After a superb preseason, expectations for the Green Bay Packers could not have been higher. Three weeks into the regular season, the team stands at 2-1 after wins over the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, and a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. In those three weeks, there have been many positive things to get excited about, some struggles that need to be fixed, and some ugly things that aren't hurting the Packers in easy games but need to be addressed as the season goes on and games become tougher.
Today, we will look at the Packers' bad personnel through three weeks, followed by the ugly personnel. After that, we will look at schemes and intangibles that have been good, bad, and ugly for the Packers. Enjoy and make sure to check out all parts of the segments!
Monday: Good Personnel Edition
Allen Barbre: Any discussion about players that have performed poorly and hurt the team must start with Allen Barbre. In the preseason, Barbre beat out Breno Giacomini for the starting right tackle position and excelled in the run game in that span of four weeks. In his first start next to Josh Sitton, the fourth-rounder from Missouri Southern State, he struggled mightily and allowed two sacks and constant pressure from Adewale Ogunleye.
He has fared better since his awful first half against the Bears but still remains a concern. The Packers have worked out veteran Levi Jones, but it does not appear that he will sign with the team. If anything, it should be a wake up call to Barbre that his position is hardly set in stone.
Barbre has been just average, along with the rest of the offensive line, in the run game and needs to improve on pass protection if quarterback Aaron Rodgers is ever going to have time to pass. He has not extended his arms well and his feet have been slow against speed rushers. Bull rushers do not seem to give him as much problem due to his raw strength, but when defenders get outside him, he struggles.
Nick Barnett: Before you go and rip this selection of Barnett as players that have been bad this season, realize that he has just 12 tackles on the season and was yanked in the second half of the Rams game last weekend. Recovering from ACL surgery, Barnett missed significant time in the preseason and it is showing now.
In the 3-4 defense, Barnett’s position asks him to shed blockers to make tackles; unlike the traditional 4-3 defense, where he would shoot gaps to make plays. He looks rusty on the field and, while the surgery can be an excuse, he is still playing poorly and needs to step up.
Right now, the Packers’ best combination on defense inside is A.J. Hawk and Brandon Chillar. Argue that they might not be the two best, but their styles of play complement each other well. Barnett still plays well against the pass, so there’s no need to think Desmond Bishop will take much more time from him in the future, but he needs to get back to his 2007-form quickly.
Deshawn Wynn: I can’t remember the last time I wanted Brandon Jackson to be healthy this badly. One of the biggest position battles in the preseason was who would take over as the third running back on the roster. In the end, Deshawn Wynn beat out rookie Tyrell Sutton and Kregg Lumpkin for the spot. With Jackson still out with a bad ankle, Wynn was expected to fill the third down role and complement Grant in the backfield.
Three games in, Wynn has four rushes for nine yards and one reception for eight yards. The expectations for Wynn were low because no one thought he would have to take the second string duties. But amazingly, Wynn has performed below his already small expectations.
He is not a threat on screen passes and, despite his solid pass blocking, has not done much on third downs. When Jackson comes back (no timetable), Wynn will go back to spelling both, but for now, he needs to step up and at least pound the ball on occasion. The coaching staff has little confidence in him after he looked slow going through the line on his runs, something he must change.
All those fans who wanted Sutton as the third back are looking pretty smart right about now…
Brady Poppinga: For the life of me, I cannot understand how Brady Poppinga is still a starter in the National Football League. He has outstanding size and strength that he uses when he makes plays. Unfortunately, he rarely makes plays. The Packers have struggled against the run and even though all the linebackers are to blame, Poppinga has not helped the cause one bit.
He gets caught in the wash on just about every play and has a hard time shedding blockers to contain on the outside. In pass coverage he struggles to stay with tight ends and just looks too slow to play any kind of zone. The answer lies in Clay Matthews III, who has shown a great knack for getting to the football and creating pressure on the offense.
Matthews has registered just four tackles on the season due to lack of major playing time, but he has managed to get those tackles, a sack, and two passes defended. His pass rushing skills are much better than Poppinga’s and he can cover more ground as well.
As the season goes on and Matthews continues to get his feet wet, I expect him to overtake Poppinga at some point. Poppinga was a borderline cut this preseason and has done little to show why the Packers were correct in keeping him.