As the Green Bay Packers sit atop the NFC North, the entire NFC and the entire NFL through 8 games with a 7-1 record, they are just about at the half way point through the season. In the past, they’d have exactly half their games played, with 8 more games to go. However, with the new 17 game season, the Packers still have 9 contests remaining, as they head into their 10 day “mini bye week”.
After Green Bay’s thrilling victory in the desert of Arizona on Thursday night, they get some time to recuperate and hopefully get some key players back in the fold when they head to Kansas City to battle the Chiefs on November 7th. Since we are at just about the half way point, here are 8 thoughts I have on the Packers through their first 8 games.
1) I honestly am at a loss for words that the Packers are 7-1 through these first 8. Even before the season opener disaster against the Saints, there were a lot of questions in my head. Everything from the Aaron Rodgers drama, to the departure of Corey Linsley and the impact it would have on the line, to no David Bakhtiari, a new defensive coordinator, the schedule and more.
Once the season opener happened, I think everyone rightfully had some concerns. The bounce back win against Detroit on Monday Night was expected but certainly far from a “gimme”, as the Packers were still looking to establish some confidence and gain their first win. They then had to go into Santa Clara, in primetime, against a 2-0 and confident 49ers team where they were underdogs, and found a way to win. Surely, they would lose at least one or two games in a tricky 4 game stretch that included the Steelers, Bengals, Bears and Washington Football Team. Needless to say, the Packers ran the table which then set up Thursday, which was the most improbable win of them all.
Absolutely incredible that this team is 7-1, given the questions before the season, to the injuries they have endured during the year. It is a damn good time to be a Green Bay Packers fan.
2) It looks like the Packers hit on the Eric Stokes pick. Decent Cornerbacks are so hard to come by in the NFL, let alone players that actually could turn out to be good. The training camp and preseason reports on Stokes weren’t great but that was to be expected with a rookie player, playing one of the hardest positions in the game while learning on the fly.
You could say it’s been “baptism by fire” with Stokes as he’s been forced into action due to injuries the Green Bay secondary has encountered. It might have been the best thing to happen for Stokes, as he’s played well. Certainly, he is a long, long way from a finished product on the field and has taken his lumps but man, if you’re a Packers fan, you have to be extremely pleased with the way the 1st round rookie has played.
3) The play of the offensive line is crazy. I know it’s been talked about and covered extensively but I had to chime in. The Packers have not had their All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari on the field yet – he hasn’t played a down. Their next best lineman, Elgton Jenkins, has missed a few games too and when he’s been healthy, has needed to change positions from LG to LT. Their 1st Team All-Pro Center from 2020, Corey Linsley, departed from the team in free agency. Green Bay is starting two rookies, one at C and one at RG, and the Center, Josh Myers, has missed a couple games.
The offensive line has been a game of musical chairs, with backups and 3rd stringers plugging the holes. All they’ve done is opened up lanes in the rushing attack while keeping Aaron Rodgers relatively clean in the pocket. I don’t know what Offensive Line Coach Adam Stenavich is doing in Green Bay but whatever it is, it’s almost a work of magic.
4) The change in punters was a brilliant decision. The Packers traded for P Corey Bojorquez shortly before the start of the season, and released JK Scott, their former punter who had been in Green Bay since 2018. Bojorquez has been an extreme upgrade from Scott.
5) Aaron Rodgers had a point when he essentially “demanded” that Randall Cobb be traded back to the Packers. Like Kyle Brandt said on Good Morning Football yesterday, I don’t think the Packers win on Thursday night without Cobb. He may not be the Randall Cobb from 2014 but he absolutely can still play and be an impact player – a player Rodgers unequivocally trusts.
6) The defensive line of the Packers has been a pleasant surprise. Outside of being manhandled by the Saints in Week 1, the Packers front has been the unit most in control during the last 7 games. They’ve been fine against the run and strong against the pass. Players like Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry have consistently had impact plays, week in and week out. Like Aaron Rodgers said in his post-game interview on Thursday night with Erin Andrews, the Packers are a gritty, scrappy team – something we’re not always used to hearing.
7) I’ve loved the pre-season and in-season additions. Everyone from De’Vondre Campbell, to Randall Cobb, Rasul Douglas and Whitney Mercilus. Heck, I even like the Jaylon Smith signing, even though he’s been disappointing since his arrival. I like the all-in mentality and I always like adding veteran leadership to a locker room. It’s welcoming to see the Packers operate in this fashion. The trade deadline is this upcoming Tuesday.
8) Not really sure what else there is to say about Aaron Rodgers. Even if 2021 is “The Last Dance”, I’m so, so thankful that the Packers get to have him as their best player, leader, captain and signal caller of this football team. The winning culture the Packers have built is largely a credit to him and it’s a joy to watch him play week in and week out.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.