The Green Bay Packers are 4-0 and getting ready to enjoy a bye week in week five. There isn’t much to complain about when it comes to play on the field. The offense looks amazing, the defense could be better but it is still coming through with big plays, Aaron Rodgers is a front runner for the MVP, and there isn’t any doubt that this team is a Super Bowl contender.
If you’ve been following my picks against the spread, we’re 4-0 there too. That really hasn’t been too difficult though. We have yet to pick against the Packers against the spread, which most fans wouldn’t enjoy doing anyway, and it has yet to come back to bite us. I have heard the Packers are currently underdogs against the Buccaneers on the road in week six, but lines are not always widely available that far in advance. We’ll call that speculation for now, but I would be shocked if the Bucs team we saw last night is favored over the Packers coming off a bye week.
So no, there isn’t much to complain about. Except, for me, and I will admit this is something I should be able to shake off, the battle on twitter over Green Bay’s draft from last April is becoming unbearable. So please allow me to get on my soapbox for a moment here and complain about strangers and their opinions on the internet.
In short, I don’t know why it’s so difficult for people to admit that, despite the team being really good so far, there was still an obvious need at receiver and the front office ignoring it in a deep draft class was highly questionable. And on top of that, we still have no idea why A.J. Dillon isn’t getting on the field especially in short yardage situations. He wasn’t a sixth round pick, he was a second round pick. No, he doesn’t need to be a star right away, but he should be able to contribute.
And no, the Packers didn’t need a receiver because Davante Adams and Allen Lazard both missed last week with injuries. They needed a receiver before then, even if Devin Funchess didn’t opt out, even if you believed in Allen Lazard, and MVS, and Jake Kumerow. The Packers still needed a receiver. And no, just because they beat the Falcons without Adams and Lazard doesn’t prove they never needed one even if those guys were all healthy and still with the team.
It’s okay to land in the middle on this, just like with A.J. Dillon, and even Jordan Love. The Packers had solid options at receiver, and still do, but they still needed one in the draft. And just because I wanted them to draft a receiver, and it was pretty well accepted that they were going to because it was a clear need, doesn’t mean I hate the receivers on the roster or think they’re bad.
The reason all of this matters and why it’s so frustrating to me is because the Packers community is very tight knit online. The names we all love to follow all seem to know each other or work together in some format. A lot of them were just fans once upon a time like us. Now they’re also covering the team with many, many followers. The Packers don’t play in a massive media market so there isn’t a Chicago Tribune or LA Times or multiple other outlets with a bunch of writers covering the team who don’t care about the team the same way we do.
But I think that’s what’s missing. So much coverage of the team is from a fan-first perspective and it’s become very difficult for necessary criticisms to surface on ‘Packers Twitter’. If the Packers are playing well and winning games it doesn’t mean the process to get there was flawless. If you run into the street blindfolded there’s a chance you don’t get hit by a car. But if you survive that doesn’t mean what you did was a good idea. Similarly, good processes and strategies could have bad outcomes. Like looking both ways before crossing doesn’t protect you from the freak accident of somebody running a red light.
What the Packers did in the draft was not smart. It’s okay to criticize that, yet online you’re drowned out and mocked for that. The team was 13-3 and they used their top three picks on backups to arguably their two strongest positions, and a fullback in the third round. It’s hard to get as little out of your top three draft picks as the Packers have so far, injuries to Josiah Deguara aside. Just because they’re winning games and you or I are not an NFL GM doesn’t mean we might not know better. These front office guys have egos the size of the moon. This wouldn’t be the first instance of somebody trying to outsmart the room. And remember, the Bears weren’t the only team that thought Mitchell Trubisky was the best quarterback in his class. Sometimes NFL teams don’t know better. They make mistakes too.
The Packers have been able to overcome zero contribution from their early draft picks because the personnel already on the team are good enough to do that. But, for the millionth, and hopefully final time, that does not mean the Packers had a good draft or good draft strategy. And it is okay to question, even after the 4-0 start, why they didn’t draft a receiver, or why A.J. Dillon still is not getting goal line carries on 4th and 1. And no, Matt LaFleur’s response to Aaron Nagler was not good enough.
Tanner Nestle is born and raised in Wisconsin, and he takes nothing more seriously than his fandom of the Green Bay Packers! You can follow him on twitter at @NestleIsTheName.