Monday Musings: Preseason Games

The Olympics just ended, and what struck me was all the crazy new sports that have been added in recent years. I used to joke that I’d get a gold medal as soon as walking from the couch to the refrigerator was added to the Summer Games. Well, that might happen yet. Anyway, here are three Packers-related thoughts that went through my mind recently:

1) Last summer proved something I’ve strongly believed for over 20 years – preseason games are worthless, and no key veteran starters should take part in any of them. The quality of play didn’t suffer from not having any fake football, and at least in the case of the Packers, they entered Week 1 with 21 of their 22 preferred starters on the field. Here’s hoping head coach Matt LaFleur learned a lesson. Let the rookies and veteran backups receive most of the snaps as they get accustomed to the speed and the physicality of the NFL and/or battle it out for the final half-dozen or so spots on the roster. Simply put, there should be a full-fledged investigation if we see any of the following uniform numbers in a game before the opener: 12, 17, 18, 23, 26, 31, 33, 39, 52, 55, 74, 77, 85, 91, and 97.

2) The Packers won’t look dramatically different on defense when they take the field in New Orleans on Sept. 13. Ten of the 11 starters figure to be the same as last season, and the scheme will be more tweaked than overhauled. It’s pretty clear that LaFleur is hoping new coordinator Joe Barry’s energy and motivational skills will be the most significant change from a year ago. Is that wishful thinking? Maybe not. In 2005, the fiery Jim Bates replaced the stoic Bob Slowik, and the defense went from 25th to 7th in yards allowed without a major overhaul. The biggest difference was attitude. Guys simply played a lot harder and with more passion. With far better talent now than in 2005, playing a lot harder and with more passion just might be enough to take this defense to the level needed to get the Packers over the hump in January finally. That seems to be the plan. The good news is that it’s worked before.

3) The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted 21 former players last week, and somehow legendary Packers safety LeRoy Butler wasn’t one of them. I was disappointed but not shocked. I used to know a few voters, and to put it kindly, they were far from experts. And while I’m sure plenty of the current voters are very well-informed, there clearly are too many who don’t know their ass from their elbow when it comes to what a great player looks like. To put John Lynch in ahead of Butler is like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducting Bon Jovi ahead of Springsteen. Hopefully, No. 36 will take his rightful place in Canton next year. After that, we can turn our attention to Sterling Sharpe. He was better than a handful of receivers who already have their gold jacket despite playing only seven seasons.

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  1. Fascinating insight into the Slowik-Bates transition. Let’s hope that’s the case. Beyond this year there’s nothing bigger than the Love selection; for this year though I don’t think there’s anything bigger riding than on LaFleur’s decision on Joe Barry.

  2. Aaron Rodgers, never one to be cavalier when praising anyone or anything, has had positive things to say about this defense. While it would seem every DB on the roster is lobbying to play the “star” position. Good coaches need good players. Barry will have plenty. We’ll know soon enough if he’s a good coach. Sean McVay hired Raheem Morris as his DC. Morris having the better perigee than Barry. While Salen hired his buddy from the 49ers Ulbrich as DC with the Jets. I see no reason why they all three can’t be good.

    • You left out McVay also choosing a person with no pedigree (Brandon Staley) over Barry and then Staley choosing a person with no pedigree (Renaldo Hill) over Barry. I’m not saying this means Barry can’t be good, but at the very least, it has to make you think.

  3. I forgot about Bates. If I remember correctly, he declined to stay on as DC because he was pissed that he didn’t get the head coaching job. It was a poor decision. He bounced around the league for a few years after that and then was out of football.


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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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