Thanksgiving Special, the Packers are not

Review—It goes without saying, that was one of the most pathetic offensive performances the Packers have “shown” in the last decade, plus.  Yes Baltimore possesses a solid defense, but at home in ideal conditions in a must-win game versus a bad team, the Packers needed to find a way to pull out a win.  That’s damn near impossible turning the ball over 5 times, even against a Joe Flacco-led offense.  The sad AFC now shows the Ravens as holding the 6th spot in the playoffs, meanwhile in the NFC the Packers dropped to the 9th (keep in mind only 6 make it from each conference).

If you’re looking for positives in the last game, I guess the Packers’ defense held a bad offense out of the end zone for most of the game and the first TD they gave up was on good coverage (that’s what it’s come to with this team).  Also, Adams was covered much of the day by Jimmy Smith (who had an impressive INT on Hundley on the first possession of the game) had a solid showing against Smith, totaling 126 yards on 10 targets (8 receptions).  Other than Adams, Kenny Clark was injured, thankfully it doesn’t seem serious, but no one really stood out.  Overall a complete team loss, which has been happening far too often – that falls on the shoulders of the head coach.

Situation—moving on to Pittsburgh, arguably a top 3 team in all the NFL.  Pittsburgh sits currently as the 1 seed in the AFC and has a ton to play for as they need to keep pace with New England if they want any shot at besting them in the playoffs as they play them in 4 weeks.  The Packers are in a very curious situation…  There are a few different directions this franchise could head.  I’ll lay out the options and you feel free to decide which one may be best.

  1. The Packers could continue to shoot for making the playoffs this year and hope for a Rodgers return ala 2013 to boost them into the playoffs—ultimately losing in January, again.
  2. Green Bay could lose out or most of their remaining games in hopes for a coaching or front-office change of sorts to instill new life/blood into this organization and possibly resetting the career of Aaron Rodgers for his remaining years (4-8 depending what you believe).
  3. Last situation, what I believe is most-likely, the Packers finish the season somewhere between 7 and 9 wins, miss the playoffs and there’s no major change this offseasons due to the excuse that Rodgers was hurt, and Packer fans will again have false hope heading into next year of winning a Super Bowl.

Preview—again the Steelers have quite a bit to play for and they’re also a very good team, with talent all over the roster.  The same could be said for the Packers, but it’s showing that without Rodgers, McCarthy can’t game plan an offense or prep a team to win games, so like Super Bowls until he’s able to show he’s capable of messing up an opponents’ game plan and win a game why should I believe he can?

The Packers enter Thanksgiving Day with the 23rd overall offense (20th in points), the 18th defense (both yards and points), and rank 13th in turnover differential (+2).  Meanwhile Pittsburgh brings the 11th overall offense (14th points), 4th overall defense (2nd points), and one spot ahead of GB in turnovers, 12th (+3).

The game-changers (at least according to ProFootballFocus, which you’ll hear a bit about on the broadcast Sunday night) are Antonio Brown (1st overall WR), David DeCastro (1st overall Guard), Ryan Shazier (6th LB), Cameron Hayward (10th DL), and Stephon Tuitt (13th DL).  Look for each of those players to command the opposing player the Packers run out there.  The only potential advantage Green Bay could have in this game could be the DL v Pit’s OL, but even though that’s been the case in every game since Rodgers went down, it’s resulted in a 1-4 record.  Look for much of the same, especially being this is likely the best competition Green Bay will see all season.  The homer, fan in me is going to take over on score prediction, but the outcome of the game will not differ.

Packers 20
Steelers 31

29-17: the hits will keep rolling L


Another good matchup?

What a refreshing game from all sides of the ball, well except special teams – again.  Hopefully getting Brett Goode (long snapper, and Aaron Rodgers’ closest friend) back will fix those kicking issues.

The Defense looked better, however much of that should be credited to Mitchell Trubisky and his willingness to hold the ball longer than his opponent, Hundley, allowing Nick Perry to get 3 sacks on his own.  This seemed like a matchup between two teams with a gameplan of “Not to Lose,” however I’ll credit McCarthy and Hundley for getting aggressive on 3rd and 10 from their own 35 and hitting a 42-yard pass down the right sideline to Davante Adams, which with a good snap, would’ve iced the game by making a field goal.  However, the defense was able to close out the woeful Bears offense and get the Win.

Speaking of woeful offenses, Baltimore brings in the 30th ranked offense and a QB who’s making close to $25M this year and ProFootballFocus season grade of 70.1 (32nd ranked QB) and a season passer rating of 72.7 (31st overall) – these numbers being similar are coincidental, however both are bad.

The Ravens do have the 6th overall defense and as the Packers players have been saying all week, their week 11 opponent is a heavy scheme opponent, meaning Baltimore like to disguise blitzes and coverages especially against inexperienced QBs to force them into mistakes and make game-changing plays.  The Ravens possess the 2nd best defense v the pass, headed by outstanding cornerback, Jimmy Smith.  Smith was a highly-thought-of prospect out of Colorado and fell a bit in the draft due to some personal issues.  However, he’s considered one of the league’s best cover men and will make life tough for Hundley for whomever he’s following (likely Adams).

Overall the Packers are still a 2 point underdog, at home, meaning the boys in the desert think a bad Ravens team is still the better of the two in this matchup.  With Hundley playing his best game to date as a pro against the 2nd best defense he’d seen (Min being the first) this is likely the best overall defense he’ll see until the week 16 matchup v Min down the road.

I’ll continue to pick against them until the Packers have given me enough confidence they can shut down a decent offense v holding down bad QB-play.  Flacco should give the Packers some opportunities for INTs, but without Morgan Burnett (captain and play-caller of the D) and rookie Kevin King, the Packers’ secondary may get caught just enough to lose.

Ravens 23
Packers 21

28-17: hoping I’m wrong again, could also use a little help from the Rams today (they play the Vikings).  You know, if you’re still rooting for the Packers and think they can win a super bowl this year, if 12 comes back.  Again, that’ll be for another day J

Mac’s Mess, still

I think taking as much time to think about the current state of the Green Bay Packers is a great idea, as maddening as it may be.  Again, this all falls squarely on head coach, Mike McCarthy.  This team is getting outcoached in every facet of the game, and they’re still soft.  If anything, an injury to your star player should inject a “nothing to lose” attitude into the remaining 53 players and it’d be great if the Packer came out swinging- not literally, but show some heart.

The Packers now rank 23rd and 25th in total offense and defense, respectively.  The Bears possess a putrid offense (29th) and a solid defense (8th)…with the complacent offense McCarthy has schemed since Rodgers went down expect the Bears to hold the Packers out of the end zone, unless the Packers score on busted play (30+ yards).

Last week Detroit’s offensive coordinator, Jim Bob Cooter, no joke that’s his name, outclassed Dom Capers and stalemated a far superior Packers defensive front and allowed Stafford to carve up the confused secondary.  Look for Kenny Clark (#97) and Dean Lowry (#94) to try to take back command of the line of scrimmage.

The only way the Packers can win this game is to win the turnover battle, by at least 2, and needs the defense to be on the same page, which will be tough without their quarterback, Morgan Burnett.

Packers 13
Bears 24

28-16: sadly I’ve been correct, hopefully that stops…then again, if the Packers continue to lose there’s a chance major change could occur.

I’ve Defended Mac, but this is his mess

This season has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Head Coach Mike McCarthy.  A coach I’ve defended through and through (for the most part), mainly due to him being able to get his quarterbacks to produce at each of his stops throughout the NFL.  The caveat with him being that those quarterbacks haven’t gone on to produce after he left (or the QB leaving), aside from Brett Favre.  Although one could argue #4 was re-motivated.  We’ll save that for an offseason conversation.  Everyone is well aware of Mac’s QB school and with the Packers putting all their (backup QB) chips in with #7, this is 100% on Mac to get his team to win.

There are countless arguments being had regarding the overall talent of this Packers team, but there are 8 players registering a grade of 82.2 or higher on the season (source per ProFootballFocus), which might be the highest amount of players on a roster.  – I haven’t gone through each team, but a handful and the next closest is 5….also that doesn’t include Aaron Rodgers who would make it 9.

Looking at the current situation, the Packers sit at 4-3, 2nd place in the NFC North with Minnesota holding the tiebreaker.  Meaning this game on Monday Night is paramount for both the Lions and Packers.  Boiling down to Mike McCarthy needing to get back to the offense he ran from 2006 – 2010, before Rodgers solidified himself as one of, if not the, best/most-talented QBs in the history of the NFL and completely opening up the spread and relying on concept routes (WRs run routes based off defensive alignment, brilliant until it isn’t).  Green Bay may have found a true running back in Aaron Jones, and with an above average offensive line (if all starters are playing), the Packers have a real opportunity to set Brett Hundley up for success with a proper game plan.

Moving to the Defense.  I believe it was a Bob McGinn or Tom Silverstein article from a few years back stating how Dom Capers’ approach goes against the approach of draft and develop.  Capers needs a veteran defense to understand his complex scheme where the Packers now have speed and talent, however youth, on defense and are still experiencing blown assignments.  I, like many , have been begging for a change at Defensive Coordinator since Colin Kaepernick ran wild in the 2012 Divisional Round playoff route (Jan 2013) because he couldn’t adjust when it seemed the rest of the NFL could and did.  I believe if the Packers switched to just a simple zone scheme concept and played a bunch of man coverage we’d actually find out the talent level of this defense.  Until that happens, we may never know and as long as McCarthy is here it seems as Dom is too.

Detroit Lions – what an enigma they are…they may seem like the poor man’s version of the Green Bay Packers.  All of their flaw may be “covered up” by their Quarterback, Matthew Stafford.  The issue is Stafford isn’t in the same class as Rodgers on a talent-level.  Detroit boasts the 19th rated offense and 22nd defense (yards/game).  The Packers technically are worse, 23rd and 23rd respectively.  Look for this game to come down to QB play as the Packers likely will win the line of scrimmage (as they had in Min and v NO, but still lost—that’s coaching).  With that, Stafford has quite a bit more experience and production than Hundley, and if McCarthy doesn’t allow 7 to play football, look for this game to be quite similar to the Saints game; A messy game between two teams with GB possessing more talent but not get it done.

Go Pack Go!!!

Lions 27
Packers 23