Rewind back to August. I am drinking my morning coffee on the week before the Packers kick off their 2018 season. My prediction was taking the exit to a Wild Card loss despite a dynamic offense and an improved defense. Then I thought of my father who says every year that the Packers will go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl. He has sat through the years of Green Bay is an “NFL wasteland” throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. You think it’s bad now, oh please.
From 1970-1991: They were a combined record of 132-188-8. Dreadful.
After that horrid loss to the Lions 31-23. They have to be optimistic on Monday Night Football as they welcome in the Garoppolo – less 49ers.
Especially this offense.
For this team to be 2-2-1 is fortunate. Five straight weeks of slow starts, putting the pressure on the fourth best defense to make plays and a respectable kicker having a day that made you think he had a blindfold and cigarette as the firing squad aimed.
We forget about the significant improvements on the offense and there is hope for the future. Here are a few…
One of the biggest questions in the offseason was the offensive line with the Jason Spriggs experiment, Byron Bell looking dreadful and hoping for a clean bill of health for stout offensive tackle Bryan Buluga. Then right guard Justin McCray leaves with a shoulder injury in Week 3 vs Redskins. Offensive line coach James Campen takes a calculated risk and moves Bell to right guard. Since then, the offensive line has shown improvement and while Rodgers has been sacked six times in last 2 games. Their run blocking has shown signs of being a human brick wall to opening up the holes for the running back-by-committee.
I will admit it’s more of a mixed bag but hear me out. They are mixing it up with the likes of Ty Montgomery, Jamaal Williams and the “silent, but deadly” speed of Aaron Jones (the former UTEP Miner, that’s your correction). Montgomery showing he is tailored made for the outside sweeps and tosses, Williams has been the hard hitter through the middle on those short yardage situations but Jones has been dynamic despite being hampered by a coaching staff that is more in love with the passing game. I mean 24 rushes in three weeks? Come on now, Jones averages 6.1 yards per carry but only one touchdown. Run the ball, McCarthy.
I love this draft class. In his first year, general manager Brian Gutekunst angered the fan base by cutting wideout Jordy Nelson, but look at Randall Cobb who is banged up. He drafted three highly talented prospects with Equanimous St. Brown out of Notre Dame, J’Mon Moore of Missouri and Marquez Valdes-Scantling of South Florida. All number one receivers in college proved that this the future for this position. Moore has sputtered, but the speed of Valdes-Scantling is impressive and his catching skills are on par, even if he needs to understand how to make a catch near the sideline. St. Brown was an afterthought in the preseason, but he showed some potential with three catches for 89 yards against Detroit
As you read, I know this is your first thought.
Jake, why are you optimistic?
My answer. You have to be. This is your team, fans. If they beat San Francisco on Monday night, they have a bye week which means Rodgers’ knee will have an extra week of recovery and two weeks to prep for the Los Angeles Rams on the west coast. Remind yourself, don’t be looking at hotel reservations in Atlanta and thinking Super Bowl or bust. You are not part of that fanbase to the left of Wisconsin.
I have another reason to be optimistic about the future because even if the Packers don’t reach the Super Bowl. That means the “seeds of changes” will continue to bloom and it could mean a new voice existing for the future that Gutekunst is crafting one season at a time.
Meanwhile, the 2018 season will continue to be taken “one game at a time.”
Jake Turner is the host of the passionate Turning Points podcast on iTunes and co-host with Mark Eckel on the Pack a Day podcast. Follow him on twitter at @JakeTurnerSport Instagram: jaketurner61.