A couple of years ago, when the Pack founds themselves sitting at 4-6, I wrote an obituary for their season–prematurely as it turned out. Aaron Rodgers suggested the Pack could run the table and we all know how that turned out.
This year’s edition could follow suit and find a back door into the postseason, but after watching 11 games, let’s be honest: the 2018 Packers in no way resemble a playoff team and there is a very strong likelihood that the Mike McCarthy era will come to an inglorious end after 13 seasons.
The latest disappointment comes at the hands of the Vikings, the latest in a string of road losses where the Pack jumped out to a lead, hung in there for a half, and then watched the offense sputter and stall–knocked out by a failed fourth down and yet another special teams miscue.
By dropping three of their previous four games in this tough five game stretch, the Packers had backed themselves into a corner, needing to win a tough divisional game on the road against a team that was feeling nearly as desperate as they were. It’s easy to take shots at the defense, who in three games against Kirk Cousins has made him look like a cross between Joe Montana and Drew Brees. But that unit came into this game without four starters and lost another along the way. The secondary was shorthanded and up against it versus the Vikings’ tough receivers.
The Vikings’ offensive line kept the Pack’s pass rush at bay all night, making things even tougher for the youthful back end of the defense. In all, the Packers had 12 rookies among their 46 healthy bodies, and the majority were on defense, where they were overmatched by the purple’s offensive talent.
The most alarming trend has been the play off the offense, which once again ground to halt in the second half. Rodgers continues to look nothing like the all timer that he is, missing open receivers, unable to convert key third and fourth downs and just not possessing the swagger he usually has. When the left side of the offensive line went down to injury, it only made things tougher for the offense to find a groove in the final two quarters.
Big picture, this is a roster in transition, with Brian Gutekunst in the middle of a massive makeover–he took the unusual step of trimming some of the core pieces in the past few weeks, and with some big name players and contracts likely to be let go (Matthews, Perry, Cobb), he will continue to reshape the roster this offseason via free agency and the draft.
But the big question is what will Mark Murphy do about the head coach? If McCarthy is terminated, who do they bring aboard to make the most of Rodgers’ last five or so seasons? It has to be a bright offensive mind who will have Rodgers’ respect. Josh McDaniels? Bruce Arians? A complete wildcard like Sooners coach Lincoln Riley (he’s Rodgers’ age so that might not work so well)? This might be the question that consumes Packer fans through the month of December–a time we’re accustomed to battling for playoff position and hoping to be as healthy as possible for the playoffs.
Sure the Pack could win their next two home games and the Vikings could lose their next two road games (at New England and Seattle) and suddenly the “P” word will be invoked again. But it’s hard to believe this banked up, broken team has five straight wins in them. They’ve fooled us before. It’s hard to believe it will happen again in 2018.