FanPost

Playoffs? It isn't a sure thing.

Yes, I am p*ssed, but at this time next week the Packers could very well be 2-4, needing to win 8 of the final 10 games just to make it into the post season. A look at the schedule shows that 8-2 should be a possibility, but then who would have thought we could be 2-3 at this point in the season?

So what has gone wrong? Both offensively and defensively the Packers have been inconsistent, showing much vulnerability.

OFFENSE
  • The coaching changes. Losing Joe Philbin has made a larger impact than we would have ever imagined. Everyone thought that MM was the offensive genius, and that Philbin was, more or less, along for the ride. His duties had centered more on game planning and finding weaknesses to exploit in the opposing defenses, something we have lacked this year. Is Tom Clements a victim of the Peter Principle: promoted beyond his ability? Is McAdoo, a former TE, really any more than competent?
  • Aaron Rodgers is playing like a top QB, but not like an MVP. Against the Colts he held the ball so long looking for deep receivers, while his underneath guys were open, then he'd get sacked or force a throw 15-20 yards down field. The question that I ask is: Is Rodgers preparing for games as thoroughly this year?
  • Rodgers has sometimes held the ball for 5+ seconds; and our much vaunted WRs still can't open against 3rd string DBs? Where has the Jordy Nelson of last year gone?
  • Greg Jennings may mean more to the Packers' offense than anyone imagined. Since his injury last year, the offense has not played well except for the last game of the regular season (2012) against the Lions.
  • In training camp there was talk of the Packers having the best OL in football. That was certainly premature. Average at best. Jeff Saturday hasn't truly filled the shoes of Wells. No one on the line has looked impressive.

DEFENSE

  • In 2010 when Barnett was injured, Desmond Bishop stepped in and proved to be an upgrade. In 2012 with Bishop's injury, D.J. Smith has shown himself to be an effective back-up, but not a starting caliber ILB on a winning NFL team. Sorry Smith fans, but he is too small and too slow with good, but not great, instincts.
  • Our defensive problems seem to be as much coaching related as personnel related.
  • Our rookies (Worthy, Hayward, McMillian and Perry) have played well.
  • The defensive backfield appears to have been told to play a soft zone for the most part. While AR can hold the ball for 5+ seconds and not find an open receiver; opposing QBs have no such problems as our DBs hang off the WRs, I'm guessing to prevent explosive plays.
  • The DC also loves to play a soft middle D - my new name for the 2 down linemen, 1 ILB, 6 DB formation that Capers now seems to like on 2nd and 3rd downs. Of course, the opposing offense knows that they can run the ball up the middle for around 5 yards on this set. This was the set-up on Luck's TD run up the middle.

SOLUTIONS?

  • I include a question mark, because I don't claim to be an authority.
  • Run the ball more consistently. The offense has stuttered when they've stopped running the ball and gone pass-pass-pass-pass, etc. No one is concerning themselves with our running game; we've got to gain some respect for the run to open the pass back up and stop the pass rush!
Since the start of the 2010 season, the Packers are 2-8 when they drop back on at least 70 percent of their offensive plays. As effective as their passing game has been over that stretch, they are 29-3 when they drop back less than 70 percent of the time.
One of the most concerning issues is that the Packers' three losses this season qualify among the highest 11 drop-back ratios they have had since 2010. (Kevin Seifert)
  • While Jennings is out, run more 2 TE pass/run formations. Both Finley and Williams are good receiving TEs and can create mismatches. Play to your strengths!
  • Rodgers needs to get back to throwing to the open receiver, rather than looking for a big play. He has been forcing the ball a lot this year. Quick slants. Quick outs. Put in some motion. Where has Alex Green been on 3rd down?
  • Play more base defense; no more soft middle. Neal, Raji, Daniels and Worthy are all capable of getting inside penetration on the QB and providing more resistance than air against the run. Even in obvious passing situations, I'd rather see a 3-3 setup than the 2-3 we've been running. A pass rush is more effective when the middle gets a push; it makes it harder to step up and avoid Matthews.
  • Play more aggressively in the defensive backfield. You can't play straight man-to-man all the time; it is too vulnerable to the big play. But the DB can mix man and zone up to keep the offense confused. Two deep safeties can help cover for a man match-up that is especially difficult, e.g., Reggie Wayne. And a zone doesn't need to be played as soft as we've been playing it.

The Packers are capable of turning it around. The problems are mental: lack of focus, lack of motivation (?), lack of trust in the running game, poor game-planning on offense and defense, not adjusting to what the other team is doing. The personnel is capable.

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