Things are looking grim in Title Town as Green Bay Packers fans watch their team drop game after disgustingly winnable game in a fashion that seems unthinkable for such a powerhouse team.
The questions are flowing freely among fans now. What went wrong? What changed? Whose fault is it? How can the team possibly climb out of their 2-3 hole?
The good news is that the season is still relatively early. There is still time for improvement and plenty of time to turn things around for a Super Bowl run made all the more epic because of the early season struggles.
The bad news is that time is definitely starting to run out.
In this slideshow, we’ll examine some areas the Packers need to improve as soon as possible if they want to have a chance of reaching the playoffs at all, let alone advancing toward the Super Bowl.
Just when it seemed that the Packers were starting to get things figured out on the ground, Cedric Benson had to sprain his foot and land on IR for a minimum of eight weeks, according to USA Today.
With a roster full of relatively untried running backs behind Benson, one has to wonder what will become of the already weak ground game for the next few months.
If James Starks, who has been hit or miss in his professional career and who is newly returned from an injury of his own, can shoulder the load the way he did during the team’s last Super Bowl season, then things might be looking up at least a little bit.
The offensive line isn’t single-handedly responsible for the sputtering Packers offense, but it has certainly contributed its fair share to the problem.
With miscues, poor protection and unnecessary sloppy penalties becoming the new norm, the Packers' offensive line has been equally ineffective at blocking against the pass rush and at opening holes for the running game.
There is unfortunately no quick and easy fix for this one.
The penalties are largely being committed because the linesmen are being outclassed by defenders and are making desperate grabs and holds. In a decision between sacrificing 10 yards and peeling Aaron Rodgers off the turf again, protecting the quarterback by any means necessary is not actually a terrible decision.
What the line must improve upon is the frequency with which these penalties occur, which should happen less as the season trundles on and the communication and trust issues begin to clear up. The only other help that they can hope for is if Rodgers can go back to being proactive about getting rid of the ball more quickly.
This one is a no-brainer. Greg Jennings is battling an injury that has sidelined him off and on for the whole season. The running threat was already weak and has now become endangered. The offensive line buckles under pressure.
The passing game is struggling as a result of all of these factors, along with a dose of Aaron Rodgers regressing to a point where he holds the ball way too long when he’s running for his life.
As a pass-first offense, the Packers need to go back to their roots and figure things out in this area. There’s plenty of talent to go around, so this should be a relatively easy fix for the team as they continue to make adjustments.
On some drives, the offense comes out onto the field and puts together touchdown drives so beautiful that it is incredible to watch.
On other drives—a growing number of them, unfortunately—the offense seems lost, confused, and a little but out of sync.
When Rodgers and his gang trot out onto the field, it’s anybody’s guess which offense we’ll be seeing. This isn’t the juggernaut powerhouse that fans have become so spoiled by in recent years, particularly with the sloppy passing game.
Cleaning things up and finding a rhythm that the whole offense can keep consistently might be the single biggest improvement the Packers can make to launch themselves back into contention.
There have been a number of turnovers called back by heartbreaking and often sketchy penalties and calls (or non-calls). The good news is that this trend probably won’t continue. There are laws of averages that pretty much dictate that the team’s luck with the refs has to turn around eventually.
In order to make that happen, though, the Packers need to pick up the slack defensively and keep forcing turnovers. Cleaning up their play and mustering a more effective pass and run defense would be nice, too. Although, the Packers have demonstrated in the past that they can overcome a poor defense to win if they improve in some of the other categories.
When your team has a three-score lead, putting points on the board does not become optional. The Packers have struggled to score points all season, but perhaps, the most maddening culmination of this season’s woes came on Sunday against Indianapolis.
With a three-score lead to start the second half, the Packers allowed four unanswered scores to let the Colts back in the game. This came on the heels of the previous week’s game where the New Orleans Saints were able to claw their way back from a similar deficit.
This isn’t just about the offense or the defense or even about the special teams who let the Packers down against the Colts. This is about lacking the will and the drive to finish games as a team as strong as they start them.
Improving here could be the biggest morale boost of all. The Pack has done close games and heartbreaking losses this year. A blowout or two would be a welcome change.