Cleat Geeks

Diaries of a Cheese Head Part 3

The problems abound for the Green Bay Packers. There is plenty of blame to go around. Yes it is true that the Packers are the first team in NFL history to have to go on the road back to back weeks to face 6-0 teams or better this late in the season. The fact however remains that these were two measuring stick games that went badly but there is enough time to recover from this. Four division games in an 18 day period will go a long way towards deciding where the season goes. In preparation for that stretch, and in order to achieve winning results in the season’s most important games, there are some individual and collective things that must be addressed.

aaron-rodgers-green-bay-packers-sacked-denver-broncos.vadapt.620.high.52Football games are won and lost in the trenches, at the line of scrimmage and the Packers have not controlled either side of the trenches good enough over the last two weeks. The offensive line has allowed eight sacks over the last two games. In the game against Carolina, Rodgers was sacked five times and hit an additional nine. Several of the plays in Sunday’s game, such as the last meaningful offensive play could have had different results if Rodgers were given a second extra to read the coverage. The pass attempt that would have put the Packers within a two point conversion of tying the game was intercepted. But if more time were available Rodgers likely would have seen Randal Cobb who was wide open for a would be touchdown. On the defensive side opposing quarterbacks have had far too much time to read the Packers defensive coverage and ultimately find open receivers. Going into the bye week, the Packers defense had recorded a sack in 42 consecutive games. They have zero sacks in the last two games combined.

Beyond the issues at the line of scrimmage, there are many other issues. The Packers pride themselves on starting seasons and games in a fast fashion. Getting jumps on opponents in an individual game or the other competitors in a season has become the norm in Green Bay, but this has not been the case over the last two weeks. At half time over the last two games the Packers have trailed by a combined score of 44-14. Some of the first half issues can be tied to the Packers inability to stay on the field on offense. As addressed in last week’s diary third down again proved a big problem for the Packers offense as they were just 3/13 on third down against the Panthers. When an offense does not convert third downs it is impossible to stay on the field and sustain drives.

Secondary issues have also plagued the Packers defense. The problems range from injuries, to miscommunication to blown coverages but the passing numbers allowed have been eye popping and troubling. Over the last three weeks the Packers defense has faced Phillip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. Those three quarterbacks have combined to put up 1140 yards against the Packers pass defense. That is way too many yards to allow and it must be reduced significantly if the Packers are going to right the ship and get back going in a winning direction.

eddie-lacy-green-bay-packersLast up on the problem list at present is the run game. Eddie Lacy is averaging 3.7 yards per carry this season. Compare that to his combined yards per carry average of 4.4 yards over his first two seasons. Outside of Lacy the Packers run game in general needs to pick it up. During the team’s 6-0 start the Packers ran for 127.3 yards per game ranking them fifth in the league in rushing during that time period. Compare that with the two losses where the Packers have averaged just 80.5 yards per game to rank them 25th in the league over that stretch. Regardless of if it is from Eddie Lacy or James Starks the Packers have to get more out of their running game than that.

So the list of problems is wide ranging but one thing is certain. The Packers had better address or reduce the impact of a bunch of them on the fly over the next several weeks. The next four games are the Lions, Vikings, Bears and Lions all in the span of 18 days. Four games all important and all winnable if some of these issues are addressed and corrected. The critical stretch of the season begins Sunday against the Lions who have not won in Wisconsin since December of 1991 and are currently 1-7 on the current season. So this game should provide the Packers a much needed get well opportunity.

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