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 are getting the Packers by in easy games, but will not as the season goes on and games become tougher.
Today, we will look at the Packers ugly personnel through three weeks. 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
Tuesday: Bad Personnel Edition
Let me preface this by saying that the “ugly” players include performances that have not helped out the Packers much this season and have played below expectations. However, these performances have not hurt the Packers enough to warrant putting them in the “bad” category.
Greg Jennings: Fresh off an offseason that saw him work out with Larry Fitzgerald and receive a contract extension, Jennings has had a tough time being a consistent target to Aaron Rodgers. As a proven No. 1 receiver, he has received double coverage looks often and has seen his receptions and yards dip.
For now, it has not hurt the Packers as much because Donald Driver has stepped up his performance and seen more targets from Rodgers because he is usually in single coverage. However, if the Packers’ offense is going to get back to where it was last season, Jennings is going to have to work to get open and spread the field. He has made the big play when necessary but over the course of a season that it not going to work.
Ryan Grant: For whatever reason, Grant has not looked the same as he did in 2007 over the past two seasons, and it has hurt the run game considerably. The Packers have committed to Grant as their starter, but currently injured Brandon Jackson is looking over his shoulder at that starting spot.
He is a combination of a power back and a speed back, but lately that speed has disappeared from his game and he does not cut back like he used to. When he hits holes, there is hesitation and you never get the feeling that he is going to break off a huge run. His long rush is just 17 yards and he is averaging just 3.7 yards per rush.
Some of the blame can be put on the consistency of the offensive line but Grant still needs to step up. It has not killed the Packers because Grant has not had an atrocious season (14th in the league in rushing) but getting him back to that 2007 form will be key for the run game moving forward.
Jeremy Kapinos: Kapinos punted his way onto the roster but the punt team unit as a whole has been less than stellar this season. His average punt is 45.4 yards, ranking 15th in the league, but his net punt is just 35.9 yards, ranking second to last in the league.
Some of those woes can be attributed to bad coverage, but Kapinos’ hang time is an issue as he has induced just one fair catch. On average, the Packers’ punt unit is giving up the second most yards per return at just under 17 yards a return, and it must change so that the defense does not always have such a short field.
Jermichael Finley: After a spectacular preseason that saw him slice up defenses at will, Finley has been quiet to start the year. He has seen a fair amount of snaps as the Packers have gone with two tight end sets this season, but his targets and receptions have not added up.
Starter Donald Lee had caught nine passes and been targeted 11 times to Finley’s five receptions and nine targets, although Finley has more receiving yards (62) than Lee (46). When Finley went on his tear in the preseason, everyone seemed to forget about the value of Lee, who has the highest catch-per-target on the team.
Still, Finley becoming a vertical threat in the Packers’ offense would do wonders for what the offense could do. Finley can line up wide against a cornerback and use his size, or can set up on the line and use his speed on a linebacker.
Because of the great depth the Packers have at wide receiver as well as Lee’s strong start, his performance has not hurt the Packers as much. If he can pick things up like he did in the preseason, it would be a huge lift.