Five More Thoughts on Panthers’ 31-24 Win Over Packers
A brutal, drunken day of Green Bay Packers’ football, followed by the melancholy of failure. Not even failure of the usual kind — where the Packers get exposed in the playoffs. No, this team won’t even be making the playoffs.
Unless of course the Atlanta Falcons lose out. The Birds will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this evening and then, likely, we can all forget about the playoffs and I can go skiing.
To put things in perspective, the last time the Packers were not in the playoffs was 2008. That was Aaron Rodgers’ first season as a starter and the team finished 6-10.
I will not not cheer for the Packers, but if they were to lose out and get a decent draft pick for once, I wouldn’t hate that scenario. Even if this team made the playoffs by some miracle, you know, I know, everyone else knows they aren’t going anywhere with this defense.
But what’s new?
And so here are the melancholy five more.
Let’s Re-evaluate That Running Back Situation
The Packers continue to start Jamaal Williams, who they see as more of a three-down back. There’s a lot to like about Williams, except his rushing numbers. Williams ran 10 times for 30 yards on Sunday. You can easily do the yards per carry math on that. For the season, he’s averaging a pretty mediocre 3.6 per carry. The Packers give Aaron Jones all of three carries on Sunday and what does he do? Forty-seven yards including a 23-yard burst fresh off the bench. Why not let this dude learn what he needs to learn on the job? His burst and vision are superior to any other back on the roster. He’s averaging 5.6 per carry for god’s sake!
That’s the Thing About Nick Perry
Health. He lacks it. Perry was active on Sunday despite foot and shoulder ailments. He played all of 24 snaps, with the Packers turning to Ahmad Brooks, Fyler Fackrell and Vince Biegel to pick up the slack. Perry did not register on the box score. Brooks played 47 snaps and played well. Fackrell got 21 and was his usual substandard self, also a no-show on the box score. Biegel got 16 snaps and turned in two tackles in that limited action, which has been par for the course with the rookie. Perry is good when he’s out there, but when have the Packers ever been able to trust him to be out there? Never, is the answer. I’m not suggesting the Packers don’t play Perry if he’s healthy, but let’s get a look at Biegel. Brooks still has some left in the tank and I wouldn’t be opposed if the Packers brought him back for another year. Because clearly, the team can still not count on Perry being healthy.
Clark Continues to Impress
Kenny Clark, the team’s first-round pick in 2016, has developed into a pretty damn nice player in his second season. Sunday may have been his best game as a pro. Eight tackles and a sack. The Packers’ only sack on the day, in fact. The eight tackles is a career high (he has 49 on the year). Clark has 2.5 sacks on the season, which is a decent number for a guy playing the nose. The Packers have not been great against the run this season, but Kenny Clark surely isn’t the issue. It’s good to know that Ted Thompson can get lucky choosing a defensive lineman with a high draft pick once in a while.
The one guy on the Packers’ defense I have been continually impressed with this season is linebacker Blake Martinez. No different this week. Eight tackles and a pass defended. It was watching that play Martinez made in coverage to knock down the pass when I made my now weekly comment that Martinez belongs in the Pro Bowl. Will he make it? I doubt it. Not many people know what he does on a weekly basis outside of Wisconsin, right now. Here’s something people probably don’t know, either. Martinez is currently tied for the league lead in tackles with 127. And he doesn’t get them by pile diving like A.J. Hawk used to. That play in coverage that I mentioned? Just totally athletic and filthy.
Time For Change?
This is usually something we talk about in January, when the Packers have been exposed as pretenders in the playoffs. But we’ve known they’re pretenders for some time now. The defense — once again — just isn’t good enough. So now that the Packers have been all but eliminated from the playoffs, we’re talking about it before Christmas. Team president Mark Murphy, who I personally loathe, has always pointed to the Packers’ playoff streak as something so impressive, despite the lack of titles. In other words, making the playoffs is good enough for Murphy. So what happens when the Packers don’t make the playoffs? Then do we finally get some change or do we just stick to the status quo? The Packers were exposed as frauds without Aaron Rodgers. It was clear they don’t have enough talent. It’s clear that they just can’t seem to build a defense, despite constantly trying. Per usual, the pitchforks are out for defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They should be. If Capers doesn’t go this year, he’s never going. But what about the guy who constructed the roster? The Packers need to look at Ted Thompson too. Maybe it’s time for both of these guys to gracefully “retire.” This shit of letting Aaron Rodgers’ greatness mask all other faults can’t continue. In hindsight, it is somewhat amusing that Rodgers said he wasn’t coming back to save the Packers. He probably knew he couldn’t. And he certainly knew this team isn’t a real contender, regardless of how he plays. We joked about it before the season, saying “Packers’ 2017 Strategy Revealed,” with this image. It isn’t funny anymore.
And one final note. Demovsky ran into former Packer Julius Peppers after the game and he said something to the effect of, all I wanted to do on that sack was try to get the ball and not hurt Aaron. You also probably saw images of Peppers and Rodgers talking and hugging it out before the game. Peppers obviously has a lot of respect for Rodgers and the Packers. It’s great to see that. Too bad Pep wanted to go home to Carolina to play out the string. The Packers could have used those 10 sacks he has this season. They could also have used his leadership on the defensive side of the ball. Despite that, it’s clear. Julius Peppers is a class act.