Another year and here we are after 3 pre season games again. Let me preface this article by saying I watched and rewatched all 3 pre season games and used a couple sources for my camp grades. Coach V Railbird reports and my very good friend Greg H whom I have relied on for years at camp.
Both Coach and Greg have extensive football back rounds and I prefer to use them and my own grading process rather then what the media writes and tweets. With that said I base this not on a half empty or half full basis but a "it is what it is basis".
The first thing that jumps out at me and everyone else is the OL and once again the lack of consistency. From game to game to practice to practice this group can't gel and work as one.
Both Barclay and Bakhtiari are being victimized by the inside power moves, part of this is reps but if you watch carefully on tape their feet and hips are just god awful in pass pro at times. The interior of the line also fails to work collectively and in the first 3 games all 3 starters just plain stunk for periods. This group as it was last year is a huge issue going forward.
Our WR really are a mystery in that we have not seen much of Jordy or Cobb. Past experience says that IF they get healthy we are fine, but the timing won't be great and sharp until game 4 or 5. After Boykin the drop off appears steep so long term injury during the season must be watched at WR.
RB is an area where a ton of players took a few reps. We know if healthy Lacy is the real deal and Franklin can be a good 3rd down back and ST player. Harris has the skills but maybe on the PUP list early.
That leaves a battle between Starks and Green. I am not a fan of these two players for a lot of reasons but given the choice I'll shock people and keep Starks. He gives you more in the inside zone run then Green and if you limit his reps can still be effective. Kuhn sticks because of his ST play and FB play.
Last but not least the TE group. Finley is the far and away best player here and it's not close. Yes he has a habit of dropping a few balls but he manipulates the other teams zone coverage and completely changes how the other teams DC calls the game.
After Finley it's a toss up. No one really looks fantastic on tape and this group has the same kind of consistency issues as the OL.
I won't talk QB as #12 is our man if he goes down we all know it's huge issue regardless who the back up is.
DL play is improved from the aspect of getting a push on tape yet the last 2 games teams have still been getting to the second level in the running game. It appears on tape that at times our OLB and DE just get whipped at the point of attack.
Two men who stand out on DL are Johhny Jolly and Raji both of whom graded out high for me. I really think the group is better but the run defense is still a concern.
LB as a whole outside of Clay are very hot/cold. I really think this is due to a ton of players getting reps rather then poor play. GB was shuffling players all over in pre season so to be honest this group gets an incomplete from me right now.
DB/S is also somewhat incomplete. Lots of players getting reps whom can't stay on the roster makes it tough to grade out. I thought Burnett had a solid camp as did Sam Shields. Both players improved this off season. McMillian is a guy who seems solid in coverage but who I saw repeatedly standing around the pile shying away from tackling. ( problem)
MD Jennings still tends to get lost in coverage from time to time but loves to tackle. We need one of the two to put it all together.
Micah Hyde is this years gem. He is a football player not a all pro guy but he plays almost like Leroy Butler to me. Solid ...Great kid who should be around awhile.
ST Briefly on this is our kicking game. Crosby looks to be the guy but if he falters early would not be surprised if he gets the hook. Punting is solid again.
Overall this years Packer team appears to again be a competitive group that can go far but for two factors. Consistency and depth will be the the factors for this team in 2013.
Can we put 4 quarters of football together each week on offense and defense ? If the injury bug hits hard do we have the depth to over come it ?
If yes then we have a great shot of being in NY for the super bowl.
My take is an 11-5 football team and another NFC North title.