Early Bird Breakdown Week 14 – Cardinals @ Packers
Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week 13 of the season, last week the Packers traveled to Seattle. Before going into this week’s match up we will take a look back at the recap.
Once again, the Packers failed to win on the road (now 0-6 on the road) traveling to Minnesota. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins shredded the Packers secondary throwing for 342 yards and three touchdowns while completing 76% of his throws. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers could not build any consistency on offense and failed to throw for over 200 yards in the game. He was sacked four times, though in large part that was due to holding the ball too long waiting for something to happen downfield. The Vikings won 24-17.
Packers’ Offense vs Cardinals’ Defense:
The Cardinals defense is in the bottom half of the league but largely average. Most concerning to Packers fans will reside with the Packers side of things and whether any offensive adjustments will be made. Rodgers has been holding the ball too long trying to generate big plays, the issue with that is twofold. One, the Packers do not have any consistent dynamic weapons due to experience (Marquez Valdes-Scantling & Equanimeous St. Brown) or athletic ability (Davante Adams & Randall Cobb). Two, we do not scheme our wide outs early using route trees to generate space so it takes longer to develop. Therefore, the best option would be to use quick, short passing to generate positive momentum, similar to when Rodgers was at his most injured in the Bears game. While this cannot be done for too long against a good team, it will at least add some consistency and then mixed with play action and runs the options will be there for more scoring offensively. The playbook cannot address my previous concerns with route trees (and previous complaints about read options) until next year when ideally a completely new one is implemented.
Packers’ Defense vs Cardinals’ Offense:
This section will be short because the Cardinals do not have anything worth mentioning on offense, and that includes still employing a future hall of famer in Larry Fitzgerald. They are the worst offense in the NFL by far. The third-worst offense in the NFL (the Tennessee Titans) are closer to the 13th best offense (Carolina) than the Cardinals are close to the third worst. Serriously, they are only managing to somehow gain a total of 232.5 yards per game total. 20 teams in the NFL have more passing yards per game than Arizona has total when you include their rushing yards. You have to go back to the 2005 San Francisco 49ers to find a worse offense and that was the season that lead them to having the number one overall pick.
The weather will not be pleasant and likely slow both offenses a touch, as it will be around 35 degrees at kickoff with freezing rains.
Do the Packers recent struggles really mean anything against an opponent this hapless? The Cardinals are 2-9, they have a rookie quarterback with more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10). They are nearly historically bad on offense, being the worst offense the NFL has seen in 13 seasons. Rodgers likely will look good against an okay defense, but this is more of a tune up game and any result really will not signify righting the ship by any means, though if the Cardinals somehow keep it close then I am concerned the Packers may only win one or two games after this point. Regardless, this is the easiest game remaining on the schedule and at home against a warm weather team. Packers win easily, 34-17.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University