Sir, Put Your Clothes Back On And Step Away From The Ledge

After the second week of the season, Green Bay is tied with Chicago at 1-1 in the division.  Minnesota predictably went up to 2-0 by beating the Lions, who seem destined to finish in 4th place, at least in 2009.

My point?  This is exactly where everyone thought we would be.  I'm surprised at the fashion in which Green Bay lost to Cincinnati, but I'm not shocked that the much-improved Bengals took the game.  We are not a Super Bowl contender yet because we have to handle business during the regular season first.  That means winning home games, beating beatable opponents, putting forth maximum efforts against high level teams, and most importantly, taking the division away from the rest of the NFC North.  By losing to the Bengals, the Packers have shown that they're not quite ready for title contention.  They could definitely beat the Rams next week and the Vikings after that, leaving them at 3-1 and a division lead, but even if they go 5-1 or 6-0 against NFC North teams, it won't mean much if they finish at 9-7.

I have been saying this for weeks now.  I have been dropping words of warning left and right, about not to overlook opponents, not to be overconfident, and to not act like we've accomplished anything before the quarter mark of 2009.  I've been accused of being negative, not having faith in the team, and not having a pulse as a fan.  You can call me whatever you want, but I will never be delusional or fair-weathered.  I think this team is capable of doing great things, but I doubt they're ready to truly show it yet.  That's why you won't hear me talking Super Bowl after week 1 and top-5 draft pick after week 2.

That's why the title is what it is.  People are losing their minds because the Packers lost to a team that wasn't as good as they were.  But that's not what happened.  What really happened was the Packers lost to a team that is much improved from the last few years of incredible suckitude, took advantage of weaknesses in Green Bay's roster, and out-pushed, out-ran, and out-played Green Bay on Sunday.

Since I didn't get a chance to actually see the game, I'm only going to hit on a few points.  If you want a more in-depth review, check out Brandon's articles

  • Youngest team in the league = penalties galore.  No amount of coaching is going to be able to remove mistakes stemming from inexperience.  Unless of course its Al Harris' aggressiveness or Jarrett Bush's complete ineptitude, which are different issues entirely.
  • Aaron Rodgers still doesn't have a turnover, which is remarkable.  He's been sacked 10 times, hit several more, and he's only coughed up the football once, and it was recovered by Green Bay.  Just imagine what he could do with some protection.  If it were me under center, I'd have night terrors by now.
  • O-Line depth is a huge problem, and the blame lies mainly with GM Ted Thompson.  Multi-position backups are fine to have, but you can't have them starting and/or playing at critical positions.  Daryn Colledge is a prime example.  He played LT in college and made the transition to LG in the pros, where he started on Sunday.  But when Clifton went down, you simply MUST have a backup for him instead of relying on Scott Wells to take Colledge's spot while Colledge slides over to the outside.  It's a bad strategy and it showed yesterday.

    Here's why this is Thompson's problem: the guy drafts by ability rather than position.  I like that approach to a certain extent, but you're eventually going to have to find someone who actually, you know, plays the position you're looking to upgrade at.  Seriously, go back and look at how many players Thompson has brought in and compare the position they played in college to what they're asked to play in Green Bay.  With some (Daryn Colledge from LT to LG, Korey Hall from LB to FB), it works.  But with others (Breno Giacomini from TE to T, Jason Spitz from G to C), it doesn't work as well. 
  • Want another Thompson criticism?  Keeping 3 fullbacks when RB and S depth is an issue, and the special teams still aren't able to do their jobs.  The coverage units were subpar yesterday, but the biggest thing is that, without Atari Bigby or Nick Collins, the pass defense is in major trouble.  And who's left that can play safety?  Aaron Rouse (backup), Derrick Martin (converted CB/backup), Charles Woodson (starting CB, failed safety in 2008), and Jarrett Bush (horrible).

    I swear to God, if I see that Jarrett Bush steps on the field while Aaron Rouse or Derrick Martin is available the sideline, I will flip out.
  • Receiver depth means nothing if your guys can't catch the football.  Seriously, somebody needs to check this out.  There were at least three dropped balls yesterday, and I'd bet there were at least three more I didn't hear about.
  • Ryan Grant still not performing?  Maybe if the playcalling were improved and the run game not abandoned in the second half, things might be different.  He started out the game strong, but had 11 of his 14 carries before halftime.  What gives?

    Meanwhile, Cedric Benson had 29 carries for 141 yards, including 8 rushes of 6 yards or more.  Ouch.
  • B.J. Raji can make or break the defensive line.  His deactivation for the game was HUGE.  It may be a baseless claim with no proof whatsoever, but I firmly believe that if Raji was in the game, Benson's yardage would have been cut down by half, and all those long gains would have been short-circuited quickly. 

    I do not understand what kept him from playing.  Was his ankle injury that bad?  If so, why was he practicing all week?  Do the coaches think that a rotation of Jenkins-Jolly-Pickett-Montgomery is enough?

Again, having not watched the game, I can't really give any better impressions than that.  Let 'er rip in the comments section.

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