Packers XLV

After Three Weeks, We Hit the Pause Button

Posted September 26th, 2013 @ 06:09pm

A week four bye is not ideal, but someone has to do it and the Packers have been pretty fortunate with midseason bye weeks in recent years. Besides, the Thanksgiving Day game will provide a mini-bye, giving the team 10 days to get ready for the four December games that will likely seal their fate.

After a couple of tough road losses to open the season, I think the Packers are fortunate to get a couple of weeks to calm down, take a couple of deep breaths and prepare to attempt to sweep their October games, with home games against the Lions and Browns and road tests in Baltimore and the Twin Cities.

We know this is a banged up club. I heard a rumor the marketing team has come up with a new concession item for Lambeau: it's a ham sandwich with string cheese: they call it the ham-string--a play on the popular injury that seems to hit every defensive starter every season. Unfortunately hammies seem to claim a couple of games every year for Clay Matthews. When his tightened up in the second quarter against the Bengals, the defense looked markedly different. The Pack simply has to have someone else step up as a viable pas rusher. Both to complement Matthews and to take over when he's out.

The hope is that he's fine for the Lions game and that Morgan Burnett and Casey Hayward make their season debuts. Hayward seems the less likely of the two to be ready.  But an extra week off right now could do wonders for the maligned defense, which I still think has a chance to be much improved from last year. After Stafford, they face three struggling offenses, which should provide a good tonic.

The bye week also provides time to find a new return guy. The team has brought in a couple of young guys--including the returner for the Green Bay Blizzard indoor team--but we can expect to see more of Randall Cobb as the punt returner, at least in the short term. I have no issues with the release of Jeremy Ross--he had plenty of chances to grab the job.

If the Pack had to play this week, there's no guarantee there would be a running back healthy enough to start. By next Sunday, we expect Eddie Lacy to be cleared to return. As for Starks and Franklin, we'll know more about their health next week when the team returns to get ready for week five. But after a lost preseason where the team was completely unable to run the ball, the last two weeks have shown promise of what's to come. Both Starks and Franklin have flashed and Lacy should get the next chance to take center stage.

One of the early bright spots: the play of Sam Shields, who's playing for a new contract. At this rate, he will command top dollar in the offseason and force the team to part ways with Tramon Williams. Shields is developing into the team's top cover corner. After slowing AJ Green for most of the game, he will likely draw the assignment on Megatron next week. Williams has done okay in the past, but his move inside has a permanent feel to it (through this season), even with Hayward due back soon.

Much has been made of the sideline exchange between Rodgers and McCarthy last Sunday. If you don't want two headstrong, competitive talented guys manning those two positions, then you don't want to be champions. Let's all calm down. This is not something we see week in and week out. These are two guys who almost always are on the same page and who lead an offense that can score with anyone. Things happen in tight games when one play can swing a game. Let's move on.

It's no fun sitting on 1-2 for two weeks, but remember, then the Lions come to town. As you know they don't win in Wisconsin--22 straight and counting. Hopefully, they'll knock off the Bears at Ford Field this week and come to Lambeau feeling pretty good about themselves. And hopefully the Pack will take the field a healthier, rested and hungry group-- ready to rebound from a slow start, just like they did last year.



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Comments (4):

We have a new running back on the 53 man active roster. Michael Hill

on October 1st, 2013 at 07:53pm

Thanks Dave for more excellent writing & analysis on your blog. I'm really bummed I missed the Park Tavern Packers Preview Party because I overslept. I understand you will have a few more in the future. Hope to go to one of those. It's disappointing to see the injuries pile up for the Packers this early in the season, hopefully more guys return to the field then left it against the Bengals. I am really impressed with the development of Sam Shields & saddened to see the decline of Tramon Williams. He was so great in the 2010 playoffs by keeping the Eagles from winning as well as making the Falcons look silly while Aaron Rodgers put on the QB performance of a lifetime. I hope we see Morgan Burnett as well as Casey Hayward back in the secondary. I also hope Clay Matthews and the running backs can return from their injuries. As always, Go Pack!

on September 27th, 2013 at 11:35pm

It is frustrating to have to sit on a 1-2 record and chew on a loss like last Sunday for two weeks. It was a game the Packers had in their hands and let it slip away. No one guy is to blame; though I think Jeremy Ross was made the example to send a message that no more mental mistakes of the sort that cost the team so dearly last week will be tolerated. As for the injuries: the premise of Ted Thompson's philosophy of keeping the team young is that the players are supposed to be more durable and less susceptible to injuries because they haven't taken so many years of pounding in the league. Too many of the Packers' "youth" can't stay or even get on the field in just their first few seasons in the pros. The team's exceptional injury problems were supposed tobe a subject of special address during the offseason. So far it doesn't look like they got the right address. Even if the medical situation straightens out the Packers still look short on the o-line and in their kick return game. That they didn't have the confidence in Mason Crosby to try a field goal in the situation where they went for the 4th & inches and fumbled, and that the defense had critical breakdowns with a 16 point lead could be grounds for another playoff frustration in January.

on September 28th, 2013 at 06:47am

It was another interesting weekend. I wasn't suprised so much by the Vikings winning in London, as we all knew they have some talent (and possibly a QB controversy...or not), but how the Steelers have fallen on hard times, which isn't all the suprizing considering the aging D they have. The two big shockers in my mind are the Falcons losing at home to the Patriots, and the Browns taking care of the Bengals. Who would have thought a franchise that supposedly "packed it in" with the Richardson trade would be 2-2 now. It's a good thing I'm not a betting man - I'd be poorer than I already am! But the most pleasent gift was the Lions taking down the Bears. Granted it was a mistake-riddled game, but we needed to have the Bears slowed down before things got out of control. So it appears the key to slowing down the Lions is to keep Reggie Bush contained - also while keeping Stafford and Johnson in check. Should be quite the challenge for the Pack's D this weekend, and it won't be easy. These aren't the Motor City Kitties anymore, that's for sure.

on September 30th, 2013 at 08:31am

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