Green Bay Packers: How the Team Can Squash the Injury Bug
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We all know that the Packers have suffered a great deal of injuries as we are approaching the midway point of the 2010 season. Second year starting OLB Brad Jones being the most recent addition to the season ending injured reserve list.
The list of defensive players that have or will miss time this year is long.
The offense, however, has remained relatively healthy when compared to the defense. And for that reason I believe the offense is capable of minimizing the impact of the numerous injuries.
Throughout the first seven games of the year, the battered defense has kept the Packers in games and has yet to fall off the proverbial cliff as a result of injuries. But I believe their luck may soon run out.
The Packers enter a tough stretch of their schedule starting with the New York Jets this Sunday and face a Dallas Cowboys team next week that despite losing QB Tony Romo, still have plenty of offensive firepower to score points.
Therefore, I believe the time is now for the offense to take control of the season. They have lost TE Jermichael Finley and RB Ryan Grant to injuries but the bulk of their "perimeter players", as McCarthy refers to them, remains in tact.
They still have veteran RB Brandon Jackson averaging 4.5 yards per carry. And a receiving core that includes Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Veteran TE Donald Lee provides consistency at the tight end position in addition to youngster Andrew Quarless being a more vertical threat tight end.
The offense has shown flashes of greatness at times especially during early portions of games. The problem is that they seem to vanish in the second half.
QB Aaron Rodgers and his receiving core displayed on national television Sunday night what many Packer fans have been witnessing all season.
Deep throws on third downs that fall incomplete, communication breakdowns between the receivers and Rodgers leading to incomplete passes, and a definite lack of real confidence in the running game by coach McCarthy have been a consistent theme for the offense.
Not to mention Rodgers already surpassing his 2009 interception total.
And you can sprinkle in some questionable play calling at times too by head coach Mike McCarthy. For example using a five wide spread formation with no threat of a running play on third and two late in the game.
Or using FB John Kuhn on short yardage situations where his successes have become fewer and fewer it seems.
If the Packers hope to make a run at the NFC North title and have a legitimate chance in the playoffs, the offense must begin to control the football.
Too many short possessions of the three and out variety or giving the ball back late in games when you have a lead just won't cut it against the superior opponents the Packers are scheduled to face.
While I believe the defense will still be able to remain competitive, the offense must understand that the defense is on borrowed time with all the new faces being forced into action.
Too many times this year the opponents have run more plays than the Packer offense. The offense must turn their attention to first downs rather than "kill shots".
Especially against the blitz heavy Jets this week, the Packers must take advantage of an aggressive unit by running more screen plays or quick release passing plays.
Rodgers and McCarthy have to realize that they have all the tools they need including a deep receiving core (which by the way likes to tout itself as the best in the league) to move the chains and keep their battered defense off the field.
And we haven't even mentioned their average at best special teams. Pair that battered defense with a special teams that rarely tilts the field position when needed and is prone to giving up big returns, it seems obvious that a ball control offense must take shape in Green Bay.
In my opinion, its not a matter of can the Packers control the football. Its a matter of will they control the football.
Coaching a healthy team can take some of the guess-work out of the job. When serious injuries and adversity strikes, a quality coach can then really separate himself from an average coach.
I believe this Sunday against a top notch team like the Jets will require every ounce of creativity coach McCarthy and his staff can muster. We should have a good idea then what type of coach the Green Bay Packers have.
Being able to adjust your philosophy and your game plan to the circumstances you face as a team is a must. McCarthy must realize, for the sake of his defense, the vertical passing game needs to take a back seat to getting first downs and winning the time of possession statistic.
Just because you can throw it deep, doesn't mean you should.
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