This week we have to go into the depths of Lambeau to talk about arguably the most feared team in the league right now. I asked Ray Rivard of FanSided’s Packers’ site, Lombardi Avenue, some questions about his team. Ray runs a great site over their and his insight helps us understand many aspects of this year’s Packers team.
With that said, let’s go Inside The Villain’s Venue with Lombardi Avenue.
1. The Packers are near the top of the leader board in the big-play defensive categories (tied for 2nd in interceptions, tied for 3rd in sacks) yet they are still giving up nearly 25 points per game. Why is that?
The Packers secondary is being gashed for big plays, plays of 20 yards or more, much more frequently than the team would like. The players and coaches chalk it up to early-season bumps and insist that things will improve and they will get better.
Things did improve a bit last week for the defense overall, but for the first three weeks, opposing quarterbacks have been able to throw for big yards against the Packers secondary.
Fans of the team are still waiting to see that improvement. They hope it comes at home against the Broncos.
2. Greg Jennings vs. Champ Bailey (if he plays). Who wins that battle?
A. Greg Jennings is a superstar whose consistency is unquestioned. Bailey has been hurt and I don’t see him doing much to stop Jennings without a lot of help over the top.
The only way Bailey clamps down on Jennings is if the Broncos are able to hurry Aaron Rodgers into early and inaccurate throws. It’s been done by other teams, so that’s not out of the question. However, if it comes down to one on one, Jennings wins every time.
3. Ryan Grant is averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. Is this more a function of a good back or a good offensive line.
Grant finally showed last week that he may be getting back to where he was prior to being injured in the first game of the season in 2010. His decision-making and ability to make that first cut and go has been phenomenal. However, the line has also been showing tremendous improvement in the running game and though they lost 2010 first round pick Bryan Bulaga with and injury for a week or two, they have not dropped in performance.
How Grant runs, as well as how his backup, James Starks, plays, will be key to how the team plays Sunday. They need the balance to score touchdowns.
4. What is the Packers biggest area of weakness right now?
No question … the defensive backfield. They are making big plays and the defense overall is coming up big in huge situations, but unless the defensive backfield can turn things around the next few weeks, allowing all these big plays will catch up to them.
5. The Packers had some rebuilding to do before their Super Bowl win. What do you think the key is to a good rebuilding process?
Depth is the key. Having guys to plug in and not miss a beat was key to the team’s Super Bowl run last year and the way things are turning out here in the early going, it looks like it will play a role again.
General manager Ted Thompson has built this team through the draft, has very, very rarely ever used the free agent system and believes strongly in signing his own guys. It’s paid off, but he’s taken a lot of heat over that strategy, too. For those who want to win right now, the past five years have been frustrating. It was only after last season’s success that fans let up on their criticism.
Thompson has shown that rebuilding is done from within.
6. Your prediction for Sunday’s battle?
The Packers, after a stretch of a few years where they weren’t dominant at home, have regained the home field swagger they had in the 1990s and early 2000s. The team is tough to beat at Lambeau Field and after having won two straight on the road will be pumped to be playing at home on Sunday.
Frankly, people look at the schedule and have marked this down as a win already. I never go into a game with that attitude. That’s when the team gets beat.
However, I don’t see that happening. Rodgers is on a roll, the defense has been playing better and special teams are beginning to show that they may make enough plays this season to make a difference in games.
I see a close first half with the Packers pulling away in the second half.
Packers 36 Broncos 16
A big thanks to Ray for spending time with us.
Make sure to follow Predominantly Orange on Facebook.