By Jon Meerdink
Well I feel much better.
Yeah, the defense still gave up 500 yards. Yeah, Eddie Lacy doesn’t look like Eddie Lacy. Yeah, Clay Matthews seems like he’s about half a thread away from tearing a major leg muscle in half. But it was a win against a Chicago team that was expected to be very competitive in the NFC North, one that still has an assortment of high-caliber weapons at its disposal on offense. For the Packers to hold the Bears to 17 points was impressive, despite the prodigious yardage totals.
And until the defense finds its footing (if that happens), this may be the way the Packers have to win. Sure, it’ll take an almost perfect effort from Aaron Rodgers most weeks, if not every week, but if you’re going to bank on a quarterback to carry your team, Rodgers isn’t a bad choice.
Aaron Rodgers (22/28, 302 yards, 4 TD) – He spelled it out for us, then showed us why we need to R-E-L-A-X as long as he’s at the helm. This was Rodgers at his most efficient best: a ruthless, precision performance that could have included an all-time highlight, were it not for a semi-phantom holding call. At least we’ll always have the gifs.
Jordy Nelson (10 catches, 108 yards, 2 TD) – Just another run-of-the-mill performance for Nelson, who’s on pace for 132 catches and more than 1800 yards. He’s doing okay, I’d say.
Randall Cobb (7 catches, 113 yards, 2 TD) – It was hard to believe that Cobb could continue to play as poorly as he had been, and he laid some doubts to rest on Sunday with his first breakout performance of the year. I don’t know if this is an indication of his future performance, but even if he can only average a performance that’s two thirds this good week in and week out, he’ll still be a valuable piece to the Packers’ offensive puzzle.
23:38 – The Packers’ time of possession Sunday – Marc Trestman set out to play keep away on Sunday, and he succeeded. He didn’t succeed at stopping the Packers, however. Rodgers and Company seemed to say “hey, you’re not going to give us time? That’s fine, we’ll just score really fast.” And they did.
64% – The Bears’ combined third and fourth down conversion percentage – This, obviously, is far too high. The Packers defense simply cannot allow this high of a conversion rate and reasonably expect to keep winning games. They won today, but that’s no guarantee they’ll be able to overcome such a…generous…defensive effort in the future.
700 – franchise wins for the Packers after this weekend’s win – The Packers are now just the second team in history to notch 700 wins, joining the Bears in that two member club. This really just means that these are two really old teams, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
Run defense – The Packers allowed an enormous 235 yards rushing Sunday. That’s real bad. What’s worse, the Bears averaged 5.7 yards per carry without ever having a run over 20 yards. What’s even worse still is the Bears only had one negative one on the entire day, despite running the ball 41 times. That’s really, really bad.
Run offense – Just head scratching stuff going on in the Packers run offense. First, Eddie Lacy managed just 48 yards on 17 attempts, a 2.8 yards per carry average. Second, neither James Starks or DuJuan Harris were even given a carry. I know they want to stick with Lacy as much as possible, but the Packers know they have other guys that can run the ball, because they’ve both done it before. To stick with Lacy this long when things just aren’t working is starting to border on foolishness, if only because the team has other options.
Running on Soldier Field – It’s time for the NFL to step in and do something about the playing conditions at Soldier Field. Before today, the Bears had played one home game, and that was all the way back in Week 1. And yet somehow the middle third of the field had already been replaced with new turf, the seams of which were clearly visible even on the widest of wide shots. This is a professional football organization with a junior varsity playing surface. Sooner or later, someone is going to get hurt, and something has to be done. If the Packers can keep their grass green into December, there’s no reason the Bears shouldn’t be able to do the same.
Blossoming Davante – Two catches for 18 yards and at least one drop is hardly anything to write home about, but what I like about Davante Adams is that he just looks the part of an NFL receiver. He’s a rookie, sure, but he looks confident in his routes, catches the ball with strength, and knows when to sneak behind the secondary and hope for a big play, as he did on the heroic throw by Rodgers that was called back. I think Adams is the unquestioned number three receiver by year’s end, if he isn’t already.
Turnovers – As in, the Packers are forcing them. They had two picks and could have forced several more turnovers. It’s still a work in progress, but the progress is good to see.
.500 – All in all, it wasn’t a completely satisfying win. The refs helped, the defense was not good, and the rushing offense is still in shambles, but 2-2 is a heck of a lot better than 1-3. I’ll take it.
Up Next – A surprisingly good young Vikings team on Thursday Night Football at Lambeau Field. Kickoff is 7:25.