Losing to the Giants hurt. It was an extremely winnable game that Green Bay had control of the entire time, it just slipped away. Then in came the the hot, young New York Jets. But, this one is at home, not a weird international game, so easy win right? Nope. That one hurt a little more because, honestly, I had a hard time pointing to an valid excuses. Now, we lost to the Commanders and have hit what might be rock bottom. So it’s time to ask the question, should the Pack pack it in?
I like to consider myself a pretty level-headed and mostly objective Packer fan. I am rarely one to get boastful about a win or take a loss too much to heart. Being blessed with great QB play all my life, I am usually able to look ahead and say “well we have 12 so we always have a chance.” But this feels different.
The Packers are not losing well-fought games. Each of the past four weeks (yes four, we should have lost against New England too) the Packers have shown few signs of life and even less consistency. We continue to take a punch in the mouth and go down without a fight. I knew there was a chance it took us some time to gel this year and catch our rhythm, but I never thought I would be as disgusted watching a heartless team point at each other and look unorganized, undisciplined, and uncaring.
So what turns it around?
Leadership. On and off the field.
Matt Lafleur needs to take control of the locker room and become the guy he hasn’t had to in the past. The guy that is not just strategizing with x’s and o’s, but is motivating his players. He needs to be firing them up when they are down. He also needs to be laying into his players (constructively) when they are making mistakes. And yes, that includes QB1. Lafleur needs to take control of this team and right the ship. No more verbal accountability, it is time for action.
Offensively, we all know who it has to be. Aaron Rodgers needs to lead AND play 10x better. Similarly to most topics on the internet, the majority of Cheeseheads are split between it all being Rodgers’ fault and none of it being. But the truth of it is that it’s somewhere in the middle. He has had a shuffling O-Line and young inexperienced receivers, this is true. But wasn’t that the same when we beat Arizona last year on a short week on the road? I truly believe the frustration from Rodgers is both with the team and with himself, he just doesn’t know how to fix it. I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, but he needs to step up and be the leader he has been in the past. Not just playing better, he needs to BE better all-around.
Defensively, we need some damn fire. Campbell finally came to play and our rookies all had their best game yet, but where is the sense of a unit? We have leaders on all three levels of defense and they seem to be operating independently. The defense needs to be a cohesive unit. They need to mesh and work together to start forcing some more turnovers and rallying to the ball. This team will not do anything this year if the defense isn’t able to step up in a huge way.
Hindsight is 20/20. Most likely, the Packers should have traded Rodgers for the biggest haul in NFL history. We should probably be watching Jordan Love develop and deciding who we are going to pick next year. But we aren’t. There is no world where Green Bay trades Rodgers. There is sadly no world where we “sell” at all. We are most likely watching the last run Rodgers will have with GB, so let’s focus on that.
So no, it is not time to pack it in. As one of my favorite Packer reporters Aaron Nagler likes to say, there’s a “lotta ballgame left.”
Call it optimism, call it naivety, but this team still has a shot to do something. It needs to get out of this slump. It needs to light a fire under it’s ass. And it needs the leaders to make this team believe that it can win.
Then, maybe, we will win.
PJ is an Ohio native who was fortunate enough to be born into the green and gold family through his father who grew up in Green Bay. He now resides in NYC where he is an avid fan and fantasy football player. You can follow him on twitter at @PJsPack_.