A complete unmitigated disaster, one that requires serious introspection, and self-evaluation. That’s perhaps the only way to describe what the Packers 38-28 loss to hapless Tampa Bay was. This is the kind of loss that ruins a season, particularly with a match-up with the red-hot Cowboys on national television next Sunday afternoon.
The Buccaneers were supposed to be the perfect whipping boy for a frustrated Packers team coming off one of the most emotional losses of the season. Tampa even had their throwback uni’s on, hearkening back to the days of historic ineptitude to match the Bucs 0-7 season.
Make that 1-7.
The Buccaneers couldn’t get to the quarterback, and had traded their most talented pass-rusher to the Bears. Better remind Aaron Rodgers, at least after you pick him up off the ground. Mark Tauscher didn’t help much, as the Packers gave up six sacks.
At some point Rodgers is going to start feeling phantom pressure, get happy feet, and start making bad throws. In fact, we’re already starting to see it. Donald Driver might be right when he says that if you give Rodgers time, he’s the best quarterback in the NFL, but if they can’t start protecting him soon, it could do permanent damage to Rodger’s psyche.
I hear a lot of whining about Ted Thompson, and I hesitate to even bring him up, but this isn’t on TT. This team isn’t constructed poorly, it’s being coached poorly.
I was never sold on Mike McCarthy as the man to lead the Packers back to the Super Bowl. He has been consistently out-coached during his tenure in Green Bay, and it’s been the same problems, no matter who the players, or coaches have been.
The offense can’t move the ball consistently, and relies too heavily on big plays. The short passing game has disappeared, and given way to five, and seven step drops, despite the Packers' inability to protect. And when Rodgers does get time, he can’t find a receiver. I don’t know if guys just aren’t getting open, or if Rodgers isn’t making his reads properly, but something has to change, and nothing has.
The running game has shown improvement, and Grant seems to have his burst back. But the play action game has been nonexistent. When they do go off a run fake, it’s all downfield throws. Rodgers doesn’t seem content with underneath routes, even when they’re wide open, and prefers to throw into double, or even triple coverage downfield (a habit he no doubt learned from his predecessor).
The defense continues to get take-aways, and stop the run, but the lack of a pass-rush has been the undoing of the season for the Packers. Even getting a rookie making his first start wasn’t enough to create some havoc in the opponents backfield. The interceptions were made on rookie throws, not great defensive calls.
The preseason showed the Packers susceptibility to underneath throws if the blitz didn’t get home. The regular season has only proved that tenfold. The 3-4 was a sexy idea at the time of the switch, coming off a season in which the Packers' defense was responsible for a number of late game collapses.
Now after two terrible weeks, the 3-4 has about as much sex appeal as your elementary school lunch lady.
Al Harris, and Charles Woodson, can only fool Father Time so long. Aaron Kampman’s concerns over the switch were clearly justified as he has proven week in, and week out he’s a terrible fit at outside linebacker.
This team looks tailor-made for a 4-3, with Pickett and Raji inside, Kampman and Jenkins at the ends, and Jolly (until he goes to jail anyway) on the inside on passing downs. Chillar, Matthews, and Barnett would be an athletic, and versatile linebacking group, and we all know what the secondary can do, just as long as they don’t have to cover for 10 seconds a play.
If the Packers are committed to the 3-4, then you have to make some changes in personnel. If they’re committed to winning now, then the change must come from the coaches. Either Dom needs to figure something else out, or he needs to go.
Same goes for McCarthy. There is too much talent on this offense for them to be stalling in the red zone, continually, and perpetually committing penalties, not to mention being habitually put in a position to fail because of poor calls.
Lost in the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers hype is the fact that the pressure is now on the Packers to make the playoffs, since the Vikings are almost certainly going (likely with a first round bye).
The only goal now, is to win every week. Fail to win enough games, and miss out on the playoffs, heads need to roll in Green Bay. The fans here expect the playoffs, and they deserve it. Especially when the former face of the franchise will be playing well into January in purple and gold.
Mike McCarthy, and Dom Capers, you, and your staff, have been put on notice. Your jobs are on the line if you don’t make the playoffs.
And Ted Thompson, you’re not immune. If the Packers are sitting home during the playoffs, and there aren’t consequences, it’s time for you to go too. You better hope the Pack can keep Aaron Rodgers upright, because if he get sacked much more, and you don’t make some changes, then you deserve to be sacked along with him.