This week, we're up against the banged up and enigmatic Green Bay Packers, who have had similar stumblings against good teams.
Here to answer our burning inquiries is Brandon from Acme Packing Company, the network's talented Packers blogger. This week, I turned the question mantle over to you guys, so those questions are reflected following the jump.
Go! Go! Go!
Grayson: Is the Packers run game anywhere near where it was last year? Because watching the Packers play the Vikings earlier in the season it seemed evident they lacked that part on offense.
Brandon: Not even close, it's in the toliet. And the Vikings game was their best rushing performance of the season. The offensive line isn't getting any push, and they're not creating any openings for Ryan Grant. Mike McCarthy talked about the fundamentals (footwork, pad level, etc.) during a press conference when the running game came up, so he's focused on the poor offensive line play too. Still, it's the same offensive line that started most of 2007 in front of Grant, so maybe they can back on track in a hurry.
SG Standard: Will the absence of Cullen Jenkins and (possibly) Aaron Rodgers change the gameplan on either side of the ball, and if so, how?
Brandon: Jenkins struggled with a bunch of minor injuries during 2007, but he was a major pass rushing force this season. He starts at DE but moves inside on passing downs to provide an interior pass rush. He tore a pectoral muscle while lunging for QB Brian Griese after Jenkins blew by their starting left tackle. He was off to a great 2008 season. The Packers have a few players who can provide an outside rush, but Jenkins was their sole lineman who provided an interior pass rush and he's a big loss.
See below for my comments on Rodgers.
blackertai: What are the chances the Falcons get to see Kregg Lumpkin during this game? I've read (as a Georgia fan) numerous accounts from yonder Northern papers referencing how much the organization likes him, but I have yet to hear him mentioned much in game situations. Is it just a passing fad, or is there a serious future for Lump in the great white north?
Brandon: The coaches do like him and kept him over three other experienced NFL backs, but he hurt his hamstring a couple weeks ago and hasn't practiced since. He's out at least another week, and probably will be inactive on Sunday. The Packers are more than willing to give an undrafted player, such as RB Ryan Grant, a chance to start, so he could have a future with the Packers.
RynoRedhawk31: The Falcons are now is a position that closely resembles the Packers of 3-4 years ago. Rapidly adding young talent, trying to further develop skill players and building on the defensive side of the ball. What advice would you give to Falcons brass on the best way to build a division champion?
Brandon: For the third year in a row, the Packers are the youngest team in the NFL. GM Ted Thompson has made a lot of trades down during the draft to pile up draft choices and he has loaded the team with depth. The Packers are dealing with a lot of injuries right now, currently 10 starters are listed on the injury report this week, but they always have at least one promising young player sitting on the bench who can step in. The team hasn't made any panic moves or signed any washed up veteran for a cosmetic fix. But the core of last season's team was veterans that Thompson inherited from Ron Wolf and Mike Sherman (Brett Favre, Donald Driver, Al Harris, Aaron Kampman, Nick Barnett, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher). Except for the Favre debacle, Thompson has done a good job of keeping the veterans he wants to keep happy with extensions that pad their base salary so they're paid like top starters but without shelling any guaranteed money. In the end, Thompson has shown a great eye for evaluating players and coaches, although he doesn't always hit a home run, and that type of person at the top is the most important thing.
Jesse28/Grayson Hybrid Machine: What's going on with Aaron Rodgers, and is Matt Flynn a credible threat to the Falcons if he starts?
Brandon: I don't know how the offense can function without Rodgers. The offense is struggling, but it hasn't been Rodgers fault. Rookie 7th round QB Matt Flynn would start in his place, and he was wildly inconsistent during the preseason. He won a national championship with LSU last season, but it was his only season as a starter and you can see why he lasted until the 7th round. He's showed some promise in the preseason, which is why he's the backup over rookie 2nd round QB Brian Brohm who really struggled, but rookie QBs really shouldn't be starting.
A big thanks to Brandon for answering our questions. Be sure to visit Packer fans at Acme Packing Company for the game.