Ray Rivard from Lombardiave.com checked in to answer some questions for us here at GMENHQ.COM
1. Is anyone in Green Bay concerned that the defense is ranked last in the NFL, or is it simply a matter of them being able to take chances since Rodgers and the offense is so good?
A. There is plenty of concern … since the beginning of the season there has been concern, but this defense has continually come up with the big play. They get gashed between the 30s game-in, game-out, but in every game they have come up with the timely fourth down stop, the interception, the fumble recovery and even from time to time … a sack.
Yes, all fans are concerned, but they also have faith … faith in the coaching staff to dial up the right coverages in the right situations, faith in the players who know when to turn it on, and faith in the offense that they will score at least four times per game to give them the advantage.
It’s a strange situation this year. The defense was what really helped carry them last year to get to the position to make the playoffs and then the offense seemed to turn it on throughout the playoffs. This year, it’s been the opposite with the offense exploding all over everyone and the defense seeming to play half speed. Is it a situation that can lead this team to an unbeaten season and a Super Bowl win? I don’t know. But to-date, there hasn’t been a team that’s found the recipe for beating this imperfect, perfect team.
2. What would the fans want if the team was 14-0, had home field advantage, and the first seed wrapped up? Sit or play?
A. Definitely play. And I feel that Mike McCarthy isn’t the type to buy into sitting entire starting teams. He’s always said he likes players that are game ready. I can see him sitting specific individual players maybe to help them recharge or overcome nagging injuries, but I don’t see him starting an entire offense or entire defense. Now, if the Packers go out in those final three weeks and build a big first half lead, then I can see McCarthy pulling starters from the field.
But the bottom line is winning … McCarthy wants to be perfect and he’ll do anything to achieve that goal.
3. You guys have been on such a roll, and the Giants have struggled recently, especially last Monday Night for all of you to see. What, if anything, concerns you about this game?
A. The Giants scare me no matter how well they played their last game. Take a look at the Giants’ offense against the Saints … they rolled up just about 500 yards and scored 24 points and probably could have tacked a couple of more scores onto that. Eli and the offense scares me and I feel the Giants’ defense is much like the Packers defense. They are opportunistic and can turn a game on a dime.
I go into every game nervous as hell. The Packers have issues on the offensive line, they are without their two inside linebackers and their running game hasn’t been great lately. So, yeah, there’s plenty that scares me about this weekend.
4. Who do you believe is most responsible for the development of Aaron Rodgers into the best QB in the game at this time?
A. Mike McCarthy has worked diligently with Rodgers over the past five years and has stood beside him through the whole Brett Favre fiasco. With QB coach Tom Clements, Rodgers has used his innate skills and talents to simply work hard as an individual. He understands the system so well and studies his opponents, just like any professional. Frankly, he just has the God-given talents to make it all happen. You know, who was most instrumental in the development of Johnny Unitas? or Joe Namath? or Y.A. Tittle? or Bart Starr? Most of it comes from the inside, the heart and desire. I believe that’s what drives Rodgers.
5. In recent years most of your draft picks have panned out. How has this latest class done?
A. The Packers’ draft was a solid one last spring with Derek Sherrod and Randall Cobb in the first two rounds. Sherrod hasn’t played much, but Cobb has been a solid addition to the special teams and receiving corps. Third-rounder Alex Green, the running back from Hawaii, got hurt in the fourth game and is out. Fourth-rounder Davan House is considered a high prospect, but hasn’t seen much of the field yet. Of the rest of the picks, the one making the most impact has been inside linebacker D.J. Smith. He came into the Lions game last week and filled in admirably for the injured A.J. Hawk. I’m not sure if he gets the start this week against the Giants, but we’ll see. He’s short, but is always around the ball. Tight end Ryan Taylor has been solid on special teams, but Caleb Schlauderaff and Ricky Elmore aren’t with the team anymore. The final pick, Lawrence Guy, a defensive end, is a player the Packers coaches like … he’s on injured reserve.
Overall, Cobb has had the biggest impact, but it was another solid draft by Thompson that has added even more depth to an already stacked team.