(Sorry for the all bold/formatting, working through it). Earlier this week I found myself involved in deep conversation regarding the Packers’ issues, or perceived issues. Some people are already looking ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft, I always like to keep up to date with mock drafts regardless of where the Packers are in the standings. Let’s tackle this from a few different angles…
a. Offensive Line: a few people (Gilbert Brown most notably) have complained about the Offensive Line being a major issue. Entering week 11 (the Redskins game) the Packers O Line ranked 1st in pass blocking and 17th in run blocking, per Pro Football Focus. The Packers have only had a 100 yard rusher once this season (week 3 v Detroit), and much of that is to losing Lacy and Starks and supplementing the rush game with quick passes and having Wideouts line up in the backfield catching check-downs. Eddie Lacy does have value with his vision, however he can’t keep his weight at or below 235lbs and the Packers must move on. It’s essential to have a solid running back (see Lacy’s first 2 seasons of 2013 and 2014) which helps the offensive line’s run blocking. I’d love to see the Packers bring in a true runner in this draft. Possibly even draft two. Overall, as of now, I don’t think the Packers’ offensive line is an issue – I actually believe it’s the strength of this team. Can it be improved? Absolutely, but an OL of LT Bakhtiari, LG Taylor, C Linsley/Tretter, RG Lang, RT Bulaga is a solid place. Don’t be surprised if TJ Lang isn’t extended and JC Tretter is groomed for the RG spot for 2017. Based on his play since 2015, it seems he’ll be fine.
b. Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers is ranked 14th by Pro Football Focus, which by his standards is terrible. Sure he’s average across the league, but the Packers aren’t paying him to be average. He’s paid to play at an MVP-level, he hasn’t been there since the 2nd half of the divisional playoff game v Dallas in January of 2015. There are two major issues I have with the QB – but first let me state I was all aboard the Rodgers train and ridding this franchise of Favre the instant Brett threw, quite possibly the worst, interception in the history of football –
1. The reason his stats and “ranking” has dipped from top 3 to 14 is not for injury or physical ability. He’s holding the ball, which used to be OK because he’d eventually find and hit an open receiver, but now he’s foregoing throwing to open receivers to find bigger plays. Or even worse, he’s not throwing to receivers whom are wide open downfield (see link: https://twitter.com/aaronnagler/status/801103501526974464) this is just one instance, but has happened far too often and is now the norm v the rare.
2. No one but Aaron can say for certain, but this whole personal issue of him not talking with his family, or dating Olivia Munn directly effecting his play…it could absolutely change his mind set or preparation, make him cocky, etc. However, the way I see it, and when I screamed for Rodgers to take the reins from Favre, my major concern was “Don’t give Rodgers the keys to the franchise like Sherman did to Brett…he could mess it up worse than Favre did, he’s smarter.” Mike Florio wrote an article (believe what you want, but if you’re a blind Packer Backer I thank you for reading and trying to open your eyes) stating there’s a feud between the QB and McCarthy and if Mac is fired Aaron will have “won” and why would he listen to the new coach? I hope I’m wrong because I don’t believe Green Bay will part ways with their beloved Quarterback any time soon, but I do believe in order to win a Super Bowl he needs to go.
c. Head Coach: I’m not sure if Mike McCarthy has lost the team or if his message is stale, but for someone who’s defended him more than most, his “reasons” for failure are getting stale for me. If Aaron does have the keys to the castle, that’s on Mac…if his message is stale, it’s time to move on – Sure it’s tough to win in this league when at full strength and that much tougher to do it when you’re missing 5 starters, and top of the line starters for the most part. I’m open for a new head coach, and at this point it almost doesn’t matter who it is.
d. General Manager: Pete Dougherty wrote an article this week taking a look at Thompson’s drafts (http://www.packersnews.com/story/sports/nfl/packers/dougherty/2016/11/23/dougherty- packers-drafts-missing-mark/94285504/) – to paraphrase the first 6 drafts (2005-2010) produced plenty of good players, whereas the last 6 (2011-2016) have left a lot to be desired. If you know me, you understand I believe the draft and develop is the best method to produce a consistent winner, but to win championships and build a dynasty (that’s the goal remember?) you must draft well, consistently in addition to having a coach on the same page that is also a good coach.
All in all, I believe Dom Capers’ time may have run out of Green Bay (about 4 years too late) and there may be an improvement from his departure, but there’s a little part of me that worries the Packers won’t handle this properly in order to build for a legit title contender and put themselves in position to consistently make the playoffs and needing pure luck to win a Super Bowl. I guess time will tell, but let’s move on to Philly, shall we?
The Eagles come in losers in 3 of their last 4 and are trying to keep pace with the surprising NFC East. Philadelphia showcases a rookie QB in Carson Wentz (6’5” 237lbs) from North Dakota St., he began his career about as well as one can by posting 100+ QB rating in 3 of his first four games, leading the Eagles to a 3-0 start. Since, his numbers have resembled the look of Aaron Rodgers’ (yeah, that’s a direct shot at the egomaniac QB that must play better) and the team’s performance is a direct correlation by going 2-5 since. This is as close to a must-win (without actually being one) for both teams as it can get. As far as the Packers are concerned, the winner of the Thanksgiving showdown between Minnesota and Detroit will hold a 7-4 record and if it’s Detroit they’ll have essentially a 1.5 game lead over Min by holding the tiebreaker (having beaten Minnesota earlier this season). If Dallas bests Washington, also on Turkey Day, the Cowboys will all but clinch the NFC East and could coast to the 1 seed in the playoffs. If you’re the Eagles you’re rooting for the Redskins to up-end Dallas and ruin Thanksgiving, and if you’re the Packers (and want to get to the playoffs) you should pull for Minnesota to beat the Lions.
In the end, I ultimately think the best thing for the Packers (long term) is to lose out and get a high draft pick to either take a game-changer (running back Dalvin Cook from Florida St) or trade it back and acquire another 1st and 2nd round pick from it. This team is in dire need of above average NFL starters and the best way to get them are either drafting well (ideal) or signing solid role players in free agency (please no).
Prediction time…if you’re still with me, I thank you for following along from all the bouncing around. I can’t see anything changing. The Packers’ secondary is a joke, with 4 players giving up a perfect QB rating to Kirk Cousins last week (158.3), which is something I can do, seriously. Also, the return of Glass Matthews was quite frustrating knowing this guy will make $17,350,000 next year (he must be traded or cut). I think the Packers score a few points, maybe keep the game close like last week, but some points may be in garbage time too – this is comical to watch, so have some fun with it knowing the Super Bowl was never an option for this team this year and the proof is now showing.
Eagles 41 (crying from laughing emoji inserted here)
*Overall Record: 16-12*