As the Green Bay Packers enjoy some time off in week eight, our writers are taking a look at a few different aspects of the team, including whether or not Mike McCarthy is out of touch with the NFL today. Here’s what we have to say about the Packers and the rest of the NFL.
Shawn Wagner: The Bears continue to find ways to win with youth
On an overall NFL level, seeing three shutouts for the first time since December 2012 was a bit of a surprise, especially for teams like Denver and Arizona who we have come to expect strong offensive output from. This will surely catch flack from Packers fans reading this article, but on an individual level, the Chicago Bears continued to catch my attention in week seven and have done so since their loss to Green Bay in week four.
After an overtime victory over the Ravens the previous week, the Bears found a way to beat the Panthers despite Mitch Trubisky completing just four of seven passes. Imagine what Chicago will look like once Trubisky catches his stride as anticipated. Their first and second-year players have been outstanding and found their ways into starting roles, with contributions from the likes of Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Adam Shaheen, and week seven hero Eddie Jackson. John Fox should get some of the credit for the trickery and defensive prowess the team has showed in recent weeks, but General Manager Ryan Pace deserves major recognition for the drafts he has put together as well.
Chicago may be 3-4, but that is a far better record than most expected coming into the season. They have been competitive in losses, too. An upset over a talented, tough Carolina team only cements their standing as a team to watch for the future, especially with the ceiling of Trubisky at quarterback.
Paul Noonan - Mike McCarthy is a dinosaur, and that will continue to become more apparent now that Aaron is gone
I have many failings, but perhaps the largest for me was underrating the impact of coaches. LAst year I would have happily and confidently proclaimed the Rams to be a hopeless mess, Jared Goff to be a bust, and Carson Wentz to be terrible. I now find this oversight embarrassing as I have proclaimed the greatness of Belichick forever, and it should have been apparent that at some point coaches with more advanced concepts would come along and leave the old guard in the dust. Rams’ coach Sean McVay appears to be pretty good, and as it turns out, if you dump a team of high first rounders on a good coach he can have some success. In Philly former Packer backup quarterback Doug Pederson is showing everyone exactly why he was so valued as a clipboard-holder all those years, and he’s turned around an offense that frankly lacked skill position talent coming into this year.
Mike McCarthy is still good at what he does, and for a long time that made him a great coach, it’s just that what he does is quickly becoming the worst way to go about running an offense and a team.
Matub - Injuries are the worst part about football. Especially this year.
This is quite possibly the lamest take that has ever been made on this website. However, this year is quite interesting. There was a great thread on the NFL subreddit about the “All IR/PUP Team”. This year’s team could easily pass for an All-Pro list. The offense would have Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball to Odell Beckham Jr, Julian Edelman, and Allen Robinson. David Johnson would be in the backfield while the offensive line would have Joe Thomas and Jason Peters as bookends.
The defense would be quite stout as well. JJ Watt and Cliff Avril would rush the passer along with Tamba Hali. Haloti Ngata would clog the middle while the rest of the front-7 would include the likes of Whitney Mercilus, Shane Ray, and Jordan Hicks. Deangelo Hall and Jason Verrett would be there to shut down opposing wideouts.It is absolutely amazing how much great football is robbed from fans by injuries. Not only would this year’s “All-IR” team win games, if healthy...they would dominate.
Jon Meerdink - Morgan Burnett is going to be a good test of Ted Thompson’s “new” philosophy
Internet writers spilled a lot of digital ink this spring wondering if Ted Thompson had turned over a new leaf with his spate of free agent acquisitions, but a more accurate test of that theory could be on the horizon.
Morgan Burnett is set to hit unrestricted free agency this offseason, and his importance to the team has never been more apparent than in the last couple games. Without Burnett on the field, the secondary in particular and the defense as a whole has looked lost and would figure to stay lost until he returns. It seems like bringing him back would be a no brainer, but that’s where things get complicated.
Burnett turns 29 in January and is already among the highest paid safeties in the league. Getting him back for another go-round in Green Bay won’t be cheap, and it would be extremely uncharacteristic for Thompson to re-up with a player of his age. We’ll really see if we’re dealing with a changed version of Ted Thompson if he brings back Burnett, a player his team desperately needs.
Jordan Smith- Will someone be excited about the Jaguars with me?
Look no further for an example of NFL parity than the Jacksonville Jaguars. On Sunday, they sacked Indianapolis’ Jacoby Brissett 10 times. That wasn’t a type-o where I added and accidental zero. THEY SACKED HIM TEN TIMES. In a variety of ways too. Take a look at their defensive numbers, though. They rank dead last in rush defense DVOA, but first in pass defense DVOA.
That sort of parity seems to be the norm for the 2017 NFL season. Only one team has a single loss (Philadelphia) and while 22 teams have at least 3 losses through 7 weeks. We’re just seeing a boatload of teams that are good at one thing, like these Jaguars, and just really bad at something else.
Evan “Tex” Western - Preseason expectations mean nothing
As anyone who tries to predict games early on this year can attest, many teams are not what we first believed them to be. The Jaguars, the Rams, the Bills, even the Eagles are far outpacing their preseason expectations and are in position to make the playoffs. A few of these teams are doing so thanks to big steps forward by their quarterbacks — second-year pros Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are vastly improved over a year ago, with Goff benefiting greatly from the hiring of new head coach Sean McVey — while the Jaguars are seeing rookie running back Leonard Fournette and a revamped defense dominate their competition.
Meanwhile, preseason darlings like Atlanta, Oakland, and Tampa Bay are all at .500 or worse. Quarterback play again is a critical reason, but not the only one. Matt Ryan has struggled without Kyle Shanahan and Derek Carr has missed time with an injury. However, Jameis Winston has succeeded in cutting back on his interceptions, but continues to fumble the football with regularity and is seeing his defense consistently let him down.
It’s hard to say if this season is more unexpected than usual; it certainly feels like it, though.