It's been quite a ride for the Packers since the overtime loss to Arizona.
Since then, the Packers have drifted in the wind. Brian Bulaga was drafted (a huge plus considering how high he was expected to go) and last year is last year.
I feel more confident about the Packers this year than I did after 2007.
What I believe changed between then and now is after the jump.
The biggest change from 2007 to 2008 was Brett Favre. No longer would he sport a Packers uniform (unless you really, REALLY wanted him on Madden); he was a Jet and we were fine with that.
Defensively, though...something changed.
Whether it was inexperience or injuries or a lack of awareness from skill position players, you couldn't say that the 2008 Packers defense was anything close to the 2007 Packers defense. While the 08 defense wasn't shelled by Chicago (happened twice in 2007), it did give up a ton of points, especially crucial points down the stretch runs of game it couldn't afford to give up. Needless to say, the 08 defense gave those points up in such a style that they doomed the season. After a 5-5 run, the disheartened defense simply caved, and the Packers went 1-5 the rest of the way.
I was disgusted. One of my cousins (who shall go unnamed) blamed Aaron Rodgers for the defensive struggles. I didn't, because as far as I knew, Aaron Rodgers didn't start at corner or safety or defensive end. He was a quarterback who didn't have a good defense to cover for his mistakes.
I remember the 08 game vs. Indianapolis. I remember laughing my head off as Peyton Manning caved against a defense that nobody would have described as "stalwart" at the end of the season. I also remember the horrible loss to Dallas that season. The only solace I can find from that game is that Dallas collapsed and didn't make the playoffs.
The 2008 season left bitter feelings a lot of Packer fans. I wasn't happy with the way things ended for the Packers. I can imagine Aaron Rodgers wasn't too happy either. Still, I was able to wear my Ryan Grant jersey (which was then brand new) with pride, as 2008 was a show of his abilities as much as it was of Aaron Rodgers's abilities. I felt the Packers had a good offense. But the defense had let the team down so many times that it was disgusting. I rejoiced when Bob Sanders was fired (Sad, I know). It seems like the entire staff of defensive coordinators was released after that season, and I couldn't help but feel they deserved it. (Addendum: I had some choice words for Al Harris MANY times during the season, as well as the entire defense for letting guys get SO WIDE OPEN...)
Then everything changed. Dom Capers was hired to replace the fired Bob Sanders at defensive coordinator. Kevin Greene was hired as outside linebackers coach. Mike Trgovac (who had coached standout defensive players such as Mike Rucker, Julius Peppers, Mike Minter, Ken Lucas, and Kris Jenkins in Carolina) was brought in as the defensive line coach.
Defensively, the Packers improved substantially from 2008 to 2009.
Still, there were low points. Justin Harrell was a nonfactor (again!) and Kampman and (the CB I have maligned) Al Harris were lost for the season with knee injuries.
Instead of sinking into a hole and collapsing ala 2008, the defense kept going strong. That is, until late in the season against the Steelers. Big Ben could do no wrong against the Packers defense, and that really, really, got to me. When Kurt Warner made the Packers defense look like absolutely inept, I buried my head in my hands and turned off the game.
Something not-so-unusual happened then. The Packers offense woke up, and somehow tied the game. Rackers missed, the game went to overtime, and then...
No no no, go past this, past this part! In fact, NEVER play this again!
The Packers had come so, so close, and then a screwball of ludicrous proportions (okay okay it's a football) smashed the Packers in the face and ended the season on the spot.
From 2008 to 2009, the Packers transitioned.
2008 Run Defense Rank: 17th (OUCH)
2009 Run Defense Rank: 1st (WTF?)
2008 Pass Defense Rank: 8th (few teams will pass when they can totally trash your run defense)
2009 Pass Defense Rank: 5th (An improvement,
probably almost certainly because teams had difficulties with the front 7)
The 2010 Green Bay Packers enter one of the rising star QBs of the NFL in Aaron Rodgers, a solid running back in Ryan Grant, and two solid receivers in Greg Jennings and Donald Driver (although Driver's getting up there in years). Still, the changes made from 2008 to 2009 will have a great impact on 2010, and the hopes of postseason play.
Still, the Packers cannot fall asleep on a team. That lesson came very painfully against 'Zona, and it's one I hope that everyone on the team learns from.