5 Green Bay Packers Veterans Who Need to Step Up Their Game
The NFL lockout greatly benefited the Green Bay Packers. They didn't have to attend those ridiculous offseason OTAs, they got a chance to stay away from football after playing an exhausting 20 games and they were able to be stars during almost the whole offseason.
However, the season has proven that offseason workouts are important. NFL offensive records are being broken across the board, due largely to the lack of practice the defenses have had.
There are also certainly players who have also taken a step back due to the lengthy offseason, and though the Packers still look like the best team in the NFL, it's clear some veteran players have gotten a little too carried away and have lost some focus.
Here are the top five.
Don't get me wrong, Clay Matthews has been extremely good so far, and that's why he's only No. 5. There's a saying that stats aren't everything, and Matthews is living proof of that.
He had four tackles for a loss against Chicago, he was constantly drawing double teams, he appears to have solved his inability to stop the run, he's the only legit pass rusher on the team left since Cullen Jenkins departed and he's fighting a quad injury.
At the same point last season, however, he was coming off a hamstring injury that kept him completely out of the preseason and still punched in six sacks in just two games.
Matthews has been good—really good. However, I miss the Matthews that was wreaking havoc on the quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers' Feet
Aaron Rodgers is now popularly being called the game's best quarterback, though I respectfully disagree because I think that belongs to Tom Brady right now. However, I do believe we will all be saying that Rodgers is better than Brady by the end of the year.
As good as Rodgers has been playing with his arm, he's off to a slow start with his feet this season. Maybe it's because he decided it's not worth risking his health anymore, or maybe defenses have just been doing a good job of containing him.
Either way, Rodgers ran for back-to-back 300-yard rushing performances in 2009 and 2010, but has a lonely 17 yards so far this season. He still buys time with his feet, but I'd like to see him move forward instead of right or left, and I'd like to see that sooner rather than later.
Let's face it: Steve Smith got the better of Charles Woodson when Green Bay faced Carolina. Woodson didn't even deny it.
It's tempting to say Woodson is just getting older and that he's not as fast as he used to be, and there's some truth to that. However, Woodson has shown a burst in his speed, even at the age of 35.
Look at the way he played against speedster Mike Wallace in the Super Bowl.
Woodson is still one of Green Bay's best defenders, but he's playing at about half the level of the player that made him defensive MVP in 2009.
Chad Clifton found the fountain of youth last season, not only because he was playing his best football in years, but also because he managed to stay relatively healthy throughout the season.
This year he looks as if he's finally starting to decline, but what else should fans expect of the oldest starting left tackle in the league?
I'm not saying he's playing poorly, nor am I saying Green Bay should consider starting someone else. I'm just saying he's definitely not having the season he had last year when he shut out some of the league's best pass rushers during the Packers' playoff run.
It's just a little disconcerting because we all know, a quarterback simply must have his blind side protected.
Watching the Packers game against the Cowboys back in 2009, I noticed how much younger Donald Driver looked.
The guy wasn't just regularly catching balls and making big plays, but he also seemed to have a ton of athleticism and speed. Now he doesn't even look like half the player he was.
Driver only has five receptions for 50 yards in the three games this season. That could largely be due in part because Rodgers has five legit receivers and Jermichael Finley to throw to, but watching Driver on film, he's definitely not the athletic freak he used to be.
Unless he finds the fountain of youth like Clifton did, a pay cut is not out of the question for Driver.