Cory's Corner: Just who are these Packers?

This season has been anything but predictable for the Packers.

Green Bay started out hot with a shiny 6-0 record, then lost four of five and needed a Hail Mary to eek out a win at Detroit.

Now this team reaches its final quarter of the season, and offensively they’re still trying to figure out who they are.

“This year as opposed to other years, we’re continuing to work through our identity throughout the year,” said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A lot of that unfortunately is due to a key player in the preseason.”

Through 12 games last year, Rodgers had 32 touchdown passes and amassed six 300-yard passing games. During this roller-coaster year, Rodgers has thrown 26 touchdowns and has three 300-yard games and five games with fewer than 225 yards.

At Detroit over a week ago, the most consistent pass play was a screen pass to James Starks. James Jones, who racked up six touchdowns following Week 6, was making a case for the Pro Bowl. He’s only caught one touchdown since either because of injury or because he simply cannot get open.

“If you look at the last six or seven games for us, we’ve had a lot of really good halves,” Rodgers said. “Not full games.”

That’s true, but the Packers still find themselves on the top line in the NFC North. No matter how confused and clueless this team has looked at times, they can still flip the switch and make a postseason run.

And it all starts with the running game. Once the calendar turns to December in the Midwest, nasty weather looms. Even though El Niño has turned much of the country this year from snowy white into fairway green, this month is still critical to running the football.

Eddie Lacy knows all about inconsistency. In seven of 12 games, he has tallied less than 50 yards on the ground. He has rushed for back-to-back 100-yard games, but then followed that up by missing curfew and only getting five carries.

“He’s a tough guy to tackle,” said Rodgers about Lacy. “He’s a bowling ball out there. He’s a smart guy. He’s a good runner. He’s a very good runner for a guy his size. But you need multiple guys.”

While Lacy has been inconsistent, Starks hasn’t been much better. However, John Crockett brings a nice shiftiness that complements both Lacy and Starks. Crockett will never be a featured back in this league, but he can run by a defense that had been used to absorbing blows from Lacy all game.

Before Jordy Nelson’s devastating injury this past August, people expected the Packers to move the football easily and score 30 points a game for the second straight year.

“We’ve been trying to find that balance on offense and guys to pick up the slack,” said Rodgers. “We’ve had a lot of injuries at our skill positions that has made it tough to get that get that consistency every week.”

That means getting some health on the offensive line, getting more than one sack from the defensive front seven in the last two games and having receivers that can create more separation.

“I’ve never lost confidence in this locker room,” said Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who leads the team with 92 targets. “We all believe in each other. We all continue to fight and we’ll be ready.”

The question is, how ready?

With the final chapter of the season upon us, we’re left trying to figure out who these guys are. A team with unfixable problems or a team that’s lying in the weeds for a surprise January run? 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (33)

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Bearmeat's picture

December 12, 2015 at 09:51 am

That's the question. Which Packer team shows up the rest of the way? The one who dropped 20+ on Carolina and Detroit on the road in 1 half? Or the one who sleep walked against Chicago and Detroit at home?

With he exception of 2008, MM/AR have always done their best work at the end of the year. That would now mean 9/10 times.

Unless Lacy and 2 WRs/TEs pick it up, this is not a super bowl team. I'm not sure they can do that. But I'm still inclined to believe that GB figures out their issues, wins their division and a playoff game or two.

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Razer's picture

December 12, 2015 at 07:51 am

Other than his O-line, Rodgers needs one other guy to show up. All confidence and space will flow from that. If Rodgers knows that he has a go-to guy, then he will play with the eyes downfield confidence that we are accustom to. Having said that, it would be nice to have a couple of other employees show up for this game.

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porupack's picture

December 12, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Agreed. Remember the days when the announcers used to say Favre just completed a pass to his 10th different receiver in the game? I remember similar for rogers a few years. That was when a defense was always a step behind and couldn't eliminate any one, two or three options. Packers were always able to move to another option as soon as defense tried to take away the last option. That was even at times when there was no run game. Pretty remarkable back then with the second tier receiving corps of Jennings, Driver, Crabtree, etc.

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nostradanus's picture

December 12, 2015 at 08:31 am

I have been quite perplexed by this same question all season long. When the Packers were 6 & 0 going into the bye week, we could all see something was just not right. The Offense was finding a way to get it done but they just didn't look like the smooth Offensive machine they have been under Big Mike. The Defense; while piling up sack numbers had just given up over 500 yards to the vaunted Chargers and needed late game heroics from the rookie Randall to save the game. The Special teams were improving, although Tim Masthy's punting has been an adventure unto itself all season long.
Then of course the post-bye collapse of almost unwatchable football, with a dominating win at Minnesota sandwiched in there and then last weeks exciting finish at Detroit in which this Packer team awoke from its slumber and came back from 20 points down in the second half to steal a victory on an incredible Hail Mary pass! It has indeed run the gambit of emotions for a perplexing Packers team and the fans alike.
I am expecting a Heavy Dose of Heavy Eddie softening up the middle of opposing defenses, with more Starks screens and Rodgers to Rodgers over the middle. I also expect with Montgomery, Quarless and Abberderus returning to health, more opportunities for the Wide Outs to make plays. On Defense Jake Ryan's emergence in the middle will provide more opportunities for Clay Mathews to do what he does best...disrupt! The return of Randall in the secondary provides more depth and toughness as well. As for Special Teams, which have shown promise at times, but have also had some very unspectacular moments, lets just hope for consistency in the plus column.
I NostrDANus (being an Optimistic Mystic) I have faith that this team will find its way these next four weeks and will play their best football heading into the playoffs and will make things very, very interesting come January.
GO PACK!
NostraDANus

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Tundraboy's picture

December 12, 2015 at 01:51 pm

“This year as opposed to other years, we’re continuing to work through our identity throughout the year,” said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. A lot of that unfortunately is due to a key player in the preseason.”

There you have it. Rodgers has been out of sync from day 1 without having his number 1 receiver and IMO with the O line injuries, subpar running game and spotty performance of the WR's, it's no wonder the O is off. Lack of TE play until last week didn't help either. At same time I think we have turned the corner after a lot of bumps in the road. Looking forward to tomorrow. Go Pack go

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calabasa's picture

December 12, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Hate to see ARod blame an injury for our struggles.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 12, 2015 at 01:19 pm

Think he's hurting too, although Hail Mary throw shows he is all better.

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KenEllis's picture

December 12, 2015 at 09:04 am

"but the Packers still find themselves on the top line in the NFC North."

Yes, indeed the Pack is on track for their 5th straight NFC North.

They are who they have been for the past 4 years, a team good enough to win a weak division, and not good enough to reach the Super Bowl.

D is better while the O is worse, but in the end it is just another year of Aaron Rodgers in his prime will have come and gone without a chance to play for the Lombardi Trophy.

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Tarynfor12's picture

December 12, 2015 at 10:16 am

Do you have any idea of what's about to come for you?

Whether you do or not let me say this to you first....bravo.

Though by my saying that it may bring even more childish wrath.

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calabasa's picture

December 12, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Couldn't agree more. Every decision made by TT et al should be with ARod's window in mind.

Many NFL fans are happy to watch their team win on 10 Sundays a year, and maybe get a playoff win here and there. My expectations/hopes of this franchise, with one of the best QB's of all time, are much higher. I couldn't care less about winning the division. I hold this franchise up with the Patriots, who contend for the Super Bowl every year with an equally-skilled QB and better coach.

Call me spoiled, etc. You're right. I recognize these expectations may seem lofty but we as Packer fans (hell, OWNERS! It's true, isn't it?) should be happy that we can reasonably expect SB aspirations every year! That's a damn good position to be in!

Blah blah blah GO PACK!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 13, 2015 at 01:34 am

I agree with the gist. "Every decision made by TT et al should be with Arod's window in mind." If Arod is going to play 5 more years (he just turned 32), then I think it is a little early for TT to pull out the stops to try to win a SB. Still, he could have done a bit more fairly cheaply, but I would not skew the cap just yet.

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Bohj's picture

December 12, 2015 at 02:27 pm

Kinda sick of the weak division debate.

NFC North Representation
2009: Two teams in playoffs GB, Vikes
(Vikes were 1 int away from SB - case you forgot)

2010: Two teams in playoffs GB, Bears
(Bears were the other team in the NFCC game)

2011: Two teams in playoffs GB, Lions

2012: Two teams in playoffs GB, Vikes

2013: One team in playoffs GB

2014: Two teams in playoffs GB, Lions

2015: Two teams in playoffs GB, Vikes

Sooo.....you can say what you want about the north and SB production, but our division has two representatives in the playoffs every year but two since the Rodgers era with Four of them in the NFCC game. And one SB winner. Your division isn't weak if you're sending two teams.

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KenEllis's picture

December 12, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Lions have ZERO playoff games this century. That is correct, ZERO.

The Vikings have won ONE playoff game in the past 10 years. ONE.

The Bears have won THREE playoff games since TT took over (in 2005) and went to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season -- where they lost. The Bears have also only been to the playoffs once in the past 8 years, and have 1 playoff victory during that time span.

Since 2005, three different NFC West teams have represented the NFC a combined FIVE times in the Super Bowl. The NFC East's Giants have also won two Super Bowls during this period.

It is not the Packers fault that they've been playing in the same division as the Bears, Lions, and Vikings, but winning the average to below average NFC North is not exactly a huge accomplishment given the level of competition.

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KenEllis's picture

December 12, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Lions have ZERO playoff wins this century. That is correct, ZERO.

The Vikings have won ONE playoff game in the past 10 years. ONE.

The Bears have won THREE playoff games since TT took over (in 2005) and went to the Super Bowl after the 2006 season -- where they lost. The Bears have also only been to the playoffs once in the past 8 years, and have 1 playoff victory during that time span.

Since 2005, three different NFC West teams have represented the NFC a combined FIVE times in the Super Bowl. The NFC East's Giants have also won two Super Bowls during this period.

It is not the Packers fault that they've been playing in the same division as the Bears, Lions, and Vikings, but winning the average to below average NFC North is not exactly a huge accomplishment given the level of competition.

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Cheesestradamus's picture

December 12, 2015 at 10:01 am

I have been waiting for the 2015 version of the Packers to return to the offense we know and love. Jordy was absent from the first six games. We had a perfect record without him but were far from perfect playing the game. We stunk! I have been patiently waiting for the Packers to "revitalize or rejuvenate" and become the top team in the NFL again! I am disappointed each and every week.

Now is the time to prove our mettle. 10 days off to mend and a exciting victory to raise our spirits. I expect Eddie to run wild (although on my fantasy team he is benched (trust issues?)) Ty M. will play some and make a big play. The receiving corps (oops, core) to do well. I expect to win a close game that should have been a cakewalk!

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porupack's picture

December 12, 2015 at 10:55 pm

yep. Well said. We've been disappointed each and every game so far even when it was 6-0. Still, there are reasons to believe GB can get it together with returning players, the 10 days of rest, and maybe, MM comes in with a more diversified game strategy, has covered the details, and has the unit ready to play a game in the rain. I hope he threw Lacy 500 wet ball passes yesterday, which I would do if I was coach for a day. Might need to catch some wet balls on screens on Sunday.

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Allan Murphy's picture

December 12, 2015 at 10:56 am

The Packers need to bring their A game the rest of the way ..............

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Curry Rambeau's picture

December 12, 2015 at 11:09 am

When was the last time they brought their A game?

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DrealynWilliams's picture

December 12, 2015 at 01:06 pm

Wait, did you create another profile, comment, dislike your own comment and then reply to yourself? Man, you're dedicated.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 12, 2015 at 01:48 pm

The same troll trolling himself. Does that make him selftrolling? It must be boring in that basement.

I'm not sure if we saw the A game yet but there has been plenty good to see, just not all packaged up in one game. The queens game was the closest we got and they were in the Arizona game till the very last play.

Is there reason to doubt? Ofcoarse we all see it. Is there reason to be optimistic? Hell yes, and I don't need to explain. Is there reason to say Fuck this team? That is the question that draws the line between the wankers and the true fans.

We all know what category the trolls belong. Victory will make this go away. Go pack.

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Oppy's picture

December 12, 2015 at 01:08 pm

The Packers entire roster is awful, Aaron Rodgers is only slightly better than Cassell, even their A game ain't that good...

Yet, only 5 teams in the NFL have a better record than the Green Bay Packers.

That probably includes whatever team you root for, Cow.

Man, just imagine how completely incompetent those other 26 teams are.

Why do you even watch football?

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Tundraboy's picture

December 12, 2015 at 06:19 pm

Sounds like that would make you very happy, to have Cassel outplay Rodgers. Question is why?

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Oppy's picture

December 13, 2015 at 09:45 am

Points and wins.

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Oppy's picture

December 13, 2015 at 09:40 pm

I don't even want you to say you were wrong.

I just want you to admit that the doom and gloom you constantly forecast is a gross overreaction to the ebb and flow of football, and that you need to stifle your emotions at times and let things play out before rushing off the cliff.

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Bohj's picture

December 12, 2015 at 02:38 pm

In the salary cap era there is no dynasty except for one team: the New England Patriots. We're not them. Get over it and accept what we have. And just hope we string together enough hope, health, luck and chemistry at the right time to make a run. That's what 31 other teams do. Sometimes the Champ at the end of the year isn't the best team, but rather the best story.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 12, 2015 at 04:12 pm

If you ain't cheating you ain't trying. That's one hell of a dynasty.

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Since '61's picture

December 12, 2015 at 06:06 pm

Given the current state of the league, which is mediocrity at best, anything can happen, good or bad for the Packers. As I have previously posted the Packers could easily be 10-2 at this point. Through their first 12 games the Packers have played 5 teams with winning records after 12 games. They have won 3 of those games. 10-2 New England has played 2 teams with winning records through 12, 12-0 Carolina has played against 3 winning teams, the Bengals 4 games against winning teams. The league has 2 entire divisions with all 4 teams below .500. My point is that the NFL could have a SB with 2 teams that finish the season with below .500 records. Imagine the speed that Lombardi would be spinning in his grave when the trophy that bears his name is hoisted by a team with a record below .500. As for our Packers they could easily go on a run to the SB. In this league what does a good record really mean? What does a bad record mean? In the end, if the Packers can run the ball and stop the run, they have as good a chance as any other team because the level of play in this league is quite embarrassing right now. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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alaskan tundra's picture

December 12, 2015 at 07:06 pm

Now that the euphoria of the hail mary is behind us it will be either a great spark or back to the same problems before the pass. We cannot continue to spot teams 20 plus points before we decide to play like it means something. Anorther disinterested start will kill us. Cowboys come in here loose with little pressure. And even without Romo they have been close in many games. I have to agree with the article as in I dont know who this team is this late in the season. But it doesnt matter how you play in September. Its how you play in December that does. Heres hoping that we find ourselves quickly. Its mid December already.
Go Pack Go

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4thand1's picture

December 12, 2015 at 08:43 pm

I hope Santa brings you a new blow up doll for x-mas. At least while you're bangin the shit out of it, you won't be here.
you suck.

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Bohj's picture

December 12, 2015 at 11:33 pm

I just don't get this. Why would you not hope for someone to do better? Especially for players that you are supposedly a fan of. If you really think that people can't do better, then in your world everyone is doomed to fail. If they're not good enough from birth then they are garbage. Nice outlook!

Winston Churchill was a known drunk and used opium in college. What a waste of talent. What a bum. Oh wait.....he aspired to greatness. Just like any of these young men have a chance to do.

I feel sorry for you COW that you would jeapordize the hopes of anyone on this board because you have a notion of how much "talent" any one man can possess. Something must have happened to you to give up on the strength and courage and wonderment of the human condition to think that it is completely out of reach for these guys.

So I'll leave you with this: The Packers team that is made up of these guys right now. Whether people think they stink or not. We are rooting for them to win. To be better than they are. Because we all want to be better. And when the Packers are, we all feel like we can be too. And it makes everything possible. Stop trying to steal the magic of the game. Because without that piece, there's no reason to care.

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4thand1's picture

December 13, 2015 at 07:14 am

Old McDonald had a farm, ei, ei , o. And on this farm he had a cow ,
then chopped it up and ate it. Eat more chicken.

you suck

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ray nichkee's picture

December 13, 2015 at 09:25 am

Good cows are happy cows. That crabby bastasrd won't even make it to the dog food factory. I wonder if the crows and vultures would even feast on him.

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alaskan tundra's picture

December 12, 2015 at 08:43 pm

Another cowpie.....

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