2017-2018 First Half Recap:
It is hard to believe that the first half of the Green Bay Packers season is over. Throughout the first eight games of the season, the team has seen heroic performances and tragic defeats.
The Packers currently are sitting in third place in the NFC North, sporting a 4-4 record. That 4-4 record can be described as a tale of two-quarters of their season. The first quarter of their season saw All-Pro Quarter Back and former NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers turn in many brilliant performances that snatched victories from the jaws of defeat. The second quarter of the season saw the team get decimated by untimely injuries, which included a likely season-ending injury to Rodgers, who suffered a broken collarbone against the Minnesota Vikings on a late hit by Anthony Barr.
The Packers season has shattered into many pieces just like Aaron Rodgers collarbone. At this point in the season, the thirteen screws that secured Rodgers broken collarbone back in place, could not even begin to piece back together the Green Bay Packers shattered season. This season has been filled with many misses. We have seen missed tackles, missed blocks, missed assignments, missed catches, and now we are seeing missed throws.
The team has had all of its collective energy zapped from the Aaron Rodgers injury. In the three games (counting Minnesota) since the injury, the Packers are 0-3 and have shown ineptness in all three phases of the game. The ineptness in play, questionable coaching and play calling, have caused many to speculate that it may be time to make comprehensive coaching and upper management regime changes. In light of the lack of consistent performances displayed throughout the 2017-2018 Green Bay Packers season, my midseason report card reflects poorly on the organization.
Quarterback play: A/INC:
The grade for quarterback play would be a split grade. Aaron Rodgers went 4-1 with 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and was on his way towards another 40 touchdown season.
With the Brett Hundley era just three weeks old, (I count the Minnesota game) it would not be fair to give a grade based on his early performance so we will go with a grade of incomplete.
However, it is important to note that Hundley has lived up to his fifth-round grade on his draft report. He has continually held onto the ball for too long and is erratic with his throws and decision making. In the early going, Hundley has not shown the ability to make big plays with his arm and has not shown the ability to drive the ball into tight spots or take shots downfield. Hopefully, Brett Hundley can continue to improve with more reps at practice and more in-game experience. Only time will tell if Hundley can ultimately lead the Packers to 3 or 4 more wins, which could potentially set up a triumphant return for Aaron Rodgers.
Offensive Line Play: D
The play of the offensive line has been slowed by injuries, and as a result, the play has been inconsistent for most of the season. Aaron Rodgers, during his time on the field, covered up some poor play with his mobility and ability to roll out and move the pocket. Teams have consistently been able to gain penetration at the point of attack and get to the Green Bay quarterbacks. Brett Hundley has seen this first hand in his limited time filling in for Aaron Rodgers, and it has not made a difficult situation any easier.
Wide Receiver/ Tight End Play: C
The packer wide receiver play has been stable for the most part. Wide Receivers and tight ends have been pretty sure-handed with the ball (aside from Martellus Bennett) and have made big plays during Aaron Rodgers 4-1 start. During parts of the season, one weakness of the wide receiving core has been the lack of ability to break tackles and gain significant yards after the catch. With the absence of Aaron Rodgers, the receivers have not had as many opportunities to make big plays down the field, which has slowed their production of late. Hopefully, the wide receiving core can continue to gain more continuity with Brett Hundley as time goes on.
Martellus Bennett’s ineptitude brought the Wide Receiver/Tight End grade down an entire letter grade.
The Front Seven: D+
The front seven has not developed like the Packers front office had hoped for going into this season’s offseason programs. The front seven had high hopes for this year with the emergence of Kenny Clark and the continued rise of Mike Daniels, but injuries and inconsistent play by many of its members have put a hamper on the defensive output so far this season.
Opposing offensive lines have dominated the point of attack and had success penetrating and neutralizing the Packers defensive line, which has created running lanes for opposing running backs. The lack of a pass rush has given quarterbacks time to let plays develop and hit their receivers in stride. As a result of the lack of a pass rush, the Packers defense has not been able to get off of the field on third downs which has lead to their defensive unit tiring out in the second half of games.
The Secondary: D
The secondary has been just as poor as the front seven. This season has seen opposing quarterbacks move the ball at will against a confused, and at times, disinterested secondary. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been giving wide receivers 15 yards of space to operate and has been late in his pursuit of the ball. Members of the secondary have often looked confused with coverage assignments which have left opposing receivers and parts of the field wide open.
I know that there are some pundits and fans that will think that this is far too generous of a grade, but it is important to remember that this season has produced a lot of uncontrollable outcomes with injuries. There have been games where the front seven and offensive line have been decimated by injuries causing members of the active roster who are lower on the depth chart to see significant playing time. The injury to Aaron Rodgers will be sure to provide the coaching staff with an excuse for the poor season that lies ahead.
However, there have been flaws in McCarthy’s game calling and Capers defensive scheme has been an utter disaster yet again. McCarthy has started the last two games calling great opening drives. He has shown a balanced attack with quick passing plays as well as a variety of looks in the running game.
However, as the game moves forward, McCarthy abandons the run and keeps putting the ball in the hands of Brett Hundley. This kind of play calling is self-destructive for two reasons; one, Brett Hundley is not equipped to throw 38 passes in a game, and two, the Packers need long sustained drives to keep their defense off of the field. McCarthy’s scripted first drives should remain throughout the duration of the game in order to give his back up quarterback the best possible chance to succeed.
After all of these seasons in which the Packers defense was the Achilles heel of the team, there is no use discussing the pros and cons of Dom Capers exotic blitz packages and defensive schemes. We have seen enough of a body of work over the past few years to know that Dom Capers’s defense just does not work with this group of players. I know that if I constantly performed as badly at my job as Capers has at times performed throughout the years, I would have been fired from that place of employment in a heartbeat. It is time that the Packers hold Capers accountable, and go in another direction that provides a different defensive scheme that the players will respond to.
Packers Team Grade: C-
This Green Bay Packers entered the 2017-2018 season with high hopes and great expectations, only to see those expectations shattered by the potentially season-ending injury to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers injury has shown that he is hands down the NFL MVP as well as the fact that Ted Thompson and his front office staff did not put together a well rounded and versatile team around him. This shortcoming of Thompson and his staff accurately sums up Rodgers tenure in Green Bay, a great player that needed more help around him.
My Fresh Take:
Football is not like basketball, where one player can make a team an instant championship contender (Even though Aaron Rodgers does that every season). Football is a game in which each team needs the most talented and well rounded 53 man roster. Often times, it is a real possibility that all 53 members on the original opening day roster will be used at some point or another. If Thompson is given one more chance to try and win a Superbowl in Green Bay, he must construct a more balanced team that has both a stable and versatile infrastructure around their star quarterback.
First Half Stars ⭐️
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Jordy Nelson
3. Aaron Jones
4. Mike Daniels
5. Blake Martinez/Kenny Clark
First Half Duds 👎🏻
1. Martellus Bennett
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
3. Dom Capers
4. Special Teams
5. Ted Thompson——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave