Shorthanded as they were, the Packers offense did just enough to win an ugly game at Lambeau Field, lifting the team to a 5-3 record at the halfway point.
I didn’t see this one coming. I believe I called it a gimme. I’ll learn someday. I tweeted this after the game and I truly believe it: You could count the number of teams the Pack would have beaten today on one hand. And you wouldn’t need your thumb and pinkie.
I know it’s asking a lot to remove Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, John Kuhn and Cedric Benson and expect Aaron Rodgers to not miss a beat. But against the 32nd ranked run defense, I thought Alex Green would find his legs, the team would control the clock and coast to an easy win.
It didn’t quite happen that way. Rodgers never really got in sync and dealt with three key drops–one by DJ Williams that killed a promising drive. The biggest head-scratcher to me was the inability for James Jones and Randall Cobb to get open against the Jags’ backup corners. Jones caught a few late, but the offense never found a rhythm and #12 finished with less than 200 yards passing for just the 11th time in 70 starts.
The running game has to be a concern. There’s a reason Benson was brought aboard in the preseason. Alex Green is not breaking any tackles and James Starks has not yet been trusted to take on a major role. He showed fresh legs in limited action but was responsible for one of those drops.
The trade deadline is Tuesday and it’s a longshot the Packers do anything, but I’d sniff around for a proven back who might be available on the cheap (Steven Jackson?).
The defense was just okay, giving up 300 yards passing to Blaine Gabbert and allowing Cecil Shorts to gain over 100 yards. That’s a lot of yards surrendered to the 32nd ranked offense. BJ Raji returned, but two of his linemates left early: Jerel Worthy with a concussion and Mike Neal with an ankle (shocker).
The blocked punt by Davon House and subsequent TD by Dezman Moses was the Pack’s first in more than 20 years and was just what the doctor ordered on a day when the offense was off kilter.
Good teams find a way to win ugly games and the Packers did just that. But in his post-game presser Mike McCarthy hinted that the same 46 guys might be up next week for the Arizona game. With the bye week looming the team will not put anyone on the field that isn’t 100% healthy.
That means the offense will likely still be without Nelson and Kuhn, since hamstrings can nag and recur and the team will likely be extra careful to ensure both are ready for the road tests in Detroit and New York, following the bye. The Cardinals’ defense is infinitely tougher than the Jags’ so the offense will be tested big time next week.
The Cards will be working on a short week and coming off what’s likely to be a very physical game with the 49ers on Monday night. That plays into the Pack’s favor as they look to grind their way to a 6-3 mark at the bye next week and 13 days of rest and recovery before the challenging back half of the schedule.