It has been a tale of two seasons for the Green Bay Packers this season. They started off 6-0 and were firing on all cylinders. They weren’t playing cupcake teams either. Impressive wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs made the Packers look like the favorites out of the NFC to reach the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense looked like a well-oiled machine and the defense, save for the San Diego game, looked better than advertised.
Then, in week eight, the Packers met with the undefeated Denver Broncos. In that game, the Packers were dominated from the opening kick. Rodgers threw for just 77 yards and Eddie Lacy was the leading rusher with 38 yards. The next week, Green Bay went into Carolina to face the Panthers, who are also undefeated. The Packers almost came back from a 23-point deficit until the Packers were stopped on fourth down. A dominating performance against the Minnesota Vikings was followed up by a dud on Thanksgiving night versus the Chicago Bears where Packer legend Brett Favre’s number was retired by the franchise.
The loss to the lowly Bears has really brought up some questions as to whether this Packers team is a legit Super Bowl contender. It’s also led others to question, what is wrong with the Green Bay Packers?
For starters, some people think it’s due to Aaron Rodgers. Not for his performance on the field, but off it. He’s dating actress Olivia Munn and some people think she’s the reason for his struggles. This news is garbage to me. It’s just an excuse made up by some idiot who wants to blame someone outside of the organization.
Granted, Rodgers hasn’t played well recently, but it’s not due to Munn. Rodgers really misses Jordy Nelson, who tore his ACL in the preseason and is out for the year. The reigning NFL MVP has also been sacked 26 times and hit countless of other times. Rodgers isn’t looking to run as much as he did last year, which is part of the reason he was so effective. Also, the yearlong struggles of Eddie Lacy and Randall Cobb have been obstacles that the offense has had to overcome. Lacy, however, seems to be turning a corner as he’s rushed for over 100 yards the last two games. James Jones has been a non-factor since taking the league by storm early in the season. DaVante Adams was supposed to be a breakout player even before Nelson went down in the preseason. Adams to this point has 322 yards and no touchdowns. Green Bay was the sixth best offense last year, and had the eight best passing attack in the NFL. This year, they have the 11th best offense and the 23rd ranked pass offense. Certainly this is a cause for concern.
For my money, the main reason the Packers have struggled on offense is due to the change in play callers. Mike McCarthy had called the Packers plays on offense for years. But this year, assistant head coach Tom Clements took over the play calling duties on offense. With Green Bay going 1-4 in their last five games, there has been calling for Clements to be removed from play calling, but Mike McCarthy has stuck it out with Clements up to this point. If the struggles on offense continue, McCarthy may not have a choice to take the reigns of the offense again.
That’s all that is wrong with the Packers on offense, but what about the defensive side of the ball?
Actually, Green Bay’s defense has taken great strides compared to last year. The additions of rookie defensive backs Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins have played excellent. Clay Matthews looks like a natural middle linebacker and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix has taken a step forward as a second year player and it looks as though he’ll be a star in the NFL. Green Bay’s unit ranks ninth after ranking 12th a year ago. The Pack ranks tied for fifth in sacks with 30 and have 11 interceptions as a team. The team sits at +6 in the turnover battle, good for tied for fourth in the league. It’s odd to see a Packers team this good on defense. They’ve actually been fun to watch and save for two games against San Diego and Carolina, the defense has played extremely well.
As of now, the Packers stand at 7-4 and would be the fifth seed in the NFC if the playoffs started today. The final three games against the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings will be pivotal for all teams involved. The game against Minnesota may be the most important game of the year as it could decide who wins the division. Green Bay is in great shape right now but they need to turn it up a notch down the stretch. The offense looks to be on the brink of breaking out and the defense should continue to be strong. Once again, the Packers are in great shape, but a few changes in game plan could be the difference between a Wild Card team, a division champion or a bye week in the Wild Card Round. Either way, this will be a dangerous team in the postseason due to their experience and talent; they just have to get there first.