Eight games in and a 4-4 record for the Green Bay Packers. We’re at the halfway point of the season and it would probably be an understatement to say everyone is disappointed.
It would be hard not to be, considering the 2016 Green Bay Packers were thought to be a Super Bowl contender. Instead, at this point, they just look like another mediocre team.
As it is the middle of the season, we thought we’d put together a quick report card. No grades, just the good and the bad.
There was a time when we might have argued that the Green Bay Packers’ week 2 loss to the Minnesota Vikings by three points in Minnesota was the best game they played. It was a razor-thin loss to what appeared to be a great team in their building. The Vikings have now lost three in a row, so they don’t look so great anymore. Now, the Packers best win — of the whole whopping four of them — has to come down to the 34-27 win over the resurgent Detroit Lions or the 23-16 win over the suddenly hot New York Giants. We’re going to go with the latter, primarily because the Packers’ defense had way too many brain farts in that Detroit game. The Packers’ offense wasn’t clicking against the Giants, but they did enough and the defense brought it home, limiting the effectiveness of both Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Remember when the defense actually won games for the Packers?
Easy. The 31-26 trash pile that was the loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Neither offense or defense could do a damn thing in that game. Plus, the special teams was garbage, giving up a TD on a kickoff return and missing a field goal. If you ever wanted to see failure in all three aspects of the game, you got your wish when the Packers played the Colts. Throw in the fact that the game was at Lambeau Field and the Colts were two games under .500 coming in and the Packers probably won’t have a worse loss all season.
I’d be writing the name Eddie Lacy in right here if the Packers actually used him and he hadn’t gotten hurt. Lacy was averaging 5.1 per carry, but his season appears to be over. We might also say Ty Montgomery if he had been given an opportunity earlier in the season. Instead, we’ll have to go with the old standby, Aaron Rodgers. Although Rodgers has been downright bad at times this season, clearly, the offense only goes as far as he does. The guy still has 2,039 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions through eight games. That said, he needs to play like he did against Atlanta more often and not like he did against Dallas.
Probably not the least valuable player, but definitely the biggest disappointment. That guy has to be receiver Jeff Janis. This was supposed to be his year. It has not been. Even though he was slowed by a hand injury early, Janis was unable to seize the No. 3 receiver job in camp. He’s also been getting more and more snaps as the offense has evolved. Maybe he’ll come on late, but thus far, he’s just been disappointing. Janis has just nine catches for 78 yards on the season. The enduring image comes from the Indianapolis game, when Rodgers hit Janis in stride on a deep ball and the ball harmlessly bounced off Janis’ hands incomplete. You gotta make those plays, pal.
You could quite honestly make a case for Clay Matthews here. We’ve seen what happens when he isn’t on the field. The Packers’ defense doesn’t play well. But we’re not giving that nod to a guy who has only played five of eight games. Although we would hear any argument for Jake Ryan, we’ve got to go with a healthy and rejuvenated Nick Perry. He has, at times, been dominant. Perry has 31 tackles and six sacks so far this season. It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s playing for a contract, but we’ll take it.
This one is going to end in a tie between two defensive backs. Again, it’s not that they are the least valuable, it’s just that they’ve both been huge disappointments. First, cornerback Damarious Randall. Yes, he’s been hurt, but if you recall when he was playing, he was getting torched on a regular basis. Randall had one good game — week 1. Sam Shields was also on the field for that game, meaning Randall didn’t have to be the No. 1 guy. Take away Shields and it is now clear that Randall is not a No. 1 guy. Second, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. You could say the Packers are using him wrong. That he and Morgan Burnett are the same player. There’s truth to that, but the Packers clearly expected Clinton-Dix (and so did we) to make a huge jump in year three — to be a Pro Bowl caliber guy. That certainly hasn’t happened. It is now clear that Clinton-Dix is just a guy, a complementary player at best. He lacks playmaking ability and often, awareness.
This position may well belong to first-round pick Kenny Clark by season’s end. Clark has been showing flashes of late. Right now, it has to go to linebacker Blake Martinez. By no means has he been perfect, but Martinez definitely has been solid at a position where the Packers usually lack in such play. Martinez has teamed with Ryan to form a better-than-expected duo that should only get better in the years to come. Perhaps more impressively, the Packers gave Martinez an opportunity right away. They usually hold their rookies back in year one. Martinez has 48 tackles so far this season, third-best on the team.