The narrative in the sports world on Monday was that the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers played down to the level of the lowly Green Bay Packers. Is it possible that the Packers actually played up to the level of the Steelers?
That’s the way I see it. Brett Hundley and the Packers’ offense was out there doing work. The defense, well… they got some turnovers, but not much else can be said about that. Still, you expect the Steelers to put up points. They have too much talent — Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger.
And the lowly Packers almost matched them. I’m not into moral victories, but this game — if the Packers make a playoff run — might just be the turning point.
Here are five more.
The Pass Rush Problem
The Green Bay Packers have one. One measly damn sack against the Steelers. A mere two quarterback hits. Part of the issue is that Clay Matthews was a scratch. However, where the hell has Nick Perry been this season? He signs a massive contract and predictably disappears. Good job, Cletidus Hunt. Perry has seven sacks this season, but three of those came the last time the Packers faced the Bears. I’m not saying Perry isn’t playing hard, but he had a lousy one tackle on Sunday (and the other quarterback hit). Of the front seven, Mike Daniels and Blake Martinez seemed to be the only guys who showed up. Martinez had 15 frickin’ tackles and two passes defended, but he doesn’t rush the QB. Daniels had seven tackles, the sack and the other QB hit — his best game since he dominated in week 1. The Packers relied a lot on Kyler Fackrell (46 snaps) and Ahmad Brooks (48 snaps) in this game. Brooks was decent, but Fackrell might as well have been a ghost. That considered, I have to wonder why rookie Vince Biegel (22 snaps) didn’t get more action.
Still No Jordy
Jordy Nelson must have pissed in Brett Hundley’s cereal when he was a rookie. Previously, we talked about Nelson’s lack of chemistry with Hundley. Nothing has changed and Jordy Nelson must be hating life right now. Nelson caught all of three balls on five targets for 11 yards against the Steelers. Meanwhile, Hundley continues to build his relationship with Davante Adams, who had a team-leading five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Some have suggested this is because Adams was on the second team with Hundley the year the latter was drafted. And as I’ve said, if this actually means anything — which it appears to — then why not give Hundley’s boy Jeff Janis some playing time? Janis hasn’t received an offensive snap since week 6 and has a grand total of six on the year. I’m not suggesting Jordy shouldn’t be part of the game plan, but the Packers are already handicapped with a backup quarterback. Why not give him some time with the guys he has chemistry with? That would be too obvious for Fat Mike though, wouldn’t it?
T.J. Watt > Kevin King
Last week, we talked about how the Packers passed over Wisconsin Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt in the first round and traded back to select Washington cornerback Kevin King. If you look at the game where they played against each other, that looks like a huge mistake. I just mentioned how the Packers have no pass rush. Meanwhile, there’s T.J. Watt filling up the box score for the Pittsburgh Steelers — four tackles, one for loss, a sack, a pass defended and a QB hit. Then there’s King, who got pulled for former undrafted free agent Josh Hawkins at one point. King hasn’t had a pick this year. Granted, he is playing through a shoulder injury, but if that injury is as bad as King’s play is lackluster, the Packers should just shut him down now.
Welcome to the Doghouse, Devante
Last week, I predicted we had seen the last of rookie running back Devante Mays for a while. Correct, I was. Mays was not on the inactive list, but he didn’t get a single carry, despite the Packers being down to Jamaal Williams at halfback. Williams was the only such player to get any carries. Other than Hundley runs, the Packers also gave the ball to receiver Trevor Davis and fullback Aaron Ripkowski once each. Williams ran 21 times for 66 yards, a completely lackluster 3.1 per carry. That’s been the story with Williams running the ball this year, but he has been a nice option in the passing game. As for Mays, after fumbling twice (one lost) against Baltimore, he’s exactly where we expected him to be. In Mike McCarthy’s doghouse.
One For Three
I’ve sung the praises of the Packers’ offense in this game, but there’s one major thing they didn’t do well. That’s convert turnovers into points. When a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers gives you the gift of three turnovers, those need to become points. Similarly when a defense like the Packers’, which generated no pass rush, generates three turnovers, those need to become points. The first one became seven. It went downhill from there. The second turnover was followed by a missed 57-yard field goal by Mason Crosby. A lot of people want to blame Mike McCarthy for even calling for a kick there. I’m not one of them. Crosby is capable of making that kick. He didn’t and hindsight is 20/20, so I’ll leave it at that. The Steelers’ third turnover was followed by a three and out. On that last one, you need something more than a three and out. It was three incomplete passes from Hundley, followed by a 15-yard facemask on Josh Jones. That 15 might have made a difference for the Packers, but three and out is unacceptable there. We can all pat Hundley on the back for making some throws, but he ultimately didn’t make them when he had to, minus the fourth-down conversion on the game-tying drive. Converting turnovers into points wins you football games — this football game.