Why, what is this? A win?! I had forgotten all about those! For one night at least, all was right with the Green Bay Packers.
Literally, all. The Green Bay Packers’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night was about as complete as it gets.
The offense was masterful on third down and controlled the clock. Who the hell are these guys!? The offensive line didn’t give up a single sack. The Packers had no turnovers. The defense gave up just 13 points and while they were beaten for big plays at times, they never let Philly get a lead. Hell, even the special teams were on. Mason Crosby was perfect, Jake Bum wasn’t a bum and there were no big, boneheaded returns allowed.
Even Mr. Zero Awareness, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix came up with a pick! Of course, it was thrown right to him like he was the receiver, so you or I could have come up with that pick. Nonetheless, we haven’t seen the Packers team that played on Monday night all season.
Here are five more items I didn’t cover after the game.
Uneven Night for Matthews
We all thought Jake Ryan would be active and when he wasn’t, that forced Clay Matthews over to inside linebacker. He was there with Joe Thomas, who was filling in for Blake Martinez, most of the time. Carl Bradford also made the token appearance. However, it was largely Matthews’ job to hold down the middle. I’d say he did so-so. Matthews had four tackles, a sack and a QB hit. What I really recall are two gaffes though. The first was when Matthews went to the wrong gap on a running play and it resulted in a nice gain by Wendell Smallwood. The second was when Matthews took a crappy angle — must have been watching some old A.J. Hawk tape — on a scramble by Carson Wentz that went for 17. The Packers — Matthews with help from Damarious Randall — made Wentz look like Mike Vick in his prime on that play. On one hand, thanks for filling in and doing your best. On the other hand, Matthews seemingly has resisted taking any reps at inside linebacker during practice, instead opting to brush up through studying the playbook. It’s like the guy will only be a team player when he’s forced to be. Otherwise, gotta get those sacks! Gotta play outside backer exclusively! There’s something that bothers me about that, especially considering how much the Packers are paying Matthews. And yes, I saved the best for last. How about the time when Packer great Allen Barbre — who I can’t believe is still in the league and is Philly’s third-string tackle — did this to the old Claymaker?
James Starks is Not the Answer
James Starks is a plodding runner. He has no quickness or burst. Nor can he run through guys like Eddie Lacy can. On Monday night, that was on display for everyone to see. Starks carried a season-high 17 times. He gained just 41 yards, a 2.4 average. On the season, Starks has 57 carries for 141 yards, a 2.5 average. Simply, the Packers need a running game of some sort to succeed, but I am fully convinced that James Starks is not the answer. I’m not sure why Mike McCarthy isn’t. I’ve talked about the productivity — and matchup problems that are created — when Ty Montgomery is in the backfield. He carried just once for two yards on Monday. The new pickup, Christine Michael, also carried just once, for four yards. Michael has almost as many yards this season as Starks and Lacy combined. Why not mix these other guys in and then go with the hot hand? Starks isn’t getting it done. What is that attachment there?
A Mike Daniels Appearance!
Mike Daniels hasn’t exactly been the force we all expected this season after signing that huge contract late last year. In his defense, he’s usually the only guy on the Packers’ defense opposing offenses bother to double team. That said, the productivity isn’t there. Daniels’ pattern this season seems to be to disappear for a few games, show up for one, and repeat. Daniels had a nice night against Philly. Three tackles, a sack and a QB hit. More than the stat sheet, Daniels was out there getting after it and not in a stupid, penalty-creating way. If he could keep this up consistently, that would be great for the Packers’ defense down the stretch. Unfortunately, it may have just been a byproduct of the beat-up Eagles’ offensive line and/or all the blitzes the Packers were running. We’ll see.
Back to Normal for Jared Cook
Tight end Jared Cook came back last week and had himself a 100-yard game. Some people probably expected that would be the norm going forward. I was not among them. For whatever reason, the Packers’ tight ends have rarely been involved in the passing game this season, with or without Cook on the field. On Monday, Cook was the only Packers’ tight end to catch a pass and he caught just one for seven yards. That’s the norm. What really didn’t make sense to me is there were times when the Packers had Cook isolated against a safety on the outside. You would think they’d take a deep shot there with one-on-one coverage. Cook is a big target after all and has plenty of speed. Instead, they kept running Cook on these stupid slants and drag routes. While I get that the whole game plan was short pass, short pass and short pass, that was an obvious adjustment. It was one the quarterback could have made after seeing the coverage or the coach could have pointed out to take advantage of later. It didn’t matter on this night, but it could in the future after opponents watch Monday’s tape.
Many of Us Are Torn
This season may still go down the shitter, but it’s alive at this point. Many of us assumed it was going down the shitter and we were pleased about that for one single reason — finally, there would have to be some change. Maybe a new GM? Maybe a new coaching staff? Maybe both? None of us are ever going to cheer for the Packers to lose, but let’s be honest. That’s the only way any sort of change is going to happen at the top. Many of us desperately want that change to happen. Personally, I feel like the Packers’ current regime hasn’t adapted to the changing NFL very well. I don’t feel that they will either. There’s a certain arrogance among them that I think will prevent that. Nonetheless, if the Packers somehow sneak into the playoffs, there most certainly isn’t going to be any change. If they finish below .500 and out of the playoffs, maybe there will be. Like I said, I’ll never cheer for the Packers to lose, but at some point, that’s what will need to happen to bring in new people to snap the organization and team out of their current malaise of mediocrity where the playoffs are good enough.