Some observations in watching the 2011 opening night game between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints:
Roman Harper is still relevant- I had Harper ranked 8th this week amongst DBs and he did not disappoint. He may be losing a step or two, but that is more reason for teams to throw at him. He is still a decent tackler and he gets a good amount of blitzing opportunities. Not a bad showing with nine total tackles (seven solo) and a half sack.
Jonathan Vilma was slightly better than I expected, but still was nothing special- I posted in my IDP Week One: Start/Sit column that I would sit Vilma and expected him to tally less than six tackles. Well I was slightly off. He tallied seven, but only five were solo. All in all it was not a very good night for him and GB C Scott Wells was all over him all game long.
The NO Defense did not get much of a pass rush- Aaron Rodgers was not pressured often and when he was, he easily eluded it. One of the sacks came on a clear protection breakdown by James Starks on a play action fake and other than that, NO did not do much to make Rodgers uncomfortable. Part of the problem can be attributed to the absence of Will Smith. Part of it to the GB O-Line’s good performance. However, if NO wants to go anywhere they need more pressure from their front four.
Jabari Greer will be a sneaky start in CB-required leagues all year- Greer has been an underappreciated and underrated fantasy CB for years. He was better than advertised in Buffalo and also has been the same way in New Orleans. He is good for a handful of tackles a game and also some pass breakups. This game was no different. Greer was second only to Roman Harper as Greer tallied seven tackles (all solo) and also broke up a pass.
Morgan Burnett is going to be a stud- I tried to advise people in leagues all over the place that they should grab Burnett this year. He was an afterthought after missing almost all of last season. He didn’t do much in the preseason. Everyone was forgetting about him. Not me. I own him in 5 of my 8 leagues (and only do not own him in the other three because someone I advise beat me to him in one league and I took over two teams that didn’t have him in the other cases). He stepped up and led GB in tackles out of the gate with 14 total tackles (seven solo). As predicted in our IDP Week One: Start/Sit column, he was all over the field. Expect more of that all year long.
Desmond Bishop did not disappoint and is certainly for real- 12 tackles (eight solo) is a nice start for him. He is destined to be a top-15 LB and likely will be a top-10 LB by year’s end. He easily justified my top-10 ranking that I gave him in my Week One Rankings. Pencil him lineups every single week from here forward.
Clay Matthews is going to be a handful all year- Even though the stat sheet doesn’t show it (only four tackles), Matthews was everywhere last night. He was constantly applying pressure around the corner, and on stunted blitzes up the gut of the offense. Dom Capers was creative in moving him around and getting him favorable matchups to exploit. He will easily be a 10+ sack guy at this rate.
GB’s Defense needs to be better- Sure they were playing New Orleans and Drew Brees and sure that is a heck of an offense they had to face. Still, there is no excuse for the relative ease in which NO was able to march up and down the field on them. If not for a critical goal-line stand in bonus time, this game could have gone to OT when it had no business being that close. If not for a Marques Colston fumble and a great job by the GB D-line getting low to help neutralize the right side of the NO O-line on the final play, the outcome of this game could have been different. GB has some things to tighten up on defense, despite their great showing on offense in week one