Colts vs. Packers: Rants & Raves

I went rogue with the featured image to this piece which features Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry blowing up Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.  That was back in 2012 when both were rookies.  Fortunately for Luck, the rules of the game have evolved to protect quarterbacks and Perry was flagged for roughing the passer on the play.  The fumble that was caused that would have been recovered by the Packers defense was nullified, and an afternoon of pure horror followed.  OK, that was a bit dramatic.  But I was in the stands for that game and I'm sure those of you who listen regularly to Pulse of the Pack Podcast are tired of hearing me refer to it.  So, maybe this will be the last time.  Maybe.

The Packers are back home after a tough loss that went down to the wire in Atlanta last week.  They're getting healthier as they saw cornerback Quinten Rollins, tight end Jared Cook and running back James Starks return to practice after missing time.  Rollins is the only of those three who may see the field on Sunday.  Linebacker Clay Matthews also practiced this week after missing last week and should be good to go.  Despite so many reserves having to step into key roles, the Packers nearly won a big road game.  With key starters on the mend, Green Bay could be set up nicely for a back half of the season.  As they say, it's all about how teams finish the season.  

Here are some of the positives and areas of concern for this week.

Rants

Pass Defense

The Packers held the Falcons to 288 passing yards when they had been averaging 315 yards per game, not to mention also having one of the game's best receivers in Julio Jones who had just three catches for minimal yardage.  Not a stellar day at the office for the defense, but given the injuries to Green Bay's secondary, that was somewhat of a win in that area.  The Colts come in averaging 261 passing yards per game while the Packers are giving up just under 247.  

The Colts have better speed at receiver than the Packers do at defensive back.  T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett can get behind a defense and the Packers will continue to get tested deep until they prove they can stop it.  Last week, I called on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to step up and have himself a day.  He helped stymie Jones, teaming up with LaDarius Gunter, but Clinton-Dix didn't really stand out.  Without knowing exactly how defensive coordinator Dom Capers is using him, it's hard to say if he's underperforming.  That said, players who make plays consistently tend to do so regardless of the situation.  They're the guys who when the play called breaks down and a quick adjustment is needed to "plan B", can react and still make things happen.  Maybe that guy will be Morgan Burnett instead.  Either way, the safeties are going to be needed in coverage this week but we haven't seen enough consistently from them to feel great about how they'll fare.

Up Front On Offense

Center J.C. Tretter is likely out this week which means we could see Corey Linsley activated for the first time this season.  Linsley has been practicing after coming off of the physically unable to perform list and should be able to step in and fill Tretter's shoes.  Linsley had been the team's center the past two seasons and was held back due to a hamstring injury he suffered during the offseason.  The only issue there is that Linsley hasn't played in a meaningful game since January.  Guard T.J. Lang has been practicing through a hip injury that saw him miss some time in the last two games.  Don Barclay would step in if Lang can't go and that would be a concern, as Barclay is easily the team's least-effective lineman.  

Tretter should return at some point and re-solidify a Packers line that has been performing well above average so far this season.

Run, Packers, Run

The Packers still don't have a run game.  Don Jackson will enter the game as the only true running back, along with fullback Aaron Ripkowski and a likely combination of Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery taking some snaps out of the backfield as well.  We've been hearing all week about how an effective short passing game mimics a run game.  That may be true from a production standpoint, but the question is whether the Packers offense can beat defenses and score points.  A lack of a legitimate running threat is going to make things easier on opposing defenses.  And eventually defenses are going to scheme to shut down Cobb and Montgomery and the Packers will either have to hope that Jackson blossoms and that Eddie Lacy and Starks can return at some point.  

The Packers rank 19th with just over 100 yards per game on the ground, which isn't that far off of their average the previous few years.  The big part of that equation however, is how many of those yards quarterback Aaron Rodgers is contributing.  Overall, he's averaging just over 22 yards per game.  Not astronomical but last week he had 60 yards on the ground.  This offense was never built to expect that kind of yardage from the quarterback.  Now that the trade deadline has passed, the Packers have to live with what they have at running back.  Hopefully they can get their work horses back and healthy before year's end.

Raves

Packers Receivers

Once thought to be an incredible area of strength for the Packers, it all seemed to come crumbling down when Jordy Nelson was hurt last preseason.  Last year, Packers receivers couldn't separate from coverage and had to rely on veteran James Jones to come in and fortify the unit.  Davante Adams was a ghost in 2015, seemingly dropping everything thrown his way.  Nelson's return hasn't quite been the spark that we were hoping for, but he has been productive, with six touchdown catches in seven games.  The Packers also recently let go of Jared Abbrederis, who was the team's best receiver during the preseason and who seemed to come on late last season.   Suddenly, this was a position in need, not one of strength.

Enter 2016 Davante Adams, who over the past two games has 25 catches for over 200 yards and two touchdowns.  This after his previous high was five catches for 85 yards and a score against the New York Giants.  Adams has emerged as the go-to receiver and will probably hold onto that title from here on out.  And that's a good thing.  Rodgers clearly trusts him with 30 targets in the last two weeks, and Adams seems to play better the more often he gets his hands on the ball.  Against a Colts passing defense that is allowing 287 yards per game, Adams should see some favorable match ups and opportunities to add to those gaudy numbers. 

Not to be left out are Cobb, Trevor Davis, Jeff Janis and Geronimo Allison.  Cobb should return this week after missing last game.  Adams' emergence and Nelson's draw of coverage should continue to open some things up underneath for Cobb.  With all of these parts humming, the Packers passing game could return to one of the top attacks in the league.  Davis made a nifty touchdown catch and had an even nicer punt return of 55 yards later against the Falcons.  His speed is a huge asset that the Packers can hopefully incorporate more of as time goes on.  In Janis and Allison are two options who made the most of their snaps last week, each snagging a touchdown.  

The Packers have become known for having good receivers over the years.  It looks like that trend should continue for at least a while.

Get Luck-y

Luck has been sacked 31 times this season through eight games.  If you're saying to yourself "that's a lot", you're right.  His highest sack total was 41 in 2012, his rookie season.  In 2013 and 2014 he played a full season and was sacked 32 and 27 times, respectively.  The Packers should be getting Matthews back (as mentioned earlier) and the Packers should get some chances to get to Luck.  The Colts offensive line has been porous for the past several seasons so Capers should be scheming to get pressure whenever he can.  If Luck doesn't have time to load up and throw deep to his speedy targets, it essentially does the secondary's job for them.

Be Special

Give me more of Trevor Davis, please.  He has assumed the punt return and kick return duties and quickly ripped off a 55-yard return last week.  That's the type of thing the Packers were looking for from Davis when they drafted him into a crowded receiver group.  The Packers haven't had but a few memorable returns from Micah Hyde, who has been as sure handed as it gets back there since taking on those duties.  But this team has had a speed deficit and now that they have someone in Davis who can run to daylight, they need to get the ball in his hands and hope he can flip the field.  Or at least give the offense a much shorter track to the end zone.

Speaking of flipping the field, this week is an important one for punter Jake Schum.  He returns to the outdoor environment of Lambeau Field on Sunday.  The forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies and a high of 65 degrees.  Not exactly a winter wonderland, but Schum has yet to put together an entire good game outside this season.  If he can kick well for a second-straight week, it may build some confidence and salvage what's been a rough start.  Being able to move the opposing offense behind their own 30 is going to start to become very key as the weather turns.  Against this Colts defense, I don't know how many chances Schum will get, but another nice day will help calm a lot of nerves amongst Packers fans.

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (17)

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Tundraboy's picture

November 05, 2016 at 02:45 pm

"afternoon of pure horror" Sumned it for me as well.

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 05, 2016 at 03:31 pm

Wasn't that sack more attributed to Perry being given a clear, unblocked, untouched run at Luck...you know. ..an 'ole' here you go, free and easy....but the play call failed and hence the hopeful rise of Perry began though under false illusion that he dominated an opponent in battle, still enthralls some as many a fairy tale of yore. : )

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jasonperone's picture

November 05, 2016 at 03:56 pm

Maybe some ignored the ease Perry faced but the point was that play was nullified and who knows what may have happened from there. That and Perry is arguably the Packers best pass rusher this season and against legitimate attention

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 05, 2016 at 04:40 pm

" legitimate attention "
I could paint an entire house with a brush stroke that wide. : )

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NMPF's picture

November 06, 2016 at 11:18 am

Thank you Tarynfor12, You have a knack for making us feel better about ourselves after reading your posts.

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 06, 2016 at 01:14 pm

You're welcome....best to feel good for the right reason than a false or misleading one. : )

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Point-Packer's picture

November 05, 2016 at 04:32 pm

Don Barclay is our least effective lineman and worst player overall on the roster. How he is on the team, I just can't begin to understand.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 06, 2016 at 06:38 am

Hes getting into Newhouse and that other guy territory, so bad I forgot the latters name.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 06, 2016 at 06:39 am

Oh yeah Sherrod. Ole

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Rossonero's picture

November 06, 2016 at 07:26 am

I agree with the first half of your post, but Barclay is indefensible. He is so bad that every time he's come onto the field, the opposing team has bulldozed him, which has already led to two strip sacks, one of which went for a TD. He should not be on this roster. He's had more than his fair share of chances to prove himself.

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Razer's picture

November 06, 2016 at 07:26 am

I don't feel much like arguing today so I will say that I expect the Packers to keep coming forward. The Atlanta game showed that we can punch with the punchers. Minus the injuries we showed the spark that has been missing or, at least, hidden.

The offense is building a new look and feel that can get us there. The defense, which I thought a strength, has much to prove. I am looking for a dominant game from the front seven.

I will argue about the Barclay thing though. The versatility to play multiple O-line positions poorly is hardly an asset. Other than Tretter, this cross training has resulted in average to poor results. McCarthy even tries to train the offensive coaches this way and it doesn't work there either. Barclay is not a tackle or a center - he is a below average guard.

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Savage57's picture

November 06, 2016 at 07:36 am

There will be chances for turnovers. When they occur, the Packers must capitalize.

One more possession than the Colts may be the difference in a game that is going to be closer than people think.

The Packers are at home and that's their trump card. The Colts are playing for their playoff and coach's lives, and that's theirs.

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Handsback's picture

November 06, 2016 at 07:45 am

No time for excuses, Green Bay has to win today and not let the game get away from them like it did in 2012.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

November 06, 2016 at 11:07 am

I'm still pissed about that BS Roughing Call. IMO, it was a huge setback for Nick Perry.

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greenngold's picture

November 06, 2016 at 12:18 pm

On a totally unrelated note - Ian Rapoport tweeting Pack signing Joique Bell on Monday.

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packerbackerjim's picture

November 06, 2016 at 04:51 pm

So, how's Dom doing now?

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stockholder's picture

November 06, 2016 at 07:45 pm

If you think Adams is our best WR based on stats, Your more messed up than A-Rod. This was the perfect game to judge Adams and Janis. 1 good route and 1 good catch for both. That doesn't make it with me. Janis will be judged on that drop. Cut him. This team needs better. And by your own words you want more Davis. You know thats going to take 3 more years. So I'm all for cutting Janis. Why? Because the only way we will see better is by change. The WRs are the problem! Cut them and rebuild.

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