players that can fill the gaps. The question is: how well? There are no questions at QB where we have the best player in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. We also have the best receiving corps in the league, loaded at wide receiver and tight end. The question mark is at running back. Ryan Grant is unsigned and may or may not see another snap as a Packer. James Starks is slotted as the starter, with second-year player Alex Green coming off injury as his primary back up. Another second-year player, Brandon Saine, also stands to get a chance at showing what he can do. It will likely be running back by committee especially in this pass-happy offense. Fullback John Kuhn will likely resume his steady roll, although he might not be ready for training camp even after six months of rehab from his MCL that slot may wind up being a bit more wide open than expected, too.

Bottom line?
What all this translates into is apparently what the oddsmakers see: a talented and well-coached team that, despite some issues, looks like the best bet to go all the way. Granted, there's a long way to go especially when things haven't started yet. But, really, who would you rather put your money on right now?

Yes, with training camp almost here, balance to the universe is once again restored.

Say it with me: it's great to be a Packers fan!!!