The Dallas Cowboys came to Lambeau and pretty much did whatever they felt like doing for 3 hours on Sunday. Normally I lead this article off with the highest performing player or personnel group, but this week it would be like giving a Grammy Award to Creed. They existed, but everything they did sucked. And the leader ended up being a headcase who lived in public shame.
Speaking of which, Brett Favre came back again! I hear he has an office in the tunnel now. Anyway, here we go…
I guess these guys were the best players on the Packers this week. Aaron Rodgers dropped back to pass 42 times and was only pressured on 6 of them. That’s pretty impressive, even if the Cowboys defensive line isn’t exactly a reincarnation of the ’85 Bears. (Say, did you guys know the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985? It’s weird that this isn’t something their fans continuously bring up whether you’re talking about them or not.) Lane Taylor is turning out to be a great asset to the team, and JC Tretter is as good a center as you will find in the NFL. Bryan Bulaga got hurt in the third quarter when he somehow recovered a fumble for the Cowboys (How in the actual fluglehorn did he not recover that fumble? It was in his gut. There have to be plenty of spaces for that thing to go.), but Jason Spriggs came in and did a serviceable job in his place. This group was the bright spot in the black hole of football the Packers presented on Sunday.
Defensive Front 7
Leading up to the game, the national media was hanging their hats on the potential of a classic matchup between the league’s leading rush defense and the next Emmitt Smith, Ezekiel Elliott. Both were coming into last week with historical stats, and the stage was set for an epic showdown of force versus flash. Flash made force look downright silly all game long. The Dallas offensive line is one of the best in the league (I have Packers 1a and Dallas 1b), and Elliott is a dynamic back who has a unique combination of speed and power. The Cowboys line pushed the Packers line all over the field, and when they were able to get penetration, Elliott drove through them. What was supposed to be a fight in the trenches turned into a day at the amusement park, and Elliott was a bumper car.
Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez had a tough time in coverage, but they made a lot of tackles when Elliott got to the next level. They are young and haven’t faced this type of potent running game yet, so this game can hopefully be chalked up as a learning experience. They have too much talent to let this happen on a regular basis.
On three separate occasions I saw Clay Matthews beat his man inside and have a free run at Cowboys quarterback Dak “Lacrosse Name” Prescott. On all three occasions, Matthews completely stopped, turned, and went back outside. This was clearly something that Dom Capers made a point of emphasizing in order to protect against read option plays and scrambles. It was also pointless. Everything I gave Capers credit for last week was the complete polar opposite this week. On 5 or 7 step dropbacks, there is not going to be a read option, and if Prescott was flushed outside, Matthew has to trust the rest of his group to be there for clean up. Capers handcuffed Matthews and made him play outside of his comfort zone.
Prescott took advantage of the Packers practice squad secondary as often as he could, which was pretty much any time he threw the ball. This was especially true after Damarious Randall left the game with a groin injury. Poor Ladarius Gunter looked like a duckling who’s mom took off across the street, leaving him to dodge traffic. Unfortunately, Gunter got hit by a caravan of buses, then fell into a sewer grate. I’m surprised nobody called the fire department to get him out.
Imagine if Dez Bryant played during this game. He might have actually caught a ball.
Lacy on one ankle is better than 75% of the other running backs in the league. The guy hurdled people. TWICE! He is a majestic dreadlocked bull moose/kangaroo hybrid, which I will from this day forward refer to as a kangamoose. He’s a damn kangamoose.
I love this guy. Don’t bother looking at his stats for this game, because much like Aaron Rodgers’ Twitter habits, the stats don’t matter. It wasn’t about his yardage this week. He showed toughness and heart, a desire to make his team better than what they were. He was the only true running back on the roster. The only one. I have no doubt that Aaron Ripkowski could have ran for 250 yards and 6 touchdowns if given the opportunity, but we all know that he is being saved for more important games. Lacy was the only player on the offense who touched the ball, that actually deserved to touch the ball. I will personally massage his ankle for the next 72 hours straight if it keeps him on the field.
All week long following his dismal performance during the Giants game, Jordy Nelson, his teammates, and coaches all went out of their way to talk about how “embarrassed” he was. They said that last week was a phenomenal week of practice, and that he would never have a game like that again. This week would be Jordy Nelson’s REDEMPTION!
Then the first time he touched the ball, he fumbled.
Then he caught a pass with his stomach, dropped it onto his foot, and almost caused an interception.
Then he disappeared forever, like he was only a figment of our imaginations.
If Rodgers wasn’t spending this year morphing into Mr. Magoo, Nelson’s spiral into the abyss would be the most troubling thing about this season. Has anybody checked the drinking water at Lambeau? Is there a mental form of the flu? It would actually be a relief if there was, and all Nelson and Rodgers would need to do would be drink Pedialyte and nap.
Randall Cobb had 7 catches for 53 yards, I’ll be damned if I can’t remember a single one. He hurt his back, so I guess it’s true that he played, but for the life of me I don’t remember anything he did.
Ty Montgomery had the biggest numbers of all the wide receivers. 12 targets. 10 receptions. 98 yards. 2 fumbles. Montgomery had the keys to the offense this week, then put salt in the gas tank and oil in the washer fluid.
Get better soon, Davante Adams. Please don’t try to be the tough guy and say you didn’t get a concussion, when you very clearly got a concussion. You have your entire life to think about.
Jeff Janis. (I’m obligated, for clicks.)
If you are allergic to caps lock, please scroll down a bit.
STOP BEING CUTE. YOU ARE NOT CUTE. THE PACKERS ARE NOT BUILT TO BE CUTE. THIS IS NOT 2010. IT IS 2016. ISOLATION ROUTES AND TOSS PLAYS ARE LDFRAEKSDLJFLJFSDAJFFSJFSDJFLSDJFLSDJFLDSJ
Sorry, I lost control of myself. Let me close this section thusly: The Packers are stale. They are predictable. When I am able to look at a formation and say “Here comes a toss, and I’m going to stab myself in the eye with the shards of this remote I’m about to break” and be half correct (I value my remote way too much for that), there is a problem with the system.
P.S. Running a quarterback draw from a 5 WR set on 1st and goal at the 3 yard line isn’t “being unpredictable”. It’s downright stupid. I understand you don’t want to pay Eddie Lacy any more than you have to, so you limit his opportunities for stats. I get it. Win the game, Mike. Worry about that nonsense later.
P.P.S. You may want to start looking for real estate agents.
Now last, and certainly least….
There are many other writers who have written various and sundry opinions about why Rodgers has turned into Jay Cutler’s body double. I’m not going to do that. It’s beyond my scope of understanding. But I do recognize a frustrated, sad, and confused player when I see one. Rodgers is a man trapped in his own head, and when he threw away the key, it went 5 yards over Randall Cobb’s head.
Everything Rodgers has been throughout his career is still there. Occasionally he will flash greatness, but he’s so caught up in his own game that he tries to extrapolate one or two plays into entire drives. Something inevitably goes wrong, he gets frustrated, and the whole roller coaster starts all over again. Something needs to happen to change his course. At some point, there needs to be sustained small improvements. These will snowball into bigger and more consistent plays, and eventually Aaron Rodgers will be Aaron Rodgers again. This seems like a dream right now, but it is absolutely possible. Only he (and a new coach?) can make it happen.
Next Week (Which is on Thursday, cause the NFL loves money and hates the players)
Hey look, it’s opportunity! Hopefully the Packers use this game to get on track. And the 10 days off afterwards to implant new groin muscles in their defensive backs.
Go Pack Go!