It’s hard to believe the Green Bay Packers team on Sunday was the same team that lost 4 games in a row. The defense took the ball away and the offense moved it at will. So, what has happened to the inept team we saw for most of November?
Mike McCarthy got creative
The offense has returned to a quick passing game, which has opened up the deep ball. Ty Montgomery is a playmaker with unique skills, even in the NFL, and McCarthy has figured out a way to use him to exploit defenses. And Aaron Rodgers has been able to make plays despite losing his mobility because of the screens and quick slants.
Damarious Randall got healthy
The coverage from the Cornerbacks showed a marked improvement once Randall returned, and I don’t believe it to be a coincidence. Allowing Rollins and Gunter to play the 2nd and 3rd CB has given them confidence, and Randall has played exceptionally well. Early in the season it looked like the high praise the second year CBs were receiving in the offseason was mislead, but they are starting to grow into their roles.
The improvement of the coverage has allowed the pass rush enough time to be a factor. The combination of the two could make the Packers a very dangerous defense down the stretch.
The Safeties are playing better
Morgan Burnett and HaHa Clinton-Dix were terrible for the first half of the season. HaHa is still missing some assignments in coverage, but overall both have improved. Burnett seems more comfortable in the hybrid Linebacker role, and has been blanketing Tight Ends. These two will have a large say in the Packers continued success.
The Offensive Line is dominant
This has been the case for most of the season. The O-line is one of the best in the league. For all the heat Ted Thompson took for cutting Josh Sitton, Lane Taylor is showing that TT was right. Linsley has been really good in Tretter’s absence, and both Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy have filled in well as rookies. With Rodger’s limited mobility, and major challenged against the Vikings and Lions D-lines, the success of the offense may hinge on the guys up front.
Davante Adams is turning into a star
Adams is having the typical year three breakout for a Wide Receiver. He’s starting to consistently catch the easy balls (he’s always made the spectacular catches), and he’s developed a trust with Aaron Rodgers. He has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl receiver, but was labeled a bust by many last season as he played through some serious injuries. Adams is a rare player who can make the big play downfield, but also play the possession game over the middle. It’s also nice to see some edge to his game when he blocked Richard Sherman to the ground on the Jeff Janis end around.
Right now everything is trending up for the Green and Gold. Three more wins likely sees them make the playoffs, but each game possesses it’s own challenge. Hopefully, the Packers can get out of Soldier Field with a win, and no players injured because of the awful field conditions in Chicago.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig