We've had time to relax. We've had time to reflect. That beat down was painful. Here's some of my takeaways:
* This Packers team is better than all but three teams: SF, NYG, and Denver. In an era where match-ups dominate the landscape of an NFL game, the Packers possess a woeful OL. Props to TJ Lang. I admire him for sliding outside, but the reality is that he's a guard; he's not a tackle. Lang is an above average and a below average tackle. EDS is a below average guard. Jeff Saturday is done. He's gets no push. If I were Mike McCarthy, I'd consider playing EDS a center, moving Lang back to guard and giving Barclay an opportunity at RT. I can't fully blame Ted Thompson as I'm sure he figured Sherrod would be healthy. Instead our last 3 1st round picks - 2 of which were tackles - are done for the year and the depth of the OL went with those injuries. I also don't blam Ted Thompson for Jeff Saturday's failures. If Packers fans are honest with themselves, they'd all have agreed that Saturday was a good signing, a patchwork piece. Well, his game absolutely diminished in the off season.
So, due to our OL struggles, I find it difficult to see the Packers getting to the Super Bowl this year. The NYG exposed us. Badly. As did SF earlier this year. They have beastly DL 's, which allows them to rush 4 and drop 7. Further, the NYG seem to have a leg up on us, much like the Cowboys did in the 90's. It's mental. We were defeated in the 1st Quarter.
* Regardless, we have a legitimate shot at 12-4, if we can dominate our Division. While it is unlikely that 12-4 gets a 1st round bye, it might prevent the Packers from having to play both the 49ers and the NYG on the road to the Super Bowl.
* Dear Mike McCarthy, please don't try a 55- yard FG in a tie all game when your on the road and you have a slumping kicker who lacks confidence. Especially on the road against the defending Champions. That was a bad decision. Should have played the field position battle.
* We needed an early turnover. Casey Hayward had that turnover in his hands.
* Where's the Randall Cobb creativity? Find ways to get him the ball!
* WR screens can be a fine substitute for a poor run game. So can a short slant.
* Dezman Moses has a future in this league.
* Brad Jones has played well at ILB. He's not a punisher, but he's responsible and pays hard. Not bad for the 4th ILB on the roster.
* This is a completely different Jerel Worthy than the one I expected to see. Lacks push. Lacks fire. Lacks energy. No quickness. Odd.
* Scary question: is CJ Wilson our best DL this year?
* We've saw a lot of bad Packers teams in the 80's. But, this team might be the most frustrating team I've ever watched. So many expectations. Were they unrealistic?
* Bottom line: this team needs to get healthy. Hopefully, Jennings plays this weekend. It'd be great to get Matthews back for the Lions game. Woodson for the Bears game. If so, we can make a run at 12-4, if our line doesn't completely falter us.
* This week, it's the hated Viqueens of Minnesota heading to Lambeau Field. As I write, I'm on a flight. Headed to Titletown, U.S.A. A win this week coupled with a Bears win over the Seahawks (don't get me wrong, I'm cheering for Seattle) and a Denver win over Tampa and the Packers are in a prime spot for a Wild Card spot. First things first, let's get to the playoffs.
Defensively, the game plan is simple this week. AP is amazing. Crowd the line. Hope Harvin & Rudolph don't play. Force Ponder to beat. Come with an abundance of inside blitzes. Force Ponder left. Watch for the screen. Expect an abundance of play-action short passes in which Ponder safely dumps it off. Be prepared, defense. Watch the film! It won't be complicated.
Offensively, it's fairly simple as well. Max protect. The Viqueens are better than us at the line of scrimmage. Move the pocket. Roll Rodgers right, away from Jared Allen. Do not underestimate Robison as the dude is athletic. Look for the dump off to John Kuhn. WR screens to Nelson. Don't be afraid to pass out of multiple TE sets. If Rodgers has time we will see some big plays. They can't cover us. They'll try to frustrate us, so don't get cute. Attack with strafe.
Elite teams find their stride in December. There's still time for the Packers to righ this ship. But, it's going to take a different a focus, a renewed commitment and a heightened energy. From the fans as well. Pump on the volume, Lambeau Field. From play one. Leave hoarse or stay home. Gon' Pop Tarts this weekend, baby!
Packers 23 Queens 19.
Yes, it's another nail biter.
Go Pack Go!