This is the NFL on Nov. 30,2015:
The cheating New England Patriots are no longer undefeated,but once they get a couple players back from injury,should be on track to win the Super Bowl
A player who beat his naked four-year-old son bloody with a tree branch might win league MVP
A player with strong evidence against him in a sexual assault case from his college days is the front runner for rookie of the year
A team with a racial slur for a nickname is leading the NFC East
And,perhaps most depressing of all,the Packers have gone into a tailspin and are currently looking up in the standings at the Minnesota Vikings.
Basically,this entire season is in the falling category of the legendary Packers Stock Report here at CheeseheadTV.com.
The good news? There are five weeks left for this season to get back on track. That means the Packers start winning again and regain control in the NFC North,the Patriots flop in the playoffs (complete Tom Brady excessively whining to the officials),Adrian Peterson gets his head permanently stuck in a Minnesota snow bank,Jameis Winston goes away and Dan Snyder stubs his toe.
But for now,all we can do is get to the Packers Stock Report:
Brett Favre and Bart Starr
I was fortunate enough to be at Lambeau on Thursday night. Despite the result of the game,it’s a trip to Lambeau I’ll never forget. Seeing Favre and Starr at midfield was an incredible moment. I have absolutely no regrets about dropping half a mortgage payment to get rained on for 4 hours and witness the halftime ceremony live and in-person.
Let’s skip the silly song-and-dance where you wait until the minute before free agency opens to agree on a new contract for Daniels,Ted Thompson. Pay the man now.
The Packers desperately miss Matthews’ presence on the outside pass rush,but if he’s moved away from the middle,the Packers would then desperately miss his presence inside against the run.
Shields made a nice play to break up a touchdown to Alshon Jeffry on Thursday night. He also held up well whenever he was one-on-one with Jeffry. Quite the difference from week 1 where Jeffry owned Shields all day.
Set aside Rodgers’ overall struggles against Carolina,Detroit and Chicago and consider the fact that he and the Packers had a chance to win all three games in the final minutes. They failed every time. If that doesn’t merit a spot in the falling category,I don’t know what does.
Since returning from his ankle injury,Adams has gone from bad to worse to a total disaster. He’s rarely open,and when he is,he can’t catch the ball. I won’t pile on the young man — the pile is high enough already. Here’s hoping he snaps out of it and fulfills the promise Rodgers and others seem to think he has.
Yup,it’s time to put McCarthy in the falling category. Being in the stadium on Thursday,it was maddening to see just how basic the Packers pass-route concepts are. If it’s not a screen pass to James Starks,the Packers are calling basic slant/flat routes,or verticals where every receiver tries fruitlessly to run past their defender,and if that fails,break off the route and hope to be on the same page as Rodgers. They are rarely on the same page as Rodgers,and the results are a mess. Adjustments need to be made,but with McCarthy at the helm,I don’t think it’ll happen.
Today,Brett Favre joins Tony Canadeo,Don Hutson,Bart Starr,Ray Nitschke and Reggie White as the only Green Bay Packers to have their jersey numbers displayed on the Lambeau Field facade.
I’ll be in the stadium to celebrate the occasion,perched way up in the new south end zone seats with my wife. Some people might snicker at my seats and wonder if I’ll be able to even see Favre (and,of course,Bart Starr) from so far away. To those people,I say,”Welcome to my world.” I followed Favre and the Packers from a distance for most of No. 4’s career.
Watching the Favre ceremony from the nosebleeds is completely appropriate for my situation. Heck,I’d call it a luxury.
Growing up in small-town Minnesota,I didn’t have cable TV until my junior year of high school around 1998. The only time I could watch the Packers before that was if they were on the local network TV affiliate. That happened twice per year when the Packers played the Vikings,and a couple other times per year for national games of the week (more often once Favre became a star).
Even when I got cable,it only meant a couple of extra Packers game per season since we didn’t have whatever was the equivalent of the Sunday Ticket package back then.
In fact,I can remember becoming a Packers fan when Don Majkowski was still the quarterback,then wondering what the heck happened to the Majik Man when one day the Packers showed up on my screen and some guy named Favre was throwing passes.
Every now and then if the Packers were on Fox and the weather was decent,I could pick up a snowy feed using a gigantic metal arrow that sat atop our old-school TV antenna that rose way above the roof our our house. Otherwise,I was SOL.
I followed Favre and the Packers not by watching every play of every game on my giant 60-inch TV using the NFL Sunday Ticket package like I do today,but by anxiously awaiting the Green Bay score to scroll across the bottom of the screen while the rest of my family watched the Vikings. Of course,there were no smart phones or social media feeds back then,so I bought the newspaper every Monday to get more context about whatever happened during Sunday’s Packers game that I was shut out from seeing.
Imagine that,reading a newspaper to find out what happened in a football game!
For important games that aired on Fox,I’d go hang out with my grandmother in the nursing home. She had a tiny television — maybe 17 inches — that got Fox in crystal clear and allowed me to watch the game without having to squint through a snowy screen like at home. Thank you,grandma (and the nursing home staff who put up with the weird kid hanging around watching the Packers).
College was the same story. We didn’t have satellite in our apartment and I couldn’t have afforded Sunday Ticket if we did. At least the Internet came along by then so I could feed a little bit more of my Packers’ fix.
So yeah,sitting up high for tonight’s ceremony is not a big deal. Distance didn’t stop me from becoming a Packers fan and it isn’t going to stop me from honoring Favre — the man who provided me with so many great childhood memories,even if they came via snowy television screen or newspaper print.
Oh yeah,the Packers are also playing a football game tonight. Here are five reasons why they’ll win.
Sure,Jay Cutler is playing better lately,but he’ll have at least one game-altering screw up against the Packers like he always does. Mark it down.
The Packers fill up an injury report like few teams in the NFL can,but the Bears have some key players banged up as well. Matt Forte,Alshon Jeffry and Maretllus Bennett are all questionable as I write this. If Bennett is out,that’s huge since the Packers have no clue how to cover a tight end,let along a tight end as talented and imposing as Bennett.
Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!
The Bears allow almost 124 yards per game reusing,bad enough for 25th in the NFL. Shhhh……you hear that? That’s the Eddie Lacy train picking up a head of steam and heading right toward the middle of the defense. Look out! On another note,if J.C. Tretter plays center tonight,check out his girth compared to Lacy’s. Lacy appears to outweigh his own center by a good 15 pounds.
Things were far from perfect in Minnesota — especially in the passing game — but the Packers appear to be getting back on the right track. The short week will impact both teams,but the Bears are on the road on the night when Green Bay is retiring Brett Favre’s No. 4. Chicago’s injuries,struggles on run defense and overall vibe from the Favre buzz will make a short week feel even shorter for the Bears.
The Packers have never lost with me inside Lambeau Field. I don’t expect my good fortune to end tonight.
Return of the skill players
If Jeffry and Forte return and Bennett is healthy enough to play,the Packers better be careful. Those three players are no joke. Combine them with Good Jay Cutler,and who knows what could happen.
The defense learned how to sack a quarterback again,Eddie Lacy re-discovered his power-spin move and the Green Bay Packers figured out a way to get back in the win column with a nice road victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Yes,a lot of the same problems continued to rear their ugly head on offense,but six sacks and a 100-yard rusher go a long way in masking whatever the Packers are still trying to work through in the passing game.
One thing I don’t understand — maybe some of the better X’s and O’s minds who hang around CheeseheadTV.com can explain it to me — is why the offensive brain trust insists on using Richard Rodgers as a receiver in four-receiver sets. It’s painfully obvious by now that Rodgers is only effective in or near the end zone. He’s too slow to separate in space and not nearly nimble enough to make defenders miss and pick up extra yards after the catch.
Unless there are some blocking assignments better suited to a bigger body that I’m not seeing,Jeff Janis should be taking Rodgers’ spot as the fourth receiver in those sets. Yes,the Packers fans who treat Janis as the Second Coming are annoying,but c’mon. Enough is enough with Rodgers as a wideout. Let’s see what Janis can do.
At the very least,hopefully Ty Montgomery returns soon so he can take Rodgers’ spot in four-wide sets.
Now that I’ve give the Packers coaching staff all the advice they need to help improve their passing game,let’s get to this week’s Packers Stock Report:
Have you ever notice how often Daniels knocks over whomever is trying to block him. If you ever take your eye off the ball when the Packers are on defense,lock in on Daniels once. He doesn’t always make the play,but man,he beats the hell out of the unfortunate soul assigned to tray and stop him.
We saw Jones line up on the outside on Sunday and the plays came in droves. Staying healthy and consistent has always been Jones’ main challenge. We’ll see if he can continue rising over these final six games.
Over and over again,the Packers defensive line would fence in Adrian Peterson and Matthews would swoop in for the tackle. The defense appeared to be working as it was designed to work. The fat dudes up front wreck havoc allowing the linebackers to come in and make plays.
(Note: Some might argue that I should have included Mason Crosby in the rising category. These people have a good point,but I have yet to forgive Crosby for whatever the hell that was at the end of the Lions game.)
For the second week in a row,Raji could be seen caving in an entire side of an offensive line.
Jones changed it up a big in going from the sleeveless turtleneck to the hoodie. Whatever fashion statement works for Jones,he should keep doing it.
How about Shields making an open-field tackle on third down on the opening series? That’s something you never would have seen from Shields early in his career.
There’s not much else to say about Cobb besides the weekly drops needing to end. Now.
Eff this guy.
If Adrian Peterson runs for 150+ yards today and I have to listen to Buck and Aikman talk about how well he’s playing despite “everything he’s been through,” I’m done watching football.
Last week after the Packers lost to the Lions,I sat in shock on my couch and flipped on the Vikings game. The only Minnesota game I had seen previously this season was the opener against the 49ers,so I figured why not check out the enemy one week before the Packers have to play them.
How Peterson was treated by the broadcast team was more shocking than any Packers loss,even at home to the Lions.
At one point in the broadcast,the announcers (I can’t recall their names,I was too upset to care) talked about how great of a season Peterson is having despite “everything he’s been through.” Yes,the announcers kinda sorta implied that Peterson was somehow the victim in what went down before last season.
In case you forgot,Peterson stripped his four-year-old son naked and beat him with a tree branch,leaving visible wounds all over his body,including his genitals. Peterson’s “punishment” was to spend a year on the commissioner’s exempt list (with pay) and a new contract with the Vikings upon his return that guaranteed him $20 million.
Peterson is too disgusting of a human being to continue writing about,so I’m going to stop. The franchise that employs him and the fans that root for him (and continue to dress their toddlers and children in No. 28 jerseys) aren’t much better. Football is supposed to be enjoyable. Peterson,the Vikings organization and many Vikings fans make it anything but.
I’ll end with this:
Writing for Bleacher Report on Friday,Mike Freeman summed up my own thoughts on Peterson much better than I could. Read Mike’s entire piece here. I thought this was the best section of the piece:
…it would be nice to see a little more introspection from the sport and the fans that follow it,as well as the media that covers it. What Peterson did was child abuse,and here we are,just a short time later,in some ways acting like what he did never happened.
Anyway,here are five reason the Packers will win today:
It’s Aaron Rodgers…right?
Yeah,Rodgers might have a bum shoulder,a struggling offensive line,and receivers who appear stuck to their defender. But it’s still Aaron Rodgers. There’s no way he’s going to struggle again and let the Packers lose four games in a row. Right? RIGHT?!?!?! (Please,someone tell me I’m right.)
Make the routine plays
Against the Lions,I counted six dropped passes (nine if you’re a hard grader) and five “bad” throws from Rodgers (seven if you’re grading more strictly than I did). If the Packers just quit dropping the ball and Rodgers cuts down the misses on routine throws,this team should be fine. I know,”If,if if…” Lots of teams can point to many “ifs” this time of year,but the Packers are too talented to keep screwing up this badly. I think…
Will Peterson matter?
In 15 games against the Packers,Adrian Peterson averages over 116 yards and more than 5.3 yards per rush. And the Vikings have still only managed to win four of those 15 games. Peterson might be the best running back in the league. Hell,he might be the greatest running back of all time. But he’s exhibit A that an elite running back is more of a luxury than a necessity. Even if Peterson goes off like he usually does,the Packers can overcome it.
Law of averages
The Lions were bound to beat the Packers at Lambeau eventually. The law of averages says they’d win one here pretty soon. That same law of averages has to apply to the Packers pass rush. It’s been three games now with a Packers sack. The law of averages says the Packers will get to the quarterback sometime soon,even if it’s by accident. Getting the Vikings in long down and distance situations will be a key to winning this game.
Ascending young players
The Packers have a handful of young players that have shown a thing or two in recent weeks. Damarious Randall,Justin Perillo and even Jake Ryan appear capable of helping the Packers turn things around. That’s the good news. The bad news is their veteran counterparts need to return to form. Eddie Lacy,the entire offensive line,Julius Peppers and others have fallen off the map. If they can return and join forces with their younger counterparts,look out.
Unfortunately,as the Vikings are wandering lost through the wilderness,they occasionally stumble upon a path that leads them to a victory over the far superior Green Bay Packers. If that happens today,this might be why:
They’re just better
Go back and re-read my five reasons for the Packers winning. You’ll notice a lot of “ifs” in there. With the Vikings this season,there haven’t been many “ifs.” The players who were expected to perform well (Peterson,Harrison Smith,Linval Joseph) have lived up to expectations while many others (Stefon Diggs,Matt Kalil and Terence Newman) have went above and beyond their projected ceilings. All of that has been book ended by mistake-free play from young Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings are a good team. Plain and simple. They very well might just be better than the Packers. For this week at least,we’re about to find out.
Early in the season,I wrote that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a permanent place in the rising category of the weekly Packers Stock Report. Readers of this fine website were to assume Rodgers was a riser every week,until told otherwise.
Well,spoiler alert: Rodgers has lost his permanent spot and winds up in this week’s falling category.
I’m not flabbergasted that the Packers have lost three straight games started by Rodgers. Even though the Packers typically respond well to regular season adversity,it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that a a prolonged slump could be caused by defensive ineptitude or special teams meltdowns.
But bad quarterback play? Nah,that’s not going to happen. Rodgers is human — he’ll have a bad game here and there — but he won’t struggle over an entire month.
That’s what I thought,anyway. And I guess I thought wrong.
Rodgers’ receivers are having a tough time getting open,and when they do break free,Rodgers has been missing them. The Packers offensive line has sprung a few leaks,but when the line holds up,Rodgers often dances out of the pocket anyway with his eye on the pass rush instead of downfield.
Rodgers’ fundamentals in the pocket are also out of whack. We’re seeing sidearm flings with both feet off the ground instead of strong throws where everything is pointed at the target.
Even Rodgers’ postgame press conference game is off. Instead of adequately addressing questions about why his team just lost to the @#%^&%$ Lions at home,Rodgers made a political statement on Sunday. Hey,good for Rodgers for calling out that idiot “fan,” but could you at least answer the football-related questions before climbing up on your soapbox?
Everything about this Packers team has been weird since the bye week,including the quarterback.
There are seven games left to play,which is plenty of time for things to turn from weird to normal again. And by normal,I mean the Packers start rolling over inferior teams like the Lions again and seizing control of the NFC North.
If that’s going to happen,Rodgers needs to re-claim his permanent spot in the rising category.
On to the Stock Report:
He might look like the aging drummer from an 80s hair metal band you listened to as a kid,but just like Ratt with their 1984 release “Out of the Cellar,” Perillo has brought it recently. When Rodgers needs a to make a play in the middle of the field,he’s not afraid to sling it to one of the oddest looking players in the NFL.
I shuddered every time I saw Randall line up in single coverage against Calvin Johnson,but the kid held his own.
Lang has been the most consistent Packers offensive lineman all season and his steady play continued against the Lions.
I want to blame Rodgers’ skittishness and disappearing fundamentals on the offensive line’s struggles,but Rodgers has had bad lines before and still managed to more than hold his own. For most of Rodgers career,we saw teams sitting back in a cover-2 shell,scared to death of blitzing. Now,everyone is stacking the box against the Packers and blitzing Rodgers like he’s a rookie 7th-round draft pick making his first NFL start. Nobody is scared of the Packers offense right now,and until Rodgers get back on track,expect that unfortunate trend to continue.
Catch. The. Damn. Ball.
The Packers haven’t recorded a sack in their last three games. Those games have been against the Broncos,Panthers and Lions,all teams whose offensive lines do not exactly resemble the mid-90s Cowboys. Dom Capers’ blitzes aren’t getting home and Mike Daniels has been the only defensive linemen to get much of a push. Julius Peppers has also dropped off the face of the Earth. Has age finally caught up with ‘ol Julius? Or is he just in a weird rut like the rest of this Packers team?
At noon Lambeau Time today,the Green Bay Packers will throttle the Detroit Lions at home for the 25th time in a row.
It will be glorious,as all Packers wins are. Brats will be eaten. Beer will be consumed. “Go Pack Go!” will be chanted. Loudly.
But at the end of the day,it’s a win over the hapless Lions. Packers fans will be happy,but we’ll still be wondering if the problems plaguing this year team truly took a step forward to getting fixed,or if they were fixed temporarily because today’s opponent was the Lions.
Instead of going over five reasons why the Packers will win today,I’m going to examine five things I’d like to see from the Packers today. It’s a given that the Packers will win the game. They’re playing the freaking Lions. Let’s focus instead on moving forward and addressing some the issues that have cropped up recently:
Rhythm,rhythm and more rhythm
I want to see the Packers offense get in a groove and execute the play called as it’s supposed to be executed. That means Aaron Rodgers take his drop,plants his feet,and hits his initial read as the play was drawn up. No dancing around going from read to read. No dodging numerous unblocked rushers. No sandlot,schoolyard stuff. The Packers are very fortunate to have a quarterback who can improvise and make sandlot-style football work,but that can’t be the basis for a consistently successful offense — no matter who the quarterback is. It’s time for the Packers offense to get its timing down and start clicking.
The Broncos and Panthers offensive lines don’t exactly resemble the Dallas Cowboys’ lines from the early and mid-90s,yet the Packers haven’t recorded a sack for two weeks. The pass rush was a strength for the Packers early this season. It’s time to make it a strength again.
Enough with the injuries
Can we please get a game where at least one Packers starter isn’t shown making the walk back to the locker room with a game-ending injury? Thank you.
Eddie Lacy to do something…anything
In half a season,Lacy has gone from one of the most exciting young players in football to a second-stringer. I don’t expect Lacy to magically come back to life and return to his old self overnight. But perhaps the Packers can help him a bit. Lacy caught at least 35 passes each of his first two seasons. He only has 10 catches in 2015. Get him the ball in space on a few screen passes,or as a safety valve for Rodgers. See if you can get Lacy rumbling forward on a head of steam and running over defensive backs again. Perhaps that will light his fire.
The Packers haven’t won a football game since Oct. 18. That’s almost an entire month! I don’t care if it’s against the Lions. The Packers need a win. I need to see the Packers win again! Just win,Packers! That’s what we want to see most of all.
The Green Bay Packers fourth-quarter comeback against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday was:
A) A sign of hope that the Packers offense is coming back to life
B) Meaningless since the Panthers were sitting back in a prevent defense trying to kill the clock like the Packers typically do once they build a nice lead
C) I have no idea. It was just nice to see the Packers actually put up a fight and come back.
My answer to that question is “C.”
The offense is still in some state of disarray. When Aaron Rodgers & Co. finally got rolling in the fourth quarter,they used a strange combination of screen plays that Carolina had no interest in defending and sandlot-style run-around-and-make-something-happen passes.
It’s not like the Packers designed offensive plays suddenly kicked into gear and began spitting out wide-open receivers. It was all still very disjointed. (And Mike McCarthy has used some form of the term “ass” during a news conference two weeks in a row now.)
The defense finally got aggressive late in the game,but if Cam Newton wasn’t one of the most inaccurate passers in the league,the Panthers would’ve hung 50 on the Packers and that comeback probably never happens.
The first half of this Packers season has been just plain weird. The team has some gigantic flaws (defense,offensive line,playing on the road),underperforming stars (Eddie Lacy,Josh Sitton,Julius Peppers) and major injuries (Jordy Nelson,Sam Shields,Lacy).
Yet the Packers are 6-2 and in prime position to make a run once the real season kicks in after Thanksgiving. Rodgers is on pace for nearly 4,000 yards,38 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Mike Daniels is a monster on the defensive line. Damarious Randall makes his share of rookie mistakes,but also has moments where looks much better than a typical rookie.
Imagine if some of the underperforming players find their groove again. Or the offensive line snaps out out it. Or if the trend of losing at least one starter per week to injury ends.
This season still has great potential to be a very rewarding one. It also has potential to drive all Packers fans insane. Right now we’re being fitted for straight jackets,but it’s not time to lock us in a padded room just yet.
On to this week’s Stock Report:
If Starks keeps this up,he might earn himself a decent free-agent contract this offseason. Not sure if it will be in Green Bay,though…
Yeah,Randall gave up the long pass to Devin Fuchness and had the pass interference on Greg Olsen,but both of those plays seemed fluky. Overall,Randall stepped in and covered for Shields just fine.
The defensive line has taken a major step backward,but Daniels is still plowing straight ahead. Pay the man,Ted.
This is part of the Packers’ struggles. They need more steady players,more players who are simply doing their jobs and not screwing up. If the offense gets turned around,you’d ideally like to see a bunch of offensive lineman filling up the steady category.
Not sure what’s going on with one of the best guards in the league,but lately Sitton hasn’t looked anything like one of the best guards in the league.
Bulaga has never been the most nimble of tackles,but he rarely gets bulled back into the backfield. Too often over the last two weeks,Bulaga has ended up in Rodgers’ lap.
It’s looking more and more like a lost season for Lacy. Ugh.
I am going to miss this week’s Packers vs. Panthers game because I will be out in the Minnesota wilderness holding a shotgun,waiting for that elusive 30-point buck to come strolling by.
Deer hunting is a lot like going to a Packers game.
Hey,clean up that coffee that just came spewing out of your nose.
I said stop laughing!
Let me explain:
Hunters invest a lot of time in their craft,hoping that they end up with a few moments of excitement. All that time spent sitting in an uncomfortable tree trying to prevent your fingertips from freezing pays off when a nice buck walks within shooting range,or a doe and a couple fawns spend 20 minutes in front of your stand eating and playing while you watch and wonder if they realize how lucky they are that you only shoot bucks. All that time hunting also pays off when you have fresh venison in the freezer,especially those cheddar snack sticks that cost a fortune to make but taste oh so good.
When you go to Lambeau for a Packers game,you sit in bleachers that are about as (un)comfortable as a tree stand. Actual moments of excitement are few and far between — most of your time is spent sitting through TV time outs,breaks in the action and routine runs up the middle or incomplete passes. But it’s all worth it when Aaron Rodgers connects for a touchdown,Clay Matthews gets a sack and the Packers walk off the field victorious.
You also have to deal with some nonsense when you hunt or go to a Packers game. Buck fever is a real thing. A lot of otherwise normal people get goofy during hunting season. Jealously causes them to try and ruin the hunt for others. Laws are broken in pursuit of that big buck. Safety measures can be forgotten in the heat of the moment.
At Lambeau,you have to deal with 80,000 other people in the same venue that you are. That means long lines for the bathroom or to get a beer. It also means idiots who can’t handle their booze and stick-in-the-mud types who yell at you to sit down during a big third-down play.
Sometimes you wouldn’t mind having 80,000 other people in your deer stand with you to help pass the time. Sometimes you wish you were the only on in Lambeau Field so you could stand up and cheer whenever you wanted,be the first in line to get a beer and not have to miss half of the second quarter waiting to pee.
See,I told you hunting and going to a Packers game were similar!
About today’s game…
Hunting and the Packers also provide a nice escape from reality. I tend to forget about that stack of unpaid bills on my kitchen counter when I’m decked out in blaze orange and watching the sun rise from my deer stand. When the Packers play,I’m completely engrossed in the on-field action for those three hours. I couldn’t care less about what else might be swirling around the team. Those three hours of gametime are meant for football,not the reality TV type of drama that makes up the rest of the NFL week.
Normally,I mock and ridicule the other team in these “5 reasons” posts before getting into a couple of X’s and O’s points about why the Packers will win. I’m not doing that this week because 1) I’d rather write about deer hunting and 2) We all know what the Packers have to do to win.
There really isn’t any additional insight I can provide you. The Packers have to slow down the Panthers power running game,not get eaten alive by Greg Olsen,do a better job of scheming their receivers open against another tough secondary and hope their offensive line returns to its 2014 form. Resurrecting their dormant pass rush after a fast start would also help.
The Packers should also view today’s game the same way I view hunting: as an escape from reality. All week they’ve been asked about why they’re playing so poorly,especially on offense. They’ve dealt with weird stories and old-man “get off my lawn” columns from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Rodgers has been reminded over and over again that he only threw for 77 yards against the Broncos. Every armchair QB wearing foam cheese on their head is chiming in with their ideas on how the offense can get back on track.
If the Packers view Sunday’s game as an opportunity to tune all of that nonsense out for three hours,they’ll roll. The Packers have handled regular season adversity really well under Mike McCarthy:
Sitting at 4-4 and losing twice to the Brett Favre-led Vikings in 2009,Green Bay responded by winning six straight.
A late-season injury to Rodgers put the Packers behind the 8-ball in 2010. They responded by winning their final two games and,eventually,a Super Bowl.
In 2012,the Packers followed up Fail Mary with a win over the Saints. After losing to the Colts,the Packers were 2-3 and responded by throttling the Texans on the road,prompting Rodgers’ famous “Shhhhhh” line during the postgame interview.
The Packers needed a win in the season’s final game to make the 2013 playoffs and they got it.
The Saints pounded the Packers 44-23 before the bye week in 2014. When the Packers returned,they went 7-1 and earned a first-round playoff bye.
Today’s game will tell us a lot about what kind of team the 2015 Packers are. I think we’re going to find out that they’ll be just fine.
In the eyes of many Green Bay Packers fans,each regular season game isn’t so much a game,but a weekly check-up on the team’s readiness to win another Super Bowl.
Most fanbases embrace the week-to-week nature of the NFL simply because they have no other choice. Every win is a step in the right direction and provides further hope that maybe,just maybe,this year is their year. Every loss is another reminder that their team isn’t among the league’s elite and a win is needed the following week in order to not fall too far off track.
That type of thinking doesn’t apply to the Packers. Most cheeseheads view the regular season as a formality. The Packers will win between 10-13 games. There will be many memorable moments and a few forgettable ones along the way. Watching the team will be a whole lot of fun. Etc.,etc.
But really,most fans ask,how does each week’s performance impact the Packers readiness to compete in January?
Beating the Bears in the season opener was nice,but man,the defense looked rough. The Packers FINALLY beat the Seahawks in week 2,but those injuries are bad news long term. Beating up on the Chiefs was fun in week 3,but if the Packers let a team hang around like that in January,we could see another playoff meltdown.
It was cool to see the defense play so well in week 4 against the 49ers,but only 17 points from the offense? That won’t fly in the playoffs. The Rams in week 5 proved to be a better team than we thought,but what’s up with the offense? And dominating Nick Foles on defense doesn’t make us feel any better about the defense holding up in the postseason. Phillip freaking Rivers threw for 500 yards on the Packers. OH GOD HERE WE GO AGAIN!
The corpse of Peyton Manning dominated the Packers and Rodgers threw for less than 100 yards? SEE,I TOLD YOU ALL THOSE FLAWS FROM THE EARLIER GAMES WOULD EVENTUALLY CATCH UP TO THE PACKERS. NOW WE GOTTA FIX A BUNCH OF STUFF IF WE WANT TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL.
That’s life as a Packers fan and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re spoiled. Some folks like to use the “spoiled” label as a negative. To me,it’s nothing but a positive and it’s something we should relish as long as it lasts.
The NFL season is a long journey. Most fanbases have no idea where that journey is going to end up. Packers fans know the general vicinity of where their journey will conclude. The main question is,does their team have what it takes to go that extra mile and reach the destination it desperately wants to get to?
Despite Sunday night’s debacle,I think this team still has what it takes. But it sure did add a few bumps on the journey.
Onto this week’s Packers Stock Report:
Nobody is going to confuse Jones for J.J. Watt,but Jones has quietly become a reliable member of this defensive line. Now he just needs to avoid the nagging injury that has plagued him throughout his career.
Crosby was the only Packers player (besides maybe Randall Cobb) who seemed excited to be playing football on Sunday night. He actually showed a little emotion and *gasp* smiled after he made a 56-yard field goal. Every other Packers player had the body language of an old steer who knew he was on his way to be made into steaks and hamburgers.
I take back what I said about Crosby being the only player to show any type of excitement on Sunday. Matthews looked fired up. He always does. And hats off to Matthews for giving it a go after injuring his ankle. Nobody would have blamed him if he said the hell with it and went back to the locker room early so he didn’t have to watch that mess.
It was obvious that Peyton Manning singled out Hayward to pick on early and often. It worked,as Hayward was helpless again Demaryius Thomas on the outside.
I never thought I would miss A.J. Hawk,but Palmer made me miss A.J. Hawk on Sunday. Oooof,he was terrible. Dom Capers has his work cut for him in trying to come up with schemes that mask Palmer’s obvious and easily exploitable flaws.
It’s not like Lacy has gaping holes to run through,but he looks like a completely lost player compared to his first two seasons. Even when he does break off a few runs,they too often end in fumbles or near-fumbles. I miss the days of Lacy trucking over poor saps who dared to get in front of him once he broke through the line.
Sticking to his tried and true principles of drafting and developing,Packers general manager Ted Thompson once again eschewed outside free agency and rewarded two players that have come up through the Packers system with fat new contracts this offseason.
Rumors were swirliing that WR Randall Cobb was as good as gone when he signed a 4 year,$40 million deal right before free agency opened in the spring. Tackle Bryan Bulaga inked a 5 year,$33.75 million deal to stay in Green Bay as well.
Through seven games,neither player has lived up to their new contracts.
It’d be silly to suggest that the Packers threw their money down the toilet on either deal when they’re only seven games old. But if the Packers are going to get rolling again on offense,their two big re-signees need to start playing up to those deals.
So far,Cobb hasn’t taken the reigns of the No. 1 receiver slot followig the injury to Jordy Nelson. Cobb rarely beats his man in one-on-one matchups. Most of his production has come when Rodgers breaks the pocket on sandlot sytle plays,or where Cobb makes a great catch despite being blanketed by a defender.
Bulaga,always susceptible to injury,has missed three games with a bad knee and hasn’t looked very nimble when he’s played. Don’t get me wrong: Bulaga is much better than having Don Barclay out there,but it’s safe to say the right tackle hasn’t lived up to expectations yet this season.
We can talk about the Packers’ scheme. We can talk about their defensive issues and all the injuries. But many of the Packers recent struggles can be cured if Cobb and Bulaga play better.
Thompson’s philosophy depends on young players earning that big second contract,then having those players perform up to that contract. Through seven games,it’s safe to say Cobb and Bulaga haven’t done that.
Health could help Cobb and Bulaga turn things around. Even though he was rarely open against the Broncos,Cobb seemed aggressive with the ball and less protective of his sore shoulder. Bulaga’s only a little over a month removed from knee surgery,so perhaps time will boost his mobility.
Or maybe we’re seeing two good to very good players just going through a rough stretch. It happens,regardless of when a contract extension is signed.
Whatever the case may be,the Packers need Cobb and Bulaga to play better.