“We’re Just Not a Very Good Team” – Colts: 30 Packers: 27

Can’t stop the pass. Can’t stop the run. Can’t stop Andrew Luck. This is what bad football looks like.

Today’s title is from a post game quote by Ryan Pickett, and it’s hard to disagree with him. Former NFL head coach Herm Edwards always sums up the state of a particular team by saying “you are what your record says you are.” Right now, the Packers’ record says they’re a below average NFL team with some serious questions that need answering.

There are no excuses that really carry water this week. Week One’s loss to San Francisco was excusable; the 49ers are a formidable team and they should be among the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year. I don’t need to tell you what happened in Seattle in Week Three. This week, though? The Packers just got flat-out beat.

Sure, there’s a lot of football to be played, but let’s not act like there aren’t some major issues here. The Packers can’t stop anybody, they can’t keep Aaron Rodgers on his feet, they can’t force turnovers, and they can’t run the ball when Cedric Benson is not in the game. That sounds like a bad football team to me.

And speaking of bad football, I’m tired of hearing about how Dom Capers deserves another head coaching job. By no means am I starting the “Fire Dom Capers” parade, but for a guy who is supposedly a defensive genius, he sure has presided over some remarkably awful defenses both this season and last. As a quick recap, the Packers have Pro Bowlers at linebacker (Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk), defensive line (B.J. Raji), and at two defensive back positions (Tramon Williams at corner, Charles Woodson at safety), but you wouldn’t know it from their execution. How does a unit with that kind of talent play poorly so consistently? You’d think Capers would figure something out, but the adjustments just haven’t happened. But I digress. Let’s talk about something else.

Three Packers

Cedric Benson - 7 carries, 20 yards, 2 rec. 20 yards – Turns out Cedric Benson is a little bit more important to the Packers than I thought. He brings credibility to the run game that absolutely disappears when he’s not in the game. This would have been the perfect opportunity to bludgeon an opponent into submission with a soul-crushing drive or two…except Benson rode off into the locker room on an injury cart with a foot injury, and apparently took the entire running game with him. It may be time to reassess my expectations for Alex Green, because he looked terribly unimpressive yesterday, aside from his 41 yard run that should have been the game changing play.

B.J. Raji – Raji didn’t show up on the stat sheet yesterday, at least not in a conventional way, but from an outsider’s perspective it seemed like the defensive effort turned for the worse as soon as Raji went to the locker room. The big defensive tackle is truly the anchor of the defense, and without him there, the unit looks even more inept. Hopefully Ted Thompson is already working the phones for another XXXL-sized human being to hold the point of attack if Raji has to miss extended time.

Randall Cobb - 4 catches, 82 yards, 1 TD – Cobb is officially the most dangerous man on the Packer offense.  He never seems to make little plays. Every time he gets the ball, he seems half a step away from ending up in the end zone. I thought they’d try to get him a few more looks as a runner when Benson went out, but I guess the coaching staff felt comfortable with Alex Green.

Three Numbers

27 – Points given up in the second half by the Packer defense. I don’t have to tell you why this is a bad thing.

5 - Sacks given up by the Packer offensive line, all in the second half. If I had one question for Mike McCarthy in the post game press conference, it would be about why the Packers have such a hard time protecting Aaron Rodgers. He’s only the most important player on the team, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem like keeping him protected is that big of a deal.

That said, Rodgers seems to have a penchant for taking sacks. Although he was admittedly much more of a risk taker than Rodgers, Brett Favre was always masterful at avoiding sacks. In his last seven years as the Packers’ starting quarterback, he never took more than 26 sacks in a season, despite such luminaries as Will Whitticker and Matt O’Dwyer manning the guard spots.

0 - Percentage of kicks made by Mason Crosby on Sunday. This may be piling on, but I don’t care. TV play-by-play man Thom Brenneman pointed out that Crosby typically hits about 50% of his kicks from beyond 50 yards, but neither of his attempts yesterday were even close, especially not the 51-yarder that would have tied the game. Had Crosby even been average yesterday, he’d have at least sent the game to overtime. And for the record, late game miscues by the defense and special teams have now cost Aaron Rodgers two game winning drives this season. Not that I’m keeping track.

Three Good

Strong Start – This one rings a bit hollow, but the Packers looked like a competent team in the early going. So that’s nice.

Cedric Rollin’ – Benson looks more and more important with each passing week, and that’s all the more reason to keep our collective fingers crossed that his injury is nothing serious. Let’s hope he can recover soon, because a run threat seems to change the entire complexion of the offense.

Chuckstrong – It was nice to see Packer players joining in on the support for Chuck Pagano, the Indianapolis head coach diagnosed with Leukemia this week. I don’t know how much the “win one for Chuck” mentality was a factor for the Colts, but regardless it was a nice gesture from Packer players to don the “Chuckstrong” t-shirts in pregame warmups.

Three Bad

Bad Finish – Each of the three Packer losses featured poor efforts from the Packer defense down the stretch. The 49ers pounded the Pack into submission in the 4th quarter with a punishing run game. In Seattle, the Packers ceded field position quite willingly before that fateful Fail Mary found its way int0 M.D. Jennings’ Golden Tate’s arms. And it seems the Packers didn’t read my Week Five preview, because otherwise they’d have known that Reggie Wayne likes to catch footballs. Good teams finish strong. Right now the Packers are not a good team. They’re not even average.

Busy Doctors – Already facing life without Greg Jennings, the Packers might have to do without Cedric Benson, Jermichael Finley, and B.J. Raji for a while. So that’s just terrific.

Pink Scourge – It’s that time of the year again, when the NFL devotes a full quarter of its schedule to promoting breast cancer awareness. I’m all for supporting cancer victims, but I hate our national obsession with raising “awareness” for things. Is there anyone who really isn’t aware of breast cancer, or any other kind of cancer? What’s more, are we trivializing an issue by dressing up in pink costumes in the name of “supporting” something? I have a lot more to say on this, but I don’t think this is the place. Ask me about it some other time.

Up Next – A suddenly even more scary visit to undefeated Houston at Reliant Stadium this weekend. Who’d have thought 2-4 was a realistic possibility? Yeesh.

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52 thoughts on ““We’re Just Not a Very Good Team” – Colts: 30 Packers: 27

  1. Aaron says:

    I think philbins departure was a much bigger loss for the offense than anyone expected

    • Jon says:

      I don’t necessarily disagree, but why do you feel that way? He didn’t call the plays and from all internal reports, Tom Clements has been a capable replacement.

  2. Janet Allen says:

    I’ve been following pro football for decades and I confess, I did not see this coming. So hot last year, so not now. I keep thinking it’s got to be a string of bad luck, that the Pack will come bounding back one of these weeks (I keep hopefully picking them in my weekly pool). Appreciate you sharing your perspective here – there comes a time when you have to admit it’s not the replacement refs, or the schedule, or the pink sneakers (although, I’m with you on questioning the relevance of that whole thing)… time to face facts/stats. It’s going to be a long season for GB fans… Nice post!

    • Jon says:

      Unfortunately, I agree. At this point, the problems are no longer external. The blame game has to start and end at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. There are so many things that can be addressed in house, starting with consistency. It seems like this is a team that doesn’t really know who it is. Are we a running team? A passing team? Do we blitz a lot? Do we drop guys into coverage? These are questions the coaching staff needs to address, and unfortunately, they haven’t. At least not yet.

      That said, the Packers started 3-3 in 2010, and we all know how that season ended…

  3. Reblogged this on taylorgangnate32 and commented:
    Makes me laugh. They are doing just as bad as the Lions :)

    • Jon says:

      I know, right? Everyone loves a train wreck. It doesn’t make me laugh, but it’s definitely somewhat interesting living in bizarro world in the NFC North.

  4. What a game, the best of last season taking on the worst…who would’ve thought the outcome would be in favor of the Colts…

  5. Yeah. I’m a Packers fan and will remain a Packers fan, but have to admit that I’m extremely disappointed in the foundering I’ve seen on the field this year. I’m going into future weeks with the attitude that it is a BONUS if they win, not an expectation. Then my disappointment will be tempered if they loose and my excitement heightened if they win! ;-)

    • Jon says:

      Isn’t it funny how things change? Last year we were almost certain they’d win week in and week out. Now it’s almost a surprise. Strange times are these.

  6. JDoubleU says:

    I’m struggling to even figure out what the Packers’ identity is right now. With the 49ers and Texans, they’re both defensive powerhouses w/ a solid running game. With the Giants, they have a balanced squad, albeit a beaten up secondary. I don’t know who the Packers are right now. Maybe they don’t either and that’s part of the problem.

    • Jon says:

      I think they’re a passing team that isn’t passing very well, so they’re trying to run the ball, but it turns out they aren’t very good at that either. That’s a heck of a place to be, isn’t it?

      • JDoubleU says:

        And I’m wondering what’s the deal w/ Jordy Nelson? He’s all but ignored in most plays. I don’t want to label him a fluke just yet, but it’s seeming to pan out that way.

      • Jon says:

        We’ll see. He’s actually on pace to surpass his catch total from last year, and the big plays would have been extremely hard to duplicate anyway. I think any decline on his part has more to do with what other teams are doing than with him.

  7. free penny press says:

    If it makes you feel any better, I’m a die-hard Cowboy fan who is losing hope by the year..(can someone please muzzle Jerry Jones..)
    Loved this post (not Packers loss)
    Congrats on the FP!!!

    • Jon says:

      Thanks! I can’t imagine what it’s like having Jerry Jones in the news all the time. He’s irritating enough and we don’t have to deal with him all the time.

  8. segmation says:

    One thing for sure with all the Packer’s changes this means the media and others will not stop following them in the immediate future, right?

    • Jon says:

      No, they probably won’t, for better or for worse. I can’t decide if more media coverage would be good or bad. On the one hand, having the pressure cranked up externally might provide a little extra motivation, but it might also magnifiy each and every mistake, possibly blowing little things out of proportion.

  9. Fantastic analysis and breakdown of both the game and the Packers situation in general.

    Mark

    http://www.minimalistlifestyle.wordpress.com

  10. Mohammad Chung says:

    I agree, the Packers suck! No way the Green Bay Slackers are leaving Houston next week with a win. Texans all the way baby. 16-0. Super Bowl or bust!

    • Jon says:

      Haha, perhaps. That may be the case. Heads up on the 16-0 thing, though. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. The state of Wisconsin was almost in constant panic last year during Packer games, hoping the streak would continue. It’s not always the kind of attention you want.

  11. GP says:

    Reblogged this on misentopop.

  12. The Packers may not be very good now, but as an Eagles fan it is way more frustrating, in my opinion, for the people of Philadelphia. Having a team that does not consistently play well and having a quarterback that believes his fumbles are the work of fate is making it hard for us to believe that this team is going to make it to the playoffs. But we know how you feel.

    • Jon says:

      I can only imagine! Vick has been giving the ball away this year quite generously. That would frustrated me to no end.

  13. Nicely written, and congrats on the freshly pressed!

    Personally, I think that Houston loses this week, 23-16. I feel like McCarthy has a few ticks up his sleeve.

    • Jon says:

      We can only hope! 2-4 would be all but a death sentence. I’ll put you down for a 23-16 win.

      • thelastmoviecritic says:

        I’m just curious, what’s your (obviously unbiased) prediction on the Houston game? What do you think the Pack need to do in order to end this vicious cycle?

      • Jon says:

        Well, I’ll post a full prediction for Sunday’s game on Friday, but my early read is that the Packers are going to have their hands full. Arian Foster is a force in the running game, and J.J. Watt is probably the best young pass rusher in the league. Throw in a great receiver in Andre Johnson and the Texans will be able to attack the Packers in three very vulnerable areas. That sounds dangerous to me.

      • thelastmoviecritic says:

        I see what you mean, but last week Houston allowed the Jets to hang around until the end, not a wise move against Aaron Rodgers, no matter how slow the passing game has been this year.

        I’ll be sure to check in on Friday though.

      • Jon says:

        I’d be much obliged if you did. I don’t think Houston is perfect (although they are a “perfect” 5-0 this season), but the way the Packers are performing, they may be a hard team to beat.

  14. Steven Jeffries says:

    I like many other sports fans had high hopes for the Pack in 2012. They are “off” in almost every phase of their game! They are 2 game back of the Vicks and Bears…they gotta get better fast!

    • Jon says:

      Indeed they do. Hopefully it turns around quickly. It better, or they’ll almost assuredly be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

  15. Jenny says:

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!! I’m glad that all the to-do wound up bringing me to your blog. I’m a Packer Backer from Milwaukee currently living in Boston and am happy to find a place to read up on the (woeful) tales of this season.

    • Jon says:

      Thanks! Glad you found the blog. Hopefully you like what you see, regardless of whether what’s happening on the field is good or not!

  16. the packers have lost some of their swagger this year. last season they played like they knew they were favorites, this year they seem to have a chip on their shoulder that is acting as a kind of Achilles heel. great article!

  17. As a lifelong Packer backer from Florida, I love this blog (and bemoan the sad subject matter). The Packers can’t stop anyone or force turnovers, which is especially upsetting given that interceptions were practically our entire defense last year. So I might agree with Pickett.

    Having said that, I’m not sure that Pickett needs to be saying it. The season is young enough still that words like these could turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. They already are. The problem here, in my opinion, is that we’ve got a bunch of talented players who are somehow not coming together to form a talented team, which tells me that mind games are at fault here. When players believe that they’re not a good team, they make it impossible to overcome those mental blocks and become a good team.

    And what really, really frustrates me about this season is that they shouldn’t HAVE to play these mind games with themselves. I can’t blame all of this on the refs, because it’s the Packers’ job to get past the bad calls and move on, but the fact is that they shouldn’t have to. Mentally overcoming a loss is hard enough every week without adding unfair calls to the mix. Even the regular refs have blown their fair share (the Saints game might have even been worse than Seattle, in terms of officiating), and you can see the toll it’s taking. Now, every missed call affects the players’ focus. They can’t see straight anymore. They’re looking over their shoulders–sometimes quite literally. Randall Cobb literally looked back as he ran into the end zone, like he just assumed that if he was making a good play, it would get overturned. This seems to be every Packer’s mindset. They’re either playing angrily or half-heartedly all the time. I’m not saying that it’s an acceptable mindset. They need to get their heads on straight, and the fact that they can’t is ultimately their fault. But the fact that they need to is not. It’s not fair that they have to play this extra mind game before they play the actual game. The season is slipping away, we’re about to lose some veteran playmakers, and we might not have players like this again for a few years. Those players just need to step up and be a better team.

  18. I’ve commented on this a few times on my blog but the Packers have been maddening all year. Inconsistent and now that their offense looks human, the defense is even more greatly exposed. I feel like they HAVE to turn it around but I just don’t know when that will be.

    http://www.thefarmclub.net/

    • Jon says:

      You’d think some kind of turnaround would be inevitable, and I think the numbers bear that out. This is statistically one of the worst performing offenses of Mike McCarthy’s coaching career, and on the defensive side of the ball the team is forcing turnovers at its lowest rate in the Dom Capers era. Check out today’s post for more!

  19. Matt P says:

    An interesting point you brought up was the number of sacks that Rodgers has been taking. I’m a Pats fan, so I know what it’s like to root for a QB who has zero escapability skills, but I’m surprised Rodgers hasn’t been able to avoid some of those sacks with his feet. Has the O-line play been THAT bad so far, or has he been holding onto the ball too long on a lot of them..?

    On an side note, it’s good to see a sports-related post make it into Freshly Pressed. Congrats!

    • Jon says:

      Thanks for the congrats!

      As to the Rodgers point, I think he likes to avoid taking chances, but sometimes I wish he’s just open things up a little bit more and let it rip. It’s possible more interceptions could result, but other times it seems like he’s just a little bit TOO cautious. I don’t know. Hard to say what the problem is exactly.

  20. Wow. You are throwing in the towel so early. Where is that Vince Lombardi spirit. I love the Packers. “Its not over till its over” I think Yogi Berra said that one.

    • Jon says:

      I wouldn’t say I’m throwing in the towel at all. It’s just like the title says, we’re just not a very good team. There are plenty of things that can happen yet!

  21. GeekTooGeek says:

    Lets just blame the pink and move on.

  22. This has been a strange year for the NFL. Unpredictable. On the other side of it… everyone is still in it.

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