PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Coming Home

Well.  Are you still freaking out?  It’d be ok if you were.  Green Bay played very badly on Sunday.  The highest rated quarterback in the history of football, and Green Bay’s annual best hope for a Super Bowl Championship, Aaron Rodgers, might have played the worst game of his professional career.  Beyond that, the Packers lost to the Vikings in Minnesota for the first time since 2012.

Beyond that, bad things are starting to become a trend.  Aaron Rodgers hasn’t really played all that well since the Packers entered the 2015 bye week 6-0.  Not only that, but Green Bay is 6-8 (including playoffs) since that time.  All the wrongs that were supposed to be righted by the return of Jordy Nelson have not been.  Neither Nelson or Randall Cobb appear to be the players that they were in 2014.

Speaking of trends that have been broken, the Detroit Lions at home have long been the team that the Packers right the ship against, especially in games played in Wisconsin.  Detroit won in Wisconsin for the first time in Theo Riddick’s lifetime last season and broke a “curse” that seemed to be unbreakable.

That’s not great news if you’re a Packer fan this weekend.  Green Bay is a team that desperately needs to get it right on one specific side of the ball.  Rodgers and the Packers offense need to come to the party, because the defense is clearly already here.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Step Two

Years ago Vikings executive Lester Bagley envisioned the opening of this new US Bank Stadium.  He wanted everything to start off with an Adrian Peterson touchdown after breaking a Clay Matthews tackle.  The Vikings will get their chance, as underdogs, to open their new digs in just that manner.

Prior to the season, this game at Minnesota looked like the only contest in which the Packers would not be favored this season.  Green Bay (according to last season’s records) has a very favorable slate.  The preseason loss of Teddy Bridgewater may have changed all that.  The Vikings have since mortgaged their future for journeyman quarterback Sam Bradford, and there’s a question whether or not Bradford will be ready to go.

This is a big game for Green Bay as well.  The Packers could very well start their season 2-0.  On the road.  With the exception of last season, the Packers have made a habit of dominating at home and scraping by on the road.  If Green Bay can survive Jacksonville and Minnesota early, They just have Detroit and Chicago (considered pre-season to be the weakest two teams in the division) and Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and Tennessee on the road schedule.  Not a 2016 playoff team among them.

A 2-0 start would be an excellent beginning to this season, but maybe even beyond that having a “W” in the ledger in the Minneapolis half of the “border battle” would be a key step for the rest of the season.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Kicking it Off

As a displaced Packers fan, I have to say that I was very sad when I saw the schedule come out and this game was the opener.  I don’t fear the Florida heat.  The forecast is in the low 90s.  Green Bay practied plenty a day in training camp within a 5 or 6 degree threshold of that.

I was sad, because as some of you that follow me may know I have deep ties to North Dakota State University, and Jacksonville’s head coach Gus Bradley is an NDSU alum.  Also, it is very cold here in the winter.  A November or December getaway to sunny Florida would have been choice.

Alas, the game is on Sunday, and the Packers will open up the season against an up and coming Jaguars squad.  No winter vacation to be had.

I wrote last week about the excitement level of not just any new season, but this new season specifically.  I was excited because the Packers brought back all of the starters from the 2014 offense and featured a potentially improved version of the 2015 defense.

That’s no longer the case.  Green Bay released Josh Sitton in the final group of cut-downs and it is now apparent that Corey Linsley isn’t quite going to make it back in time for the start of the season, either.  Lane Taylor will start in Sitton’s spot and get at least a 6 week head start on solidifying himself as a starter on the offensive line.  If he’s capable of doing that he becomes a heckuva bargain.  Taylor comes with a cap hit of less than $3 million for each of the next two seasons.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Get Excited

Mike McCarthy is not a man to make excuses, but he is a man able to make a point.  McCarthy once pointed out that the Packers have really only had two healthy seasons since the Super Bowl victory, 2011 (15-1) and 2014 (12-4).  Outside of that, Green Bay has been forced to overcome major injuries on the fly, many of those suffered in preseason.

Jordy Nelson in 2015.  Bryan Bulaga, Jermichael Finley and Casey Hayward in 2013.  BJ Raji in 2012.  Nick Collins in 2011.

You guys understand the idea.  The Packers have repeatedly played left handed in the 2010s, and have made the playoffs every year.  More often than not, they’ve won the division.  Thompson and McCarthy have been dealt blow after blow and just keep on keepin’ on.  Winning in the NFL is hard with all your players.  Ask Jaguars fans.  Ask Lions fans.  Ask Jets fans.  It. Is. Hard.

Hey guys.  Knock on wood.  Throw salt over your shoulder.  Let the black cat cross the street in front of you and stay away from ladders.  The Packers should start the season with all 22 preferred starters.  These Packers are healthy, and healthy Packers teams under McCarthy win a lot.

Not only that, but the Packers are now favored to win every game they play in. Are they going to go 16-0? Almost certainly not, but you’d rather they be the favorite in every game than the underdog. That’s just how life works.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: What to Watch For Tonight

Tonight is the all important third preseason game.  The game in which the starters play the most.  The dress rehearsal.  Fortunately for displaced Packers fans like myself it’s also the only live broadcast on NFL Network this preseason.  Tonight will be the first time in the 2016 preseason that Packers fans will get to see their quarterback play.

There isn’t much else to discuss on this fine Football Friday, because I don’t want to talk about PEDs or Al Jazeera or really anything that has to do with the NFL or the Commissioner’s office, so I’m going to offer some viewing tips for this evening’s game against San Francisco.

Appreciate the chance to watch Rodgers.  It really is a beautiful thing and he won’t play again until the opener in Jacksonville.  He’s hopefully healed from all of the maladies that caused him to be less efficient than in seasons past.

We as Packers fans are probably going to get two quarters of QB1 until he’s wrapped up in bubble wrap again until the opener.  Will we get to see the magic from the 2014 season, if even for just a little bit?

Pay attention to the offensive line.  I think we’ve got a battle here folks.  Matt Rotheram was once considered for a roster spot, but was recently released by the Packers with an injury settlement.  That doesn’t mean the competition is over.

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PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Packers vs. Raiders Quick Hits

I’ve had a chance to watch and re-watch the Packers vs. Raiders preseason game so I’m going to offer a few quick thoughts here on #FootballFriday.

Stop complaining about all things Jason Spriggs. I can’t believe how angry people were that one, Jason Spriggs couldn’t handle Khalil Mack in one-on-one situations and two, that he was left to block him one-on-one.  Mack is bar-none one of the best edge defenders in the NFL.  Mack recorded 15 sacks a season ago.

Spriggs has always been considered a project at the tackle position.  He was the best athlete at tackle in the entire draft.  If his technique was up to par he would have been a top 10 pick.  The fact that he can’t handle an All-Pro edge rusher on the 50th snap of his career is not at all surprising.

What it is is a good learning experience.  Spriggs now knows what it’s like to take on an elite NFL pass rusher.  He has tape to watch.  He has techniques that he can learn how to defend against.  THIS IS WHAT THE PRESEASON IS FOR.

Secondly, the Packers leave their left tackle without help more often than not, and it has worked just fine since the days of Daryn Colledge filling in for Chad Clifton ended.  Clifton’s career ended as Bakhtiari’s began and Clifton was and DBak has been an absolutely elite pass blocker.

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PFF: 5 Guys That Have to be Good – Jason Spriggs

This marks the fourth offseason of my 5 guys that have to be good series.  This list is not a top five list of most important Green Bay Packers.  Not only will you find that elsewhere, but ultimately it’s the players on this list that just might define the season.

Aaron Rodgers, Mike Daniels and Clay Matthews are going to play well.  If the offensive line stays healthy, it’s going to play well.  HaHa Clinton-Dix is going to play well.

It’s the players that are “in the margins” that can make the difference between another 11 or 12 win team with a heartbreaking playoff loss and a 14th World Championship.

My old lists are a telling tale.  My 15 guys that have had to be good either weren’t or got hurt for the most part.

2013: Terrell Manning, Greg Van Roten, Bryan Bulaga (ACL), Jeremy Ross, Datone Jones

2014: BJ Raji (torn biceps), Brad Jones, Jared Abbrederis, JC Tretter, Datone Jones

2015: Jared Abbrederis, JC Tretter, BJ Raji, Casey Hayward, Sam Barrington (broken ankle)

These are the guys that needed to be good for the Packers to get back to the promised land.  They weren’t, and Green Bay didn’t.  Who needs to step up for a return to Titletown?

This is the final piece in the 2016 edition of the 5GTHTBG series.  You can read about Jared Cook and Jayrone Elliot on CHTV, and check back here on PackersTalk.com with Quentin Rollins and Jordy Nelson.

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