Five Packers Who Will Have a Better Second Half of the Season

The Green Bay Packers are off to a strong 6-2 start to the 2020 season, but that doesn’t mean some players aren’t struggling with disappointing play over the first eight games.

Here is a look at five Packers players who will play significantly better for the team in the second half of the season than they did in the first. This could be due to injuries, poor play, a lack of opportunities or simply gaining experience and getting more comfortable with the playbook.

5. TE Jace Sternberger

Sternberger was expected by many to be the Packers top receiving tight end heading into training camp but he was placed on the Covid-19 reserve list when camp opened and got off to a slow start to the season as a result.

He’s played in all eight games but has just eight catches for 86 yards and one touchdown, putting him on pace for just 16 catches for the season.

Sternberger has averaged 15-20 plays per game, a number that should go up in the second half. He will still probably be behind Robert Tonyan on the depth chart, but as he regains his strength and gets more comfortable with the playbook and wins Aaron Rodgers’ trust, he should get more snaps and targets in the second half of the season.

How well Sternberger blocks should also be an important factor in how much more playing time he gets.

Tight ends are a vital part of Matt LaFleur’s offense so expect Sternberger to carve out a bigger role in the second half of the season.

4. ILB Christian Kirksey

Kirksey was injured in the Packers Week 3 win in New Orleans but he wasn’t playing well before he got hurt. Kirksey was signed to replace Blake Martinez and was supposed to be a better fit in the Mike Pettine defensive system than his predecessor. Unfortunately, Kirksey often took poor angles to the ball and like Martinez, too many of his tackles came downfield and he was rarely an impact player for the Packers.

Thus far this season, Kirksey has 27 total tackles in less than three games but no tackles for loss, no quarterback pressures and no turnovers created.

Kirksey is expected to return to the active roster soon. He should have a bigger impact on the defense in the second half of the season as he gets more comfortable with his teammates and gets healthy again.

The Packers need his experience and leadership in the second half and they hope Kirksey can stay healthy and deliver. He will have to earn playing time ahead of promising rookies Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes.

3. S Darnell Savage

The Packers were expecting a second-year jump from Savage this year but the former first-round pick out of Maryland has largely disappointed thus far.

Savage has often taken poor angles on running plays and missed too many tackles. He has 32 tackles in seven games with only one tackle for loss. He does not have an interception. According to pro-football-reference.com, opposing quarterbacks are completing 69.2 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Savage and have a quarterback rating of 137.5. Last year, they completed only 56.7 percent of their passes and had a rating of only 71.1.

Savage is a talented and hard-working player and he should have a better second half for the Packers assuming he stays healthy.

2. DL Kenny Clark

Kenny Clark is a Pro Bowl defensive lineman when he’s healthy, but unfortunately for the Packers, Clark was injured in the team’s Week 1 win in Minnesota and missed three full games as a result.

Clark returned to the lineup against the Bucs, but the UCLA alum has not been his usual dominant self this season since his injury.

In five games, Clark has a total of 11 tackles with no sacks and no tackles for loss. He has not gotten the penetration on running plays and the inside pressure on opposing quarterbacks that he provided in past seasons.

The hope is that Clark rounds back into form as he gets healthier and returns to the dominant form that made him a Pro Bowl player last season for the Packers.

1. OLB Preston Smith

Preston Smith had a career year in 2019 after signing with the Packers as a free agent. He was an impact edge rusher and recorded 12.0 quarterback sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback hits.

This season, Smith’s play has fallen off significantly. Through eight games, he has just 0.5 sacks and has made only 17 tackles, one tackle for loss and four quarterback hits.

In his defense, Preston has been asked to drop back into coverage more often this season, but when asked to rush the passer, he hasn’t had as much of an impact.

In addition, Preston Smith often struggles to stay in his lane on running plays and his failure to contain can lead to big gains by opposing rushers.

Preston has showed some signs of returning to form in the last two games. While he may not play to his career-best 2019 level, the Packers should get a lot more from Preston Smith down the stretch than they did in the first eight games this season.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (60)

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frankthefork's picture

November 09, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Nice round up Gil. Personally feel no problem with our TE"s. A Rod has issues throwing checkdowns and to TE's in general, and I hope that changes now that Tae will get doubled up. I like the 3 TE's and Lovett. Do wish we had Josiah D, but injuries happen.
Our D-line needs the improvements the most. Keke, Adams and Lowry need to pull their weight as the saying goes. And my second big concern would be the linebackers. The middle of the field is the QB of the D...but our front seven in general needs to step up. Lastly, our wide outs need to get seperation, find the soft spots and concentrate on catching the ball first. The O-line is shining but for the bucs game. GPG

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:37 pm

Agree on the TEs. They're good but they could get even better. The D-line needs to be more consistent. Keke, Adams and Lowry have shown flashes but have to get the job done. Same with ILB, very inconsistent. WRs not named Davante have to step up also. Thanks for the comment, frankthefork.

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stockholder's picture

November 09, 2020 at 12:41 pm

I've given up on Savage. can't tackle, always out of position. Preston Smith should not have to drop back. Turn him loose.

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Bearmeat's picture

November 09, 2020 at 03:19 pm

No way. You don't give up on 1st round picks in just 1.5 years unless they are absolutely dreadful. Adams was awful in year two. Jordy as well. Rodgers sucked until year 3... give it time.

The biggest issue with Savage that I've seen is the Pettine insists on using him as the deepest of the deep players. His best plays always seem to come when he's mixing it up close to the LOS and his worst are on bad angles to ball carriers or any stripe when he has a 20 yard cushion.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 09, 2020 at 03:53 pm

If King stays out, Savage should be the nickel. Let Redmond stay back.

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egbertsouse's picture

November 10, 2020 at 07:33 am

I’m always reading in this forum that it takes 3 years to develop a player in the NFL. That is only partially correct. It takes 3 years to develop some players but some get it right away. Other teams plug in guys in year one and they play well. Lately, we seem to get a lot of guys that need time. For example, the Steelers get T.J Watt and he is pretty good tight away, we get Gary and he does nothing for going on 2 years. Antoine Winfield Jr. Is playing well right away, Darnell Savage looks lost. Maybe it is because Gute and Ted have a penchant for drafting guys that don’t fit GB’s system or maybe it’s coaching. I don’t know.

Also, Rodgers, Collins, and Jordy did not suck until year 3, they may not have been Pro Bowl caliber but they were pretty good right away. They shouldn’t be lumped in with guys like Gary, Savage, MVS, and Burks.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:39 pm

Tough to give up on a former first round pick after he struggled half a season, but I agree he has not lived up to expectations so far this year and needs to show more. I'd love to see Preston rush the passer more, we'll see if Pettine agrees in the second half of the season. Thanks as always for commenting, stockholder.

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Stroh's picture

November 09, 2020 at 10:20 pm

Nick Collins didn't really do squat till yr 4. 3 INTs in 3 yrs, before he became the player you remember. Savage will be much better soon! Same goes for Gary and any other young player! Development takes time. Quite being such a reactionary azz.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

November 10, 2020 at 09:06 am

Reactive.
Reactionary means going back to an earlier time, mostly used in a political context to refer to someone who wants to return to more conservative politics.

Everyone here is being reactive, not reactionary.

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Lphill's picture

November 09, 2020 at 01:23 pm

Gil I agree with all points , its interesting that most of the players not playing up to their potential are defensive players , coaching possibly ?

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Minniman's picture

November 09, 2020 at 01:50 pm

If the DB coach Jerry Gray can't coach this group then no-one can. He just spent the last 6 years as the Vikes DB coach and they weren't a shabby unit.

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Coldworld's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:17 pm

He coaches within a system and behind a mess which has neither stopped the run or get penetration. That’s pretty tough in a defensive backfield.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:42 pm

I don't think he's the problem and the DBs have been the best unit on the defense. Thanks for commenting, Minniman.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:41 pm

Coaching could definitely be part of the problem, or maybe the scheme doesn't fit with the talent they have on the field. Hope the defense has a better 2nd half of the season. Thanks for commenting, Lphill.

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Jaypack's picture

November 10, 2020 at 09:41 pm

You nailed it. Pettine is by far the biggest weakness on the Packers. 49ers showcased it in the NFC Championship game. Was hoping Zimmer was going to get fired and bring him in but the Pettine let the Vikings go on a winning streak! Coincidence? :)

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packerbackerjim's picture

November 09, 2020 at 01:41 pm

Historically, Clark comes on strong with 6-8 games left in the regular season, averaging close to a sack a game. Need it this year.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:43 pm

Definitely need a strong finish from Clark. I think as he gets healthier, things will get better for him on the field. Thanks for commenting, packerbackerjim.

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TarynsEyes's picture

November 09, 2020 at 02:03 pm

History has been earmarked for rewrite to fit a narrative that erases the previous version and adapted to what is desired to be a new truth.

Sternberger has no NFL history to rewrite, but his can easily be written to fit a desire more than truth. So let's allow truth to become clearer.

Kirksey has a history and enough of it has been written, and subsequently his first season in GB has proven that his history is true, and any rewrite with expected change in narrative will be as false as the reasons for his signing in the first place.

Savage is an 'open' history book and apparently has been read by opponents well since last season. Rewriting his history may be more effort than worth attempting.

Clark has a wonderful history, and while his injury can be the reason for his failure to relive it, the food for thought may be a slight case of new contract-itis, a disease that often strikes the newly young and rich with falls from grace worthy of historic recording, premature, and may create an equally historic denial (not undeniable).

Preston has history based more on last seasons play which set a bar far above any reasonable expectations in GB and previous before his arrival. Pettines' playbook and use of him this season likely has a hand in this short and quick rewrite to the wrong side, but if his return or second half rewrite is based on Kirksey, put the pen and ink aside, Kirksey can't help rewrite his own, as he'll likely repeat his sooner than later, in the second half of the season.

Last seasons stats are fodder for the next seasons hype of team and individual player. The percentage who repeat their written history are few based on number of league wide players. The average and below repeat at an extremely high rate and can/should be counted on to do such, and any deviation is likely an anomaly that shouldn't be written into future expectations.

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porupack's picture

November 09, 2020 at 03:57 pm

very nice Histor- ectamy, Taryn.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:45 pm

No doubt that Preston had a career year last year. I doubt many people expected him to match it but he has really fallen off significantly. Kirksey's lack of health has been an issue and has been again this year. Savage has to make some adjustments as offenses have adjusted to him. The talent is there but the consistency has to be. Thanks for the comment, Tarynfor12.

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Minniman's picture

November 09, 2020 at 02:10 pm

Gil, with the exception of Kenny Clark you possibly could have titled this piece "5 Packers who had darn well better have a better second half of the season".

To my mind Kirksey is almost definitely a cap-casualty in waiting ($6M is cap saving). Martin and Barnes are playing solid-to-better in this space so things don't look great for Christian unless he comes out and plays as Devin White or Fred Warner incarnate. Preston Smith is another one on this precipice - with Gary making small but incremental increases in his game.

Perhaps if you did an article named "5 Packers who had darn well better have a better second half of the season" the list would be as follows (in no particular order). Josh Jackson, Dean Lowry, MVS, ESB, Montravius Adams.

I will say though, despite the fact that in the last game it was against the depleted 49-ers.... and the LT Skule was doing his best Don Barclay impersonation...... the hustle by the DL and OLB's not named Z. Smith was evident. Looking forward to the Indy game. They have a good O-line and this will be a decent test of their willingness to pressure.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:49 pm

Agree with your list of players who darn well better have a second half. Skule was horrible for the Niners but Z and the d-line took full advantage. As for Kirksey, yes, he may not be back if he doesn't step up but we'll see. Thanks for the comment, Minniman, good stuff.

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murf7777's picture

November 09, 2020 at 09:02 pm

I would agree with what you are saying with the exception of Adams, now healthy and experienced he is playing much better and making plays regularly.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

November 09, 2020 at 02:52 pm

I think Raven Greene will have a better second half of the season. He seems to be limited in his participation, but when the guy is on the field he tends to make an impact. If we can just get him on the field more while keeping him injury free.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:51 pm

I also think Greene is a difference maker when he's in there. His small frame makes it tough for him to stay healthy, but when he plays, the run defense is definitely better. Thanks for the comment, TheKanataThrilla.

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Stroh's picture

November 09, 2020 at 10:37 pm

Greene isn't really a small frame, he's pretty jacked up actually. Maybe too muscular could be part of the issue. But the real problem is he's a Safety being used as an ILB. He is good sized for a Safety, but severely undersized playing ILB, even if you wanna call it a hybrid position.

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:45 am

Fair point, Stroh. Greene is listed at 5'11" and 197 pounds which is fine for a safety but very light for an ILB.

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Stroh's picture

November 11, 2020 at 07:54 pm

He's jacked up to like 205 or so. Either way he's much to small for even a hybrid type position.

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nostradanus's picture

November 09, 2020 at 02:52 pm

Good take Gil

Kirksey should settle in and with the ascension of Barnes & Martin the Packers should have a nice ILB trio rotation moving forward.

Sternberger has had some tough breaks in his 1 1/2 seasons. When healthy you can see the talent, the duo of he and Tonyan has shown talent for sure.

Clark seems to start slowly and crescendo towards the end of the season, plus he has been dinged a bit.
No worries with big Kenny, he be good.

Let’s not give up on Savage too early, Nick Collins took at least 2 years to come on. Savage has all the tools to be great but needs some maturity. He bounces off way too many tackles and needs to learn to wrap up. I still believe he’s going to be a good one.

Preston Smith has not been the same this season. I assume he is playing more of a Fackrell role in the defense and probably doesn’t like it. Pettine needs to turn him loose and forget the coverage stuff, that’s not what the Packers are paying him the big bucks for.

I am looking forward to seeing this team peak in the seasons second half and beyond.

That is all...

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Minniman's picture

November 09, 2020 at 03:36 pm

Totally agree re Preston Smith. He actually looked engaged vs the 49ers. I’d urge the Packers to not do a BJ Raji on P Smith and end up disengaging him by not playing him to his strengths. As you said, he’s not being paid as a cover guy and it will just end badly for all parties if it persists

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Minniman's picture

November 09, 2020 at 03:36 pm

Totally agree re Preston Smith. He actually looked engaged vs the 49ers. I’d urge the Packers to not do a BJ Raji on P Smith and end up disengaging him by not playing him to his strengths. As you said, he’s not being paid as a cover guy and it will just end badly for all parties if it persists

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:55 pm

I agree with you on Savage, way too early to give up on him. Hopefully he shows more in the second half. Preston probably isn't thrilled with the way he's being used but he needs to do more than he's done in the first half. I agree Kirksey should add experience and stability in the middle. He was off to a slow start before he was hurt. I also agree with Clark finishing strong. Had he been healthy this year, I think he'd be playing better. Thanks for the comment, nostradanus.

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Stroh's picture

November 09, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Nick Collins wasn't thd player you remember till yr 4. His 1st 3 yrs he had 3 INTs total. FS is a difficult position to master. It definitely was too early this year to expect him to make a jump. Fans are just generally dumb and entirely to impatient!

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ricky's picture

November 09, 2020 at 03:29 pm

In order:
Sternberger has taken a back seat to Tonyan. If he can improve his blocking, he should provide the Packers with a good one-two TE punch. Will he improve the second half? If Rodgers decides to throw to him, yes; if he decides to look for Adams and then glance around for someone else, probably not.

Kirksey was a mistake. The team thought they needed someone to replace Martinez, not realizing they had two guys already on the roster who were better than they thought. As other have noted, Kirksey is as good as gone.

Is Savage having a sophomore slump, or is he showing he was a one year phenom? Too early to get rid of him; instead, have the coaches work with him to maximize his potential, whatever it may be.

So, Clark had a Pro Bowl season during his contract year, and has regressed since signing for the big bucks? That is one way to look at the situation. The other is that he is surrounded by JAG's on the DL, that other teams are focusing on stopping him because the know no one else is a threat, and the team needs to get him some help.

Preston Smith had a career year last season. He won't be that good again. Cutting him would be mean no savings on the cap- he'd be at $8 million cap savings/$8 million dead money next season. So, they might as well keep him around, unless they can find someone better to replace him. He has a chance to make a case for keeping him around, but that would mean doing things he doesn't seem to want to do, like taking on bigger guys so the RB can't get loose around his end for big gains.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:08 pm

Dig it.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Right about Sternberger. His blocking is an issue and Tonyan took advantage of the opportunity and is ahead of him on the depth chart. I agree it's too soon to give up on Savage and they have to give him time to straighten things out. Clark's injury was probably a bigger factor than his contract although we'll see. Hopefully he finishes strong. I don't think it makes sense to let go of Preston and I didn't expect him to match last year's performance, but he should be a little closer to it than he has been so far this season. Thanks for some good insights, ricky.

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PhantomII's picture

November 09, 2020 at 04:25 pm

Since Gute did nothing at the trade deadline for the second year in a row on offense or defense. The current players will have more opportunity which is exactly what Sternberger needs, a lot more throws his way. Even Tonyan for that matter. I don't know about Kirksey he could pick up his game as these rooks are playing better. Savage, just has not shown me anything he should be a starting safety on the team. I think he was rushed into play too soon and has not had to earn his starting spot. Clark has a lot of room to increase his play this year as not much to talk about yet. He definitely needs upgrades around him so he can shine. I feel bad we have not done that for our defense as a whole. Preston didn't seem to show up for this season in shape. He seemed 15-20 lbs. overweight and Pettine has done his usual taking what a defender does well at and giving him something he does not excel at just like Savage and Amos. I believe all these players will play better as players around them play better themselves and competition level increases and we edge closer to the playoffs. I would not mind signing another vet to the secondary for the end game run.

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GilMartin's picture

November 09, 2020 at 05:06 pm

Thanks for the comment, PhantomII. I think a veteran addition would be welcomed if it represents an upgrade. Savage is still young and hopefully will show more as he gains experience. Kirksey will have to outplay the two rookies and I get the feeling the three of them may start a rotation. Should be an interesting 2nd half.

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Stroh's picture

November 09, 2020 at 10:49 pm

Collins started as a rookie and it took him till yr 4, to become the player you remember. Savage will be fine. Don't be so damned impatient!!!

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PhantomII's picture

November 10, 2020 at 06:05 am

1st RD draft picks are not suppose to be multi year projects. I'm sure the defensive scheme I have pointed out are a big part of the problem. If he comes out next year like you said and is exponentially better like we both hope, lesson learned.

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Stroh's picture

November 11, 2020 at 07:57 pm

EVERY deaft pick needs development. Now days most really high picks are based on athletic ability as much or more than actual college production. See Gary, Savage...

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SpikeHyzer's picture

November 11, 2020 at 11:37 am

The other Nick, Perry, also took some time to harness his great speed.
He spent 3 years over pursuing and blowing by ball carriers and could have racked up a lot of tackles in that time.
He was great after his adjustment period.
And 1st round picks can take time, just as 5th rounders or UFDAs can end up starting as rookies.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 10, 2020 at 07:03 am

Savage's first 6 or 7 games were the best football he has played in the NFL. IDK what that portends.

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The_Justicar's picture

November 09, 2020 at 09:33 pm

Clarks numbers / production is really concerning. I know he was injured and missed some time but he is on pace to earn basically 1 million dollars per tackle. That is not good value. Momtravious barely played and has 1 less tackle on the year but two tackles for loss. When I watch games I don’t ever notice Clark anymore, he isn’t highlighted taking on double teams nor making highlight plays. He is basically Momtravious Adams this year except not as good based on Adams production on less snaps. Clark to me needs o step it up.

I do agree, as someone posted earlier he is surrounded by Jags. Lowery and Lancaster shouldn’t be on an nfl roster let alone starters. But Clark had those same duds next to him last year and was far better.

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:47 am

I'm hoping it's a health issue and that the injury and lack of offseason work slowed him down. Clark is better than he's showed this season. Hopefully he steps up in the second half. Thanks for the coment, The_Justicar.

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canadapacker's picture

November 09, 2020 at 09:55 pm

IF you watch the tape - our tightends are open a lot and AR usually will throw it to Adams - or even overthrow it to Adams - happened in the San Fran game. In the Houston game Adams and MVS were open on a 4th down and AR threw it to Tonyon to get the first which was probably the smart play. But when we were humming without Adams we were using the TE's. Now Stearnbergers blocking has been poor especially on those end arounds and receiver screens and he has taken holding penalties but so has Lewis. I would like to see AR do the perfect game against the Jags by using the TE's and hit them in stride - he has missed Tonyon a couple of times when he would have taken it to the house. If we get those guys producing like Kelce and Kittle - then it will open up even more Adams.
Preston had a good game against a hurting team - I still think that he is not really into the mental and physical shape ( I too think he is carrying too much weight ) needed this year. I am and have been for quite awhile mortified with our poor tackling. We seldom one on one stuff somebody especially with out Dbacks in the flat. Our linebackers dont jump into the hole and stop someone cold regularly and I doubt whether Kirksey will do it. What is really killing us this year is the lack of pressure - pressure leads to turnovers and leads to stopping 3rd down conversions - we seldom get many 3 and outs. Those 3 and ou ts helps us eat up the clock. The best example was the first half of our first game with the Vikes.
Finally the big guy in the middle needs to earn his big payday - I can see why he is a little slow after the groin - but he needs to be the disruptor in the middle - too often
I dont know what Mckinnely's issues are but maybe he might be a good pick up and rotational player to keep the linebackers fresh.

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:50 am

The TEs are typically a bigger part of LaFleur's offense. I would like to see Rodgers find Tonyan, Sternberger and Lewis more often in the middle of the field. He's throwing more to the middle this season than last season, but his accuracy on throws to the TEs hopefully will improve.
Agree on Clark, he has to be better but I think the injury is mostly what's slowing him down. Remember, no offseason work, no preseason games, one game and then hurt for another month. I think we'll see more from him in the 2nd half.

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Bure9620's picture

November 10, 2020 at 01:54 am

Jaire is definitely the defensive MVP, he is the best corner in the league right now

I would like to see him held out against Jacksonville even if he clears the concussion protocal.......we can easily beat the Jaguars without him and he is simply too vital to this team to risk another concussion so soon after his previous concussion.....

Also what is people's issue with Kenny Clark?? Like he is in a slump?? There is nothing wrong with him turn on the tape.
Yes Clatk gets double teamed and teams run away from him.....that has always been the case.....

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:52 am

I wouldn't mind holding out Jaire if King plays and hopefully he will. As for Clark, he's not making tackles, tackles for loss or getting inside pressure on opposing quarterbacks like he did in the past. I think it's mostly because of the groin injury but we'll see if he picks it back up in the 2nd half. Thanks for the comment, Bure9620, always good to hear from you.

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MemphoMike's picture

November 10, 2020 at 08:20 am

4 out of 5 on this list play on defense.....makes me think the defensive problem has more to do with the "Jimmy and Joe's" and not the "X's and O's"......The others on this list, I still believe can step it up but Kirksley showed nothing prior to his injury...PFF even ranked him at the bottom of the NFL at his position earlier this season. He's not the answer and could be a liability down the stretch. Stay with Barnes and Martin. I'll take their dynamic playmaking abilities over the occassional rookie mistakes all day long . We have a hopeful future at the ILB position with those two.

On a separate note, MLF made a troubling statement after the Vikes loss that seemed to be ignored by the media. In his post game talk, he said this team needed to find a strong leader in the locker room and on the field. I am confident he's referring to finding that leader on the D unit. It's a scary thought that we're in Week 10 and the D is still looking for their leader bc noone has stepped up to take the reins? The Smith Bros, Kenny, Amos, Jaire(!).....it's extremely disappointing that none of these guys has assumed that leadership role. I really like this team and think, if the D can play up to their collective abilities, the Super Bowl is a reality.

But as a unit, this D must step it up, find a voice to lead them (Jaire?) and elevate themselves from being kind of good to being great.

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

I thought the Smith Brothers were considered leaders in the locker room but maybe that's lacking a bit more this season. I hope the defense finds a leader and improves its play. We hall see if it happens. Either way, the defense does need to improve in the 2nd half. As for Kirksey, he didn't play well early and I like the potential of Barnes and Martin although Martin has only a very limited sample size. Thanks for the comment, MemphoMike.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

November 10, 2020 at 09:15 am

I largely agree with the list, but I think there's more to it.
Scheme has been an issue for both Savage and Smith. I don't think their athletic ability is being used in the right way and it's entirely on Pettine for their failures.

Clark has been decent since he's been back, but is still getting back in shape and the injury affected him. No worries there.

Sternberger hasn't even played 15 games in his entire career and was ignored as a receiver for most of them. He blocked really well at the end of last year and I don't see much drop off this year from that (in fact, I'd say blocking by the offensive skill players is THE best in all of football, with he, Lewis, MVS, and Tonyan being the best).

Kirksey is done. He showed that he's not a good player and the young guys we have are better. They'll trot him out often enough for him to get hurt again or he will drop down the depth chart and be the guy who just gives the other guys a play or two off. He's a cap casualty for sure.

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lawatrain's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:52 am

Kirksey had an injury history before his signing and it looks like his history has followed him to the Packers. We had an inside backer that made tackles down field, without the injury history. We couldn’t stop the run last year and the GM didn’t act, we haven’t been able to stop the run this year either. When if ever will the GM look to stop wasting Aaron’s career? Is remaining mediocre the goal? I want us to win a Super Bowl!

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PhantomII's picture

November 10, 2020 at 09:41 pm

Although this year is not a good example for it. After the previous GM and now this one I believe the train of thought with this organization is not " Title Town". I think they want a moderate payroll with a competitive team to fill the seats for home games and sell merchandise. If they happen to luck out and get to a Super Bowl without using any precious draft picks, all the better. The Packers are a pretty good team but need a few more pieces to really solidify the defense and top off the offense. All is not lost, it's just so dumb and makes it so much harder to get to the final game. I wish the hawks would have let their GM come back home. That guy is not afraid to pull the trigger on a difference maker to get the team to the show and win.

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GilMartin's picture

November 11, 2020 at 11:42 am

Thanks for the comment, lawatrain. We all want to see this team win a Super Bowl and they are one of maybe 4 teams in the NFC with a good chance of getting there. I hope the GM will look for more immediate help this offseason. This year's draft was puzzling to me as well. As for Kirksey, the bottom line is we couldn't afford to re-sign Martinez. I have been disappointed with his play before he got hurt. Hopefully he can have more of an impact when he returns.

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Stroh's picture

November 21, 2020 at 05:06 pm

Well you can largely blame Rodgers for only one SB. He's played poorly in all 4 NFCCG he's played in. Surely the D needs to be better, but it starts with Rodgers! And he hasn't played really good or great against any quality D since the SB over the Steelers.

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 12:43 pm

The scheme may not be helping either Preston or Savage, but that is more on the coaches than the players. I hope we see more production from them in the 2nd half of the season. Thanks for the comment, SpikeHyzer.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:21 pm

I feel like the mistake is that Preston is too big and not agile enough to cover.
It's the opposite with Savage. He's being made to play the final contain role and I think he'd be best in that cover hybrid position with Amos as the last gasp (or Redmond in a pinch, since he can't seem to cover or recover and take good angles either).

I don't think either guy has found his optimal role, but in addition to scheme it could be that they seem exposed on the plays where our young ILBs falter.

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

November 10, 2020 at 10:49 am

No Alan Lazard on this list???

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GilMartin's picture

November 10, 2020 at 11:58 am

He played well before he was hurt, so that's why he wasn't on the list. Hope he does well once he's active again but expect him to continue to perform well. Thanks for the comment, Irish_Cheesehead.

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