Ted Thompson and Packer nation should be very grateful that Aaron Rodgers is already locked up long term. After watching three games without the franchise quarterback it’s clear what this team is without him: a mediocre bunch that could be interchanged with any middle of the road team in the NFL. Rodgers could ask for $100 million a year and half of Door County and he’d deserve every penny and every gorgeous acre.
The three games we’ve witnessed over the past 13 days remind us how fortunate we’ve been watching out two historically great QBs perform their mastery over the past 20 years. Scott Tolzien looks like he could be a serviceable backup for the next few seasons–he’s certainly an upgrade over Graham Harrell–but his inexperience cost the Pack on this day.
His third pick was the dagger. Granted Jason Pierre-Paul made a great play, but the timing was awful. The defense was finally looking like it might keep the team in the game, and then JPP told his teammates, before they’d even called a play, that he was going to pick one off on the next play. And he did, predicting what Tolzien was going to do and taking it to the house. Down 14 in the fourth quarter, the Pack was finished. The Giants have been excellent against the run all season and they took Lacy out of the game early,
Defensively, it was another disappointing effort. They allowed Eli Manning to gain confidence by offering little resistance early, as the Giants jumped ahead 10-0. Then we saw Tramon Williams catch a pass thrown by Manning. I guess they call it an ‘interception.’ I’d forgotten they were legal. It stopped a Giants drive that was getting into a rhythm and put the Packers right back in it. When Mason Crosby nailed one from 57 yards to end the half and pull the Pack to within 10-6, you started to think, hmm, maybe we’ll see them pull one out.
But the defense wasn’t up to the challenge, giving up a couple more long drives that added 10 points to the lead. When the Pack got within seven, we had hope…for a moment. Then Tolzien imploded and it was over. For the day, the defense did get four sacks and was led by Brad Jones’ best effort of the year (13 tackles and a sack). They held the Giants to 20 points. You gotta figure Rodgers would have found a way to get to 21.
Three straight losses has dropped the Pack to 5-5, a game out of first in the North, trailing both the Lions and Bears, with road tests left against both of them. It’s likely that the path to the playoffs lies in winning the division; it seems unlikely a wildcard spot is in the cards.
Rodgers has hinted that he might be ready for the next game, against the Vikings. But the following game is just four days later. You wonder how tough it would be to play again so quickly with a sore collarbone. You know McCarty would much prefer trying to hold him out until Thanksgiving Day. But all wiggle room is gone at this point. The Packers need to win these next two division games to put themselves in a decent position as we head to December.
And so here come the Vikings. Can the Packers beat them without Rodgers? I have the feeling P.A. and I will discuss that during our weekly Border Battle, at 10:15 Monday morning. I’d like to think the Pack could dispose of that outfit without #12. But you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not brimming with confidence. Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy have had big days at Lambeau this month. You know where I’m going with this.
Hey Aaron, I’ve got some deer antler spray heading your way. Get well soon. Please.