Happy Festivus, Green Bay Packers fans!
To kick off our 2019 Packers Festivus celebration here at APC, we begin with the traditional airing of grievances. One might think that when it comes to a team that is currently sitting at 11-3 after two consecutive seasons of sub-.500 football that there wouldn’t be a lot to gripe about and that fans would be ecstatic with the Packers thus far.
That person would be wrong. If you’ve watched any amount of Green Bay football this season, you know the team has won in a multitude of ways and it hasn’t always been pretty. The Packers are still a flawed team who has found a way to win close games.
In other words, I have a lot of problems with this team and now you’re going to hear about it!
Let’s start with the offense. What the heck kind of system are they trying to run?
As inconsistent as they have been, one part has been regularly on point and that’s the opening drive of the game. They’re consistently scored touchdowns during the first drive, which is often scripted. This means more than likely this is the most pure version of the Matt LaFleur/Shanahan system the Packers will run. After the first 15 plays or so are finished, the offense suddenly starts to bog down.
What’s with that? My personal theory is that the offense devolves into a bizarre hybrid of what LaFleur wants to run and what Aaron Rodgers ran for many seasons under former coach Mike McCarthy. As we have witnessed this year, sometimes things don’t mix together well like peanut butter and chocolate. Combining LaFleur concepts with McCarthy concepts is like adding Mentos to Diet Coke: it might look cool at first but then you’re stuck cleaning up one heck of a sticky mess.
This brings me to another grievance and I for one can’t believe he’s on the list: Aaron Rodgers.
Look, he’s made some great throws this year and at times looked like he was molding back into MVP form. Yet he’s also shown some of his bad habits haven’t gone away. He’s holding the ball too long, trying to improvise and find a big play, and refusing to take what the defense is giving him. There’s nothing wrong with dinking and dunking when it works. Rodgers often struggles, and this is by no means a coincidence, when the offense shifts to that ugly hybrid version. This was likely put in place to first ease Rodgers’ transition to LaFleur’s system and also to keep the quarterback happy.
The rookie coach clearly didn’t want to ruffle his MVP quarterback’s feathers but given how Rodgers’ improvising now leads to failure more than it does success, it’s time for LaFleur to force feed Rodgers his system. Aaron, we know the medicine may not taste good but it will make you feel better in the long term.
Then there’s the wide receivers. Apparently the number 83 has become synonymous with great hype and even greater disappointment. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, much like the previous number 83 Jeff Janis, is a speedster who apparently can’t hang onto the football. The narrative around the offense this past week would have been much different had he hung on to what would have likely been a 70-yard touchdown against the Chicago Bears. Yes, the Packers still scored on that drive but an explosive play by someone not named Aaron Jones or Davante Adams would have eased many fans’ minds.
Geronimo Allison has also seen his stock fall faster than someone yelling his first name when jumping from an airplane without a parachute. Rodgers and Allison showed flashes of chemistry in 2016 but since then Allison has all but vanished. He too can’t seem to hang onto the football and also like Valdes-Scantling has seen his snap counts decline. When you’re losing out two former undrafted free agents, one whose name sounds like an extraterrestrial Godzilla (Allen Lazard) and another who was a *Division III* prospect who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jesus, you know you’ve messed up.
That’s enough about the offense. Now onto the defense...
Did Dom Capers put a hex on Lambeau Field? I ask that because it seems like his zone defense is haunting the Packers from beyond the grave. The defense continues to be dogged by big plays under Mike Pettine. Luckily they have been tightening up the closer they get to the red zone and goal line, but if you continue to play with fire like that you’re going to get burned. The margin for error is going to get much smaller come playoff time.
Speaking of errors, how about the special teams?
Negative punt return yardage for most of the season? How is that even possible? That means I had more punt return yardage at one point than the Packers and I haven’t played football since lunch recess in middle school. Congratulations Shawn Mennenga, not even Ron Zook or Shawn Slocum could manage that feat. The penalties were reduced this year, but eliminating one joke for another one isn’t enough to improve on rather unfunny comedic act.
With that, so concludes the airing of grievances. Up next is the feats of strength later this afternoon.