Now that you’ve had some time to digest the Packers losing to the Giants, ask yourself this:
Is your opinion of the Packers now any different than your opinion before the embarrassment against the Giants?
Mine isn’t. Here’s why:
- We already knew the offensive line was a weakness. Take a super-talented front four and put it against a mediocre offensive line adjusting to injuries and what happened Sunday night isn’t terribly surprising.
- We already knew the pass rush would struggle without Clay Matthews. Did we really expect another five sacks from this defense without its best pass rusher?
- We already knew the Packers struggle against a cover-2. This one baffles me. Yes, running the ball beats a cover-2, and the Packers can’t run the ball, but it’s not like the cover-2 is some new revolutionary defense that came out of nowhere and was developed just to beat the Packers. They should be able to figure out some way to beat it by now, even if they struggle to run.
- We already knew Mason Crosby would likely miss if asked to kick a long field goal. He was asked to kick a 55-yarder, and missed.
- We already knew if Aaron Rodgers isn’t good to great, the Packers likely will lose. Thanks to bad blocking, an excellent Giants’ defense, weird playcalling, and some of Rodgers’ own struggles, he wasn’t good or great on Sunday and the Packers lost.
So there you have it. That’s a depressing list. But those same weaknesses have been there most of the season. It’s not like the Giants exposed a bunch of new flaws and areas where the Packers are weak. These are all things we already knew the Packers would have to overcome in order to be successful.
The Packers have manged to go 7-4 (with a five-game win streak mixed in) despite these flaws. Pretty much every other contending team has a list of flaws similar in length to the Packers’ list.
There are no perfect teams. Every now and then, a near-perfect team comes along. I don’t see any near-perfect teams in the league this season, either.
Let’s address each of the Packers flaws and see how it might impact the rest of the season.
- Offensive line. Rodgers is good enough to make up for a weak offensive lineman or two. He’s not good enough to make up for the entire line imploding. If the line implodes, the Packers are toast. Do we really think the line will implode and sink the Packers season? I don’t. I think individual players will have their moments of weakness, but I don’t think implosion like we saw in the first half against Seattle or all game against the Giants will become the norm.
- Pass rush. Clay Matthews should return this week. If he does, the pass rush will improve. I’ve also liked what I’ve seen out of Dezman Moses so far.
- Cover-2. This one drives me crazy. They can’t crack the two-high safety look. I’d like to say this one will be overcome, but I haven’t seen much evidence to convince me. Maybe getting Jennings back will help. Finley has shown some signs of life lately. Maybe he’ll start to (finally) eat up cover-2 looks down the seam. If Cedric Benson puts his strip-club DJ career on hold and returns, maybe he’ll boost the running game. Maybe Mike McCarthy will finally start calling more screens and slants. That’s a lot of maybes…
- Crosby. I don’t know. Flip a coin. Maybe he’ll get better, maybe he won’t. Either way, I’d rather see the Packers go for it instead of kicking long field goals early in games.
- Rodgers. As long as he’s healthy, the Packers have a shot. He alone can make up for struggles on the offensive line, running the ball and missed Crosby field goals. No, he can’t do it by himself. And it will be near impossible for him to carry the Packers if he’s getting run over like he was against the Giants. But my money is on Rodgers being good to great the rest of the way and giving the Packers every opportunity to make a run.
All of this is just a long way of saying that the Packers remain contenders, just like they were before getting stomped by the Giants.
Improvements need to be made, but they are realistic improvements and improvements that we knew needed to be made before the Giant’s loss.——————