This time of year it seems that every team's fans can pretend that they have a shot. Everyone points to the one year wonders like the Rams in '99, the Ravens in '00 and then tries to rationalize their way towards a title run. It only works out for one team a year but it's a fun excercise.
I'm not saying the Packers are about to make a title run. I just don't see it. But I think the team will be better than last year even if the record is the same. The schedule is so much more difficult than last years (on paper anywho) that it'll be tough to improve on 8-8, but I do think there is room for some optimism.
Ever since everyone's favorite GM Teddy T took over the Packers have been quietly and efficiently improving their wideout core. Here are the past few years of wideouts.
2004 - Last year of Mike Sherman's draft day tyranny
Taco Wallace (later replaced by Burger Johnson)
Now, two things stand out. One, this team has had some shitty damn wideouts. Two, the last three drafts (Teddy T's) have all produced at least one guy to get all the national writers like Len Pasquerelli and John Clayton to imply somewhat inappropriately that the scouts are "drooling" over.
Terrence Murphy was the first. If not for a little ditty we like to call "Spinal Stenosis" Terrence might be our #2 guy right now. As it is he's coaching wide receivers for a small college and running his website. Is anyone else fired up to learn that Terrence has a website? Not impressed? Okay, is anyone fired up that Terrence Murphy's website has a poll where you can vote on such topics as "which position should the packers focus on in the 2006 draft?". There's also a (very thin, presumably) newsletter you can sign up for.
After Terrence TT drafted Greg Jennings. If not for another injury, although this one much less significant than Murphy's, Jennings may have topped 1,000 yards last year. I already feel comfortable with him as the #2. He's not explosive but he is solid. After reviewing the list from above I'm cool with solid.
Now we come to James Jones. The comments about him are carbon copies of what was said about Murphy and even moreso about Jennings. "He runs great routes." "He catches everything with his hands." "He is incredibly wise to go by James instead of Jim." Okay, maybe that last one wasn't said about all of them, but it is nice that he chooses to go with James and not Jim the People's Temple Kool Aid Safari nut. That makes me happy at least.
I realize that my optimism is based on one guy who hasn't produced for a full year and another who hasn't played a real down yet. But that's why it's called "optimism" and not "history of productivityism". So there. Also, my least favorite Packer of the past 5 years, Robert "Fergie" Ferguson is relegated to special teams. That just makes me all sorts of happy. Sure I'm going to miss the mis-timed jumps, the drops, the utter lack of separation. I'm seriously considering calling him "Linus" and all cornerbacks who have ever walked the earth are his blankie. There's just no pulling him from 'em.
Tomorrow on C&P: A debate on whether "Vernand" is cooler than "Vernon". And, quite possibly, an intervention by the C&P staff to get me to stop using quotations 97 times per post. They say it's because they "care".