I guess the first stage of the argument has now come to an end. The Packers are not only less than elite team; they also cannot even beat the worst team in the league.
The Tamp Bay offense lead by rookie Josh Freeman starting his first NFL game sliced through the Packers fancy new defense like a hot knife through butter.
The often victimized Buccaneer defense terrorized Aaron Rodgers and had no problem stopping the Packers offense when they most needed to.
The Packer Special teams unit did not participate in last Sunday’s game so there is no need in even mentioning them.
The 2009 Packers are not very good.
It is time we move onto stages two and three of the argument, what is wrong and how do you fix it.
What is wrong with the Packers?
First of all, most of the Packers problems can be traced to a poor football philosophy by GM Ted Thompson but everyone should know that by now. I prefer to reflect on specific failures and weaknesses.
The Packer linebackers have never lived up to expectations. For the amount of attention, draft choices and free agents the franchise has given this position, the Packers should have the best linebacker corps in the league. You’d expect Hawk and Barnett to be terrorizing opposing running backs and quarterbacks. There has never been any terror and even solid play seems to be asking too much.
Worse than the linebacker position, the Packer safeties are two of the worst in the league. I don’t care if Nick Collins made the pro-bowl last year. The guy cannot cover his own shadow. Big play after big play for three straight years leaves me to believe these safeties cannot play at this level.
The defensive line does not have a premiere pass rusher. They might have had one once but now he is a member of the pathetic line backing crew. Can anyone understand now what happens when your linebackers cannot pass cover tight ends and running backs coming out of the backfield?
The Offensive line . . .
The Packers running game lacks a starting caliber NFL back.
The Packer receivers are talented but not, in fact, elite. Actually, they do not have a prototypical, big and fast, go-to guy. They have not had one since Sharpe and very few quarterbacks are accurate enough to make it in the NFL without one.
That brings us to the most controversial problem. Aaron Rodgers is not as good as you might think.
Remember there are countless college quarterbacks with the talent and tools possessed by Aaron Rodgers. If you do not agree with this statement, you are just wrong.
Here are the intangibles that separate success from failure in the NFL; split second decision making, reading defenses, seeing the entire field, anticipation, leadership.
In the NFL, you don’t have all day. Every second an offensive line gives a QB to see an open receiver, is also another second you are giving the opposing defensive backs to anticipate what you are doing. The game must (and I repeat must) happen on a faster level than Rodgers is currently playing at.
Rodgers needs to see where pressure is coming from and adjust. He doesn’t seem to adjust even when the pressure is repeatedly coming from the same place. The coaching staff is not on the field. It is the quarterback’s job to identify what the opposition is doing and make adjustments during the play.
The Packers are running receiver sets with no one in the backfield. This means someone is open. Rodgers needs to be able to either identify or anticipate who will be open and quickly make the throw. It is garbage to say that there were coverage sacks against Tampa Bay.
Finally, if Rodgers cannot lead his team to victory against pathetic Tampa Bay, if he cannot inspire this team to victory when victory is practically given, then where is the leadership?
How do you fix the Packers?
The first step to fixing the Packers will be getting rid of a failed Ted Thompson. He cannot draft and his personnel decisions have torpedoed the course of a highly successful franchise.
Second, the Packers will need a great coach if they want to turn this thing around. Sure they were lucky with Holmgren, but that has not worked since. They need to get Bill Cowher or Mike Shanahan.
Third, the Packers will need to assess Aaron Rodgers and make a determination if he is indeed a franchise quarterback. Personally, I would like to see them trade Aaron Rodgers and draft one of three quarterbacks who will be in the draft. That will be another story.
Fourth, they will need to go out in free agency and get both a left tackle and a pro bowl caliber safety.
Hopefully, the other problems I mentioned will get better around some key additions. Anyway you look at it, changes will be made.