If we want to look on the bright side, and we might as well, at least the Green Bay Packers got some things worked out offensively. Unfortunately, their defense continues to shit the bed.
Shit the bed like that scene in Trainspotting.
In this particular metaphor, the Packers defense is Spud and we are the girlfriend’s family.
See what we’re saying?
So, on with it.
Kudos to Tom Clements
Yes, I’m starting this out with praise for someone. The Packers have been completely inflexible in their offensive playing calling in recent weeks. “No one is getting open,” Aaron Rodgers says. Well, maybe, maybe not. However, it’s clear the Packers’ receivers weren’t creating separation on a regular basis. Yet, the Packers stuck, hard-headedly, to their traditional offensive sets — spread the field, two outside receivers, individual routes, beat the match-up. Wasn’t working. We talked about it last week — the sets and plays have to be used to get your receivers open if they’re not winning their one-on-one match-ups. What did you see from the Packers on Sunday? Lots of motion, stack and bunch sets. Plays designed to get the receivers open. And they did get the receivers open. The Packers’ top two receivers — Randall Cobb and Davante Adams — each had more than 90 receiving yards. Rodgers threw for 369 yards. We’d say that transition was a success. Now, if the Packers could only run the ball, they might have something going here.
It’s the offensive line, silly
Offensively, the Packers were able to correct some things and their offense was once again able to put up some points. However, they still have issues and there’s one issue that, unlike the play calling, isn’t correctable. It’s the offensive line. We’re not entirely sure who deserves most of the blame. We can tell you center Corey Linsley had maybe his worst game as a professional on Sunday. We can tell you left tackle David Bakhtiari is below average. We can tell you right tackle Bryan Bulaga is worth nowhere near what the Packers are paying him. Bakhtiari is often the reason the pass protection breaks down. He cannot stop the bull rush even though he knows it’s coming. Before the trade deadline, I wasn’t so hot on the Packers trying to acquire 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. I wanted them to take a run at Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. Having a left tackle that could actually protect Rodgers would make a bigger difference in this offense than a tight end, receiver or anything else. Bakhtiari needs to be replaced in the offseason. As for Bulaga, the Packers have always overvalued him. The guy just isn’t athletic and will never be more than an average offensive lineman. These clowns gave up five sacks on Sunday. The Packers netted just 71 yards rushing. If you think the offensive line isn’t a major weakness for the Packers, you’re not watching the games.
The vaunted pass rush is no more
For the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers recorded no sacks. For the first six weeks of the season, the defense had one of the best pass rushes in the league. Then, suddenly, nothing. What gives? We don’t have an easy answer for you. What we do know is that the Packers’ defensive success is predicated on the pass rush getting home. When it doesn’t get home, well, you see the results. The Packers have now given up 1,475 yards over their past three games. They’ve dropped to the 23rd-ranked unit in the league.
So long, old friend
It certainly appears as if the Packers have seen enough of Nate Palmer at inside linebacker. Palmer has been one of the weak spots on a defense full of weak spots. He’s been one of the more glaring ones, though. The Packers briefly replaced Palmer with rookie Jake Ryan in Denver. That only lasted for a few plays, though. This week, Ryan ended up playing most of the game. He finished with a team-leading 1o tackles. Ryan didn’t really do anything to distinguish himself on a terrible defensive day, but with Palmer continuing to hurt the defense, the Packers may as well give the rookie his shot. We’re sure he’ll have some gaffes, but Ryan’s upside is much higher than Palmer’s. The way to speed up his progress is to let him learn on the job. So, go to it, rook.
A blown opportunity, but the road gets easier
The Packers didn’t need to win in Denver. They needed to win in Carolina if they wanted to put themselves in position for home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Panthers now not only have a two-game edge in the standings, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers. The good news, if you’re the Packers, is the road is about to get much easier. The Packers’ next four games are against divisional opponents. In other words, teams the Packers have owned for the past several years. Two of those games are with the one-win Lions. It certainly appears the Packers are about to go back to their winning ways after a brutal two-game stretch. The bad thing about this is, these division games are also likely to mask some of the Packers’ issues. This is still a playoff team, folks, if only because they play in the NFC North. What it isn’t is a Super Bowl team.