With only one regular-season week in the books, it would be a bit premature for the Packers to begin booking passage to Indianapolis for a repeat Super Bowl berth. But the temptation can be forgiven following an effort in the 2011 NFL season's first game that could not have been more impressive. Granted, the Packers' shootout with the Saints came right down to the last bullet, as both Green Bay's defense and special teams had their share of breakdowns. But oh the offense!
Picking up where he left off in last year's Super Bowl MVP performance, QB Aaron Rodgers was masterful against the Saints. Registering a 132.1 passer rating with three touchdowns to three different receivers and zero interceptions, Rodgers connected with five different receivers (Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver and rookie Randall Cobb) for at least 35 yards. Conspicuous by his absence in the Packers' opening-night attack was newly re-signed James Jones, who managed only one catch for one yard. But the way daily team observers view it, somebody is bound to be on the outside looking in every week in a multifaceted attack with more dangerous weapons than ever.
The PFW Spin
So far so good. The delicate balance that Rodgers must maintain as far as using all the options at his disposal — particularly Jennings and Finley — appears intact. The way things are shaping up, it really does seem like there could be a different standout every week, both in the receiving corps and the backfield, where new RB coach Jerry Fontenot appaears determined to give both Ryan Grant and James Starks as much playing time as possible.
In the first game, Jennings had bigger numbers than Finley (7-89-1 compared to 3-53), but neither receiver was complaining, well-aware that the tables very well could be turned in Week Two against the Panthers, and then turned back again in Week Three against the arch-rival Bears. Grant and Starks were equally pleased after sharing most of the rushing load (97 of the team's 103 rushing yards vs. New Orleans). But it hardly will be a shock if, as soon as this Sunday, John Kuhn becomes the team's primary threat out of the backfield, or perhaps maybe even rookie Alex Green when the opposing defense least expects it.
Don't expect Jones, who was missing in action against the Saints, to continue laying low. He has proven to be a worthwhile contributor more often than not, and his time will come sooner than later. As for Cobb, while his major contribution figures to be as a returner, how can he not be woven into the regular mix after bursting on the scene with his first Lambeau Leap following a 32-yard TD catch that caught the Saints napping?
Put simply, the Packers deserve to be put on a pedestal less than a week away from their first visit to Charlotte in the Mike McCarthy regime. Before Sunday's action, a letdown against a Panthers team that struggled mightily for survival last season seemed like it could be a possibility. But that was before Cam Newton put on quite an offensive show himself, guaranteeing that Green Bay's Week Two game definitely will be worth the price of admission.