Following the Packers 27-13 loss to the Giants, it might be time to admit the sad truth about the 2013 Packers.
They just are not that good of a team.
The subtraction of Aaron Rodgers on the offensive side of the ball has left an open wound which has shown little signs of being closed in the nearly three games he has missed to this point. Neither Seneca Wallace nor Scott Tolzien has been able to make up for the absence of Rodgers despite their best efforts. And that is something which is not going to get any better anytime soon, barring Rodgers’ miracle recovery from his broken collarbone .
With Rodgers on the field, there was always a chance for this team to win. His presence allowed for the opportunity to either roll up points on the scoreboard because the defense was playing poorly, or comeback from any deficit because of his ability and sheer will to win.
His being on the sidelines doesn’t help when the team is down 20-6 going into the fourth quarter though.
When you put so much emphasis on your quarterback to be the reason that the Packers will always have a chance, you have become the 2000’s version of the Packers. Because when Brett Favre was under center, regardless of who else was on the field or who they were playing, there was “always a chance.’
That is a major problem.
Not having Rodgers on the field and exposing the weakness that is the Packers offense without him is only one of the issues that this team is currently facing. There is plenty of blame to go around for the current state of the Packers. And it starts at the top.
Ted Thompson deserves 100% of the blame for the current state of the Packers QB position. The ridiculousness of the Training Camp competition and the releasing of three players before settling on Seneca Wallace to backup their $100 million investment was a complete joke. Scott Tolzien was a find off the 49ers practice squad, and may prove to be a good player. Being thrown into a starting role a few weeks after being called up from the Packers practice squad is one way to get playing time. But signing Matt Flynn to backup the backup to the backup just makes your head spin. It is a joke.
But the blame against Thompson doesn’t and shouldn’t stop at the quarterback position. Fringe players makeup the majority of the Packers’ backups at this point, all of whom are products of Thompson’s draft and develop strategy. When injuries are forcing these players onto the field, they are exposed for what many of them are: late round draft picks or free agents who need time to develop, and haven’t done so as of yet.
What is Mike McCarthy doing on offense? Lacy run, Lacy run, pass, punt. That has been the Packers plan on offense for quite some time now. There are so many issues with this, it is impossible to list them all, but let’s try. He is risking Lacy hitting the dreaded rookie wall for rookie running backs by making him carry the rock roughly 25 plus times a game. Lacy is going to be needed down the stretch, especially when the weather turns bad.
Then again, giving James Starks a mandatory series every game is just odd. And what happened to Jonathan Franklin?
Can explain why he chose to punt while down two touchdowns with time running out yesterday?
Simplifying the offense to accommodate Tolzien is one thing. Becoming predictable on offense is another. That is what the Packers have become minus Rodgers on offense-predictable. And defenses are keying on Lacy, forcing Tolzien to throw it and taking advantage of poor throws (5 interceptions in 2 games). That has to change.
Just a few weeks after it seemed that Capers had lit a fire under the defense and had them playing at the op of their game, they have sunk to new lows. The once vaunted rush defense has plummeted from 3rd in the league to 12th entering yesterday’s game. The pass rush has disappeared except for a few flash plays. Receivers are wide open all over the field. It looks and feels very much like 2011-2012 again.
Dom Capers is once again under fire as a result, and for good reason. Rushing 3 on 3rd and long has never worked, yet Capers continues to call it. Sending the same blitzes over and over and not getting home will not suddenly turn into success. Dom might have been one of the creators of the zone blitz scheme, but it is old, teams have figured it out, and Capers simply cannot adjust during a game.
Special Teams have once again become a point of pain for the Packers. They rank dead last in the NFL in kick returns, forcing the offense to start deep in enemy territory on a regular basis. When this happens, the run-run-pass-punt offense becomes even more evident. On the other hand, kick return lanes have been wide open for opponents nearly every game, giving them favorable starting field position. This game of chicken is ok when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback. When it is not, it forces so much pressure on both the offense and defense because Special Teams have not done their most basic job, which has often been the case under Shawn Slocum.
So much blame.
So where do the Packers go from here? Simply put, they need a win. Somehow, someway, they need to find a way to defeat the Vikings this Sunday at Lambeau Field. After losing two consecutive games at home, this team needs to prove to themselves and the fans that there is still life in them. Plus, with the way the standings are shaping up in the NFC, winning the division might be the only way the Packers will be able to get into the playoffs. If they are able to beat the Vikings, then head to Detroit and find a way to earn a victory from the first place Lions, they will be in good shape heading into the home stretch of the schedule.
Losing one of these games puts the season on life support. Lose both and playoff talk will have to wait until next year.
One thing is for certain-the current state of the Packers has exposed so many areas of opportunity that this offseason should be one of thorough analysis by the powers that be. It had better be, if they ever want to return to the Super Bowl. Remaining status quo just will not do anymore.
John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.