Big Picture— it’s getting tougher and tougher to figure out the major issue with this Packer team. There’s been plenty of talk about the head coach needing to go, which has been overdue for some time, however trying to put your finger on what’s going on is quite difficult.
Talent?—do the Packer just not have enough talent as their opponents? Say that’s the case, and Rodgers isn’t playing well to his standards (yes his stats look fine, but he’s missed quite a few throws, which are compounded in losses), then to say the Packers have competed well vs the Rams and Patriots would lend to them being well-prepared…coaching.
Coaching?—Tom Brady said something to the effect after the game that it seemed like the Packers had to struggle for every yard. That seemed to be the case since 2014, and that is coaching/game-planning/scheming. The concept McCarthy’s offense is based on is brilliant, until it’s decoded, which it seems to have been for 3+ years now. There are no plays designed in order to get anyone open, it’s all matchup, so if the opponent is foolish enough to play zone, then it’s on the pass catchers to find the opening, or Rodgers can throw them open. When the defense plays Cover 2 Man (2 safeties deep, splitting the field in half, the other 9 players in man coverage all underneath, pending how many are rushing, likely 4), if the Packers’ WRs can shake their defender, it’s going to be tough to have anyone streaking wide open. The Patriots do a great job of scheming to get people open…hell, EVERYONE does a better job than the Packers at that. They’ve become too reliant on the WRs athleticism and Rodgers’ accuracy and haven’t adapted to the opponents’’ schemes vs them. The brilliant part is, when it works, it’s almost indefensible, see 2011 when teams would play zone vs the Packers 5-wide set, Green Bay shredded records and went 15-1, then ultimately got punched and out-coached in the playoffs by the Giants, who played a cover 2 man defense…mmm…
There’s definitely something brewing here, and the worst part is it seems the players almost don’t care, at least the older ones: Rodgers; Cobb. The 7-year vet was quoted saying, “We’ve lost games before here, but this just feels different,” wide receiver Randall Cobb said, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “And it doesn’t feel good. It’s not fun. But we’ve got to figure something out.
“We definitely need some momentum, we need to get a win. … Very frustrating and it’s tough. Because I know what we’re capable of and we’re not there. I don’t know what it is, but we’ve got to find a way to get it done.”
The Packers seem to have taken over as the Milwaukee Bucks as far as Wisconsin sports go…full on apathy is setting in. This goes back to a comment I don’t think I’ll ever forget, from Bill Simmons, 5 years ago moments before the Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo, “Ahh yes, now the Milwaukee Bucks…saying this team being stuck in neutral would be a compliment.” Then the Bucks chose the rawest player available, but with the absolute highest ceiling and Simmons followed that move up with, “this is the perfect draft choice for this organization. They have been striving for mediocrity forever, so they have the time to let this kid develop without the pressure of having to win.” I’m paraphrasing the 2nd quote, but the reason I bring this up is the then-GM, John Hammond, made a decision to make the right draft choice even though the owner, Herb Kohl, always wanted to win now. It wasn’t until the entire organization got on the same page—Owner, GM, and Head Coach—all were on the same plan and timetable to build a winner. Also see the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Packers seem to be “stuck in neutral.” While many would say they’ve been “winning a lot,” and have had “a lot of success,” I’m cut from the mold of needing to win championships to be considered successful. While the Packers have been to the playoffs 9 times since Mike McCarthy has taken over, they’ve only won the Super Bowl once. Also, the notion of “get to the playoffs and with Aaron Rodgers you always have a chance” sounds good, apparently that’s not the case.
Review—if you’re still with me, you must be devoted as much as I am to this team. The Packers played pretty well until the Aaron Jones fumble. I get the sense of benching a player when making a mistake, but not at this point of his career and not at this point of your coaching tenure, Mike McCarthy. The only reason the Packers were in this game was Aaron Jones’ production/touch. They guy had 4-points of ball security and still lost it, so let’s punish him for being the most-productive player on the team and NOT being careless. Either way, I don’t think the outcome changes much. If the Packers go down and score a touchdown, they still leave Brady and the Pats about 3+ minutes, at home, to score…pretty much inevitable. Then it’s to OT, which I’d then give the nod to the Pats, but however, still needed to find a way to win that game.
The Packers moved their rankings/stats in the wrong direction on all accounts.
- 45 yards less than their average
- 92 yards given up more than their average
- 8 points less than average
- 6 points more than avg.
The Packers did score TDs on more than 50% of their red zone trips (2 for 3), the issue was they only got to the red zone 3 times. That’s an issue, but what’s new?
Preview— enter the 5-4 Miami Dolphins. They see themselves as the 7th seed in the AFC playoff picture, so they’re right there as the current 6 seed (Cincinnati) is struggling and has a tough game vs New Orleans today. Even though the Packers are 9.5 point favorites, with the current state of the locker room, this will likely be a tough match-up. Plus, keep in mind, Brock Osweiler (Mia QB today) lit up the Chicago Bears in week 6. It’s very possible for him to repeat that feat. I believe the last match-up (Dec 2016 vs Houston) the Packers held the Texans to 13 points in snowy, cold Lambeau. The Packers defense could and should show up to hold the Fins under 20 points. Meanwhile it should be good conditions for the offense to light up the scoreboard…if there ever was a time to be motivated and come out and unload, today is that day—it’s also likely the last time a McCarthy-led Packers squad will do so.
As you can see the Packers hold the advantage in each category, so this should mean the Packers roll, right? Yes…should being the operative word. Everything for the remainder of the season will depend on whether the Packers can get up and play for their Head Coach—it seems that players, beginning with Rodgers, have given up on this team/season, so again it’s time for the Head Coach to go. Unfortunately, even with a loss today, the Packers can’t make a change with their next game coming on Thursday night in Seattle.
Prediction—I think the Packers come out strong and are aggressive, which will lead to some early points/production. It’ll be a 2-3 score game until late 4th quarter and the Packers will need a drive to make it a 2-score game again.
37-23: The Packers should get back on track, but if they lose, it shouldn’t be shocking as it seems the team just doesn’t care and are in obvious need of a change in voice.