Welcome to this week's version of Blogger Q&A. I've got Brandon with Acme Packing Company to answer a few questions about our pending week 2 match-up Sunday. Be sure to check back over at Acme for my answers to his questions later. If you have your own questions you can ask them here to see if someone can give you an answer.
Brandon: Based on last week, it should be James Jones who is worried about losing playing time to Randall Cobb. Cobb will be the kick and punt returner, so that might be his primary job. The Packers have never rotated in five receivers on offense (the fifth WR has been a bench warmer in recent years) so I'm still getting used to how often Cobb will play.
I admit that was more of a FFL question for me since I drafted Nelson to my bench! Yet after seeing Patrick Peterson return a punt to win the game last week I'm a little more focused on the coverage game.
Question 2: QB Drew Brees had a pretty big day throwing the ball last Thursday, in a loss obviously. What do you think Panthers QB Cam Newton needs to do in the passing game to have similar (or better) success? Will there be changes in the Packer secondary?
Brandon: It was a disappointing performance against Drew Brees, but he's a great QB and does that to a lot of teams. Hopefully there is a bounce back, but there are some worrisome signs. Second year CB Sam Shields hasn't impressed me so far this season, and CB Tramon Williams didn't practice on Wednesday due to a shoulder bruise. They won't make any changes after one game, but I'll be looking for improvement.
I've heard some say the Packers have the best secondary in the NFL. Cam Newton should have a tougher time this Sunday so let's hope he doesn't try to force the ball too much.
More after the jump...
Question 3: I see RB James Starks has been named the starter over Ryan Grant. Do you like this move and do the Packers sacrifice anything by playing Starks over Grant?
Brandon: Ryan Grant is still officially the starter, but James Starks plays a lot. We had a good discussion about them at APC earlier this week, and we're just glad to have the depth. Grant is still doing what he's done since 2007, but Starks is a similar style runner with more power. The situation will probably remind you of the Panthers rotation with Williams and Stewart.
It was on APC I thought they said Starks had been named the starter. I guess somebody back-tracked on that. It will be interesting to see how much the Packers run the ball early or if they put it in the air. I'm not sure which I prefer at the moment.
Question 4: For the Panthers to pull the monumental upset of the Packers this Sunday the Panthers defense must do what to slow down the offense?
Brandon: They'll need a big game from Charles Johnson. I'm reminded of two losses in 2010 when Redskins LB Brian Orakpo and Dolphins LB Cameron Wake had huge games that disrupted the pass offense. Aaron Rodgers threw a lot of incompletions in those two losses, they had a lot of stalled drives, and they kept the score low. The Panthers can't win unless they keep the Packers to 20 points or less.
Lots of sacks are not necessarily needed, we just need to get some hits on Rodgers to shake him up a little. I'm thinking either Johnson or Hardy do exactly that. If Chris Gamble can stick to Greg Jennings like he did Fitzgerald then we should be able to limit the drives.
Question 5: In week 15 of the 2010 regular season the Packers lost to the Patriots to drop to 8-6 but rebounded to win the last 2 games, secure the wildcard and then out. Though the Packers enter the 2011 season #1 in most pundits power rankings is it really deserved? Did the Packers simply put a nice run together but still essentially remain the same team that lost 6 games or have corrected the issues that led to the losses?
Brandon: One key stat on the 2010 Packers was that they never trailed in any game during 2010 by more than 7 points. Despite the 8-6 start, they were always within one score. They lost a number of close games earlier in the season due to injuries. Once the constant stream of injuries stopped over the last third of the season, and most importantly Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews were back to full strength (Rodgers had a concussion against the Lions, and missed the Patriots game, while Matthews played through a stress fracture in October and November) they clicked for their title run. The Packers had been a trendy Super Bowl pick before the 2009 and 2010 seasons, so really it was about everything coming together.
Given that so many of the last few SB winners have been wildcard teams it shows all you have to do is get into the show and anything can happen.
Got a score prediction?
Brandon: A disclaimer: I was very wrong about the score last week, so I don't have a lot of confidence in my guesses right now. Packers 27, Panthers 14.
I'm thinking the Panthers cover the 13 point spread...but you'll have to look up my score prediction in his Q&A post.
Bonus question: I'm a GT alum/fan and thereby a big Morgan Burnett fan. How has he developed in his brief career?
Brandon: One last word on Morgan Burnett. He's the future at safety for the Green Bay Packers. I expected he would compete for the starting job in training camp with Charlie Peprah, but it was no competition: Burnett was the starter from his first day at practice. He had his rookie season cut short by a torn ACL, so in some ways he's still a rookie with only a few NFL games under his belt. He led the team in tackles last week, and he's shown the ability to grab an INT in the past. He's still inconsistent, but he'll put up some big stats if he stays healthy.
Burnett is a play maker and a guy that could have a big day if Newton stares down his receivers.