The Green Bay Packers can’t get over the hump. That is to say they can’t beat a good team.
The Packers have now lost two in a row after dropping a 31-17 decision to the New England Patriots. It isn’t as if this wasn’t predictable, though.
The Packers have faced the Rams and Patriots in back to back weeks. Those are two of the best teams in the league. The Packers are not among the best teams in the league. In fact, their 3-4-1 record says they are nothing better than mediocre. And they might not even be that.
They might just be bad.
But let’s get on with it.
Valdes-Scantling Continues To Come On
There were some bright spots in this game and rookie receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling was probably chief among them. Valdes-Scantling caught three balls for 101 yards. This was his second 100-yard game of the season. Valdes-Scantling has benefitted from Geronimo Allison’s ongoing injury issues. He’s not only benefitted, he’s taken advantage of his opportunity. In fact, Valdes-Scantling is the rare rookie receiver that Aaron Rodgers trusts. You can see it on the field. Rodgers isn’t afraid to throw it up for Valdes-Scantling and the rookie often rewards him with big-time catches, as he did on Sunday. At this point, I’m not sure how you take this guy off the field.
Randall Cobb is Broken
There was a time when Aaron Rodgers would look to Randall Cobb when he needed a big play. Cobb would very often deliver. That now seems like a decade ago. Here’s Cobb’s line on Sunday — five catches, 24 yards. Here’s his line on the season — 26 catches, 258 yards and one touchdown. That’s less than 10 yards per reception. Per usual, Cobb hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He has missed three games this season and was listed as questionable coming into the last two. So you can probably assume Cobb has played the last two games at less than 100 percent. The Packers continue trying to work Cobb into the offense, but should they? His explosiveness appears to be gone. This is no doubt Cobb’s final season with the Packers. Maybe it’s time to look at the future and give Equanimeous St. Brown the reps in the slot.
We finally got a look at Bashaud Breeland, the cornerback the Packers signed in early October. It wasn’t a great look. Breeland played 68 snaps, had eight tackles and returned two kicks for 43 yards. PFF gave him a 43.3 grade on the day. Clearly, Breeland is part of the Packers’ plan to replace Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (who was also terrible on Sunday, by the way). He needs to play better than he did against the Patriots if the Packers are going to have success defensively. He also needs to play better if he’s going to cash in as a free agent after the season.
Another one of the Packers’ late acquisitions, linebacker Antonio Morrison, played a season-high 31 snaps on Sunday. In those 31 snaps, he had eight tackles, a sack and a QB hit. Those eight tackles tied for the team lead. And again, he did that in only 31 snaps. As much as Breeland looked like a dud, Morrison looked like a stud. He’ll be sitting behind Blake Martinez, as long as Martinez is healthy, but Morrison looks like a great acquisition. The Packers only had to give up cornerback Lenzy Pipkins for him.
Pass Rush Crashes Back To Earth
One of the keys in this game was the pass rush. After harassing Jared Goff repeatedly last week, the Packers did nothing of the sort to Tom Brady. The team had just two sacks and three QB hits on the day. After playing his best game of the season in Los Angeles, Clay Matthews predictably came crashing down. Two tackles and one QB hit. Apparently, Clay only shows up to play when his family is in attendance. On the other side, Nick Perry was a no-show per usual. One tackle. And Perry has just 1.5 sacks on the season. I am now fairly certain that Nick Perry is just a very expensive waste of space.
Here’s something else to put this in perspective. Perry played 30 snaps on Sunday. Kyler Fackrell played 36. Fackrell’s snaps have gone up as the season has gone on. Perry’s are starting to go down. The Packers’ highest-graded outside linebacker? Fackrell at 66.7. Their lowest? Perry at 54.3.
Aaron Rodgers Needs To Play Better
It’s become clear that this team is only going to go as far as Aaron Rodgers carries them. Thus far, Rodgers hasn’t been carrying them. It’s true. He shouldn’t have to. There is plenty of talent on this Packers unit. There are also plenty of problems. But the simple fact of the matter is Rodgers hasn’t been the Rodgers we know this year. His passer rating in the Patriots game was a very un-Rodgers-like 89.2. His passer rating on the season is 98.9. Rodgers’ career passer rating is 103.9. That may not seem like a big difference, but watching Rodgers play this year, you can see a big difference. To put it simply, he’s missing throws he usually makes. If the Packers are going to get back into playoff contention, Rodgers is going to have to regain his pervious form and overcome the buffoonery of Mike McCarthy. A tall order, I’m aware. But that’s why he’s the $134 million man.