The early portion of the Detroit Lions schedule doesn’t get any easier in week three when the Green Bay Packers visit Ford Field. The division rivals won’t meet again until the regular season finale.
To get a feel for the Packers side of preparations for the 2014 season, I got together with Ray Rivard of Lombardi Ave for a Q&A. Here are my questions followed by his answers.
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
"The Green Bay Packers did what everyone expected them to do in the offseason, and then some. With the drafting of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers addressed their biggest need – that of a playmaking safety to help anchor the back-end of the defense that was nothing short of pathetic last season. Considering the Packers’ safeties had zero interceptions (yes, you read that correctly – ZERO interceptions) in 2013, they had a huge need at the position.In addition to a solid draft that added three wide receivers, a center and a tight end to boot, Packers GM Ted Thompson also came through in free agency. He re-signed B.J. Raji and Sam Shields, while bringing in future Hall-of-Famer Julius Peppers.So, yes – the Packers did what they needed to do this offseason."
2. Which Rookie are you most excited to see play in 2014 and why?
"Well, one has to be excited about Clinton-Dix, but the Packers also set up a significant competition at the wide receiver position. He drafted Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis to add to an already packed house that has Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin. I’m excited about watching those three rookies battling it out."
3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?
"Inside linebacker. Thompson did nothing to strengthen that position. The Packers have Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, and Jamari Lattimore on the roster and seems content in letting those guys hold the fort. The biggest question is whether the Packers have enough in-house to make it through a 16-game schedule."
4. What are your expectations for the team in 2014?
"The Super Bowl is the goal of every team at this point in the year. For the Packers, who have won three straight NFC North Division titles, have a brutal schedule once again this season. But the expectations are that they will win their fourth straight divisional title and move on to the Playoffs. It will be an uphill climb, but with an improved defense and Aaron Rodgers for an entire year, the sky is the limit."
5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up?
"The Lions scare the heck out of me. They have made some additions that will make their offense more potent and allow Megatron the opportunity for more chances – if that’s even possible. To me, it’s a toss-up at this point in time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two teams split their divisional games this year. Either way, those games are bound to be epic battles."
For more on the Packers, check out Lombardi Ave.