So far, the 2014 Green Bay Packers have gone from bad, to pretty good, to really bad, to TAKE THAT CHICAGO BEARS, THE PACKERS ARE BACK, BABY!!
In baseball, basketball and hockey, the good teams eventually rise to the top over the course of a long season. In football, the season isn’t that long. There’s less time for the truly good teams to separate from the bad ones. We find out who the good teams are, at least early in the season, almost on a game-by-game, week-by-week basis.
That’s why the emotional week-to-week swings in football seem so dramatic. Fans don’t want to see their favorite team’s season derailed because they fell flat for an entire month.
It’s still too early to tell how good the 2014 Packers are, but here’s what gives me hope: Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy loathe turnovers. The Packers are plus-4 in the turnover category, and if that keeps up, this team will contend like most of us thought they would.
Because there isn’t a huge talent differential team-to-team in the NFL, games are decided on a couple of mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are forced (Tramon Williams making a nice play on the Packers’ first interception on Sunday) and sometimes they’re not (Sam Shields getting a pick off a miscommunication later in the game).
Teams that avoid those game-changing miscues should win often enough to outlast the rest of the league and give themselves a chance to make a run once January rolls around. From there, you hope your quarterback or defense catches a fire that burns all the way to the Super Bowl.
Yes, it’s maddening to see the Packers get run over on defense and struggle to run the ball on offense. It’s also frustrating when the playcalling looks predictable and the rest of the offense isn’t clicking.
But if the Packers maintain a positive turnover ratio and avoid game-breaking mistakes, there’s more than enough talent on this team to do something special.
Well, there’s at least enough talent to win enough to be in the mix at the end. From there, it’ll be up to the defense to come around and the running game to figure things out.
On to the stock report:
A nice, relaxing 302 yards and four touchdowns earns Rodgers a spot in the rising category for the first time this season. Even if the Packers lost to the Bears and Rodgers failed to complete a single pass, I’d still probably put him as a riser solely because of the unbelievable throw he made to Davante Adams for a touchdown that got wiped out by a holding penalty. I almost stopped watching the game just so I could watch that throw over and over again. Perfection.
Stafford/Johnson and Cutler/Marshall/Jeffrey get most of the hype, but Rodgers/Nelson is the best QB/WR combo in the NFC North, probably in all of football.
Halfway through last season, Packers fans were talking about cutting Williams. Now, he’s returned to form as the Packers’ best defensive back and one of the toughest players on the team.
He needs to be better run blocking, but let’s be honest, the Packers don’t have Bakhtiari in there because of his run blocking prowess. His job is to protect Rodgers’ blind side, and he’s performing well.
After a rough day trying to deal with the Lions interior brutes, Sitton rebounded and had a great game against the Bears.
Similar to Bakhtiari, Bulaga isn’t showing much in run blocking, but his pass blocking has been excellent. When Rodgers never even gets knocked down, it’s no wonder the steady category is filled with nothing but offensive linemen.
I hope Ryan Pickett is having fun in Houston. Packers didn’t need him. Nope, no reason for the Packers to sign a 335-pound veteran to try and fix the run defense. No reason at all…
What’s up with Bostick? I thought he was supposed to be Jermichael Finley-lite and create some space down the seam in the Packers passing attack. So far, he’s just playing special teams. Is he still injured? Does he not know the plays? Does he fall asleep during meetings? Maybe he steals Rodgers’ iPad on the sideline to play Angry Birds. It’s unfair to put a guy who doesn’t play in the falling category, but I’m doing it anyway because something is up with Bostick. He’s falling, but nobody knows why.
Clay Matthews’ groin
This is the first time I’ve put a groin in the falling category. Well, in any category. It’s kind of gross. I wish I hadn’t done it. But now that I have, I might as well talk about it. Matthews didn’t play poorly on Sunday, but he didn’t look all that explosive. I’m worried that his groin injury will hamper him all season. Then again, perhaps it’s Matthews’ atrocious beard slowing him down, not his groin. Clay: Shave your beard, heal your groin (and don’t mix up those two pieces of advice).
Putting together the Packers stock report is especially challenging after a loss.
The stock report takes into account a player’s recent performances, not just how they played in the last game. That’s tough to do after a loss because the screw-ups are fresh in everybody’s head. To a lot of fans, the whole team should be falling, regardless of what happened two weeks ago.
An added challenge to compiling the stock report this season has been the maddening play of the Packers.
Just when you think the defense is a lost cause, they put together a nice run. Aaron Rodgers appears to be dialed in, then he has a game like Sunday’s loss to the Lions.
Dom Capers’ defense looks like the same old sorry crew, then his guy’s turn it around and Mike McCarthy’s offense looks the sorry group.
There isn’t much consistency game-to-game, meaning you have to rely heavily on the most recent game when putting together the report.
Hopefully, the Packers develop some consistency soon. And hopefully that consistency puts the team in the rising category instead of falling.
On to the stock report:
Since coming over from the Bears, Peppers has had two sacks wiped away by penalties. He finally got Matthew Stafford on Sunday, stripping the ball out and recovering the fumble in the process. Peppers should be nice and fired up to face his old team on Sunday.
The Packers’ secondary came to play on Sunday and House led the way. In fact, for as much crap as this defense gets, in 12 quarters of play this season, Green Bay’s defense has played just as well or better than the offense in about half of them. The secondary is a major reason why.
The late pass interference call Williams got tagged with wasn’t his fault. Williams simply made a play on the ball, but the throw was so far behind Calvin Johnson, it looked like Williams got there early. If the throw was accurate, Williams probably would have broken it up and the defense would trot off the field.
It was Richard Rodgers who looked promising during the exhibition season, but Quarless has been the Packers best tight end so far. Quarless still not the down-the-seam threat the Packers need, but he’s been perfectly steady.
At times, it looks like Lacy is playing Dance Dance Revolution out there. Put your head down and plow, son. Yes, the Packers have played three good run defenses, but Lacy had the opening-drive fumble on Sunday and killed two other drives by dancing around and taking huge losses.
Is it just me, or does Randall Cobb look a step or slower than what he’s been in the past? Or maybe it just looks that way because McCarthy’s unimaginative playcalling never gets Cobb the ball in open space.
Has he even been active yet this season?
At around 7 p.m. Lambeau Time on Sunday, Jersey Al sent his Packers blogging minions the following email:
“After Kris’ game balls in the morning, I want to hear you guys express yourselves on what you see out there from the Packers. Let’s hit this topic hard.”
I underlined the “what you see” phrase for emphasis because it was the portion of Al’s request that was just a bit off. If he wanted us to write about what we’re seeing from the Packers, the posts would be very, very short.
Right now with the Packers, there’s not much to see. It’s what we’re not seeing that’s the problem.
We’re not seeing Randall Cobb get separation and show the explosive speed he displayed his first three seasons in the NFL.
We’re not seeing Eddie Lacy put his head down and gain tough yards instead of dancing around and bouncing outside for a loss.
We’re not seeing Datone Jones do anything, making us worry that he will join Derek Sherrod and Nick Perry as recent wasted first-round draft picks.
We’re not seeing Aaron Rodgers be super-accurate like he usually is.
We’re not seeing the offensive line perform like the best of the Rodgers ere as it was advertised.
We’re not seeing any screen passes. What’s so hard about calling a screen pass to slow down pass rushers who have their ears pinned back?
We’re not seeing any imagination or innovation in Mike McCarthy’s playcalling.
We’re not seeing the middle of the defense do much of anything (but I guess we’re used to that).
We’re not seeing a genuine threat down the seam from a tight end.
We’re not seeing the Packers team we’ve all grown accustomed to.
Of those things we’re not seeing, Rodgers getting his accuracy mojo back and Lacy finding his rookie season form will go a long way in helping the Packers turn things around.
Meantime, we have to endure the third consecutive 1-2 start to a Packers season. Nobody wanted to see that.
The Detroit Lions are like the Minnesota Vikings, minus the love boats, whizzinators, stairwell sexcapades, traffic cop bumpings and Adrian Peterson.
Unlike the Vikings, however, the Lions save most of their stupidity for when they’re on the field. When Jim Schwartz was coaching the Motor City Kitties, I don’t think there was a dumber team on the planet, in any sport, at any level.
Most Pop Warner teams who care more about the postgame pizza party than the final score at least grasp that it’s not a good idea to stomp on opposing players, jump offside at an alarming rate, constantly draw personal fouls as part of your fake tough guy act and choke away the division title to a team missing its star quarterback.
It’s too early to tell if new coach Jim Caldwell — a man who hasn’t blinked his eyes since 1997 — has smartened this team up. It’d be quite the accomplishment if Caldwell actually took them below the Schwartz level of dumbness.
I don’t know what to make of the Lions on a game-by-game basis. I know by the end of the season they’ll be a massive failure, but they always have enough talent to win on any given Sunday, sometimes in embarrassingly lopsided fashion as the Packers learned last Thanksgiving.
Perhaps that’s the key. Today isn’t Thanksgiving. The Lions always play well on Thanksgiving because, since they never actually are in the real playoffs, they treat their annual Thanksgiving Day game as a playoff contest.
So, unless Caldwell feeds his squad turkey and stuffing for breakfast in an effort to make them think it’s Thanksgiving, the Packers should have no problem rolling over the Lions and starting their annual descent to terribleness while the Bears and Packers battle for the division title.
Here are five reasons why the Packers will beat the Lions today:
The Lions haven’t had a good secondary since the Clinton administration. Every year they draft a defensive lineman or a giant WR/TE and totally forget that you have to have at least a few guys on the field to stop the other team from passing for 600 yards. These are the guys who will probably start in the secondary for Detroit:
- Rashean Mathis, CB
- James Ihedigbo, SS
- Glover Quinn, FS
- Darius Slay, CB
Of those four players, I’ve only heard of Quinn and I only heard of him because I thought he was dead.
The Jets had a great front seven and a weak secondary when they played the Packers last week. How’d that work out for them?
Rodgers the Lion King
Aaron Rodgers is 9-1 with a 19 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 111.0 quarterback rating against the Lions. When Rodgers starts and finishes the game, the Packers have outscored the Lions 267-148. While that Lions’ defense is busy accumulating encroachment penalties and searching for their next cheap-shot opportunity, Rodgers is picking it apart and racking up touchdowns. I see no reason why it won’t be any different today, even if the Packers fail to consistently win up front.
It’s a nightmare watching the Packers defense try to deal with a young, mobile quarterback paired with offensive coordinators who eat Dom Capers for lunch. Matthew Stafford is more of a traditional dropback passer who won’t totally confound Capers with read-options, bootlegs, and rollouts. In other words, he’s good at what he does, but he’s not like Russell Wilson or Geno Smith. That’s not a knock on Stafford, but it seems that the Packers’ defense doesn’t trip all over itself trying to contain his style of play compared to others.
There’s a reason Daniels might be the second most important player on the Packers roster behind Rodgers. Green Bay’s defense was getting run over (again) against the Jets before Daniels came to life and started blowing up running plays and getting after Geno Smith. If Datone Jones or Letroy Guion don’t wake up and contribute soon, it’s going to be a long season up front. Meantime, Daniels is holding down the fort.
It’s the Lions
What more needs to be said?
Unfortunately, sometimes the Packers lose, even to the Lions. It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s maddening. But sometimes it happens. If it were to happen today, this might be a reason why…
The Lions defensive line is good. The Packers defensive line is not good. I could see the Lions front four beating the hell out of Rodgers early, which would allow Detroit’s offense to jump out to an early lead as they bowl over the Packers’ weak defensive front. In other words, what happened early against the Jets could very well happen today. The difference is the Lions have the offensive firepower to keep scoring and extinguish any hopes for a Packers’ comeback.
The Green Bay Packers pulled Sunday’s win over the New York Jets out of their you-know-what.
Muhammad Wilkerson getting ejected, an untimely timeout (if you’re the Jets), an injury to Eric Decker and Jets’ offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg inexplicably ditching the option and misdirection plays that worked so well for his team in the first quarter.
It sounds like I’m saying the Packers had no business winning that game. That’s not true. Any time you come back from 18 points down to win an NFL game, you deserve all the credit in the world. But you usually need some help to make that comeback happen and the Packers got it.
After two games, I still don’t know what to make of this Packers team.
Save for two quarters, the defense has looked atrocious. The offense caught fire against the Jets, but still couldn’t drive down for the dagger touchdown in the fourth quarter.
There’s no way the Packers win Sunday without Aaron Rodgers making some great throws, yet he still insists on holding the ball forever and taking unnecessary sacks. Receivers are struggling to get consistent separation without a legit pass-catching tight end, but does that matter when you’re as good as Jordy Nelson?
It sounds like I’m complaining. I’m not. The Packers are 1-1 even though they haven’t put together a full game yet. The ceiling for this squad remains high, but a few leaks still need to be patched.
On to the stock report:
For a while, it looked like Jordy Nelson was going to try and beat the Jets all by himself. Eventually, his teammates arrived at Lambeau Field and gave him some help. But until they showed up, Nelson made play after play to keep the Packers offense from completely imploding.
Kudos to Sitton and other players on the Packers’ offense for mixing it up in the end zone after Green Bay scored to take the lead. It’s usually silly to risk a 15-yard penalty in the name of “toughness,” but in this case it was completely justified. I’m sick of seeing teams unload on Rodgers and run over our defense as our players hobble off the field and get put on injured reserve. Fight back. Be mean. Tell the other guys to eff off. You could sense the fans at Lambeau loved seeing some attitude from the team in green and gold, too. And, hey, the Packers weren’t flagged and Wilkerson was ejected for throwing punches.
A kicker in the rising category over Aaron Rodgers? Yup, a kicker in the rising category over Aaron Rodgers. I kind of assume everyone recognizes Rodgers as a riser every week, so he has to go on a really good run before I officially put him there. That allows me to recognize players like Crosby, who absolutely drilled a 55-yard field when the Packers were on life support.
Jordy Nelson got all the praise (deservedly so) while Cobb went out and hauled in two touchdown passes and a key two-point conversion. Cobb seems to be having some trouble getting separation from DBs, but he’s been reliable in the red zone when Rodgers needs him most.
When the Packers defense was getting run over early, it wasn’t because of Williams. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams was targeted six times on Sunday. He allowed one catch for zero yards and had an important interception. Williams has transformed himself from a really good, yet kinda soft cover corner to a tough-as-nails, do-whatever-it-takes veteran leader in the secondary. It used to be maddening watching Williams get run over in the flat or play soft on opposing WRs. Williams no longer gets run over and he takes on any and all WRs.
As loudmouth bloggers like me, fans at Lambeau and Packers fans in front of their TVs screamed at McCarthy to go for it on a couple of fourth downs in the first half, the coach kicked field goals. I even tweeted this. McCarthy ignored all of it and kept putting points on the board, confident that his team would come around and eventually put it together. They did. If McCarthy wasn’t Mr. Steady and listened to all the crazies like yours truly instead of putting points on the board, the Packers might be 0-2 today. McCarthy was far from perfect on Sunday, but he was steady on those difficult fourth down decisions.
Remember how awesome it was to see the Packers offense go toe-to-toe with the Jets after Green Bay scored to take the lead? I thought that attitude and toughness would lead to a three-and-out on defense. But on the very first play, Jeff Cumberland (who?) caught a 14-yard pass in front of Hawk. It’s time to see what Sam Barrington can do next to Jamari Lattimore.
You can’t tell me that Ryan Pickett isn’t better than Guion.
Davante Adams appears to have passed Boykin on the depth chart, for now. Boykin got off to a slow start last season and picked it up. Let’s see if he does it again.
The Packers need to beat the Jets today, not only to rinse off the stink of what happened in Seattle, but to dispose of a team representing “that guy.”
You know, “that guy.” He’s the loudest guy in the bar even though nobody cares what he has to say. He’s they guy who hasn’t accomplished anything in life but demands you treat him like a big shot.
“That guy” listens to Nickelback and thinks Buck Cherry is a good rock band. To “that guy,” the comments section of newspaper websites is a great place to go for enlightened political discourse.
The Jets are the “that guy” of the NFL.
Loudmouth Rex Ryan. Tim Tebow running around without his shirt in the rain. Constant media attention even though they haven’t been any good since when my dad was a teenager. The Sanchize.
The Packers need to send the Jets back to New York where their “that guy” schtick is more accepted.
You know what’s probably going to happen: The Packers will win 48-2 and Jets fans will be like, “Yeah, we lost, but at least our city has big tall buildings and more than just Applebee’s for restaurants.”
Whatever, New York Jets fans. The Packers have 13 championships in their city, so take that.
Here are five reasons the Packers will beat the Jets, and one reason why “that guy” might prevail.
The Packers have lost their last two season openers, only to come back the next week and completely knock the snot out of their week 2 opponent.
- In 2012, the Packers beat the Bears 23-10, picking off four Jay Cutler passes. It got so bad, Cutler started verbally and physically assaulting his offensive line.
- In 2013, Aaron Rodgers threw for 480 yards and four touchdowns as the Packers beat the team from Washington with the Stupid Name 38-20. RG3 still hasn’t recovered from the thrashing.
- In 2014, the Packers (will hopefully beat the Jets so bad that Rex Ryan gets fat again).
This dude is strong. It’s too early to judge just how good the rookie center will be, but at least it doesn’t look we have to worry about the center position like we’ll have to worry about right tackle if Bulaga misses time.
Under Dom Capers, the Packers defense still looks lost. However, the secondary seems to be competent in pass coverage. It’s impossible to completely shut down a team’s passing game these days. Average quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo still routinely throw for 4,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns. Good secondaries today make plays on the ball in key moments and compete physically with receivers and tight ends who are bigger and stronger than they are. And they do it as the rulebook is re-written to prevent them from being successful at their jobs. With Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers appear equipped to compete with good passing teams and control mediocre passing attacks like what the Packers will see from the Jets.
Rodgers posted a QB rating of 81.5 in the Seattle loss. Since 2011, Rodgers has posted QB ratings under 90 in consecutive games only once. Rodgers, like the Packers, usually bounces back after a tough game.
The Packers were so scared of Seahawks’ CB Richard Sherman that they completely ignored the third of the field where Sherman lined up. The strategy backfired since the Packers did little on the Sherman-free two-thirds of the field they chose to work with. Allen is a converted safety who made his first start at cornerback in the Jets’ win over the Raiders on Sunday. He played fine, but he wasn’t tested deep since the Raiders are incapable of throwing the ball more than 14 yards downfield because they’re the Raiders. The Packers are not afraid to stretch the field and they will test Allen deep. Get ready for a couple of guys named Jordy and Randall, Mr. Allen.
Unfortunately, it’s not all duckies and bunnies in Packersland. Sometimes, the Packers don’t win, either because the other team cheats or the Packers get bored from winning so often. If the Packers lose to the Jets, it could be because of…
The Jets have a tough defense. They run the ball well, and their quarterback is young and mobile. All three of these of things give the Packers fits.
Do those traits remind you of two other teams that the Packers haven’t been able to beat over the last two seasons?
The Jets are a not-as-talented version of the 49ers and Seahawks. They do many of the same things San Francisco and Seattle do, just not as well. However, perhaps they do them well enough to beat the Packers…
There was a period during the Green Bay Packers’ 2009 and 2010 seasons where they couldn’t beat the NFL’s elite. You knew the Packers were good, really good, actually, but they couldn’t get over the hump against the likes of Atlanta, New England or the 2009 Vikings with Brett Favre slinging the ball around.
That all changed during a glorious six-game stretch at the end of 2010. Suddenly, the Packers’ talent meshed, the defense toughened up and the Packers were the elite team, beating 13-3 Atlanta on the road in the playoffs and the 12-4 Steelers in the Super Bowl.
That carried over throughout the 2011 regular season before crashing to a maddening halt with a divisional round loss to the Giants.
That Giants team had a tough defense and rushing attack that feasted on the soft and slow middle of the Packers’ defense. The 49ers and Seahawks have used that same formula — mixed with offensive sets and playcalling that are above defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ pay grade — to dominate the Packers in ensuing years.
Now the 2014 Packers are back to where they were in 2009 and most of 2010: Good, but not good enough to beat the best.
They managed to come around and take the next step in 2010. Can they do it again in 2014?
We’ll see. For now, on to the first Packers Stock Report of the 2014 regular season:
I wish the Packers offensive line could transfer some of it’s nastiness and attitude over to the defensive line. The o-line, led by Sitton, plays tough and mean. Those two traits don’t matter, though, if you can’t actually block anybody. Thankfully, Sitton captains a line that, when healthy, can actually block. The veteran right guard is going to need to be as good as he ever has been to make up for a lack of depth up front, especially if Bryan Bulaga misses time with yet another knee injury.
Yeah, he got caught cheating on the Seahawks’ first touchdown pass, but perhaps Shields saw Seahawks center Max Unger 8 yards downfield like everyone else (besides the officials, unfortunately) and assumed the play was going to be a run. Other than that screw-up, Shields made decisive plays on the ball and was one of the few tackling bright spots on a miserable tackling night for the Packers.
After what the Seahawks did to the Packers in week 1, it’s hard to find another player worthy of the rising category. So, I’m going to give the third slot to T.J. Lang. Like Sitton, Lang is also playing well on an aggressive offensive line. But more importantly, he tweeted the following after the extended video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiance was released on Monday:
Bravo, Mr. Lang.
Starks has managed to stay healthy for a while now and he’s grown into one of the better backup running backs in the NFL. If Lacy’s second concussion in less than a year forces him to miss some time, I’m not too worried about the Packers’ running game because of Starks. That type of reassurance is exactly what you want out of your backup players.
Perhaps the only player on the Packers’ defense who plays like he wants to destroy every single player on the other team, Matthews looked good in his newish role as a do-everything and line up all-over-the-place linebacker. His surgically repaired thumb also remained attached to his hand. Now that he’s healthy and effective again, Matthews needs to have a chat with Mike Daniels and let the defensive lineman know that all that bravado he talked during the offseason needs to start showing up on the field if this Packers defense is going to turn things around.
Enough is enough. Let’s see what Jamari Lattimore and/or Sam Barrington can do.
I’m pulling for Sherrod to develop into a player. I really am. He suffered a terrible injury in 2011 and it’d be nice to see him come all the way back and fulfill the promise of a first-round pick. After Thursday’s matador-like performance, he’s got a long ways to go.
I’ve never been a #FireCapers guy, but it’s become painfully obvious that he’s overmatched when he has to prepare for power teams that use a lot of misdirection and non-traditional formations and sets. At this point, I wouldn’t mind if Capers stepped away to *cough* spend more time with his family *cough* like former Packers linebackers coach Kevin Greene did last offseason.
The worst thing about the Green Bay Packers losing their season-opener on a Thursday is that it gives people like me 10 days to talk about everything that went wrong.
In fact, so much went wrong on Thursday that some of the obvious wrongs are overshadowing other, less obvious, wrongs that also merit discussion. One of those overshadowed wrongs is the lack of offensive creativity from Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “Great. Here comes some blowhard on a blog whining about the coach’s playcalling after his favorite team lost a game. How very sports talk radio.”
I’m not going to pick apart individual play calls and opine about whether McCarthy should have called a run or a pass. I am going to opine that the Packers offense was far too predictable on Thursday and has felt predictable for a while now.
We’ve seen opposing offenses achieve tremendous success by attacking the Packers’ defense with a little creativity in both scheme and formations. Read-options, jet sweeps and misdirection counters baffle the Packers run defense. Pre-snap motion and different formation packages create mismatches against individual Packers’ defenders, causing the entire defense to panic and disintegrate over the course of a game.
Whenever I watch a team like the Seahawks or 49ers do unique things on offense to steamroll the Packers, I wonder why the Packers don’t seem as creative when they have the ball.
Maybe the Packers defense is so bad that it looks like other offenses are more creative than they actually are. Maybe all the injuries the Packers suffer each season make getting creative a challenge. Maybe McCarthy thinks Aaron Rodgers and his offense are so good, there’s no need to overthink things and get too crazy.
I don’t know what the answer is, but there has to be a few wrinkles McCarthy can come up with to get players like Randall Cobb free in space or create favorable matchups for other playmakers. Heck, even a screen pass here or there might have helped a little on Thursday.
Having Rodgers take a traditional drop, scan the field, then scamper around while his receivers try and get open is starting to get old.
I’m not calling for a dramatic overhaul of the entire offense. Rodgers, Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy doing their thing should result in plenty of points. But a little creativity from the coach — a jet-sweep to Cobb, a uniquely drawn-up screen, designed movement from Rodgers — to provide an extra boost against the NFL’s elite is needed.
It’s early, but I’m worried that the Packers might have a problem at wide receiver.
Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are fine (more on them in a minute). The rest of the receiving corp?
Yes, Jarrett Boykin was the sacrificial lamb lined up against Richard Sherman against the Seahawks, but Aaron Rodgers never even bothered looking in his direction. Boykin played well with a rotating stable of quarterbacks in 2013. He deserves a look from Rodgers every now and then.
At the very least, Boykin deserved a shot to line up somewhere else so Nelson or Cobb, the Packers big two receiving threats, could take a crack at Sherman. Perhaps that could have opened up a few more options on offense instead of completely eliminating whatever area of the field Sherman was on against Boykin.
I’m not even sure if Davante Adams was in the stadium on Thursday night. Wait, I take that back. Adams came open on that play where Rodgers hurled it across his body to Nelson downfield (a la Brett Favre), but Rodgers never bothered to look Adams’ way.
A couple weeks Rodgers ago, Rodgers sounded like he didn’t trust his young receivers. They better learn to trust each other soon because locking in on Nelson and Cobb over and over again won’t cut it for an entire season.
Don’t expect the Packers tight ends to pick up the slack. Going from pseudo WR Jermichael Finley to Richard Rodgers/Andrew Quarless is a downgrade in the receiving category.
I’m sure the receivers will improve as the season goes on, but it makes you wonder if Ted Thompson should have considered bringing back James Jones. He didn’t cost that much, Rodgers trusted him and he made plenty of plays in between the occasional case of dropsies.
Nelson and Cobb are without a doubt an upper-tier receiver tandem, but if the Packers are ever going to take the next step and beat teams with bruising defenses like the 49ers or Seahawks, they’re going to have to gain more yards after the catch.
I know Seattle’s defense is good, especially at tackling, but Nelson and Cobb need to make more plays with the ball if the Packers are ever going to beat them.
Cobb’s 5.5 yards-after-catch average against San Francisco in the playoffs last season was the only time either Cobb or Nelson managed to average 5 yards-after-catch in the Packers last four games against the Seakhawks and 49ers.
That’s not going to cut it. The Packers defense is not going to carry this team to victories against the NFL’s elite. It has to be players like Nelson and Cobb who carry the load when Rodgers gets them the ball.
After Thursday’s thumping, there’s room for improvement in almost every area of this Packers team. You might not hear many people talk about it, but one of those areas is at wide receiver.