Pathetic. That is the word that best describes the recent play of the 4-5 Green Bay Packers, who have now lost three straight games.
Yes, I know the Packers have been hit hard by a number of key injuries, but that is the way of the NFL, so one has to be prepared for that scenario.
The players on the 53-man roster of the Packers should be worried about their employment status. I know I would be if I did my job as poorly as the overall team has performed recently.
The players aren’t the only ones who should be concerned. General manager Ted Thompson should really be bothered about what has taken place recently on the field. Head coach Mike McCarthy, defensive coordinator Dom Capers and everyone else on the coaching staff should have the same concern.
This is definitely gut-check time.
One should not feel very good after the defense of the Packers has given up 111 points in three games like they have. Or when a defense allows a team like the Tennessee Titans to score 35 points and have over 300 total yards in the first half on Sunday. That is unacceptable.
Capers’ seat should be a tad warm this morning. Yes, I know Clay Matthews didn’t play. Nor did Sam Shields and Damarious Randall, but that still is no excuse.
Capers and the rest of the defensive coaching staff are not getting their teaching points across to the players. That was obvious by the play on Sunday against the Titans. The defense was truly offensive.
Part of the blame has to be laid at the feet of Thompson as well. Every year the Packers are among the youngest teams in the NFL. Thompson does not use pure free agency very often, but instead uses the draft and also brings in a number of street free agents or undrafted rookies.
In normal years, those players can learn the ropes of the NFL via special teams while they get acclimated to the league. But 2016 has not been a normal year for the Packers due to all their injuries. A number of the undrafted rookies this year are getting significant playing time.
And it’s showing. Looking good in training camp doesn’t mean a player will perform the same way on a Sunday in the regular season when he is going against the top unit of a NFL team, not versus the second or third string like in preseason games.
The performance of the offense has also been very uneven. In the last two games, the overall stat line has been solid, but most of that has occurred in “garbage time” when the team was forced to play catch-up after a slow start by the offense and the dismal effort by the defense.
Special teams has also been a disaster the past couple of weeks. Allowing kickoff returns for touchdowns and fumbling a punt at a key moment of the game is definitely not what special teams coordinator Ron Zook is looking for from his units.
The organization of the Packers have created this unsettling situation by raising such a high bar for the franchise. Since the Thompson/McCarthy era began in 2006, the team has gone 104-55-1 in the regular season, which includes eight playoff appearances, five NFC North titles and one Super Bowl win.
Going into the 2016 season, the Packers were considered to be among the favorites to play in the Super Bowl from the NFC. Currently in the NFC, nine of the 16 teams in the conference have a better record than the Packers, while three teams are also 4-5.
Fortunately for the Packers, the once 5-0 Minnesota Vikings have dropped four straight games, which means that the Packers only trail them and the Detroit Lions by one game in the NFC North.
The Packers will get an opportunity to play all of of their divisional rivals (including the Chicago Bears) in December/January in the last three games of the season. Currently the Packers have a 2-1 record in the division.
The key point is being in contention when those games take place. Right now, I’m not sure that will be the case. The Packers are 9-12 in their last 21 games. Something is definitely amiss.
The Packers better get it figured out quickly, as the team has two straight road games on national television upcoming, when they play the Washington Redskins on Sunday night football (NBC) on November 20 and then the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night football (ESPN) on November 28.
If the Packers continue to look like they have played as of late, the drum beat of change will be beating very loudly.
This is not to say the team can’t turn this around. Aaron Rodgers is still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Is he playing as well as he did in his NFL MVP years? No, but he’s still better than most.
Overall, the offense has to find an identity. Not to mention consistency.
The wheels have definitely fallen off on the defense. When Matthews and Randall return, things should get better. But still, the defense is looking a lot like Swiss cheese. Lots of holes. Capers better figure out a way to fill those holes. Quickly.
Sometimes special teams can help out the offensive and defensive units by making a difference in the game with their play. That has not been the case for the Packers. The kicking and punting game have been okay, but the return and coverage units have been a big issue recently.
There is no doubt that the situation has to be fixed fast. Getting wins in the nation’s capitol and in the City of Brotherly Love will be a good start.
Based on what I have seen over the past couple of games, the odds of the Packers winning those game are pretty ominous.
That being said, in the McCarthy regime, the team has overcome adversity on a number of occasions. This current dilemma has to be the toughest situation that the team has had to overcome since Thompson hired McCarthy to become head coach in 2006.
Bottom line, it’s time to put up or shut up for the Packers. Otherwise, expect a number of people who work at 1265 Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay to be looking elsewhere for employment soon.
That too, is life in the NFL.