It’s here. It’s finally here!
We sit just 18 hours away from the Super Bowl of the NFL offseason. That’s right – it’s just about time for the NFL Draft.
(Sorry, I just can’t help myself.)
For fans of our beloved Green Bay Packers, what happens tonight through Saturday is of particular importance. As we know, Ted Thompson treats free agency like DARE pamphlets at a Snoop Dogg concert, so the draft is basically the entirety of Green Bay’s offseason in terms of adding new talent.
Not to mention, the Packers were one of the last eight teams playing this past season, so in order to get further in the postseason next time, Green Bay needs to add some key pieces at some important spots. Here’s where that will (or won’t) happen.
That being the case, I’ve decided to put together a primer for Packers fans for the draft. The following contains things I’d like to see happen and things I’d rather avoid for these massively important three days. Hopefully I can help guide you, my fellow Cheesehead, a little bit here, as well.
Continue reading Your 2013 Green Bay Packers draft primer
If you were wondering when – or, maybe, if – we would ever see Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre standing side-by-side again, you got your answer Saturday night.
In a rather surprising turn of events, the pair came together as presenters at the NFL Honors awards show in New Orleans. Outside of four post-game meetings, by all accounts the pair hasn’t really spoken since Favre’s time in Green Bay came to an end after the 2007 season.
Wait a second, wait a second – who am I kidding? “Surprising turn of events”? This was mind-blowing. It was utterly shocking. So shocking, in fact, that yours truly had absolutely no idea how to handle the news of them presenting together when I first heard it. Those two guys? Together in the same space? Were their respective families being held hostage and them going up on stage together was the only way to spare their lives? It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But there they were.
Continue reading Favre and Rodgers re-unite to present at awards show – where do we go from here?
I promised you a second part of our early offseason primer for the Green Bay Packers and dammit, that’s what you’re going to get.
Part one, for those who missed it (shame on you if you are one such person), can be found here. In part two, we’re talking contracts, the draft and free agency, not necessarily in that order. Enjoy!
- Question: We’re still a few months away from the draft. But let’s be honest, it’s never too early to talk about the draft, right? What are some areas the Packers could look to bolster in April?
Answer: No, it’s never too early. Never. In fact, I pretty much began my internal countdown to the draft within a day or two of the loss to the Niners (only 95 days away from round one!). Yeah, I’m deranged, I know. I haven’t really started my in-depth research – though I’m going to – so as of now, we’ll look more at positions rather than specific players.
Continue reading So, should we continue talking about the 2013 season? Sure, why not!
The 2012 season is over for the Green Bay Packers. And, yes, many are still trying to get over the San Francisco defeat and trying not to think of what could’ve been.
But, as we all know, the NFL never stops. That means it’s time to begin piecing together what the 2013 edition of the Packers could look like. And unlike in year’s past, it stands to reason this team will look much different come opening day. For the first time in a long time, there could be significant turnover on the roster and in the coaching staff.
That being the case, it seems appropriate to go comb over everything and figure out who will be back, who will be gone, who’s getting paid and who’s being paid too much (amongst other things). Consider this your early offseason primer for the green and gold. We’re going to do this in two parts because, frankly, it ended up being too long for one. Part two will run later in the week.
Continue reading So, should we talk about the 2013 season already? Yeah, we probably should
Waking up the day after your team’s season ends feels a lot like waking up the day after being dumped.
The finality. The embarrassment. The sense of failure. It just…it just stinks.
But that’s where we are today, a day after the Green Bay Packers were (quite literally) ran out of the playoffs, losing on the road to the San Francisco 49ers by a 45-31 count.
As much as I maybe don’t want to, I suppose I should give you some takeaways from the season-ending defeat, huh? Okay, here we go:
- Even now, a day after the loss, I’m still in shock – and still mortified – as to how badly this defense played. A defense that kept Adrian Peterson under 100 yards last week was completely ripped apart on the ground, allowing 323 – 323! – rushing yards on 43 attempts. In case you were wondering, yeah, that’s 7.5 yards a clip. There was no containment, guys were overplaying things all over the place and getting flat-out fooled by San Francisco’s read-option offense. It was almost as though they had no clue, or no real plan, for what they were up against. It was, in a word, pathetic. In a sense, it looked a lot like Green Bay’s first two games against Peterson. That made last night even more difficult to stomach, as it seemed the Packers had finally figured how to attack a run-first offense. Snake eyes on that roll, huh?
- That your defensive coordinator – a man who has been around the game forever – can’t or won’t make any adjustments or have his guys better prepared for what is, essentially, a high school-level offense, says a lot about Dom Capers. Namely, it says he needs to be relieved of his duties. In three of his four years as the man in charge of the defense, Capers has seen his units torn to shreds when it matters most (Arizona in 2010, New York last year and now this). The first two of those are a little more understandable – Kurt Warner and Eli Manning are great quarterbacks who have wrecked a lot of defenses. But to allow a second-year player, making his first postseason start, to account for 444 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns is inexcusable. It should be the final nail in Capers’ coffin in Titletown.
- I mean, how often did you even see someone spying Colin Kaepernick last night? I can only really think of one play where Brad Jones was filling that role. It may have happened more and I just didn’t notice it, but it sure didn’t appear that way.
- For the “players make or don’t make plays, not coaches” crowd, yes, you have some valid points after this one. Clay Matthews, for example, was far too quiet considering his opponent, left tackle Joe Staley, appeared to be playing with one good arm. Tramon Williams failed to adequately cover for most of the night. Erik Walden was a nightmare to watch. Pretty much anyone not named Sam Shields had a bad night for the defense, really.
- Mike McCarthy abandoning the run in the second half really put this offense in a tough spot. It was unnecessary to do and ended up forcing Aaron Rodgers to do everything himself. You knew then this team was in deep trouble.
- For the night, Rodgers turned in a solid showing and did his all to keep this team in the game. Considering how badly the defense played, the game would’ve been over much quicker in the hands of a lesser quarterback. He only really made one bad decision and that interception wouldn’t have hurt the team so much if someone would’ve tackled Tarell Brown on his return.
- Shows you how little we know – Adam and I both said on our podcast this past week that if the offensive line kept Aldon Smith and Justin Smith in check, the Packers would win. Well, the two only accounted for one quarterback hit and the Niners still romped. For what it’s worth, though, the offensive line did turn in a nice performance as a whole.
- Should McCarthy have punted on 4th and 5 near midfield with his team down 14 early in the fourth? Absolutely not. What faith could he have possibly had in his defense at that point? It’s five yards. You have the MVP under center. It’s the playoffs. I’ll never understand that decision. Certainly not his best coaching job overall last night.
- So, now it’s over and we’re left with one big question: Was this team really that good? The answer is yes AND no, I’ve decided. The Packers won their division for the second year in a row. They also racked up 11 wins. Those things aren’t easy to do. BUT, they also went 2-4 against playoff teams. The offense took a major step back from its record-setting 2011 pace and the defense – despite overall improvement – was shredded in five of the team’s six losses (allowing 30+ points in each of those five defeats). And, as I said on Twitter last night, for a team and a city that defines itself by titles, this season was indeed a failure. That doesn’t mean you can’t take away good games or moments or say you had fun watching them – it just means the ultimate mission fell short. That’s all.
- It’s probably unfair to say this team finds itself at a major crossroads this offseason. But it’s certainly a big one, as numerous changes could loom on the horizon. I’ll be writing about that on this site in the next few days, so be sure to pop back here when you can.
- Lastly, thanks to everyone who has started migrating back to our site over the second half of the year. I know we dropped off the radar there for awhile, but we’re back and it feels great to say that. The season is over, but we aren’t going anywhere.
There’s just nothing better than a playoff win, huh?
That’s exactly what the Green Bay Packers delivered Saturday night, soundly defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in a wild-card round contest at Lambeau Field. The Packers now head on the road for the divisional round, where they will face the San Francisco 49ers next Saturday night at 7 p.m. Lambeau Time.
Here are my takeaways from the playoff victory:
- If you were like me, you had your doubts as to whether or not the Green Bay defense could slow down Adrian Peterson. After all, the Packers already had two recent chances to do so and had failed each time. This time around, however, the defense came to play. Green Bay held Peterson to an extremely quiet 99 yards on 22 attempts (he’d averaged 204.5 yards per game in his first two meetings with the Packers this season).
- The big key to the much-improved showing can be found on the edges. Namely, the Packers SET edges this time. Green Bay didn’t allow Peterson to bounce his runs outside, forcing him to stick between the tackles. Peterson is great, no question, but it’s hard for any back to do much damage if their only real play is to continuously try to slam through the forest of big bodies in the trenches.
- Much of the credit for this goes to Erik Walden, Clay Matthews, Dezmon Moses and Charles Woodson.
- Great to see Woodson back and making a difference. He isn’t the player he was in his prime – or even his amazing 2009 season – but he brings an intangible element to this defense. You feel safer with Woodson in there. And with fresher legs from all the time missed due to injury, he’ll have a lot in his tank for this playoff stretch. That could prove huge for this team.
- Yes, Joe Webb is terrible. But no, Christian Ponder’s presence wouldn’t have made that much of a difference. This defense was ready for a fight and it didn’t matter who was under center for the Vikes.
- If teams want to continually play both safeties high and take away the longer stuff from Green Bay’s offense, the Packers are proving they’re just fine with that. Aaron Rodgers completed eight passes to his backs Saturday night for a total of 84 yards. By taking that approach, particularly early in the game, the Packers were eventually able to open up the longer stuff as time went on. What’s that – stubborn Mike McCarthy is adapting and changing his offensive approach a little bit? Yes, folks, that seems to be the case. And it’s happening at the most crucial time.
- He’s still a little stubborn, though, especially when it comes to giving John Kuhn the ball in short-yardage spots. Kuhn scored on one of those attempts Saturday night (he’d failed on his first two shots), but even if he didn’t, those plays aren’t going away. It appears we’re just going to have to live with it.
- DuJuan Harris – 100 total yards (47 rushing, 53 receiving) and a touchdown Saturday night. What a find this kid has been. It’s too much to say he’s the engine of this offense, obviously, but he’s becoming a big-time component. He brings a shiftiness and intensity this corps of runners hasn’t had in awhile.
- Going 22-of-33 for 274 yards, one score and no picks seems very “ho-hum” for Rodgers, but it was anything but. He made some of the toughest throws you’ll see a QB make yet again in this one. Even if the numbers don’t always reflect it, he sure seems dialed in.
- Speaking of dialed in, Greg Jennings appears to have regained his groove. Like Woodson, it’s just a different unit with him in there making things happen. He likely won’t be around for 2013, but Jennings can help this team do great things for the next (hopefully) few weeks.
- Really great work from the offensive line, all around. A lot of weeks this season, one or two players are just off and it’s really affected things at times. But here, all five played well.
- Even watching on TV, the crowd sure seemed loud. Great work, everyone who went to the game. And thank you for keeping the stands largely free of that disgusting purple.
- Now, it’s a trip out west for the Pack. Obviously, still sort of digesting (read: enjoying the hell out of) Saturday night’s win, but here are a few early thoughts:
- On Twitter as the game ended, I made the analogy of the Packers being Batman and the Niners being Bane (nerd alert!) and I really believe that holds up. The Niners definitely punished the hell out of Green Bay the first time around, as it was clear the Packers were just not able to keep up with San Fran’s physicality. That, obviously, was in week one, a lifetime ago by NFL standards. Has enough changed for Green Bay though?
- The Vikings, at least offensively, are sort of a poor man’s Niners. Strong-armed, running QB. Physical run game. So in a sense, Saturday was good preparation for Green Bay. And if the Packers play defense the way they did Saturday, that’ll go a long way in giving them a shot to pull out the win. Yes, the Niners have much better players, but the concepts of what Green Bay will need to do won’t be a ton different.
- On defense, the Niners are light-years ahead of Minnesota so that’ll be a completely different – and tougher – challenge. The offensive line, in particular, will face its toughest battle yet. But if they can hold up and the Packers can make things happen with this new-found short-passing game, those big plays downfield will again open up. With this receiving corps now totally healthy, there’s no team that can contain that group for four quarters.
- I can almost guarantee you that’s going to be the best game of next weekend. Something tells me it’s going to be much closer this time.
- Hang on to your butts, folks. This is what January is all about.
Well that was a rotten way to end the regular season, huh?
Playing for a first-round bye, the Green Bay Packers were just too sloppy and uneven to get the job done, falling 37-34 on the road to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. As a result of the loss, the Packers will be playing next weekend against these same Vikings, at Lambeau Field, at 7 p.m. Saturday night. Green Bay closes the regular season at 11-5.
Here are my takeaways from this disappointing contest:
- Slow starts. Slow @#&!ing starts. They’ve been an issue for most of the season with this team and that was the case yet again here. Green Bay came out flat, with no hustle or intensity, ultimately spotting the Vikings (10-6) a 13-point lead. Very disheartening to see. You’re playing for a week off – and playing to keep your second biggest rival OUT of the playoffs – and THAT’S the way you come out of the gate? Credit them for fighting back, sure, but this team makes things much too hard for themselves a lot of the time.
- I’ve written this before, but it’s worth noting again – do that in the playoffs and it could be over before you blink. Well, the playoffs are here. And they still haven’t solved it yet. Troubling sign.
- This defense, while it has made some strides this year, is still fairly soft. That became crystal clear Sunday. The tackling, spotty as of late, was atrocious today. I understand Adrian Peterson is maybe playing better than anyone else alive right now. But that does not excuse what we saw. It was maybe more understandable the first time around, as Green Bay was without C.J. Wilson and Clay Matthews. But they both were active today. And Peterson still gashed them repeatedly.
- In two games against the Pack, Peterson has 409 yards on 55 carries. That’s nearly 7.5 yards per carry. Green Bay has six days to figure out someway to at least slow him down a little. Doesn’t seem incredibly promising, does it?
- After really regaining his old form over the past month or so, Tramon Williams completely fell off the table Sunday. One of the worst games I’ve seen a corner turn in, in all facets. Bhawoh Jue-level bad. The Vikings were not afraid of him at all. And his boneheaded penalty in the redzone kept a drive alive, when the Vikings would’ve settled for three points.
- And the man running this defense does his players absolutely zero favors, too. Biggest play of the game and you go with the patented “rush three, drop eight” scheme that works almost never? No, Dom. No.
- Aaron Rodgers was very, very good after his rough start. Made some huge throws. Throws that only a few other guys on the planet could make. That’s all absolutely true. But his penchant for holding the ball too long really hurt him Sunday, as well. Of the five sacks he took, it sure seemed like they were mostly on him. He fumbled on one of those occasions, which led to six for Minnesota. With a defense that doesn’t create turnovers like it used to, Rodgers has to play mistake-free ball. Is that fair? Not really. But that’s the way it is.
- I’ve wanted to see more DuJuan Harris. Apparently Mike McCarthy did, too, as Harris picked up 70 yards on 14 carries. His future is bright. He’s shifty and unafraid of contact.
- Great effort from all the pass catchers today. In particular, Greg Jennings. That was the Greg Jennings this team has been missing. That was the Pro Bowler. And, I know I’ve written this a lot lately, but Jermichael Finley turned in another outstanding effort. Starting to wonder if Green Bay brings him back next year now. He’s really kicked it up a few notches.
- As for Jennings’ sister’s tweets? Well…I don’t even know where to begin there. Delusional, that one.
- Randall Cobb returning next week will only make the offense that much more explosive. But he doesn’t need to be on returns. I believe Jeremy Ross has that under control.
- Mason Crosby with a 51-yarder to end the first half? Are we sure the Mayans didn’t mean December 31st?
- B.J. Raji continues to play like a man possessed. Love everything about his play over the past month or so.
- As for next week, it’s hard to say much so soon as I’m still sort of processing everything from today. But I’ll offer a few thoughts:
- The Packers have to somehow force Christian Ponder into a mistake or two. They did it the first time around and it was ultimately the difference. They did not Sunday and you can argue that was the difference, also. Ponder’s confidence grew and grew as Sunday’s game went on. They need to hinder that.
- Come out better. They haven’t done that in either game with Minnesota this year. Again, a flat start could spell doom. But, a strong start lessens Peterson’s impact, potentially. That’s a must.
- Do what you do well, Mike. Getting Harris and the other backs involved is a key, yes. But you make your money passing the football. Play to that. Don’t be scared. Same for you, Dom. Attack Ponder repeatedly.
- Please, Lord, don’t lose to these guys at home in the playoffs again. This fanbase is going to be holding hands as they collectively jump off the ledge then.
- Lastly, for some of the Twitter people out there: These thoughts do not make people like me less of a fan than you, okay? Get that out of your heads now. Thinking critically does not – repeat: DOES NOT – make me less of a fan. Pointing out areas of weakness is not a sign of a “bandwagoner,” okay? Get over yourselves. We all root for the same team. Some of us take a different path to doing so. But we ALL want the Packers to do well and win. Let’s all accept fans for who they are, alright? Because I am not going anywhere. Ever.
- Happy New Year’s everyone!
If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting all season for one Sunday – just one – where the Green Bay Packers completely overwhelm an opponent from start to finish.
One Sunday where you never spend a second worrying about the result.
Fitting that the Packers gave us that one game two days before Christmas, huh?
Green Bay throttled an overmatched and disinterested Tennessee Titans squad at Lambeau Field, winning by a 55-7 count. The win improves Green Bay’s record to 11-4 on the season and is its ninth win in its last 10 tries. The Packers also keep pace in the battle for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
For now, how about some takeaways from this blowout, huh?
- Pray for Randall Cobb’s ankle. Those gasps – followed by some expletives, no doubt – you heard were from Packers fans everywhere reacting to Cobb leaving the game in the third quarter after injuring his ankle on a punt return. He didn’t return today, not surprising as the game had long been decided. Cobb has become such a huge part of this offense, it would be a huge blow to lose him for any amount of time. If the Packers want to get deep into the postseason, they must have Cobb.
- Sorry to begin this on a down note.
- Green Bay looked like a team that wanted to set the tone early, beat the snot out of the opponent relentlessly and leave this game feeling great about itself. Check, check and check (minus the Cobb injury). That’s about all you can ask for from a game like this.
- That’s just about the quietest way possible for a quarterback to reach 342 yards passing, but that’s what Aaron Rodgers did today (his longest completion was 34 yards to Ryan Grant). He was, however, lethal, surgically taking apart a Titans defense that clearly had no idea what it was in for. And chalk up another rushing touchdown for a man who absolutely deserves to be in the MVP conversation. Again.
- We probably haven’t given James Jones enough credit for what he’s done this season on this site. But, seriously, Jones is turning in an outstanding effort. Seven more grabs for 100 yards and a score, his league-leading 12th? How many teams wish they’d signed this guy in 2011? He is showing more confidence than ever before.
- Another solid effort from Jermichael Finley. Rodgers seems to be looking his way more and more now and Finley is responding with improved confidence and performance. He may not be back in 2013, but he can be crucial the rest of the way here. Those last three points are the positives regarding the passing game.
- The negative is that Rodgers and his receivers are still not connecting on the deep stuff. Today the Packers were just a tick off multiple times, as has been the case most of the season. It’s frustrating to watch, because if this team can get that to click, they become exponentially more dangerous in the playoffs.
- Nice to see Ryan Grant turn in a big day, racking up 114 all-purpose yards on 21 touches (80 rushing, 34 receiving, adding two scores on the ground). And I just continue to like what I see from DuJuan Harris. Remember, this ground attack doesn’t need to lead the way. It just needs to give opponents something to think about. The Packers aren’t the Vikings. Well, right now the Packers are doing everything they need to in that area.
- A.J. Hawk turned in the best game of his pro career today. Two sacks, multiple pressures. That was the Hawk Green Bay drafted fifth overall in 2006. For at least one day, it was fun to see.
- Sam Shields – just another great effort. Almost expecting him to make at least one or two big plays a week now.
- B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews. Big-time players leading the way at the most important time of the year.
- After last week’s win, I mentioned that Mike Neal was quietly becoming a key cog on the defense. Not so quietly anymore. All of a sudden, Neal has become the player the Packers hoped he’d be all along. If he can stay healthy, his future now looks really bright.
- Pray for Randall Cobb’s ankle. Just thought I’d, you know, mention that again.
- I’m not saying I’m rooting for the Seahawks to win tonight, because, well, I hate them. But I will say I’m rooting for them not to lose. Because a Seattle win over San Francisco will put the Packers in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. A San Francisco win, however, virtually assures the Niners that spot as they close the year at home against the lowly Cardinals. Probably not losing that one, which would lock Green Bay into the No. 3 seed.
- Oh what the hell – it’s Christmas! GO SEAHAWKS!
- Happy Holidays to you and yours from OBOD!
At the height of their mid-2000s dominance, the New England Patriots coined a term for games like today’s.
They called them “t-shirt and hat games.” Nothing beats winning a “t-shirt and hat game.” The Green Bay Packers had a chance to do that today at Soldier Field.
Check and check.
The Packers are now back-to-back NFC North Champions as a result of their 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears. Here are my takeaways from the victory:
- NFC North Champs. Why don’t you go ahead and say that again. Damn it feels good to say doesn’t it? This was written last week, but it’s worth saying once more – after a heartbreaking defeat in Indianapolis in week five, it felt like this team was going to need a whole bunch of breaks just to scrape its way to eight or nine wins. What we got instead was eight wins in nine games.
- The level of intestinal fortitude within this organization is something to behold. Which really is just a fancy way of saying this team has balls. Tough as nails.
- And that’s a good thing because, really, Green Bay made this one a lot tougher than it needed to be. This should have been a 27-10 no doubter.
- It sure sounds like Mike McCarthy is going to stick with Mason Crosby. That doesn’t surprise. But it’s absolutely the wrong call. Crosby’s two misses Sunday were a huge reason the Bears were in the game until the bitter end. Each and every week Crosby is costing this team points. His failures, single-handedly, are changing the complexion of these games. Yes, the Packers continue to win. But at some point, you have to think he’ll really cost them. And we’re heading rapidly towards January.
- Also, Mike – DON’T EVER CALL A PUNT RETURN TOSSBACK LIKE THAT AGAIN. EVER. The worst call of his career there. No reason for it.
- Charles Tillman has a knack for knocking the ball out. We all know that. But if Ryan Grant wants to keep his place in this three-man backfield, he has to be better than that. That simple.
- Start faster. Slow starts are becoming a major issue for this team. Do that in a playoff game and it could be over before you blink.
- Are those all the major negatives? (Looks at list) Yep, that’s about it. See, not so bad. Now let’s get to the positives, shall we?
- Clay Matthews returns and – hey what do you know? – the pass rush returns, as well. Great game from him, in multiple facets, really. There just aren’t many guys like him in the league. His new contract can’t be too high. But that new sack dance…well, let’s just say I wasn’t a fan.
- Then again – I’m not the audience he’s aiming for with that.
- Mike Neal’s return was key for the pass rush, also. He’s quietly becoming a key component on this defense.
- I know he had help, but Tramon Williams turned in an outstanding day on Brandon Marshall. Two really good weeks in a row for him. He’s back now. You can not overstate the importance of that.
- Ditto for Sam Shields.
- B.J. Raji is officially in beast mode now. The big man seems locked in. You noticed him on almost every play, many of which he was damn near unblockable. Like Matthews, there just aren’t many guys like Raji.
- Probably about time we talk about that fella playing quarterback, huh? This was one of Aaron Rodgers’ best games in awhile. He made so many plays today on the move, reaching “work of art” level more than a couple of times. He also had more time today, seemingly, than he’s had in awhile – something that could prove lethal once Jordy Nelson returns.
- I’ll just go ahead and guess that T.J. Lang being back at left guard has a lot to do with that.
- James Jones – congrats on the hat trick. He’s proving to be the second most reliable target on the team at the moment.
- Which is saying a lot about how good Randall Cobb has been. This kid is special, folks. I’m kind of running out of things to say about him.
- I want to see more DuJuan Harris.
- You knew Jay Cutler was going to give them one, at least. And it wasn’t really that surprising Casey Hayward was the one to get it.
- The Packers are officially in the tournament. Seeding now becomes the issue. Green Bay has a two-game lead on the Giants and Redskins (and maybe the Cowboys as their game is still ongoing at the time I write this). So barring anything crazy, the Packers should be no worse than the No. 3 seed in the NFC. They probably can’t catch Atlanta for the No. 1 overall seed – the Falcons are two up on Green Bay – but they could definitely catch San Francisco (or maybe Seattle) for the No. 2 seed.
- Regardless, this team still has a lot to play for. There will be a January in Titletown. Let’s celebrate.
It’s late, so let’s just save the opening for another time, shall we? I assure you it would’ve been genius, though. Okay, it would’ve been decent, at least.
On a snowy night at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers moved to within a win of another NFC North title with their 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. The Packers are now 9-4 on the season.
Here are my takeaways from the triumph:
- If you would’ve been told, after Green Bay’s choke job in Indianapolis, that the Packers would rattle off seven wins in their next eight, how hard would you have laughed? And don’t forget – you’re also told the team will lose several more key players during that eight-game stretch. It’s a testament to the unwavering toughness of this team that it stands here now.
- And that toughness was tested early on, wasn’t it? After seemingly not taking Detroit (4-9) as seriously as it needed to, the Packers trailed 14-0, and new combinations of curse words were surely strung together in the homes of Packers fans everywhere. I had a few doozies myself. Luckily for us, this team didn’t blink.
- Seven plays, 59 yards, all runs, on the eventual game-winning touchdown drive. That’s imposing your will. That’s what you have to do to win in December and January. And, more than anything, that was damn fun to watch. Great to know that the team doesn’t always have to rely on the brilliance of Aaron Rodgers to win games, isn’t it?
- Nice to see all three running backs contribute on that drive, too. Alex Green (13 carries, 69 yards) has the ability to be the lead dog. We’re learning that more and more each week. If DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant (combined eight carries, 44 yards including Harris’ 14-yard game-winning run) can just chip in here and there, this team suddenly becomes really dangerous.
- Tramon Williams – listen, no one is ever gonna completely shut Calvin Johnson down. But holding him to a rather quiet 118 yards on 10 receptions is about as close as you can get. Perhaps this is the spark that gets Williams back to his 2010 form, when he was one of the game’s best corners.
- Welcome back, Sam Shields. Made a handful of big plays tonight, including an interception. He was having a really solid season before his injury and it looks like he’s picking up where he left off.
- An official welcome to the NFL moment for Mike Daniels. Way to scoop that up and rumble in for the score. That play really seemed to energize the entire team.
- Randall Cobb – just doing it every single week.
- Greg Jennings – where you at, man? Been a pretty quiet first two weeks back off injury. They need him to get going.
- How happy is Clay Matthews’ agent? It’s clear this pass rush is zip, zero, zilch without his presence. Only one sack and two quarterback hits tonight? That’s not good enough at all.
- If anyone was downplaying the absence of C.J. Wilson, they aren’t anymore. Green Bay’s run defense has been rotten since he got hurt against the Giants. Wilson alone doesn’t account for all of that, but he’s a huge part of it.
- When T.J. Lang returns, he has to be back at left guard. Don Barclay turned in another fine showing and deserves to be the right tackle going forward. The sooner Evan Dietrich-Smith is back on the bench, the better.
- Mason Crosby watch: The tanker ship in the sea of molasses is turning it around. Slowly. But it’s happening.
- Hopefully, Matthews and Woodson at the very least are back for Chicago next week. We’ll have to see about Lang and Jordy Nelson. Be great to have all four back.
- Packers. Bears. Soldier Field. December. For the division title. Admit it – that gives you chills, doesn’t it?
- After the Giants game, I wondered aloud if this team wasn’t just a tick behind the elite in the NFC, namely San Francisco and New York. I’m still not completely convinced the Packers are at that level yet. But these last two weeks have made me think they’re a little closer than before. Mostly due to the toughness and resolve this team has shown playing two divisional games extremely shorthanded. That’ll benefit them going forward. At the very least, I now think they can get to that level as long as they get enough of the injured players back with enough time for them to gel before the playoffs start.
- All in all, it’s fair to be excited. This is the best time of the year for football. And the Packers have a shot. That’s all you can ask for.