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Are The Packers "Paper Tigers"?

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Are The Packers "Paper Tigers"?

That is the title bestowed upon the Green and Gold by Kerry Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts writing for Sports Illustrated. (h/t to Holly in Opposition Research)

Money quote:

The Packers are the Chargers of the NFC: a paper tiger that simply can't translate dominance on the stat sheet into dominance on the scoreboard.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers boasts the best career passer rating in history (98.4) -- normally a sure sign of success. Defensively, Clay Matthews was among the league leaders with 13.5 sacks. The Packers ranked No. 2 in scoring defense (15.0 PPG), No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating and No. 1 in Passer Rating Differential, just ahead of the 14-2 Patriots.

All Green Bay has to show for its statistical dominance is a 10-6 record, the No. 6 seed in the NFC and a road game Sunday at Philadelphia.

Green Bay should be a 13- or 14-win team. But something's just not clicking in key moments on the field.

Packer fans are only too familiar with that final sentiment.

While the die-hard fan in me wants to argue Bryne's point, a big part of me fears that its true as it pertains to the offense. Under Mike McCarthy, the Packers have continually stubbed their toes at the worst possible times (goalline fumbles and dropped passes turning into interceptions) and repeatedly played down to the level of their competition (Washington, Miami and the second Detroit game anyone?) all while putting up impressive numbers on offense.

But all the numbers in the world don't mean a thing if you can't play your best football when you need to, namely, in the playoffs where things are do or die. In a way, the expectations for this team are out of hand - a good portion of the national media is picking them to win on Sunday, mostly because they see a more talented all-around team.

But when it comes down to the final two minutes and the Packers have to make a play to keep their season alive, the defense had better be on the field. Because when it comes to the offense, apart from the opening game of the 2009 season against the Bears and the last minutes of the game in Atlanta this season, you have pretty much been able to count on them choking away whatever chance at victory the Packers have.

You hear me talking Mike and Aaron? Prove me wrong.

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Aaron Biderman's picture

Unfortunately I have to agree with this. It really is depressing that we can't count on the offense with so many weapons to come up in the clutch. If you think about it the defense has stopped the opponent in the final minutes a bunch this year. Examples being the 1st Minny game, this past Bears game, Philly game and I'm sure others that I just can't think of while the offense has choked in the Miami, Washington, 1st Bears, 2nd Detroit and NE.

NickGBP's picture

If we didnt have the defense that we do I'd agree with this statement. The offensive stats may be deceptive, but not the defense. Because of that we can win it all.

Seems though that the general consensus is swinging more 50-50 with the Eagles. I dont think the Packers are clear favorites anymore by any means........................

corey jenkins's picture

Agreed. As much as I don't like to say it, but these players need to decide if they want to be of the Pittsburgs, New Englands and Baltimores of the world or if they want to continue being the San Diegos and Dallas's.

NickGBP's picture

"But all the numbers in the world don't mean a thing if you can't play your best football when you need to"

Separate from the original source, I disagree with this comment you made or how it relates to his point. They DID play their best football when they needed to. They dismantled the Giants and beat the Bears in an all out brawl. Not sure how that relates to the point the original author is making.

packeraaron's picture

The Bears game kind of proves the point I'm making though. Yes, they won in a "brawl" - but hardly because of the offense.

alfredomartinez's picture

this sunday all of this will change...mark my words, a-rod and company will prove everyone wrong...superbowl bound...i dont think so...1 or 2 playoff victories, very likely to happen...

Bearmeat's picture

Despite all the injuries, this team is VERY capable of winning it all THIS year and in years to come. They have the personnel. They just have to execute and the coaches have to not lose their heads in crunch time (See ATL, NE, MIA, WAS - the list goes on)
-
Come on Pack!

Wiscokid's picture

I'm in total agreement with you. Honestly, with all the adversity they've had piled upon them it would have been easy for them to quit like the Vikings and the Cowboys did. Instead, they posted a 10 win season and are as good as anyone in the playoffs.

If you think expectations were high this year, wait until next year when they have a number of the players back from IR, another draft and a more mature team.

GO PACK GO

jay's picture

I also find it interesting that injuries to the two players mentioned--Rodgers and Matthews--can very reasonably be pointed to at least 4 losses: Matthews leaving the WAS game late and MIA, and Arodg leaving DET and NE. If those two things don't happen, one could very reasonably subtract at least two losses from the standings. The point still stands that any team that relies so much on a single player does not seem to be a good team, stats be damnedm but I just found that interesting.

packeraaron's picture

I think the WAS and DET games are reaches at best. They were losing w/Matthews in the lineup at WAS and they didn't score a point for almost an entire half with Rodgers under center at Detroit. I get the exercise, but the fact remains they lost those games - which is inexcusable.

packsmack25's picture

There's no way they lose the Detroit game with Rodgers. They were consistently moving the ball before he went down.

packeraaron's picture

But that's the whole POINT. They "consistently move the ball" - ie put up numbers. The fact remains they didn't put up a single point with Rodgers under center for almost an entire half.

Jay's picture

I understand your point, Aaron. But imagine if Arodg goes out during the 1st quarter of the Bills game or the 49ers game. In both of those games, Aaron Rodgers--and by extension the offense in general--rebounded to put up points commensurate with great yardage statistics. I'm just wondering if the same may not have been the case in DET (WAS isn't as fresh in my mind). It's impossible to argue definitively that that would have been the case, but it's an interesting counterfactual.

david's picture

The website had another reference to the Packers as Stoner Genius, the IQ of 210 with a GPA of 1.6.

Underachievers who have the necessary tools but don't use them properly.

That is McCarthy's coaching in a nutshell. This team is capable of going to the Superbowl but they can't repeat what happened in the Redskin, Dolphin, Bears, Falcons or Pat's games. Games where the Packers shot themselves in the foot more than the other teams beating them.

Ruppert's picture

It's tough to argue with, really. There are a couple things that do come to mind in defense of my team. First of all, we're dealing with a pretty small sample size here. The Chargers have been doing this longer.

Secondly, and more importantly, there is a third phase to football--special teams. I think the Packers have shown over the last couple years that horrible special teams can wipe out a lot of good things that are done on both offense and defense. Look at this year...do we beat NE if we don't let a fat lineman return a kick to the 5? Do we lose to the Dolphins if Monsieur Francois doesn't line head up on the center on a 4th quarter punt? Do we beat Wash if we don't miss 2 FGs, inlcluding a 52-yarder at the gun? Who knows what happens in Atlanta if we hold a kick return to the 20 yard line with a minute left. Who knows what happens in Chicago if we don't let Hester take a punt back. Honestly, offense and defense are only 2/3 of the game.

jeremy's picture

I have to agree with this. The Bears have a mediocre offense, a very good defense, elite special teams, and the division title. Awful Special Teams bit the Packers in the butt in at least the first Chicago, Atlanta and New England games. Those losses cost them home field, a bye and or the division.

Corey's picture

Perfect point, excellent, couldn't agree more with what you say here. Special teams had a critical role in every loss this year.

PackersRS's picture

Comes back to the slow change and Shawn Slocum. How much inneptitude can you blame on injuries, specially considering the previous sample of his work?

ONeill's picture

Excellent, excellent point.

Glorious80s's picture

> Under Mike McCarthy, the Packers have continually stubbed their toes at the worst possible times (goalline fumbles and dropped passes turning into interceptions) and repeatedly played down to the level of their competition (Washington, Miami and the second Detroit game anyone?) all while putting up impressive numbers on offense.<
Isn't this really an issue of immaturity? It's still a young team - the first year they've really had a tough schedule and the injuries caused disruptions. Add a change in QB and a lot of drama over the last few years and it may be it's just taking some time for the team to grow up. MM's never taken a team to the SB and had a veteran QB in '07 to rely on. It looks like they get the jitters at the wrong times and it only takes one guy. They're generally competitive with anywone. Hope it's just a matter of time, experience and will.

jay's picture

"They're generally competitive with anyone."

Name me another team that has not had a loss this year of more than 4 points? Patriots? No. Falcons? No. Steelers? No. Eagles? No. Ravens? No (though they were close). Packers? Yes. Make of it what you will.

Tommyboy's picture

I guess we'll find out.I mean, when you look at the roster, and the I.R. novel the Pack has put together, there is damn near TOO much talent. The problem the Packers will face this offseason is what to do with all their talent. Yet, 10-6....ouch. C'mon Pack, let's shed this title.

Charles's picture

No.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Adjacent/Hypotenuse

WoodyG's picture

When your rushing attack is basically ignored, close games become close losses ..... Four of GBs losses had the following rushing numbers by the RBs ....... 13/43, 17/62, 11/26 & 15/31 .... GB ended up 24th in rushing with a 100.4 per game avg. ...... Take away ARs 356 rushing yards & GBs RBs averaged 78.13 yards per game .....

Teams protect their franchise QBs & teams win close games by wanting to & being able to run the ball ...... This will end up being GBs top priority this offseason ..... Fix the run game with upgrades at both OL & RB ....

Tarynfor 12's picture

It's already fixed but MM is afraid to pull the trigger. The name is Starks...James Starks

WoodyG's picture

No one knows about JS because (you're right) MM is so slow to change ..... But it was obvious months ago that a role player (BJ), a novelty act (Kuhn) & a PS player were not going to get it done ......

PackersRS's picture

This single statement is what really drives me nuts with MM. He's so slow to change.

With this kind of offensive power on the passing game, and consistantly facing 2 deep safeties, one would guess that we would at least be able to run the ball decently. But the OL keeps breaking down.

What do they see in James Campen that he's still on the team. Has any OL player evolved other than Sitton? Do they really believe that Campen is a good coach, and that, in fact, it's 10 other players that have no talent and don't improve, and not Sitton doing everything on his own because he's so gifted?

(I promise not to say a single word during gameday, even if we struggle. I'm gonna root like a blind idiot.)

Corey's picture

Would it be a pipe dream for me to suggest they are keeping Starks as an unknown ringer for a deep playoff run? Maybe just didn't want to let the cat out of the bag too early? Probably not but they sure could use some rushing yards to even the out the A-Rodge Aerial Assault!

nerdmann's picture

Secret Weapon, baby!

Ruppert's picture

Oh yeah, I forgot...I think the 2 minute offense was working just fine against Miami, too. So Aaron could only muster two down-by-seven, game on the line, under 2-minute TD drives in one season, I guess...and 1 get-your-team-in-FG-range-with-under-a-minute-left drive against the Deadskins. That's three such drives our six losses. Choker.

KurtMc's picture

Too funny - suggesting they are keeping Starks as an unknown ringer for a deep playoff run? Just like McCarthy - Out think himself & the rest of the league.

Woody G hit it. MM is too slow to adjust. How many 2nd half games doe MM adjust? Goal to go, any adjustments? We are 10-6 because of no run game & MM play calling in critical downs & the special teams (again). N'uff said.

cow42's picture

I feel that the Packers inconsistencies on offense are the direct result of not having enough playmakers.

Jennings is really the only guy who can create on his own regardless of how he's being played or where/when he gets his hands on the ball.

Driver, Jones, Nelson, Jackson, Quarless, Crabtree, Kuhn, Nance... these guys can be effective through play calling and scheme. They can't "create".

So when, for whatever reason (penalties, opponent's game plan, weather conditions, field surface) , the offensive gets out of sinc - it can look REALLY bad.

Playmakers can "bail out" an offense.
The Packers don't have enough of them.

Now look on the defensive side. You've got guys who might end up completely in the wrong spot but through pure athleticism they are still able to "make a play"...

Woodson
Raji
Jenkins
Williams
Collins
Mathews

The defense has more playmakers than the offense.

Oh - and the Packers' special teams have exactly ZERO playmakers (although we may soon be able to throw that tag on Masthay).

Just my 2 cents.

hoogus's picture

I think that's basically it, but don't forget the o-line.

I have to agree with the assessment. This team feels like its fundamentally the same as the Shermie teams: playoff contestant but with too many weaknesses to take all the marbles.

I think 52yd fg misses are more on the offense than the fg unit. That said, you'd like to have a kicker who could put the long ones in more often than Crosby does. For a guy advertised as having a big leg, he's inaccurate at distance. He doesn't seem any better at kickoffs than Longwell was.

STANISLAW's picture

"But when it comes down to the final two minutes and the Packers have to make a play to keep their season alive, the defense had better be on the field."

Does anybody watch the games? The last close game where the Packers had to score (when Rodgers was QB'ing) was the Falcons game and didn't we score in the last minute? Didn't we make 2 4th down conversions on the drive including the touchdown? (Talk about a set of stones on Rogers)

C'mon!

bkshimada's picture

I believe Aaron pointed that Falcons game out as an exception. He also noted the Bears game in '09. But yes, there are other games such as the 2009 Steelers game where the offense game through only to watch the defense let the Steelers march all the way down the field. So, it's not like they CAN'T do it. Furthermore, it's not like the offense is the only side of the ball that's at fault for the Packers' record in close games. (See Arizona and Steelers in '09). It just hasn't shown up on the scoreboard for one reason or another whether that's on Rodgers' (which it sometimes is, but not always), MM, Jones, penalties, special teams, etc. It's a number of factors in my view. And yes, I know that Rodgers had the ball in his hands during the OT period where he was stripped. But if the defense had done their job in the regular period, there wouldn't have been a need to even have OT. The offense made that game close in the first place.

I will admit that THIS year though, I would feel more comfortable with the defense on the field in the final minutes of the game. The offense has been so up and down this year, you don't really know what to expect. That said the ENTIRE team needs to be better in crunch time. The offense, the defense, the coaches, and the special teams.

By the way, I think close games are ones that are decided by one score or less. In other words, 7 points or less. 4 points is such an arbitrary number.

Asshalo's picture

A loss this weekend would mean the third playoff loss in a row against a team that Green Bay was arguably favored to beat. Even if they're not favored they need to start pulling some of these out. Though I ultimately think this comes down to McCarthy's legacy in the playoffs, many of the core players on this team have been on the team since 2007. It reflects just as poorly on them when they can't pull it out in crunch time. This year it's been the offense, but many many careless mistakes by the receiving core. Too many fumbles and missed routes. I will throw up Exorcist-style if we turn the ball over in on our first or second drive and immediately dig ourself a hole.
This team needs to start getting greedy because it's too talented to give another playoff game away.

PackersRS's picture

Like Ruppert said, Loss to the Pats was ST. Loss to the Falcons was ST. Loss to the Bears was ST. Those are the clear ones. Against WAS and MIA there were brutal errors that ended up costing the game as well.

That's 13-3, NFCN champions. And I'm not talking about great ST. I'm talking about ST being just good enough so it doesn't cost you a game.

Again, I'm gonna freaking beat the dead horse, but how many games do we have to lose because of ST per year so that we can have change? 3 games isn't enough?

Cole's picture

If mike tomlin or Sean Payton were coaching we would be 15-1 or 14-2 that's how bad mccarthey campen slocum are. Starks consistently gets yards while Jackson runs into a wall and goes down yet he won't let him touch the ball? He's a fool in
some ways an it's maddening. How can u get Flynn to almost beat the pats yet some games with Rodgers we can barely score?

FITZCORE1252's picture

If by "Paper Tigers" he means "Superbowl Champions" in 4 weeks, then yes, yes we are "Paper Tigers". It's all about when you peak in this league, I really think the GBP will play their BEST/MOST INSPIRED/COMPLETE football of the season starting Sunday, and that will carry us through Atlanta and Chi or N.O. And that's not the blinders talking, this team is playing sound football. They saved their best for the postseason. I LOVE our chances.

GBP 4 LIFE

davyjones's picture

Atta boy, Fitz!! I'm with you. Would our ST's really have been that awful if we hadn't been signing street FA's and suiting them up and playing them on ST's with next to no practice time??

I think not.

FITZCORE1252's picture

I don't know about you Davy, but I just have a feeling of uber confidence going into this game. No, it's not from all the blow-hards taking the fashionable pick (us), it's that I've watched this team all year.

I "KNOW" 2 things going into this game...

#1 - OUR DEFENSE WILL NOT GET EMBARASSED like last year. I guarantee it. I see Philly scoring in the 17-24 range, and they will not come easy. Our D (especially with Cullen back) has 15 weeks of tape to see what Vick's been doing. Dom will have the crew ready to ball the fuck out.

#2 - Our offense will score more than 24. PERIOD.

Pop quiz...

#2 minus #1 = a GBP victory by my calcs.

Oh, and we have Jackson's kryptonite... Masthay BABY!

We got this. And I already feel better about Atlanta than I do Philly. Don't let me get started about how EPIC it's gonna be to end the bares season at their house in front of their army of D-bags in the Conference championship... THE GBP BEING AWARDED THE HALAS TROPHY ON THE SOLDIER FIELD 50... PRICELESS. If anybody thinks I'm getting ahead of myself, well... I gots me a feelin'! I won't be shocked if it actually gets kinda ugly. I see several turnovers coming and I don't see their D hanging with our O (McDermott's aggressiveness will blow up in his face, watch).

BUP-BUP-TO-THE-BANG

FITZCORE1252's picture

I didn't realize this: "only nine of Rodgers' 28 touchdown passes came on the road. The Eagles' defense gave up 31 touchdown passes this season, but only 11 at home"...

I'm gonna change my predi...

Nah... we still roll baby

Charles's picture

+13 (# of championships carried into nxt season)

WoodyG's picture

You may be closer to reality than most think ..... If the defense continues its stellar play & AR plays lights-out for the next 4 games, then anything goes .....

However, try this exercise ..... The Lions 7 .... GB 3 ..... It may take a new season to get past that game ....

Charles's picture

Or it won't. That game is already history. There's only what's ahead.

Oppy's picture

"THE GBP BEING AWARDED THE HALAS TROPHY ON THE SOLDIER FIELD 50… PRICELESS."

I didn't even think about this scenario before.

If things actually turned out that way, it WOULD be priceless.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Just reading some Philly takes here: http://www.philly.com/dailynews/sports/eagles/20110106_Confident_Vick_br...

When I came across this: "Even if the birds pick up the corner blitz, green bay will adjust and come up with something else. If they were smart, green bay should wait and make the adjustment after halftime, because Reids too slow-minded to adjust during the game.
— ej610"...

People think Reid doesn't make adjustments at halftime... Sounds so familiar. I guess those fans are everywhere. How many Conference title games has the guy coached in? You just can't please everybody. lol

GBP 4 LIFE

Badknees's picture

If the Eagles stuff the running game during the first three drives McCarthy will become impatient and one dimensional. One dimensional teams rarely win. Brandon Jackson is not a feature back. Play him on third downs only.

stinkdaddy's picture

"One dimensional teams rarely win."

Sounds like you've internalized an outdated talking point.

2008 Cardinals:
Passing: 2nd
Rushing 32nd
Result: Lost Super Bowl

2009 Colts:
Passing: 2nd
Rushing: 32nd
Result: Lost Super Bowl

"Oh," you say, "those teams were really good, but if they had better running games they would've won the Super Bowl instead!"

So how about:

2007 Patriots
Passing: 1st
Rushing: 13th
Result: Lost Super Bowl

2007 Packers
Passing: 2nd
Rushing: 21st
Result: Lost NFC Championship

2010 Chargers
Passing: 2nd
Rushing: 15th
Result: Missed playoffs

Maybe this can all be explained by some grand unified Run/Pass Balance Theory, and obviously there's the issue of sample size here, but I'm not seeing how running more would've helped any of the teams in question. The Pats would've won but for a freak play by Manning/Tyree and Hobbs(?) falling down on the TD to Plaxico, the Colts were undone by Porter jumping a lazy route by Wayne, James Harrison provided the deciding points for the Steelers and the Chargers had a bad record because of ST play.

And there is no real "feature back" on the Packers, and certainly none with Grant hurt. Regardless of the imaginary Starks that exists in some fans' heads the real one is averaging 3.5 yards/carry up to this point. I know some people really do think that the running game would be fine if McCarthy gave Starks the ball 25 times a game, but it's obvious that MM doesn't have that level of confidence in the guy. So if you want him to meet you halfway and still want him to keep running the ball even when it isn't working well who should he give the ball to? At least with Jackson there's the threat of a pass, which is an issue with Starks I've seen McCarthy bring up along w/ the 'bad practices.'

This of course leaves aside the not-necessarily-true issue of "having to establish the run" so you can go PA. They did a segment on one of the clip shows recently (NFL Matchup?) showing how this isn't true and demonstrating the Colts' and Broncos' use of run-action as examples of a teams finding ways to generate yardage off PA fakes with no run game to speak of.

Oppy's picture

Great post.

As for myself, I am an ardent believer that the Packers' running game woes is more a product of lack of attempts rather than lack of ability.

Do we have a "Game Changing" back on the roster, or a punishing, run blocking O line that consistently opens up red-sea type holes for backs to run through? Not at this point.

But one thing is for certain, running the ball effectively often requires the players involved to establish a rhythm- both between the Oline and the RB, and between the offensive run unit and the defense of the opponent.

When you typically give your HBs far less than 15 touches- and those touches come in random spurts instead of consistently throughout a game- I don't see much hope for achieving the desired results, especially when your starting RB is out.

Would it completely change the Packers fortunes to run the ball effectively? Well, it certainly wouldn't hurt them any.

stinkdaddy's picture

This is the kind of bold nonprediction that Byrne specializes in patting himself on the back for. Waiting until the end of the regular season to point out that a preseason favorite with great statistical output but a 10-6 record is underachieving might seem like a hackish cop-out, but then "something's not clicking in key moments on the field" is the sort've insightful analysis you can only get at CHFF or anywhere else sports are discussed. One of Byrne's tricks is mangling the distinction between correlation and causation, as you can see in this article with the talk about Rodgers having a high QB rating being an indicator of success. You'd think the fact that 3 of the 4 highest-rated QBs in NFL history (Rodgers, Rivers, Romo) are famous for having gone nowhere in the playoffs up to this point ought to have made him rethink that line, but then if Byrne was as good at statistical analysis as he is at presenting soon-to-be-conventional wisdom as some rare insight that only he can bring you, he'd be writing for Football Outsiders instead. This is what the guy does. Last year he waited until half the season was over, at which point Chris Johnson had about +200 rushing yards on 20 fewer carries than Adrian Peterson, and boldly declared him the better of the two. This year it's the amazing insight that a 10-6 team that's at or near the top of several stat categories is underachieving. I imagine in the coming offseason he'll scoop FO, etc. by a mere negative 6 months or so by telling us how great Jamaal Charles is.

I mean, even the guy's headline is hack given that his entire point on the Packers is that the stats *don't* actually tell the story. If you're reading this site then Byrne isn't telling you anything you don't already know: the Packers are a maddeningly inconsistent combination of statistical excellence and on field above-averageness. It's just dressed up as part of his schtick where he's totally going to rock your dome by telling you stuff you already know.

nerdmann's picture

If the WRs don't drop balls, the offense will be successful. However, catching the ball on a high percentage play is much more likely than catching the ball 40 yards downfield, even if the ball is right in the WRs hands. As we've seen with Jennings in the last two games. And with Jones repeatedly.
Last game, first half: DD fumbles. Then there was that atrocious series with the penalty and the sack. Then the one where Jennings drops a sure TD, followed by Jones dropping a sure first down.

Chris's picture

Paper tigers? Really? Which other team lost that many starters to IR or for a longer period than the Packers?
Did those losses to Detroit and Washington hurt? Sure they did. Especially because the Packers would be Division Champs if they won them. But that does not make them Paper Tigers. It's called parity in the NFL. We all better look at those teams in the NFC playoffs right now. I guess all can agree on the notion that 5 of those 6 teams could be in the Superbowl and they would have earned it. It's so close.

With great execution on Sunda the Packers will advance to the next round. If they struggle in one area the other two have to pick them up and really have to play lights out. If neither happens the Packers will go into the offseason.

stinkdaddy's picture

Teams losing a similar number of starters would include the Colts, Pats and on the other end of the spectrum Browns and Rams. Tom Silverstein had an article 7 weeks into the season showing that while yes, the Packers were leading, there were plenty of other teams with injury issues:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/106338403.html

IMO the Packers IR numbers should be discounted by one when we're talking about the impact it had on the team, because Peprah is clearly playing at a higher level than Burnett. You might subtract another player for Bulaga replacing Tauscher.

Looking at it from the angle of "Which teams have similar numbers of players on IR overall?" we get:

Bills, Cardinals, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Patriots, Panthers, Bengals, Browns, Broncos, Lions, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Chargers, Seahawks, Rams, Bucs, Titans, Redskins

Every one of those teams has as many or more players on IR. That's 20/32 teams. Had the IR placements continued at the rate they were going earlier in the season we might be more justified, but at this point it's really starting to look like whining. Injuries happen, and while the timing of them didn't help our team's season most of 'em hit the defense, yet it's the offense that's been struggling. Yeah, Finley got hurt but he wasn't nearly the same factor last year and the O was still better. Do we really think Ryan Grant is so good that he not only got 1200 yards for himself based on talent but opened up the field for the rest of the offense?

Come out of your homer-cave, make a couple less excuses and it becomes pretty clear that the team has underperformed. Hypothetical scenarios in which the team is *actually* just as good as they would've been had they won the division? Could you maybe be a *little* bit more of a homer? Because there's also a hypothetical scenario in which the Packers lose 1-2(+) more games, go 9-7 or 8-8 or worse and miss the playoffs entirely.

But of course that'd be all about injuries, right? Because no other football team has to deal with injuries.

Oppy's picture

I think most teams that lose their (Arguably) #1 receiving threat (in Jermicael Finley) as well as their #1 rushing threat would lack the ability to continue to compete at a high level all together.

I am fully aware most injuries have occurred on the defensive side, and our offense is the unit that has sputtered. But that doesn't discount the offensive losses, it's a testament to the depth and scheme of the defense.

Injuries do matter, they aren't an excuse. Unless you have never called a player a "career backup", a "scrub", a "benchwarmer" or otherwise, you know this is the truth.

Many people who claim "injuries are an excuse" are the same people who firmly insist that having one or two key "game-changing" or "Impact" players is the difference between the W and L columns in the NFL. Well, you can't have it both ways.

There is much data out there that correlates the health of a team and their chances for success. Yes, every team suffers injuries and has to creatively cope with them. However, there is no denying that lost starts has a negative impact on continuity and performance. If it didn't, you wouldn't see "starters" playing through pain and injury, and teams would just cycle players through the lineup to keep everyone fresh throughout the season.

Injuries aren't an excuse, they are a reality.

BubbaOne's picture

The team including HC Mike McCarthy are going through a maturation process. He started as a first time HC and has had the youngest team in the first 4 years of his tenure. Even this year I think they ended up in the top 3 youngest teams. They first had to learn how to win which they have: .600 winning percentage and making the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years. Now like the teams in the mid 90's they need to learn what it takes to win the "Big" games whether it's in-season ATL or NE and now in the playoffs.
I feel they're going to win even though they are underdogs on the road. But even if they don't I think they took strides in overcoming a year of adversity to even make the playoffs. And will have added depth and experience for next season.

Glorious80s's picture

Exactly right on the maturation process!
They really have to bring it, though. All phases.

Ken's picture

Another stat: The Packers have not trailed by more than 7 points in any game, AT ANY POINT, this season. How that doesn't equate to at least 12 wins defies mathematics.

stinkdaddy's picture

So you win football games by being within 7 points of the other team now? When did that rule change go in?

(Opponent points) > (GB Points) = GB Loses

The math seems pretty simple to me. There is no special provision where the Packers are awarded a victory for keeping the score close... have you confused spread betting with NFL rules? You homers crack me up man. I mean, I love this team to a degree that's probably unhealthy, but my idea of loving something doesn't mean you have to lie to yourself and convince yourself it doesn't actually have flaws that're really quite obvious.

The Pack under MM are known for losing close games. That's a fact. How you take that there have been lots of close games this season, ignore the part about the bad overall record in close games, ignore the season record in close games, and use this to conclude the Packers aren't underachieving is beyond me.

But hey, maybe you think the proper response to a wonderful, charming, beautiful wife that's also an alcoholic is to pretend the last thing isn't true and hope it goes away. Hell if I know.

Oppy's picture

You attack Ken for treating close losses as somehow different than other losses when he seems to try to find reason for optimism..

"(Opponent points) > (GB Points) = GB Loses...The math seems pretty simple to me. There is no special provision where the Packers are awarded a victory for keeping the score close…"

yet you go ahead and do the exact same thing, treating close losses as different from other losses, when you chose to see it as negative:

"The Pack under MM are known for losing close games. That’s a fact. How you take that there have been lots of close games this season, ignore the part about the bad overall record in close games, ignore the season record in close games, and use this to conclude the Packers aren’t underachieving is beyond me."

a win is a win and a loss is a loss. You seem to pick and choose when that rule applies for your reasoning.

Ultimately, the Packers are 10-6 and in the play offs. While the Packers under McCarthy are 5-16 in games decided by less than 7 points, they are also 48-32 under MM in total, that's the 2nd best winning percentage in the NFC since he took over as HC.

As I've posted elsewhere, people wouldn't be complaining about those 11 close losses like it's some special kind of losing weakness if they were losses of more than 7 points. THEN they are just loses, apparently.

If we took his 32 "Convincing" wins of 7 points or more and pared down the margin of victory to 6 points or less, does that magically make him a better coach?

Your gripe with Ken is hypocritical. He (and I) may be a homer, but I'll take it over those who seek to create new classifications of failure to stoke their own pessimistic nature.

Oppy's picture

Um, that should be "43 convincing wins" as opposed to "32" (48 wins minus 5 so called 'close game' wins). I need to stop the late night posting!

FITZCORE1252's picture

You crack me up.

Overkill's picture

Been hit and miss this year, but. Aren't we all.
Speaking of issues.
Holly, you don't always have to present your point so hard. In fact sometimes it's not right. To do.

Overkill's picture

Paper tigers, no. Slackers, little.

Cuphound's picture

I think the obvious progress of the current defense in comparison to the offense is a clear signal that something is wrong with the offensive coaching. This offense was installed before the present defense. Yet, McCarthy now views the defense as the team's signature. He's billeted as an offensive genius. Yet the O-Line's progress has been from poor to mediocre.

Perhaps Brian is right and if Colledge and Clifton are rotated out for better players and the left side of the line improves, McCarthy's system can work. But let's look at Bulaga for a moment. Virtually everyone loves his talent and virtually everyone thought he really blew in the last Bears game. I think that's a learning curve issue. In time, he'll improve. But if a new left side of the line should be installed, they'll have that same learning curve issue. The ZBS is cited as a consistent challenge, but McCarthy has clung to it. Adaptation is not his strong suit. He clings to his vision pretty tenaciously. Square peg in round hole, doesn't match his schemes to his men's talents, yadda, yadda, we've reviewed it ad nauseum.

But, hey, he proved that Bears Still Suck and I can feed off that for months. I couldn't be more pumped about Sunday. The Eagles have forced us out of the playoffs a few times too many in recent years. Vengeance would be sweet...

Starry Barts's picture

The question is... How do you FIX it? How does a paper tiger flip the switch?

If you blame coaching and fire the coach, you're most likely inviting a collapse of the untimely productivity that at least put you in a position to underachieve in the first place.

But if you let the status quo go on for too long... well, you have Marty Schottenheimer.

Same question the Chargers fans are asking themselves (only louder).

Cuphound's picture

You probably don't fix it. The head coach isn't bad enough to get fired but isn't good enough to win a championship. You just rinse, lather, repeat every season. As a fan, you have to start going game by game in your outlook and look for the things that your team did in specific games that were satisfying.

Plus, football playoffs are short and are single-game matchups, not series. You can always rely on the fact that on any given Sunday, you can win or lose. You can win the Super Bowl by getting lucky against a stronger team. The opera is truly never over until the fat lady sings...

Overkill's picture

Somebody Fedex Jones some of that Biletnikoff arm tar. We'll be fine.

Clay Toporski's picture

I have to disagree with the "paper tiger" comment. Yes, the Packers lost games they should have won. I can even chalk up the Miami & Washington games to the slew of injuries at that time. The Lions game never should have happened.

However, the Packers have never been less than 7 points out of a game. They don't get blown out (and haven't for some time). And, they are still relatively young under McCarthy, Rodgers and Capers.

If they look bad Sunday, then I will 100% agree. But, there is no doubt in my mind that everyone (including McCarthy) will continue to progress and that the Packers will be much more than the Chargers ever have been.

At least the Packers made the playoffs this year...

stinkdaddy's picture

The flipside of "they don't get blown out" is "they can't win a close game." Every close win this season has been of the "go up early then hang on to survive" variety, including a 2-point win against DET early in and a 7-point win against an Eagles team that had Kolb under center for half the game. The Packers haven't gotten blown out, but in turn the only remotely-good team they've blown out was the Giants. We can argue about whether or not the Giants had packed it in after losing to the Eagles the week before, but there are no other big wins against winning teams and there are zero come-from-behind close wins.

On the flipside, the Pats have lost by 14 points to the Jets and by 20 to the Browns. Overall they're 14-2. So remind me again why the Packers having so much trouble with close games is cause for confidence? Seems like statistical cherrypicking designed to provide an unwarranted sense of comfort.

Clay Toporski's picture

No, I agree with you 100%. But, the more I ponder the situation, the more I think that it is a combination of 1) the injuries to their star running back and receiver/TE and 2) the team is still very young under McCarthy and Capers. In many cases it takes years to build a consistent playoff winning team. We are scrutinizing the packers for being better than a large majority of teams in the NFL, yet not perfect? I think this team will only get better over the next 3-5 years, and I will be shocked if they don't at least go to the Super Bowl at least once - if not win one.

Packnic's picture

All I know is... Someone needs to be fired... and quick!

Oppy's picture

The Packers should hire a sacrificial lamb coach at the outset of every season, and set him aside for eventual termination to appease the broiling, unruly mobs of Packers fans that start lighting torches and raising pitchforks every year.

Cuphound's picture

Finally someone devises a <I>fun</I> tailgating event! BOOYAH!

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