The Green Bay Packers are 5-0 and favored by more than 15 points in their week six matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Led by Aaron Rodgers and a ball-hawking defense, the Green and Gold machine is producing touchdowns and turnovers at a rapid pace.
Of course, a few parts of the machine could use a tuneup. Even the most finely-tuned machines need a little maintenance in order to continue operating at a high level.
As dominant as the Packers have looked, a handful of players have not quite played up to their potential, or at least to our preseason expectations. These players haven’t necessarily played bad, just not as well as they are capable of playing.
All of these players are good to great players. But in order for the Packers to repeat as champs, they’re going to have to step their games up just a little.
Sitton signed a new contract before the season and has played well, but not quite as well as we’re used to. Sitton has already matched his penalty total (three) from last season and hasn’t been erasing defenders like he has in the past. I’d still take Sitton over almost any other guard in the league, but he’s been just a little off through the first five games.
Hawk looks slow and clumsy this season. His stats are also way down. Hawk had 71 solo tackles in 2010, but only 11 through five games this season. I know it’s not Hawk’s job to run around the field and make 15 tackles every game, but he needs to be explosive when he’s in position to make a play. It always seems like he’s a step behind.
Last year’s late-season darling has stumbled out of the gate in 2011. Shields has been chewed up and spit out by several receivers and has also struggled to make tackles. The second-year CB looked better against Atlanta and hopefully has put the slow start behind him.
Matthews falls into the same category as Sitton. Both of them are playing well, but not as well as they have in the past. Matthews is making plays in the run game, and starting to get more pressure on the QB, but he has only one sack. The Packers pass rush has been non-existent at times. If the Packers want to repeat as champions, Matthews will have to find a way to get to the QB and bring him down, especially when the team’s pass rush goes into hibernation mode.
The Packers career leader in receptions has just nine catches for 76 yards……oh who am I kidding? Does Driver really belong on this list? When you have six legit pass catchers and two decent to good RBs, it’s inevitable that somebody’s stats will decline. Driver appears to be the odd-man out right now. Then again, he had a borderline drop on Sunday and Cobb took his place late in the game. If we’re putting Sitton and Matthews on this list, I guess it’s fair to include Driver. But like Sitton and Matthews, I think we’ll see Driver improve and make a few more plays as the season goes on.
So there you have it. Two players that are legitimately not playing all that well (Hawk and Shields) two players that are playing good, but not quite as good as they should be (Sitton and Matthews) and one player who’s borderline underachieving (Driver).
Finding underachievers on this team wasn’t easy. And you could easily argue that I’m way off base even including Matthews, Sitton and Driver on this list.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .