Finally, after three weeks the Miami Dolphins will finally play on a Sunday afternoon. We have long awaited to get back to our regular routine in watching our team. Miami faces off against the Green Bay Packers this week, who, like the Dolphins find themselves in a bit of a funk as of now after starting out the season on a hot streak. So to get a better grasp of how things in Green Bay work, we took to PackersGab editor JC Redfern to ask a couple of questions on his team.
Brant Houghton: The Packers started hot, and then suddenly have fizzled the past two weeks. Can you tell us what has gone wrong with the Packers?
JC Redfern: Against an early soft schedule, the Packers are only 3-2. The two losses against the Bears and the Redskins are simply the failure to show poise and to get big plays in the clutch, especially in the fourth quarter of the games. Also, big turnovers and penalties in crucial offensive and defensive series created turning points favoring the opposition and to the losses. Finally, injuries took its toll in the Redskins game with the loss partly due to losing two big playmakers–offensive TE Finley and defensive OLB Matthews in the game.
BH: What are the Packers strengths and weaknesses?
JR: Looking at their strengths, the Packers still have a potent passing attack with very good receivers who can move the ball and score. The defense is strong enough to stand against the competition, even with the loss of LB Barnett. The weaknesses include the failure of the veteran offensive tackles to do their jobs has led to the team suffering problems in the running game and in the pass protection scheme. Also, with the loss of RB Grant, the running game has struggled although RB Jackson has a great running game against the Redskins. Special teams continue to be average with the Packers struggling to improve it.
BH: With Finley out and QB Rodgers and OLB Matthews’ statuses up-in-the-air, who do you expect to be your main playmakers this week?
JR: Finley is out for eight weeks, probably I.R. for the season. OLB Matthews may miss the Dolphins game. All signs indicate QB Rodgers will play in the game. First, fans can expect to see more of rookie RT Bulaga who is an improvement over injured RT Tauscher in the running game and pass protection to help the offensive line. If OLB Matthews cannot play, rookie OLB Zombo can adequately fill in for him. With this big talent front seven, the Packers can consistently pressure the opposing quarterback. Further, the West Coast Offense should regain its offensive power after several horrible games. With Finley, the young and inexperienced duo of rookie Quarless and first-year Crabtree remain to adequate carry the load. Also, McCarthy will scale back his use of two tight ends and lean far more heavily on his four-deep receiving corps, as he did against Washington.
BH: With RB Grant out for the year, is RB Jackson really a viable starting option for your team? Can your ground game control the pace of the game or is your offense more one-dimensional?
JR: In the Redskins games the Packers had a good rushing game. RB Jackson had an outstanding game getting 115 yards. Green Bay could cut across the grain and try to establish the run against the Dolphins defense allowing an average of 4.5 yards per carry in the last three games. The Packers must stick to the running game along with the spread passing game. However, their biggest problem to overcome is third-down and red zone conversion. Thus, the team can be two-dimensional. The Packers can only hope good backups can in the Dolphins game to solidify the offensive line and to get the passing game back-on-track.
BH: QB Rodgers was sacked 50 times last year, but the line has looked as bad this year too?
JR: The offensive line’s problems are due to aging veteran tackles Clifton and Tauscher who failed to do their jobs causing an inconsistent running game with its backups and pass protection in recent games. With rookie OT Bulaga to be a sound replacement for Tauscher, the line is going to be better in future games. If Clifton falters, OT Lang will replace him too.
BH: What’s your game and score prediction?
JR: The game should be close as the Packers look for their post-injuries identity. While the Packers struggled to generate a viable pass rush after Matthews went out in the second half of the overtime loss to the Redskins, they should pressure slow-moving QB Henne enough and limit the throws made to his wide receivers. The West Coast offensive should get back into the sync to generate enough points to win the game. Packers 21, Dolphins 20.
We would like to thank JC for participating in this conversation with us. Even though we have different views on the outcome of the game, it should be agood one nevertheless. Good stuff JC, we appreciate your insight, it’s shed a new light on the Packers, as I for one did not know too much about them going into this weeks game. Hopefully this helps you, the readers out, and explains a little bit what to look for on gameday. The only thing I’ll be looking for though is a win!