It’s hard to believe the Packers are a 3-1 team.
It’s especially hard to believe with all the gloom and doom talk amongst fans after was has been a pretty bad week for the team in the injury and public relations fronts.
First, the Packers missed out on getting Marshawn Lynch as the Bills traded the running back to the Seahawks for a fourth round pick next year and a conditional pick in 2012, an offer Packers General Manager Ted Thompson could easily have matched or beaten.
Then Brett Favre finally got his wish and got Randy Moss to throw to in Minnesota. This blockbuster move triggered all sorts of “the sky is falling” talk amongst Packer fans. Moss torched the Packers often during his first stint with the Vikings and now with the Packers being weak at safety, the same fears have appeared again.
Finally, linebacker Nick Barnett will reportedly miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury and coach Mike McCarthy said Brandon Chillar and Mark Tauscher will also likely will miss Sunday’s game in Washington, DC.
Happy days in Dairyland, eh?
After barely getting by the Detroit Lions at home 28-26, the Packers limp (again, not a word you’d usually associate with a 3-1 team) into Washington DC to face the Washington Redskins who are coming off a 17-12 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Breaking down the Redskins
Once again the Packers go up against Mike Shanahan, who had the team’s number in Super Bowl XXXII, a loss that former GM Ron Wolf called the most bitter loss to swallow of his entire Packers career.
That said, this is obviously not the same team nor is Shanahan the same coach. Shanahan has been humbled after surprisingly being fired from Denver almost two years ago and instead of sticking with the 4-3 defense he had in Denver, Shanahan has moved to a 3-4 in Washington with the unit being led by former Saints head coach Jim Haslett.
On offense, the big star is obviously starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. Disregarding his age, McNabb is still an elusive quarterback and can still make all the throws whether they be on the run or from inside the pocket. Despite a lackluster game in Philadelphia, McNabb has brought an immediate spark to the Washington offense that was lacking under former coach Jim Zorn.
Like the Packers, the Redskins face questions about their rushing attack. With Clinton Portis being out for 4-6 weeks and after having waived former Chief Larry Johnson, Ryan Torain will answer the bell. Torain played under Shanahan in Denver and everyone knows that the Broncos were a running back factory when Shanahan was coaching there.
Chris Cooley is one of the loudest and most talented tight ends in the game and will give the Packers linebackers fits especially with Barnett likely done for the year. Clay Matthews can either blitz or drop back into coverage, not both at the same time, so someone will have to step up. A.J. Hawk, if you want to remain a Packer now is the time to show it.
Defensively, the Redskins are a work in progress. Albert Haynesworth’s antics have been well documented and he still has yet to reclaim his place in the starting lineup. Second year linebacker Brian Orakpo anchors a solid linebacking corps along with All-Pro ageless wonder London Fletcher.
In the secondary you’ll find the bombastic DeAngelo Hall and safety LaRon Landry who will provide unique challenges to the Packers’ plethora of offensive weapons.
When the Packers have the ball….
I would love to say watch the Packers establish the running game, but unfortunately there is no running game to establish. Brandon Jackson is struggling and while John Kuhn has shown promise, it is not known whether or not he is or can be an every down back.
That means as usual the Packers will have to rely on the arm of Aaron Rodgers and the speed of his receivers to move the ball and score points. The Redskins obviously know this and they should be playing a lot of nickel and dime as the Packers running game is no threat.
If Kuhn or Jackson are going to prove to be the answer in the backfield this season, this is the game they have to show something.
When the Redskins have the ball…
Look for Shanahan to utilize all of McNabb’s talents. McNabb’s old backup, Michael Vick, showed how poorly the Packers handle a quarterback that can scramble, so #5 will try and expose the same weaknesses that Vick did.
Defensively, the Packers have to contain McNabb. Sending a blitz from each side would help, but then that could expose the middle of the field to either Cooley or Joey Galloway. With Barnett being out, the pressure is on Matthews and Hawk to get to the quarterback and disrupt his rhythm.
Charles Woodson matches up with Moss here, so Woodson will have to be fast in this game as well as physical. This matchup favors Woodson.
Three keys to the game….
1. Is the Packers’ locker room truly peaceful?
Woodson’s comments to Jim Rome could spell trouble. With Rodgers saying he would have welcomed Lynch (before the trade to be fair) and now with Woodson saying (after the trade) that getting Lynch would have been the logical choice, one has to wonder if the Packers players are not questioning Thomspon’s methods.
Favre lobbying for Randy Moss was one thing, but with your offensive and defensive leaders questioning your methods, Thompson may have made a foolish mistake that starts the dominoes falling.
Between this and the Moss trade to the Vikings, the Packers could be facing a public relations nightmare if their running game keeps struggling and the Vikings offense catches fire. That’s only from the fans, mind you. But if the players begin doubting the leadership of Thompson and McCarthy, this season that held so much promise it could go up in flames before the bye week.
2. Will McNabb make the Packers defense a Vick-tim of his legs?
The Packers nearly blew their season opener in Philadelphia by failing to stop the elusive Vick. While McNabb is not nearly as elusive, he could still do enough damage scrambling that it could turn a close game the Redskins’ way.
Matthews, Hawk and company will need to keep on eye on McNabb and get to him as quickly as possible.
3. Will the Packers rushing attack get going?
Personally, I have no faith in Jackson and Kuhn to carry the load the rest of the way. Letting Lynch get away could go down as one of Thompson’s biggest blunders as GM. Once the weather turns, the Packers will need a strong rushing attack to propel any kind of deep playoff run.
There is little doubt Rodgers can carry this team. A lot of teams have made it to the Super Bowl with an inept rushing attack, last year’s Colts being the most recent. However, teams that WIN the Lombardi Trophy have a solid tailback and the Packers don’t even have an average back right now, let alone a good one.
Redskins 21, Packers 17
Look, I could be very wrong about all this. It’s just that everything in my gut and brain tell me the Packers are in deep deep trouble. The failure to get Lynch. Barnett out for the year. Woodson’s remarks. All are early warning signs that the Packers could collapse.
Again, I could be wrong. I WANT to be wrong. Nothing would make me happier than to see Jackson or Kuhn have a breakout game and the Packers coast to a title.
That said, when you consider the 18 penalties against a Bear team that is what we thought it was followed by a weak performance against the Lions, you are not instilling much confidence in your fans.
Packer fans, take off the green and gold goggles and look at what is in front of you.
2010 could indeed be a winter of discontent for Cheesehead Nation. Let’s hope not.
Follow Kris Burke on Twitter @KBurkeNFL——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke
15 thoughts on “Packers – Redskins Preview: 2010 NFL Week 5: Does Capitol Collision spell Trouble for Green Bay?”
“Charles Woodson matches up with Moss here, so Woodson will have to be fast in this game as well as physical. This matchup favors Woodson.”
In her opponent breakdown over at CheeseheadTV, Holly implied that it might be wise for Capers to stick Williams on Moss and Woodson on Cooley.
Considering how well Williams has been playing, I’d say that’s a pretty viable option. After all, we did see Capers use Woodson to help take care of Vernon Davis last year against the 49er’s. Plus, past those two receivers, the ‘Skins don’t have much more talent. And if Shields is playing, then I don’t think we’ll have much to worry about.
I think the big thing the Packers need to focus on is a quality pass rush that doesn’t allow McNabb to get outside the pocket.
As for the running game, I honestly don’t think it needs to be established. Why not establish the passing attack and build the run off of that? To me, it seems like some draws could be just the thing to open up some bigger plays in the running game and maybe even the passing game.
But either way, the Packers need to play to their strengths.
I like the Woodson – Williams swap myself. And as you point out, there is precedent with Woodson/Davis last year.
Good call. Williams is better suitee for sure but is he up to it?
Interesting perspective. And, not all that different than what I’ve been sating to myself, for the last 2.5 weeks.
As far as the bears game is concerned – I think we got jobbed. Period. The bookies had a lot of money on that game and the four-letter spent the entire day carrying Chicago’s water. They barely acknowledged Green Bay, whatsoever. The rarely ever do, when it comes down to brass tacks, anyway. I get the sense that to them, any team that sells stock to their fans just has to be pathetic and/or ID-10-T …. no other teams do that … hasn’t GBP come to their senses yet? ‘Course, that could be just me… yet, ESPN never lets me down in this category… if we ever do get mentioned.. it’s diminished or short-lived, or fault-finding at best, at all times. I’m sure it riles them to see we have our own version of Steve Young in da house.
THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE(S) ARE THIS —
1. The young players have a tendency to read everything they can in the press — and this is a disease on any PRO team. They should just seriously grow up. I think it should be mandatory they be made to watch the Lombardi Teams on film, on a regular basis … it could only help, when it comes to focus at game time.
2. Mike McCarthy is a Marty Schottenheimer protege’ …. It won’t be the Marshawn Lynch debacle that ends up costing Trader Ted his job and his legacy … it’ll be MR. PREVENT FOOTBALL JR., that gets that nod. In my book, MAC has absolutely NO Lombardi attitude in him whatsoever. If there ever was…. any Pittsburgh-fight.. in the guy… it fled the minute he walked into Marty-Ball’s locker room. This guy prefers to hunker down almost as much as Mike Sherman and Mikey always had Favre savin’ his bacon thru every game during his tenure. Where’s that guy now, let alone his OC..???
Many are now sayin’.. ol’ Trader Ted should ahve went ahead and grabbed Sean Payton when he had the chance – that could have been OUR SuperBowl. One will always wonder on the what if’s…. MAC, so far, is proving he either doesn’t trust himself … or hasn’t the guts to trust his players … and he’s practicing the Bart Starr coaching method so far… with his Offensive Staff.. keeping friends around, when they have proven they are not the cream-of-the-crop in the NFL … I suspect it will end up costing him.
In McCarthy, I see yet another HC who will never, ever, win the big one. He doesn’t have the Packer-Fire it takes to bring one home to the Frozen Tundra … to him, it’s just a lucrative paycheck.. and that’s all that counts for him.
I trust the Players… but, what if they’re being given bad advice or having their hands tied ?
I think it’s high time, MAC steps back and let Rockin’ Rodgers all the Bart-Starr he can be… he’s already probven to me he knows exactly what that means…. and Bart Starr ALWAYS CALLED ALL THE PLAYS… Lombardi never had to. He was only the advisor.
It’s time, cheeseheads… for a real change on the Tundra.
Wow, a lot to cover here…
Personally, I don’t buy that bookies can control NFL games. Not in this day and age.
McCarthy & Schottenheimer: I’ve used that comparison myself when I’ve been frustrated with McCarthy’s conservatism as soon as he gets a small lead. I think he’s improved in that department, but he still takes the foot off the gas too soon.
Other than Peyton Manning, QBs calling their own plays just isn’t done anymore. Offenses are too complex now.
I worry that you may be right about the Packers never winning the big one with MM in control. His game management is not Super Bowl quality.
Yep. McCarthy does wonders behind the scences but his gameday management is definitely lacking.
AL,how can you ask so many to accept what is a reality,perhaps if you allow them to s-l-o-w-l-y remove the Green and Gold goggles so as not to hear a horrific scream of”Bright Lights,Bright Lights”and place the goggles back on to live in darkness and the denial of facts.
I call this “Blind Love” and is the most dangerous fault of NFL fans.Almost epidemic in the GBP Nation.
What is this reality, of which you speak?
The reality is alot of fans have been “zapped” by that little light from Men in Black and cannot remember or see certain things.
The recent past for one,where the packers made the p/o’s after a season of hell with the OL and the toastings from the more quality teams while TRYING to learn a new 3-4 def, was covered up by Rodgers and the offense at times and have accepted this year as the year which we can just out score our way to the SB.A belief which by virtue of a 3-1 start is a false read when considering the teams we have played and how easliy we could be 1-3.
The present is like watching a movie you seen before but just can’t put your finger on it.The cast is the same yet different in spots(Clif and Taus)start but fade out for half the movie,a 3-4 defense that is looking all too familiar,of coarse there are always points that for some overshadow any negatives such as;Matthews sacks and Woodsons int,but for those who have not been “zapped” by the light,know that somewhere a new kind of toast is coming to market and the name for it most likely will be found in GB’s defense(rye toast,wheat toast,french toast,Packer toast),as we are getting toasted by less than aspiring offenses.There will be those who chant the injury excuse but the defense has looked like the same from the last year before the injuries that have come now.
The near and far future doesn’t look brighter or even a little better as a whole.Most fans simply refuse to acknowledge that they are watching a remake of the same movie and then feel cheated when the ending is the same.
I have been accused of hating the Packers and such,but nothing is farther from the truth than my love of the Pack.
The”SUPER BOWL or DIE” rallied many one way and less the other,and like you AL,I was not happy when it was boasted and would have preferred it be become a chant later down the road when it appeared more likely for it’s REALITY.
This was and is my summation of the Packers at the beginning of the year and I stand by it yet.How can a team win it all,when the larger number of players on your team,probably couldn’t and wouldn’t start on the teams you need to beat.
We all have two versions of reality,the one we live in and one we wish for,the one we see and the one we clasp our hands over our eyes every Sunday in hopes that the other isn’t true.
Thanks for the explanation. Basically, you haven’t bought any of the hype and you worry that the defense is not improved over last season. I have also been worried about the D. Was hoping for a Capers-directed fearsome pass rush to appear and hide the secondary’s deficiencies, but once again, it’s CM3 on an island. There hasn’t been enough of a pass rush to suit me…
Al, there’s no denying that the Packers have their share of problems. But speaking as someone currently living in Washington, the Redskins are no world-beaters themselves. They only managed 17 points in each of their wins, which I doubt is going to cut it. And they’ve got question marks at No. 2 corner and at FS. London Fletcher and Orakpo are playing well (don’t forget about the latter guy), but I don’t think it’ll be near enough for GB.
If we slap Woodson on Cooley like we’ll probably have to, I think Williams can handle Moss. The rest of the ‘Skins’ receivers are not much of a threat. If McNabb wins this one, it’ll be behind Ryan Torain and with his own legs.
Well, I agree, and I picked the Packers 34-24. Kris wrote this preview, so the Wash pick is his. I have to say, he was very close to the final outcome last week, picking the Packers to beat Detroit in OT. I hope he’s dead wrong this week! 🙂
AS A PACKER FAN LIVING IN THE HEART OF BEAR COUNTRY-DON’T FORGET THE BEARS AND THE LIONS BOTH JUST PLAYED THEIR SUPER BOWLS AGAINST THE PACKERS-I HAVE THE UPMOST CONFIDENCE IN OUR PACKERS AND I DON’T HAVE ANY GLASSES ON.
I have confidence too, but you have to face the reality. There are some potential trouble spots on this team…
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