The Blame Game For the Current State of the Packers

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.

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John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.

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 johnrehor@yahoo.com.

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  • bob

    Agree with just about everything you said, especially the special teams. we consistently have to drive 80-85 yards down the field while the opponent usually just needs 60-70. can anyone block, and not in the back? the special teams coach has to go.

    • Thanks Bob. Special Teams have been an issue on this team for years. Ignoring Crosby’s terrible season in 2012, he has been a less than consistent performer. A few nice kick returns from Cobb inspired hope that this sieve of an issue had been finally resolved, but as his role on offense has increased, he is less and less on ST. And I have no clue why running lanes are often wide open for opponents to run through.

      It makes no sense, and hasn’t for years.

      Thanks for reading and leaving your comment!

      • bob

        Something else I forgot to mention. I heard a lot of fans say the packers only gave up 20 points. What they fail to mention is that the Giants were consistently able to reverse field position even when they didn’t score. Even when starting at their own 11 yard line, they moved up to midfield in a few plays and then we started very deep in our own territory.

        • Wide open return lanes will do that-as will leaving the middle of the field open on virtually every play with little pass rush pressuring Manning.

          25/35, 279 yards, 1TD/1int, 92.4% passer rating for Manning yesterday, with 71% of his passes completed.

          Pretty good for a player who had a 64% passer rating heading into yesterday. http://espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/5526/eli-manning

  • Art

    I couldn’t agree more with this article, it says everything I feel. I was at the game yesterday against the Giants and from my seats, I can see every play develop right from the snap. While Tolzien was really making difficult passes and the receivers making great catches, I’m watching wide open Giant receivers play after play with Manning having several open receivers to throw to. Furthermore, the extra yards gained from broken tackles continues. This morning I have read several articles saying how the Packers are still in the hunt for the Division crown by bringing up their 8 – 6 record in Super Bowl 2010. Have we forgotten that the 6 losses were for a combined 20 points having lost 4 games by three points and two games by 4 points? Sorry, not the same as this years’ team. After yesterday’s loss, the Packers are done for this year. Hopefully, many players will not be on the squad next year, and a few coaches starting with DC.

    • Thank you Art, appreciate your comment. One thing I think everyone should (but won’t) forget is the miracle run of 2010. The Packers got hot at just the right time, and were able to run through the playoffs. Your point about the 6 losses by 20 total points often gets overlooked. They were a better team then. Now, unfortunately, the Packers are just not able to overcome deficits the way they did then.

      The rest of the division has caught up to the Packers. It’s the sad cycle of life in the NFL. And I totally agree with your last comment-think these final 6 games are the last we are going to see of a number of players and coaches in GB.

  • Curt B.

    Bingo….I watched the Raiders game yesterday and Woodson was everywhere making plays. That would not have solved all the Packers problems, but it would not have hurt. The plan to run Lacy into the ground is just brutal, this kid is a real talent – be smart.

    Great article…and you are the man to follow on twitter during games.

    • Sorry for just responding now-was at a wake last night…

      Handing the ball to Lacy as much as they have been is going to wear him down early this season, and potentially earlier than necessary for his career. Can already start to see him slowing down a little bit now that Rodgers is out. Teams are keying on him and he is running into blockers and not seeing cutback lanes. Not good for an offense already missing its leader.

      Thanks for following me on Twitter during games. I really appreciate it. I try to keep it fun, and honest. Not a lot of unnecessary rah rah here 🙂

  • BOB

    Enough of Dumb Capers, he has had good talent on defense, time for him to move on.