I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season. I have a beautiful wife, a job I love, a nice apartment in an awesome city; the list goes on. But when the Packers played the Bears on Thanksgiving Day, it was a lot harder to find things I was thankful for as a Packers fan, more on that later.
This has been a rough stretch of Packers football that no one saw coming after a 6-0 start to the season. All is not lost, though. The Packers are still very much within striking distance in the NFC North. Even a first round playoff bye week isn’t out of the question.
Obviously, things have to change for that to happen. I won’t get into what those things are. That’s a conversation for another day. So, let’s get to football and breakdown Green Bay’s upcoming Thursday Night matchup with the Lions.
Green Bay Offense vs. Detroit Defense
Normally, I would spend three or four paragraphs explaining why the Packers hold a distinct advantage over an opposing defense, and they do. They have more talent and better coaching than the guys they’ll line up across from. But, there’s just been no proof of that lately. I apologize if this segment turns overly negative.
Things haven’t gone according to plan since Tom Clements took over as the play caller on offense. One Chicago Bear commented that the Bears defense knew what was coming on Thursday night. They could see the play develop before the ball was snapped. That says to me that this offense has gotten stale and needs to mix things up a bit.
Having said my piece on my disapproval of the coaching staff’s performance, at a certain point, the players need to execute. The line needs to protect the quarterback, the quarterback needs to find guys to throw to, and the receivers… I could write a whole new article on the receivers.
Davante Adams’ Thursday night performance was a perfect summation of the problems these receivers are having. Routes being run poorly and lazily, balls dropped, poor blocking downfield on screen passes, even a few pre-snap penalties in the past few weeks. Something is needed to wake these guys up, because their play and level of effort has been unacceptable.
There’s not much to say about the Lions defense. They’re not terrible, but they’re not very good either. They’ve struggled with injuries and inconsistent play, but have managed three solid performances in a row. They’ve been doing a much better job getting to the quarterback, and have limited the Packers, Raiders and Eagles, three offenses that can put up a lot of points when they’re on their game, to 16, 13 and 14 points, respectively.
Green Bay Defense vs. Detroit Offense
The Lions offense is red hot. Ever since the Lions made a change, promoting Jim Bob Cooter, a man whose name I still don’t feel comfortable saying, the offense has been firing on all cylinders. Calvin Johnson has caught fire, Stafford has been far more efficient, even the running game has found some consistency.
The Packers defense really concerns me. There’s just no way of knowing how they’re going to perform week to week. The talent is there, there’s no denying that, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t always show up on Sunday. I have a theory as to why that is, but the point of this article is not for me to complain about Dom Capers. I do enough of that on the podcast.
At the end of the day, the individual parts of a defense are far greater than the sum of their whole.
Having said all that, the defense has been the unit to keep the Packers in games recently. They’ve played well enough to give the offense chances lately, the offense has not taken advantage though. The way the Packers defense shut down Adrian Peterson two weeks ago and Matt Forte last week is impressive. Not many defenses in the league can shut down two premier running backs in consecutive weeks. So for all the guff I give this unit, they do deserve credit for that.
There’s not much more I can say about this defense without getting side tracked, so let’s move on.
As I said, it was hard to feel thankful as a Packer fan when the Packers lost to the Bears on Thursday, but here is my list now that I’ve calmed down a bit. I’m grateful for Mike McCarthy. He’s stubborn, really stubborn. But, he is one of the best head coaches in the league, he’s disciplined and he’s frustrated, and there’s no way he’s going to allow this to continue.
I’m also thankful for Aaron Rodgers, one of, if not the best quarterbacks in the game today. Yes, he’s stuck in one of the biggest slumps of his career and his timing with the receivers is off right now. But you can’t keep a guy like Aaron Rodgers down for too long. He’s an MVP, he’s a competitor and he’s a damn good quarterback.
The two men mentioned above, along with the re-emergence of Eddie Lacy, are why I haven’t lost faith in this team. Yes, it’s possible that their current slump ruins the season. But, because of their head coach and quarterback, it’s just as likely that this becomes a turning point and a wake-up call.
Call me an eternal optimist, call me a homer, call me whatever you like, but I’m just not comfortable picking the Lions to beat the Packers. There’s no reason the Packers can’t win this game. They’re the more talented team and they can’t play this poorly forever. This is the week that Rodgers and company wake up from this month-long nightmare and right the ship.