first_imgIn the solar system that is the Wisconsin sports landscape, the Green Bay Packers are the sun. The Milwaukee Brewers, relevant once a lifetime, are Halley’s Comet. Despite their rare appearances, they still manage a small cult following. University of Wisconsin football is a shooting star — it looks pretty cool at first and people wish on it, but it eventually flames out and the expectations go unfulfilled. The Milwaukee Bucks are a dead satellite floating aimlessly through space.In other words, everything revolves around the Packers.That being the case, it must be one heck of an occasion for the Brewers to knock the Packers off the state’s largest radio station, as was the case last Sunday when Brewers’ game number 162 usurped Packers’ game four.So, sure, the Brewers are front and center now that they are in the playoffs. But in two weeks (or at this rate, mere days) the Packers will once again be the center of attention. And when that time comes, a Green Bay offense that has sputtered since the first half of its Week 2 win over Detroit, a defense that is in shambles with injury issues and a questionable punting game will be in focus.Injuries are unavoidable at times, and it seems the Packers have hit a rough patch on that front. Six defensive starters either missed all or most of practice time this week. As healthy as the Packers were for most of the season last year, they are just as banged up now.But while injuries are unavoidable, several questionable offseason moves have left the Packers in a tough spot at quarterback and punter.Green Bay management had its reasons for not bringing Favre back. The Packers had moved on with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback and tweaked the offense to better fit his skill set. To bring back Favre, the offense would have had to be readjusted. Given the quick turnaround before the start of the regular season, it just wouldn’t have worked.For proof, just look at all the struggles Favre has had picking up the Jets offense. Having to learn a completely new playbook and offensive language, assimilate himself into the locker room and develop a rapport with a new set of receivers. He’s doing a terrible job!Oh, wait. Never mind.The old fart only leads the whole league in passer rating and touchdowns and is completing more than 70 percent of his passes. Not like that’s all that great.But, in all seriousness, the Favre situation is really beside the point. The biggest mistake the Green Bay front office made when it came to the quarterback position is going into the season with exactly zero professional starts from its three signal callers. That’s right, dear reader, before Week 1, you and two friends started as many NFL games at quarterback as the entire Packers’ roster.Now, Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm were very good collegiate quarterbacks in their day. Eventually, one or both could still end up a serviceable professional. But to roll into an NFL season with two completely green reserves behind an injury-prone starter at the most important position on the field seems at the worst, dumb — at the best, ballsy.Now Rodgers could be out for this weekend’s game against Atlanta, meaning Flynn would get the start. In his first meaningful action a week ago against Tampa Bay, Flynn looked, well, like the seventh-round pick he was.When Rodgers or Flynn and the Green Bay offense is forced to punt, another questionable offseason move will be on display.After a solid season a year ago and a decent preseason camp, the Packers made the surprising decision to release punter Jon Ryan during the final round of cuts. In his place, the team picked up Derrick Frost. Frost, cut by Washington at the end of its training camp, averaged more than three total yards and one net yard less than Ryan during 2007. Through four games, Frost has had just one punt downed inside the 20-yard line. Not all that great for someone who management expected to excel as a directional punter.Aside from one outlier 65-yard punt against Dallas two weeks ago, Frost hasn’t had all that great a distance or hang time on his punts, either. Against Tampa Bay, Frost averaged just more than 30 net yards per punt, an abysmal number indicative of a punter not giving his coverage unit enough time to cover the kick adequately.Rodgers will eventually regain full health, and the punting situation should eventually work itself out. Given the division they play in, the Packers will likely make the playoffs. But when you’re the sun and every move is filtered through a magnifying glass, the tiniest slip-ups end up being fires to some.Ben is a former sports editor of The Badger Herald. Have a different view on the Wisconsin solar system of sports? He can be reached at [email protected]last_img

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