While no one expected the Bears to be 1-3 at this point in the season, you’re not going to find anyone not wearing a foam cheesehead that would have predicted Green Bay would be 4-0 a month into the season. Certainly signs pointed to things turning the corner for Mike McCarthy in his second season, specifically the Packers’ close to the 2006 season when they won four straight.
No scouts are getting excited about Green Bay’s 4-0 record as they are the perfect starts in New England or Dallas, but you can’t poke too many holes in an unbeaten team that has certainly built a nice cushion for itself. A closer look at Green Bay:
Brett Favre is getting the bulk of attention, but he’s quick to point out the turnaround is due in large part to the defense. Ryan Pickett has been the most productive lineman, particularly vs. the run. Aaron Kampman, the left end, went to the Pro Bowl last season and is a solid two-way player. The Packers are getting more out of nickel rusher Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila than they have in years. KGB became a starter in 2002 when Joe Johnson blew out his triceps muscle in the ``Monday Night Football’’ meeting in Champaign. An undersized speed rusher, he never held up well vs. the run. When Frank Gore ran over and around KGB for a handful of long runs in Week 13 last year vs. San Francisco, the coaching staff had finally seen enough.
KGB was moved to the bench and run-stuffer Cullen Jenkins was promoted over him. It’s made Green Bay better vs. the run and vs. the pass. Jenkins is a tough defender vs. the run and now KGB is rested when he comes in on passing downs, netting three sacks last Sunday at Minnesota.
Nick Barnett remains the best linebacker in the middle. The secondary got a real upgrade when Atari Bigby was inserted at strong safety where Marquand Manuel had been. Bigby is a sure tackler who is not surrendering the big plays. Corners Al Harris and Charles Woodson are physical man-to-man corners, although back, elbow and hand injuries make Harris a shell of who he really is.
Offensively, Favre has bought into the short passing scheme that acts almost as a ground game and things are clicking. Center Scott Wells is their best lineman. Age is starting to catch up to tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Clifton is not run blocking well, and that can really be said about the entire unit. Guards Junius Coston and Daryn Colledge have shown improvement over what the Packers had last season when Jason Spitz was in the mix.