By: Seth Mueller
Rejoice! It's finally here. The Packers kicked off their '09-'10 season with a show that did not disappoint. For sixty minutes the Pack dominated the Browns on Saturday night's game at Lambeau Field. With a strong showing from the offensive starters, the Pack jumped to a quick 14-0 lead. The night saw the improvement of many veterans and rookies alike. Most notable was the production of linebacker Desmond Bishop. The third-year player out of California was able to provide pressure on a number of plays and made life difficult for the Browns O-line. Bishop intercepted an errant throw by Brett Ratliff and added a sack to end his night. The new 3-4 defense, under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers, looked superb by providing the pass rush the Packers missed last season. Aaron Kampman could reemerge to his '06 form in his new position as an outside linebacker. Watch out. While we weren't able to see first-rounders B.J. Raji or Clay Matthews in action, we did get a glimpse of a few promising rookies. Tyrell Sutton, an undrafted tailback from Northwestern, made a mockery of the massive D-line that the Browns showed. Sutton finished the night by carving up the Browns' defense for 91 yards on only 16 carries. Rookie cornerback Brandon Underwood also had 2 powerful tackles to add.
However, the night wasn't full of greatness. The Packers' problem with penalties came back from a season ago. Weakness in the young offensive line was apparent. Tony Moll just isn't the tackle that the Packers need. He has the ability and the supporting cast to be decent, but he needs to learn how to protect in the passing game. Brian Brohm showed us once again that college ball doesn't always translate to greatness in the NFL. Though both of his interceptions weren't entirely his fault, he overthrew a wide open Kole Heckendorf in the endzone and missed many receivers completely. I was glad to see the Packers give kicker Mason Crosby, who is using a new kicking motion, a chance at kicking a 60-yard fieldgoal. This is the time to do it. Despite missing by a hair, I am confident that his accuracy will improve over the course of the season.
All-in-all, the Packers had complete statistical domination. They gained three times as many first downs, held the ball for a third of the game, and severely out-rushed the Browns. The expression on Eric Mangini's face was priceless.
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