PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: What is the Meaning of Life?

I don’t know what to think of this whole season.  I don’t know what to think of Aaron Rodgers.  I don’t know what to think of the coaching staff or the General Manager.  I’ve been such a staunch supporter of Rodgers, Thompson and McCarthy over the years that watching their destruction at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals was very difficult.

Not only was the game not aesthetically pleasing, but it went deeper than that.  I began to doubt philosophies that I’ve adhered to for much of my adult football life.  Draft and develop.  Ted Thompson is smarter than me.  Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback I’ve ever seen.  Mike McCarthy is one of the best play callers in football.

I’ve often referred to this 12-MM-TT era as a “program”.  Like a college program.  They’re run very similar.  Small town, same coach, same GM, players are drafted, and if they cut the mustard they stay.  The team dominates their division, and it’s resulted in four (possibly five) consecutive division titles following a Super Bowl championship.

Is it injuries?  Jordy Nelson is gone.  The Packers are extremely beat up this season, especially on an offensive line that was supposed to be the strength of the team.  Is the defense actually any good, or have they been padding stats against inferior opponents?  What the hell is wrong with Aaron Rodgers?

At the same time, why am I even asking this question?  The Packers have already won 10 games.  They won 10 games the last time they won the Super Bowl.  They could still win the division.  They’ve beaten the Chiefs and Seahawks this season, two teams that appear to be very good at football.

This all leads me to the discussion of the upcoming Vikings game.  I hate the Vikings.  I don’t like the little brother attitude their fans have.  I’ve never seen a fan base so obsessed with another team.  They live and breathe to cheer against the Packers, as much if not more than they cheer for their own championship-less team.

Common sense would tell you losing to the Vikings on Sunday is the best thing for the small chance the Packers have to win the Super Bowl this year.  It puts them in Washington against an inferior Redskins team.  The Packers would more than likely find themselves in the divisional round.  If you can get into the divisional round, you just have to figure out how to win three in a row.  It’s happened before.

What if this isn’t the Packers year?  It doesn’t seem like the Packers year.  In 2010, there was momentum.  Flynn almost beat Brady, Rodgers smoked the Giants, beat the Bears at home and never looked back.  Rodgers was the best player on the planet and no one could stop him from that Giants game until the loss to the very same Giants in the 2011 playoffs.  What if this year they just don’t have it?

Would it be better than to say a fifth consecutive eff you to the Vikings, Bears and Lions?  To remind them, that even when we’re not very good we’re still better than you.  This is our gas station.  Sweep the Vikings, win the division.  Go into the playoffs and whatever happens happens.

What is the meaning of this season?  What is the meaning of life?

When the Packers have the ball:

This all depends on the health of the Green Bay offensive line.  The Packers have proved over the years, even in the Zimmer seasons, that they are a bad matchup for Minnesota.  The double-A-gap pressure that Zimmer uses doesn’t bother Rodgers.  Eddie Lacy is almost always a problem for the Vikes and that gets their secondary out of position.  Even without Nelson, this limited version of Rodgers was still able to hang 30 points on Zimmer in Minnesota.

Without Bakhtiari and Bulaga, however, everything becomes a problem.  It’s not that they can’t run the ball, Tretter and Barclay are probably just as good at run blocking.  It’s the pass blocking and McCarthy’s inability to commit to running the ball that are the problem.  In McCarthy’s offense you have to protect Aaron Rodgers.  The Vikings have good enough pass rushers to consistently beat Don Barclay (so does everyone else).

Yes, the Vikings defense is overrated.  They are 15th in DVOA and if you ask Vikings fans (and a lot of national talking heads) they are a top level unit.  That isn’t going to matter if Green Bay can’t block.

When the Vikings have the ball:

Here’s the big problem for the Vikings.  Dom Capers doesn’t seem to have a problem with this Vikings offense.  Peterson or no Peterson.  Capers has held the Vikings to 14 points or fewer six times since the 2010 season (after Favre).  The Packers are 10-1-1 since the departure of the Ol’ Gunslinger.  It doesn’t really matter who the coordinator is, Capers doesn’t usually lose to a team featuring a running back as their best player.

The way to beat Capers (and this has been well documented) is with an elite quarterback.  That is something the Minnesota Vikings just do not have.  Teddy Bridgwater is in the middle of the best stretch of football of his young career.  As with most of Minnesota’s success under Zimmer, it’s been against weak opponents.

Green Bay should get Sam Shields back this week, and that’s a big deal.  Shields erased star Vikings rookie receiver Stefon Diggs in the first meeting, and his ability to do that again will be key.  This Packers defense is good enough to contain Peterson if that can remain their primary objective (13 carries, 45 yards in week 11 vs. GB).

Bottom line: 

As far as I can tell, from everything that’s been said about this game, the Packers are going to play to win.  If they’re going to play to win they’re going to win the game.  The next time Mike Zimmer and Teddy Bridgewater win a big game against a good opponent will be the first time it has ever happened.

Are the Packers even good?   I don’t know.  Maybe.  But I’ll tell you this much they’re still better than Minnesota.  Back to back to back to back to back.

Packers 27 Vikings 14

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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6 thoughts on “PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: What is the Meaning of Life?

  1. 1. MM’s intransigence. My plan is fine. Just execute my plan. No need for chip blockers, just execute.
    2. The Van Pelt QB-WR debacle. Both groups have regressed this season. In the same room but communications problems? Still going. Stay the course.
    3. MM’s sophomoric love affair with surprise. The screen game has been working. They’ll be expecting us to screen pass, so we won’t.

    The D is good, ST adequate. Players on the O side are lost. That’s coaching.

  2. Ted Thompson hasn’t drafted a Por Bowler since Schneider left after the 2009 season with the exception of Cobb and Lacy. Sure he’s had a alternate here and there but for the most parts he hasn’t drafted well. people claim it’s “Where” the Packers always draft, near the bottom of each round. Well look at New Englands 1st and 2nd round picks, most have been “Home Runs”, especially when compared to Thompson.

    I for one would love to see Schneider come back or Elliot Wolfe take over. Thompson has done okay with some mid round picks but overall he’s not getting it done. He treats Trades and Free Agency like a Disease and now because he missses far more than he hits on draft picks the Packers QB can no longer cover up ALL the weak spots.

  3. I have a hard time swallowing the excuse that the offense is flat because Jordy has been out. There are too many other weapons for that excuse to hold water and every team has to scheme for key injuries, especially when the season wears on and the nicks and dings add up. The Pack was decimated by more injuries when they won the Super Bowl against the Steelers because they found ways to compensate and excel. The problems go much deeper than that and hopefully this season is just a hiccup for an organization that’s developed a winning system that has succeeded year after year. Why MM decided to make a change in a consistently winning offensive plan by stepping away from play calling puzzles me. I’ve not been confident in the defense over the last few years because Dom’s overall history shows gradual declines over time but have been pleasantly surprised with what they’ve accomplished this year and only wonder how much better they’d have been if the D hadn’t been on the field so much because of the mediocre offense. With all in mind, opposing teams will always bring their “A” game when they play against a team that set high standards – we’ve seen that with the Patriots and Seahawks this season. For the Pack it’s simply boing back to what has worked and discarding what hasnt; a major overhaul would be overkill.

  4. That”s pretty confident and I hope you’re right but this Packer team have just not caught fire and there’s been nothing to suggest they’re about to. I think it’s just not our season. There are few players unavailable but lots playing hurt and these are in key positions. Special teams are quite good but we’ll be playing Washington next game. Which is a good thing but not a good thing as I love winning the NFC North.

  5. I felt the same about Starr and Lombardi years ago, I mean to me they never could do anything wrong. I saw them lose games I never thought they would but it does happen. The Az game was a train wreck no doubt about it.

  6. I felt the same about Starr and Lombardi years ago, I mean to me they never could do anything wrong. I saw them lose games I never thought they would but it does happen. The Az game was a train wreck no doubt about it.

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