Some weeks I cannot wait to write this article. The joy of a big win or the absurdity of a ridiculous loss set the words a-flowin’, and it’s a treat.
This is not one of those weeks.
To be honest, I didn’t really find any humor in watching the Packers be outcoached, outplayed, and outclassed. But after a day to stew on it, I found a spark. Without further ado….
It’s extremely difficult to judge Rodgers’ performance in this game because he was handcuffed and stuffed in the trunk of a crashing car by his head coach. The Packers offense has the tools to run a fast west coast offense that is predicated on using precision routes and timing to get receivers open. However, for reasons that are known only to the alien in Mike McCarthy’s brain, he constantly refuses to call plays that fit this skill set. Instead of quick slants and rub routes, Rodgers is stuck with the ghost of Jordy Nelson and Jeff “Stone Hands Straight Line” Janis running vertically while Davante Adams and whatever tight end decides to put on his helmet running underneath. As it stands now, Rodgers is like a Formula 1 race car driver trying to win a tractor pull.
There were a few occasions where Rodgers was inaccurate with passes on Sunday, it’s true. But what quarterback isn’t? It’s pretty rare to see a quarterback have a 25/25 game. The issue is that Rodgers incompletions are scrutinized and pored over so much, that the narrative turns to his rapid transformation into Jay Cutler. It’s good for water cooler conversation or a talk show topic, but how true is it really? He’s working with what he has, which right now boils down to several good wide receivers and a system that is failing harder than a Samsung battery.
Rodgers had targets open in the middle of the field on zone coverage several times on Sunday. Why he chose not to throw them the ball is a mystery, but I have a theory:
Over the course of his career, Rodgers has made his living off of highlight reel plays. These types of plays have been rarer than a sashimi roll over the past 20 or so games, so defenses have started playing much more aggressively in the box and on the edges. Rodgers knows this, so he is doing everything he possibly can to open up the field and get that part of his game back. The Packers lack of a running game is not helping in this regard at all. I honestly think that about 90% of Rodgers issues over the last season and a half is that he’s just pressing. Trying too hard to be the hero, and ending up mediocre. What he needs is better, more consistent playcalling, but unfortunately McCarthy’s playcalling has the consistency of week old Jello.
Jordy Nelson tries really hard to be as effective as he was prior to his knee injury. The effort is there, but it’s becoming more and more clear that he is probably on the back side of his career. It’s like watching a wind up toy slowly stop spinning.
Statistically, Nelson has had a good season so far. But the big plays are not there like they used to be. Last week Nelson caught a long pass and had a step on his defender, but he was caught from behind a few yards later. That never used to happen. This week, he was running free on a long slant and Rodgers overthrew him. I didn’t think it was possible to overthrow Jordy Nelson. As evidenced by his touchdown catch this week, Nelson is transitioning from a speed game to a more leverage and technique based position. It’s up to Rodgers and McCarthy to adapt with him.
Davante Adams played. He caught a touchdown, even. But for the love of green beans I cannot remember another play he was involved in.
Randall Cobb was on the sideline until the last 8 minutes of the 4th quarter. Once he got in the game, the Packers scored 2 touchdowns after being held out of the end zone for most of the game. Maybe he’s good?
Jeff Janis: Go away.
Ty Montgomery could be a revolutionary RB/WR hybrid, changing the landscape of how defenses have to plan for the Packers offense. Or he could average 11 yards per carry for a quarter and then be forgotten like Mambo #5. I guess McCarthy doesn’t want a little bit of consistency in his life.
Don Jackson is a real human being, I’m told. I don’t know if I buy it, though. I have yet to see any actual evidence of his existence. He’s our Kaiser Soze.
The long, slow descent into oblivion continues. It’s no secret anymore that the pass rush is only as good as Clay Matthews hamstrings, so suffice to say that it will be good for about 3 out of every 7 quarters.
The only person on the planet who needs Matthews’ hamstrings to stay intact, besides Matthews himself, is Nick Perry. It’s staggering to see how ineffective he is without an elite pass rusher on the other side of the line.
The secondary may be the most consistent part of this entire team. They will forever treat the middle of the field like it’s made of lava and battery acid. This was especially infuriating when they allowed the Colts to finish the first half with a 15 play, 94 yard touchdown drive. Most of the drive took place between the hashmarks. Ladarius Gunter and Quentin Rollins were able to keep the big perimeter plays in check, but due to a combination of scheme and subpar talent, the checkdown throws were there for Luck all game–just as they have been all season long. This defense needs Damarious Randall back. Also 2010 Nick Collins, if possible. (Quantum Leap is allowed.)
Neither special, nor a team. Discuss.
A kickoff return for a touchdown followed by another 50+ yard return in the same half is inexcusable. Even for Ron Zook.
Coach Mike McCarthy
I’ve done this before, but I feel as if this is something that needs to happen–if for no other reason than to placate my own sense of self worth: an open letter to Mike McCarthy.
2010 was great. 2011 was, too. Well, until…..you know. But overall those years were fantastic, and you’ve been hanging your proverbial hat on them for a long time now. But the statute of limitations has run out, just like the patience of most Packers fans–and quite possibly Packers players.
You are predictable. The opposing defensive coordinators probably cancel film sessions and replace them with home movies or board games. People like me shouldn’t be able to accurately predict “verts outside, inside button hooks” solely based on personnel and formation. I’m way too dumb to be able to do that. Things like that should be beyond my scope of understanding. But here we are, Mike.
Why do you refuse to sustain success? Are you scared of it? Does it make you nervous to think that you might set expectations that you may not be able to live up to? When something works, you put it away. It’s like a Lamborghini in the winter. Put it in the garage, throw a tarp over the top, and let it sit. That’s your offense, Mike. It makes no sense. Ty Montgomery is running all over the defense? Bubble screen! Quick slant complete for 9 yards? ISO PLAYS! Just keep calling them, eventually somebody will get open right? It’s the law of averages. This is sarcasm, Mike.
Your stubborn pig head will directly lead to my sanity declining more quickly than your quarterback’s stats. I bet you read the directions when you make macaroni and cheese. You just can’t help yourself. There must be a rigid plan. The NFL is not the same as it was 7 years ago. You need to be fluid. No, not literally fluid, Mike. That’s not physiologically possible. You need to be mentally flexible. You’re mentally re-bar.
Why oh why did your Hall of Fame quarterback not know if his number 2 wide receiver was playing prior to the game? Rodgers said that he was surprised when Cobb was activated but didn’t play until the 4th quarter. That’s just silly. I understand that Cobb’s status was up in the air until gametime, but you should have been able to have plans for your offense either way. Plus, why activate him at all if he wasn’t going to play? None of this makes any sense.
Look, let’s be honest. You are going to get at least until the end of this season to figure this thing out. I have very little faith that you will. Your brain is enveloped in a thick wall of delusion and pride that I’m afraid will be your downfall. But in the meantime, how about you try to do something, anything at all, to get some sustained success out of your team? Just an idea.
At night he sleeps in the Rippers beard.
The Titans. I remember them.
GO PACK GO