Green Bay Packers: Bye-Week Checklist For Aaron Rodgers and Company
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are on an undisputed role headed into their bye week.
Shutting out the league's best running-attack in New York followed by a blowout home victory over the lackluster Dallas Cowboys is impressive in itself, but what can the Packers do to improve over the mid-season break?
Aaron Rodgers proved his worth against Dallas Sunday night, but room for improvement is lurking heading into the home-stretch of the regular season. How Rodgers handles the pressure and criticism will ultimately lead to his later development.
Looking ahead to a Minnesota Vikings team that is more than capable of pulling off the upset at home, the Packers must fire on all cylinders coming off the long week. Rest assure, the team will be well rested, but will they perform?
Every team has needs it must fulfill to insure winning at any cost, so the question remains: what can the Packers do?
Let's find out.
Priority Number One: Rest Up
Mike McCarthy's crew has obviously been plagued by injuries the entire season, yet they still find a way to head into the bye week with a 6-3 record.
However the Packers should not take their health for granted -- getting healthy should be No.1 on Green Bay's checklist.
Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, and now even such names as Donald Driver and Andrew Quarless have found their way into the ever-growing injury-list.
It sure is a pain knowing not two, but three of your All-Pro's are off the field due to injuries. A week off should sure-up Donald Driver and Mark Tauscher.
Resting up is Green Bay's best friend at this point of the season. Everyone on this team (including McCarthy and Dom Capers) could use a good break.
One thing is for sure: the Packers will be well rested and ready for their match-up against the Minnesota Vikings come November 21st.
Priority Number Two: Assign a Starting Tight End
Jermichael Finley, Donald Lee, and now Andrew Quarless. How many Tight End's can Mike McCarthy possibly count on this season? It seems to be a few too many.
Again, injuries have played a huge part in how Green Bay's offense has [and will] operate the rest of the season. The Tight End position is a huge part of the successes of Aaron Rodgers, and the offense as a whole.
The injuries are unfortunate, but it's about time someone steps up and takes hold of this opportunity. Tom Crabtree looks to be a likely candidate.
Without much regular-season experience, Crabtree will need to build up some experience and strength within the offense. But we all should have the utmost confidence in Aaron Rodgers' abilities to implement Crabtree into the offensive schemes.
Priority Number Three: Continue to Establish The Run
In last week's shellacking of Dallas, Brandon Jackson rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries, while John Kuhn stepped up to get a clutch 50 yards on 13 attempts.
Don't get too low on these running-backs. Their statistics may be a bit low individually, but the combined total is what we should really be caring about.
John Kuhn is now seemingly the primary red-zone running back, and for good reason. Kuhn's tough frame can barrel through opposing defenses deep in the red-zone. Look for Kuhn to get the ball on the goal-line.
Developing this 20th-ranked rushing-attack will be the deciding factor come playoff time; a time when Green Bay cannot afford to be the one-demensional offense we've come to know.
The toughest tests for Jackson and Kuhn will come the last few weeks of the season, against the New York Giants and Chicago Bears. Should be a great end of the season.
Priority Number Four: Get Atari Bigby Significant Playing Time
Arguably the Packers' most important defensive back, Atari Bigby will need to get his quality looks in by the time the playoffs come calling -- the time when Dom Capers and the Packers will need him most.
In his first game since coming off the PUP list, Bigby appeared on a multitude of special-teams plays, most notably including kickoffs and kickoff returns. How Capers plans to use Bigby come November 21st against the Vikings remains to be seen.
Bigby was activated November 6th, and accounted for two tackles in the victory over Dallas Sunday night.
Charlie Peprah has played surprisingly well as a starter, so Bigby will likely be used only in certain packages, at least initially.
Once Bigby returns to his top-tear form, the Packers' secondary will be talented and experienced.
Priority Number Five: Place James Jones As The Number Two Receiver
Next to No.1 receiver Greg Jennings, James Jones is clearly the break-out player of the season for the Packers' offense.
Accounting for 123 yards on eight receptions and a touchdown will certainly give you the attention you deserve -- especially in one of the league's most premier passing attacks.
Jones ranks 2nd in receiving yards (407), and has the team's highest average yards per reception (15.1).
Donald Driver is an all-time Packers great, but recent tweaks and injuries could cost him his go-to reputation in the passing game since Jones first burst onto the scene.
We all knew this move would be inevitable, given Driver's age and Jones' youth.
It's time for James Jones and Greg Jennings to take over this Green Bay passing attack; along with helping Rodgers lead this team to the promise land.