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.
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.
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.
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.
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.