Packers Stock Report: A Relaxing win over the Bears Edition
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).