The Green Bay Packers have fallen, and they have fallen hard. A team that lost only one game a season ago is now losing to the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, a team that won just two games last season.
The Packers have lost a certain spark and intensity. They no longer feel like a team that can strike at any time. That was a feeling that pulsated often during Green Bay's 2010 season on the road to the Lombardi Trophy.
Green Bay is still potent offensively, and many of the pieces from that Super Bowl team are still in place, but something is different.
The Packers are not blowing out opponents and they are losing close games. The offensive line is not able to support either a solid running game or quality protection for Aaron Rodgers.
This was best evidenced on Monday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3. Sure, everyone remembers how the replacement referees were wrong on the Hail Mary play, but what about the eight sacks Green Bay allowed in the first half?
Protecting Rodgers and allowing him to throw to the Packers bevy of receivers is a staple of this team's offense. A balanced attack had not been needed or utilized because the passing attack was so prolific. Last season Rodgers threw for almost 5,000 yards en route to a 15-1 record. In 2010 he was sacked 31 times all year, while this season he has already been brought down 16 times.
The secondary is aging and struggling. Charles Woodson is 36-years old and has converted to safety. Green Bay has recorded just four interceptions and one forced fumble through four games, and has given up 808 yards passing in the last two weeks.
This is still a 2-3 football team that can turn things around drastically and make a run at the division and the Super Bowl. They are just making it extremely hard on themselves, and thinking this is the same team that won it all a few years ago is a mistake.
This Packers team does appear to need some rushing game support to win ball games. Is Cedric Benson that support? He has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and scored one touchdown this season. Green Bay has one of the toughest schedules left in football and no momentum heading into the grueling middle portion of its season.
Green Bay is capable of winning the NFC North, but with each passing week it somehow looks less likely. The Packers are a team expected to look better as the season wears on, but instead of answering just how good they are, they raise more questions.
Can the Packers overcome injuries to players like B.J. Raji and Jermichael Finley?
Can they flip a switch and become unbeatable as they did in seasons past?
There is no denying Green Bay is talented, but they are not the team that won a Super Bowl just two short seasons ago.
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