After the number one offense failed to generate anything in the preseason opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans weren't to optimistic about the Green Bay Packers doing a whole lot this season.
Fast forward one week after the Packers rolled to a 48-13 win over Seattle and many of those same fans have now done a complete about face.
Here's where we put up the caution flag. As coaches say, it's never as bad as you think and it's never as good as you think.
So after two preseason games, here's what I think we know about this team.
Defense: It's going to be pretty good. Barring injuries, the defensive line is rock solid and very deep. Definitely the strength of this unit. The starting linebackers are also very good, led by 2nd year player A.J. Hawk. But here's to keeping that unit healthy, because what's behind them isn't really appealing at this stage of the game. The secondary is rock solid at corner with Al Harris and Charles Woodson, while Nick Collins is steady as they come at safety. If the Packers are going to say they're better defensively than a year ago, they must find a way to replace Marquand Manuel. Manuel is just average and so far appears to be a mistake as far as a free agent signing. Atari Bigby is pushing for his job. If Bigby is better and wins the job, the Packers are better on defense. If not, well lets just hope we're not looking at the backside of Manuel's jersey too often this season.
Offense: The offensive line gained a year in experience with Darryn Colledge and Jason Spits gaining that year of playing time. They naturally will be better, which should take the tightends out of mass protection schemes, something they did a lot of last year. Speaking of tightends, Donald Lee looks like he has the upperhand on that job, but the Packers are going to need Bubba Franks to rebound from a poor year and actually contribute something for this group to be better. The wide receivers will be better then last year. The depth here appears to be pretty good and 3rd round pick James Jones will get better each week. He's already pretty good. The question at running back is depth and youth. Because of a knee injury that sidelined Vernand Morency all of training camp so far, rookie second round pick Brandon Jackson has gotten more than his share of reps and he's benefited from it. Jackson appears to be the legitimate starter when the Packers open up against the eagles. Brett Favre is Brett Favre. If he's patient and spreads the ball around, he and the offense could have a good year. For the Packers to have a chance at the post season for the first time in three years, Favre will have to play some of his best football.
Special teams is better than last year, at least that's what we see so far. It looks like Will Blackmon has won the return duties and he's already flashed some displays of big play ability in training camp so far. Punter Jon Ryan is back and kicking well and the battle goes on between Mason Crosby and incumbant Dave Rayner at kicker. This one is too close to call. Alright, I pick Crosby.
Now, the Packers have a more difficult schedule this season with four of their first six opponents being playoff teams from a year ago. That, coupled with a young team and you see the difficulty in picking this one. With youth comes mistakes. How well the Packers avoid them will depend on whether or not they make a push for the playoffs.
I'm not drinking the Kool-aid, but I do think that if all the stars lineup, even with a tough schedule, there's a chance the Packers could find their way to 9-7 and in playoff contention.
But inspite of all of the above, I think the defense is really going to be fun to watch. A.J. Hawk is unbelievable. Cullen Jenkins and Aaron Kampman are in for big seasons. And don't be surprised if you see Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila return from whatever holiday he's been on the past few seasons and post some decent numbers.
Remember the key word though. Injuries. At certain positions, like running back, the Packers are a serious injury away from disaster. Cross your fingers fans and hope for the best!