One thing that has been consistent during the Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson era has been an unwillingness to adjust during seasons, and it has burned them before. So, it’s very unlikely that they will do anything drastic that I’m suggesting, but that doesn’t mean staying the course is the correct decision.
Yes, it is only one game against the defending Super Bowl champions at the toughest venue in the NFL, but the problems the Packers had on Thursday were highly predictable to anybody who has been paying attention. Their defense will not look nearly as bad against the middling offenses of the NFL due to exceptional talent at outside linebacker and cornerback, but when they play the elite teams you can expect more of the same if they do not improve up the middle.
The hole in the middle of Green Bay’s defense was the size of the Grand Canyon on Thursday like it has been for years. Letroy Guion was let go by the Vikings for a reason, and ended up going backwards way more often than not Thursday. The one time he actually got some penetration in the backfield he whiffed on Marshawn Lynch.
The biggest issue I have had with Thompson during his Green Bay tenure has been his unwillingness to add a veteran towards the end of camp or during the season to fill a need. I’m not talking about spending big in free agency. Ron Wolf was the master of doing this, and Thompson has had success the few times he has done it with Mark Tauscher and Howard Green.
Thompson should get Ryan Pickett on the phone right now and see where he is physically. Pickett doesn’t fit the new mold that the Packers are looking for along the defensive line, but last year he was still more than capable of commanding a double team and holding up to it. They do not need their nose tackle to be a pass rusher with all the other talented pass rushers they employ. What they do need is somebody to hold up against the run.
The inside linebacker position might be an even bigger problem. Right after the draft this year I wrote a post wondering whether the inside linebacker position this year would be like safety last season. The position that everybody and their mother’s knew was a problem, yet was not addressed at all. That looks like it will be the case unless changes are made.
Jamari Lattimore looked fairly solid in his four starts last year and Sam Barrington had a heck of the preseason. It’s not like the Packers do not have options to replace Brad Jones. Jones had a brutal game Thursday where he missed as many tackles as he made, dropped an interception and had two killer penalties in pass coverage. He did not look like he belonged on an NFL field. A.J. Hawk was not much better and even looked like he might have lost a step that he could not afford to lose, but they are pretty much stuck with him.
Lattimore would provide a lot more energy and athleticism than Jones. He also packs more of a punch when he tackles, which is something the Packers desperately need right now.
The other huge problem Thursday was that Derek Sherrod had an absolutely horrible second half. Sherrod was OK in the first half, but ruined it all with two horrendous plays that resulted in sacks that ultimately put the game away. Even though Bryan Bulaga should not be out long and might even play Sunday against the Jets, it is hard to rely on Sherrod again if he is called upon. Giving free agent right tackle Eric Winston a look would certainly not hurt.
It is doubtful that any of these things will happen if history repeats itself. Even if they do not happen they will most likely beat the Jets. The Jets have a brutal secondary and an improving but mistake prone quarterback. They face an uphill battle with the Packers having ten days off and needing the game badly. Their best chance is to get a ton of pressure on Rodgers and rattle him, which could be possible with their stout defensive line.
Even going beyond Sunday the Packers should still win the division if they do not make these changes. The Bears looked like the same old Bears yesterday, and it’s still hard to trust the Lions even with a new coach. The Vikings are on the upswing but probably still a year away. However, if the Packers want to have any chance to reach the top of the NFL mountain again keeping status quo will not get it done.——————