Here’s some thoughts following the Packers’ win last night and heading into the final four games of the season:
I think the players are finally starting to understand the new 3-4 defense under Dom Capers. Going into the season, there were some apparent growing pains with the new scheme but the defense has definitely improved over the past few weeks and, if the Packers make the playoffs this year, it’ll be because of that side of the ball.
I hate to kick a player when he’s down and have a lot of respect for Aaron Kampman but I think the defense is better without him. He’s a heck of a pass rusher but guys like rookie Brad Jones seem to have a better feel for what’s going on around them while Kampman was obviously still learning a new position. I don’t think he’ll be back next season but, if the Packers are smart, they’ll franchise him and try to trade him (even if it’s just for a low draft pick) to a team outside the division.
Oh, and if anyone is looking for a last second Christmas gift for me, I’ll take a Clay Matthews jersey. That rookie is proving to be a playmaker. I can’t wait to see how well he does once he gets some more experience.
If there is anything that will keep the Packers from making the playoffs this year, it will be their special teams. The kickoff team is a liability and constantly gives up good field position and they haven’t returned one for a touchdown (or even more than 50 yards) for quite some time. Last off season, they fired their special teams coach and promoted from within. This upcoming off season, I have a feeling they’ll make another change and go outside the organization this time around.
Brett Favre is still getting all the attention (and MVP consideration). But, if you count Aaron Rodger’s rushing totals, he has produced 527 more yards of offense and scored two more touchdowns than Favre through 12 games. If he doesn’t make his first Pro Bowl this year, there’s something wrong with the selection process.
Because of their two losses to the Vikings, the Packers likely won’t be able to catch Minnesota and win the division. But, their late season streak, combined with the Vikings facing a tougher schedule than they did the first part of their season, puts the Packers in a position to at least give chase and prevent Minnesota from taking it easy the last four games. If the Packers defense continues to dominate they could make a post season splash similar to the one the New York Giants made a couple seasons ago.