While the disgusting loss on Monday night may have been bad for my blood pressure, maybe it will have one good outcome. All of this Super Bowl talk for the Pack can go away for a while. There is no bigger Packer fan than I am. But all the experts picking the Packers to go to the Super Bowl made me nervous. A team picked to go the game should not have as many obvious holes as this team.
On Monday night the obvious holes were the special teams and penalties. Holding penalties on touchdown passes, roughing the quarterback on interceptions, personal fouls on five-yard gains that gave the Bears a score, and on and on. The Pack led the league in penalties last year and outdid themselves with 18 in this game. At some point you have to start looking at the coaching. And that something is systemically wrong.
For the Packers it has been many years since the special teams have been special. We had hoped the intense competition in training camp would lead to a solid punter. The punt to Devin Hester was the worst possible thing to do. We have not seen speed show up in the coverage teams.
Now on to the other areas this team needs to address. Without Grant available, the running backs would struggle to make the squad for many other NFL teams. I like to yell KUHHHHHHHN as much as anyone. I admire his tenacity and work ethic but he makes Samkon Gado look like a shifty runner. Jackson is a good blitz blocker and can catch out of the backfield but shows only brief flashes as a runner. If this is truly a Super Bowl year I do not see the urgency to make a pickup. One along the line of getting Andre Rison in mid-season during the last Super Bowl run.
The offensive line continues to have its challenges. They hoped to get young players a experience as the vets held down the fort for this season. The old vets are holding on for dear life. Those holds are making the Pack pay the price. Julius Peppers is a great player but he destroyed the line on Monday. He cost the Pack the game by forcing the line to hold him and jump early several times. If this keeps up, the team will need to go to the protect packages and limited play calling. Like they did for a sketch last year until the line play came around.
The defense is playing well so far this year but can't stand another injury to the defensive line. The run defense has been good even with the lineman having to play almost every snap. Hopefully there are no games like Arizona in the playoffs or Pittsburgh last year when they looked defenseless. Hopefully Harris will return. This will allow other backs to shuffle around into schemes that confuse the other team.
The Pack is a dangerous team with a top-flight quarterback and a deep corps of receivers. They have an aggressive and attacking defensive style. But there are too many holes to think this is a Super Bowl team. When the Pack won the Super Bowl there was little doubt they were the best team in football that year. They set a record for the number of blowout wins of over 25 points that still stands. That team had a top offense, a top defense, and the best special teams in football. Not winning that year would have been a failure.
But this team will need improving and production by players currently off the radar. It will be fun to watch them all year but I will be surprised if they do indeed go that far.
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