After winning a shootout over the 2009 champion New Orleans
Saints last week and with the defending division winning Chicago Bears a week
away on the schedule, it would be easy for the Green Bay Packers to overlook
Now when that opponent was the NFL’s worst in 2010 and has a
rookie quarterback, it would even be easier to see the Packers looking past the
Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
However, Green Bay is coming off a game in which it allowed
419 yards passing to Drew Brees and 34 points, the most since the 2009 season.
With road games coming up against the Bears and the Atlanta Falcons (the top
two seeds in the NFC a year ago), the Packers should be focused on this weekend’s
game even if the opponent looks like an inferior one.
There is a lot to work on for the Packers even though they’ve
won their last seven games. How will Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around? Can
they generate a better pass rush than they did versus the Saints? And the most
intriguing question is how will they defend Panthers rookie quarterback Cam
Rodgers completed passes to nine different receivers in Week
1, but with so many weapons there will be guys who feel left out in certain
games. Wide receiver James Jones caught just one ball and tight end Jermichael
Finley was all but ignored after the first quarter. Finley, who was in his
first game back after his knee injury ended his 2010 season early, finished the
game with just three catches for 53 yards, which all came in the game’s first
10 minutes. With Carolina’s pro bowl linebacker Jonathan Beason out for the season,
maybe this is the week Finley has a big game.
How Green Bay rushes the quarterback should be an indicator
of success all year, and this week it will have to do so once again without
Mike Neal and Frank Zombo, who’ll be out for an extended period of time. To get
pressure on Newton, defensive coordinator Dom Capers might elect to blitz a
little more often to fluster the rookie.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner had over 400 yards in Week 1,
including eight completions of 20-plus yards. For the Packers to get their 8th
win in 12 meetings with the Panthers, pressure on Newton should be essential in
forcing turnovers and getting a victory as the heavy favorite in Charlotte on
About the Author
Written by Mitch McLaughlin