Thursday, August 8, 2019

And So We Begin Again . . .

On the Same Page?  Photo by Wm. Glasheen, USA Today
Seven plus months after the disheartening 31-0 loss to the Lions back in December, the Green Bay Packers were back on the field Thursday night, ready to start another season for the historic franchise. 

Lots of things have happened in those seven months.  The Packers passed over Joe Philbin, which seemed like the obvious thing to do after the 31-0 debacle.  They hired midwestern native Matt LaFleur as head coach, and so we will get to see what the Packers look like with a young, energetic coach replacing Mike McCarthy.  When he was introduced, he said all the right things about this being a dream come true, and as a midwesterner, I got the sense that he really appreciates the storied history of the franchise.  A  major story line for the entire season is likely to be how LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers do, or do not, get along.  If they are on the same page, and if Rodgers can avoid another injury, they could do great things together.

Every season, players retire, depart in trades or free agency, or are cut.  This season the toll includes some well known and (to some) beloved names: Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Jake Ryan, Nick Perry, Mike Daniels, among others.  Matthews and Cobb were favorites of mine, and other members of my family; we are sorry to see them go, even if we can understand the reasons for the moves.  It will be interesting to see how the young and new players do in replacing these familiar faces.

Nobody much cares about preseason games.  Personally, I find that I can watch Packers preseason games, just because it is my team, but I find other preseason games almost unwatchable.  I tried to watch the Hall of Fame game last week, and I almost fell asleep. 

The best thing about the first preseason game this year (which the Packers won, 28-26, over the Texans) was watching the defense and special teams generate a total of 4 turnovers.  That was a part of the Packers game that has been missing of late.  But the Packers' tackling Thursday night was atrocious, and they need to get their act together on that front.  Linebacker Ty Summers was maybe the most impressive rookie, while last year's training camp star receiver Jake Kumerow gave every impression that he intends to make the final roster.  Last year's defensive sensation Oren Burks, unfortunately, left the game with an injury on the same shoulder he injured in the preseason last year. 

In a departure from McCarthy's practice, apparently Rodgers and maybe some of the other starters will get playing time next Thursday against the Ravens.  I think that is a good move.  In recent years, the Packers' starters in the regular season have sometimes looked as if they needed a little more exposure to live action in the preseason; I hope that letting the starters play, even a little, in week two, is a step in the direction of getting them more playing time overall in the preseason.