Hello Wisconsin: Won Not Done, or The North is Not Enough

The Packers' march toward the first seed continues, a new Beer of the Week, Giannis in Milwaukee and more!

Three games remain in the 2020 regular season, and the Green Bay Packers are in control of their own destiny to have the playoffs pass through Lambeau Field for the first time since the 2011 season.

It’s been even longer than that since the Packers hosted an NFC Championship game; it’s never happened in the Aaron Rodgers era. It was, of course, Brett Favre’s last game in green and gold that was the most recent Lambeau Field championship game, the January 2008 contest in the frigid night air against the New York Giants that ended in heartbreak.

It’s rather hard to believe that as many times as the Packers have made it to the NFC Championship in the Rodgers era, they’ve never once hosted it. And it’s a cruel twist of fate that, when this could finally be the year, fans won’t even be able to be in attendance to see it.

But that’s what the Packers are fighting for over these final three weeks of the regular season. It’s going to be an all-out sprint to the finish. The Packers are fortunate to have the tiebreaker against their closest competition, the New Orleans Saints, and the Saints have a much more difficult remaining schedule. But should things end in a three-way tie with the Saints and either the Rams or the Seahawks, it could start to get dicey with the tiebreakers.

The Packers could drop a game and still win the one seed, but they’d need some help in getting there, so the simplest thing to do is just win out and let everyone else fight over the scraps.

That the Packers find themselves in this position with three weeks to go is remarkable, and honestly not something I would have predicted coming into this year. I saw the Packers winning the north with 11 wins and ending up with the third seed, and certainly not being in the driver’s seat for first in the NFC.

At this point, the NFC is a mess. The Packers look like the conference’s best team almost by default. Certainly no one else is playing nearly as good of offense as the Packers are. 

The Saints are still likely to be without Drew Brees for at least another week, and even when he’s back in the lineup, he’s not the Brees of old, and has never been a threat to win a game in cold weather conditions away from the comfort of the Superdome.

The Seahawks have one of the worst defenses in the history of the league. You think the Packers’ defense is frustrating? The Seahawks’ defense makes the Packers’ 2011 unit look like the ‘85 Bears. It was all well and good when Russell Wilson was playing MVP caliber ball, but now he’s… not.

The Buccaneers have been extremely inconsistent on offense, largely due to Bruce Arians trying to fit the 43-year-old square peg that is Tom Brady into the round hole that is the offense he’s installed in Tampa. 

The Rams are seemingly a different team every week. While they could be a matchup nightmare for the Packers, they’re also just as capable of coming out and laying an egg.

This is the best opportunity the Packers have had to make it back to a Super Bowl since they built up a lead against Seattle in the 2014 NFC Championship. Time is running out in the Aaron Rodgers championship window, and the Packers must take advantage of what lies in front of them this year.

Special teams continues to be disastrous

I really, truly do not understand how seemingly every year the Packers’ special teams unit has a legitimate argument for being one of the league’s worst.

Let’s not mince words here. Barring Mason Crosby, who is an absolute godsend, the entire unit has been terrible.

J.K. Scott has been a flop this year. What happened to the massive leg he showcased at Alabama and at times during his rookie year? It seems he’s now good for at least one shank per game, and he could be kicking his way off the team. I’m not going to give him too much grief for his horrendous tackling displays, because that shouldn’t have to be something he concerns himself with, but watching Crosby save a touchdown this week was a pretty stark contrast to watching Scott get juked into the netherworld twice this year.

The coverage teams are awful. It’s getting to the point where if Crosby can’t kick it out of the back of the endzone due to the wind conditions or whatever, I’d almost rather see them squib it every single time. Maybe Scott needs to punt it out of bounds every time to prevent opposing returners from having a shot. 

Whatever the coaches are telling the players on kick coverage clearly isn’t working; they’re giving up big returns left and right that are just gut punches for a defense that’s already having plenty of struggles of its own without having to worry about defending a short field. 

I’ve seen speculation that the amount of roster churn the Packers do at the bottom of the roster can have a negative effect on special teams, but every team deals with a lot of inconsistency at the bottom of the roster. 

Is it a failure of coaching yet again? Is it players just not doing their jobs? I have no clue, but whatever the unit is currently putting out on the field cannot continue to happen. A single special teams play can create a huge game changing moment in January football.

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

I’ve got a bunch of “old standbys” when it comes to Wisconsin craft beers. These are the kinds of beers that aren’t particularly unique or hard to find, but they are always satisfying, and they’re great to keep in the fridge because I know they’re going to be crowd pleasers.

Examples include Spotted Cow and Moon Man from New Glarus, HHG and Mudpuppy Porter from Central Waters, and my favorite of all my “old standbys,” Lakefront Brewery’s Eastside Dark.

I was really craving a dark lager over the weekend, and lo and behold, I still had a bottle of Eastside Dark in my beer fridge. And as always, it really hit the spot.

I love the Lakefront Brewery experience. While there are better breweries in Milwaukee, Lakefront still produces excellent beer (never anything less than solid) and they have one of the best in-person brewery experiences you’ll find in the state. During “normal,” non-COVID times, one of my favorite Milwaukee nights out is a Lakefront fish fry, cheese curds and brewery tour on a Friday night. 

Eastside Dark pairs perfectly with the fish fry, in my opinion. It’s smooth, malty and easy to drink. This Munich-style dark lager comes in at a very moderate 5.8 percent ABV and has a very complex roasty, malted finish. It’s also a great looking beer, a shimmering dark brown that lets just a bit of light through to let you know that yes, it is, in fact, a lager. 

As I mentioned, I frequently have a six pack of these lying around my house, and after drinking the last one in my fridge on Saturday I promptly went out and purchased more the next day. In addition to being a great beer to drink for any occasion, it also makes for an excellent base for creating roast beef or venison. When I make a roast in the crockpot, I’ll pour in an Eastside Dark or two to give it that extra depth of flavor. 

Eastside Dark is one of Lakefront’s staples, so you should be able to find it at most any liquor store in the state.

The North belongs to Green Bay

In winning the NFC North, the Packers continue a run of divisional dominance that is only exceeded by the New England Patriots since the 2002 realignment.

The Packers have now won the NFC North 11 of a possible 19 times in that span, behind only New England’s 16. The Bears and Vikings combine for the other 8 divisional titles, and the Lions… well.... The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have still won this division more recently than they have.

If the Packers beat the Bears in week 17, they’ll have won 11 of 12 divisional games under Matt LaFleur.

It’s an absurd run of dominance over both a long and short period of time. 

Bears, Lions and Vikings fans are going to be real pissed when Jordan Love turns out to be a third consecutive Hall of Fame quarterback and extends the Packers’ merciless rule of the North to nearly 50 years.

Around the NFC North

Once again it’s time for us to take a look around the NFC North.

The CHICAGO BEARS finally ended their six-game skid, pummelling the hapless Houston Texans into the turf. The hope here is that the Bears win just enough over the last several weeks of the season that they miss the playoffs but still decide to hold on to Pace and Nagy for another season, though that might be a bit too much to hope for at this point. I do have to chuckle, though, about seeing articles discussing the Bears potentially being a rebuilding team in 2021, and even trading Khalil Mack for draft picks. So much for that “franchise-altering” trade that would “swing the balance of power” in the NFC North toward Chicago!

The DETROIT LIONS came to play against the Packers and put together a pretty decent offensive day, but it just wasn’t enough in the end. Now there are two questions for the rest of the season: what is Matthew Stafford’s injury status, and does it even matter? The Lions are a lame duck franchise at the moment, with a new coach and GM coming next year. There have been a number of rumblings about Stafford possibly being trade bait in the offseason. Stafford’s status for this weekend is in jeopardy, and if he’s going to miss multiple games, do the Lions just shut him down to preserve his trade value and see what they have on their roster? Hard to say. 

The MINNESOTA VIKINGS did the Packers a solid by taking an L in Tampa, allowing Green Bay to clinch the division with three weeks left to go in the regular season. The Vikings now have absolutely no margin for error--they basically will need to win all three games left on their schedule and get some help if they’re to get into the playoffs, barring a collapse from the Arizona Cardinals. Until the Vikings improve their offensive line and secondary, you can expect this to be a team that continues to come up short in the regular season. Better luck next year...

Another five years of Giannis!

Just a couple weeks ago in this column I bemoaned how the national talking heads and columnists all seemed to be cheering for--not just predicting--Giannis to leave Milwaukee and go to a big market team.

Now, for anyone who has actually been paying attention to the things Giannis has said and done during his time in Milwaukee over the last six or seven years, him staying right here in “boring” old Milwaukee was far from out of the question, and was, in fact, the likeliest end result. 

But the hype machine ot out of control, and Milwaukee once again found itself bracing for yet another basketball star to move on too early, with shades of Kareem Abdul-Jabar or Ray Allen.

The fact that Giannis chose to sign the supermax contract and tie himself to Milwaukee for an extra five years is massive for small market NBA teams everywhere, which constantly find it a struggle to compete with the bigger markets that draw NBA superstars.

More than that, and I’m not exaggerating at all here, this may be the biggest thing to happen to Milwaukee in my lifetime.

Had the Democratic National Convention been able to go as planned in Milwaukee this summer, that would certainly have been the biggest event Milwaukee had seen in the last several decades, an opportunity to put itself on display nationally and showcase itself as a city full of potential and enthusiasm. 

The loss of the DNC was a major blow to this city and its businesses. Giannis choosing to stay, though, is massive.

It’s a huge support for the still-young Deer District downtown, which will now continue to be packed on Bucks game days (when it’s able to be once again) and continue to see successful tenants coming in to the area. It’s a chance for Milwaukee to become a high-profile destination for free agents who know Giannis is here for the long haul. It’s a huge marketing opportunity for a city that desperately needs positive young faces and role models. 

Even if you’re not a basketball or Bucks fan, you can hopefully appreciate how big this is for Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a whole.

Aaron Rodgers watch

A rough outing by Patrick Mahomes has Aaron Rodgers now the odds-on favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. 

Rodgers continues to have one of the finest seasons of his career, adding three more passing TDs and a running TD to his resume for the year. Rodgers already has 39 passing touchdowns with still three games to play, meaning there’s a legitimate chance he hits 50 on the season. 

Rodgers is also closing in on his own all-time single-season record for passer rating, set during the 2011 season. The record stands at 122.5, and Rodgers currently sits at 119.7. Had the Tampa game not happened, Rodgers would probably be sitting over the mark already. He will need to continue to play extremely efficient ball over the final three weeks to bring his total up over the mark to beat, but it’s certainly possible. He’s already eviscerated the Bears once, and the Titans have been easy to pass on all year long. This weekend’s game against the Panthers could end up being the toughest matchup he has left if the Bears don’t show more than what they did in the first go around.

Other milestones and accomplishments coming up:

  • Rodgers needs one touchdown pass to reach 40 in a single season for the third time, which would be the most in NFL history.

  • Rodgers needs 315 passing yards to reach 4,000 in a single season for the ninth time in his career.

  • Rodgers is currently on pace to smash his all-time best for completion percentage in a single season. He sits at 69.6, with his previous best being 68.3 in 2011.

  • Rodgers has had passer ratings of over 100 12 of 13 games this season, and over 110 in 10 of 13. 

So, uh, yeah… he’s pretty good.

Week 15 quick forecast

The Panthers have had a rough go of it this season. It’s their first season under a new coach and quarterback, and their all-star running back Christian McCaffrey has missed most of the season with various injuries, right after signing a mega-deal entering the regular season.

McCaffrey will once again be out this weekend, which makes matters a bit easier on the Packers’ defense.

Still, it would be a mistake to take this Panthers team lightly. They’ve fought hard and have been in almost every game they’ve played this year right up to the end, even against some tough competition. Matt Rhule is off to a promising start with his first gig in the league. Despite the talent deficit between these two teams, you can expect the Panthers to play hard for a full 60 minutes of football. This may be a last-place NFC South team, but it’s not at all a team that’s given up.

I’d expect some early struggles for the Packers before they inevitably break away, as the talent gap is too large for Carolina to overcome for a full 60 minutes. I’ll go Packers 31, Panthers 17.

 

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Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (67)

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Pack88's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:40 am

I am hoping GB gets that 1 seed but I don't want evrybody getting cocky if it comes down to week 17. Just remember week 17 2007 when GB had to go to Chicago and it was a brutally cold, snowing sleeting and Favre looked 100 and GB was crushed!

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Bure9620's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:52 am

I remember that game, but there were like 40 mph winds in addition to that. That was an equalizer.

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GregC's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:03 am

The funny thing is, the Packers could earn home-field advantage in the playoffs in the one year when it doesn't mean much: no fans in the stands, and the current team is not designed for cold weather. Playing at home could actually be a disadvantage for them. I would still take it though, because the bye means a lot.

You are right about Carolina. I expect a close, hard-fought game. The Panthers are better than their record suggests.

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Coldworld's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:47 am

The bye means a lot I agree. Rodgers clearly feels home advantage is important. If it is to him, then it likely is in fact. My concern is LaFleur and bye weeks haven’t gone well together thus far.

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Bure9620's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:53 am

They beat Seattle off the Playoff bye last year

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Tingham's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:16 am

One more thing about getting the bye. It helps payers heal but most importantly they cannot get hurt. Remember Jordy's ribs getting smashed in the game against the Giants. 2016 or 2017 I think.

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Razer's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:40 am

...That the Packers find themselves in this position with three weeks to go is remarkable, and honestly not something I would have predicted coming into this year...

I had great hope for this season, but I can't say that I saw this coming. I saw us building off Matt Lafleur's new offense and riding a 'real' run game into the playoffs. But Aaron Rodgers has embraced some of the new concepts and taken this to a higher level. Just having a TE with 9 TDs is worth the price of admission.

Tim - I can get behind your Dark Lager. Kind of like 'comfort food'.

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NickPerry's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:24 am

"Is it a failure of coaching yet again?"

Not just yes but HELL YES!! I'm sorry guys because I know I've ragged on Mennenga quite a bit recently but I can't believe he STILL has a job in GB. The Packers have a ST Asst. Coach and also a Quality Control coach for ST who couldn't possibly do any worse than this buffoon!

I mean common, he's been here 2 years and he was setting records in a League 100 years old for SUCKING. Thank God Gute brought in Ervin because I honestly believe they would have finished with MINUS return yardage on punt returns last year if they didn't. Fast forward to this year we now have teams WANTING the Packers to return the ball on kickoffs, and coverage team on punt returns that brings new levels of embarrassment to the Packers each and EVERY week.

Shawn Mennenga doesn't deserve OR belong in the NFL as a coordinator. He ranked 100th at Vanderbilt in 2018 before coming here. Granted, he did raise the ranking of Vandys ST from 129th to 100th but honestly, is that ranking something that REALLY deserves one of 32 coordinator positions in the NFL?

If the Packers lose a game, any game the rest of this season because of ST, especially after watching this idiot at work for 2 seasons, then Gute, Murphy, and Ball all need to go. MLF TRIED to hire 2 other coaches and we know who blocked it. This is ALL on Matts bosses.

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Razer's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:43 am

Not sure where you stand on Mennenga as our Special Teams coach. Please clarify :o)

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Guam's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:58 am

I'd give you more thumbs up NP, but the program limits me to only one. Mennenga needs to go.

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Coldworld's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:53 am

The first time it happened I was inclined to give some latitude for the significant ST churn in that game. Having now happened twice on punts and now once on a kick off, each time due to vacated lanes (emphasis on plural), I can’t see any basis for that defense. It is clearly a failure to coach and to coach PS players.

If LaFleur isn’t allowing STs practice time, it may be in part due to that, but ultimately, the failings we have seen are repeated and glaring to a point where the ST coach cannot be defended.

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canadapacker's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:05 am

Agree with some of the content and where you are coming from - but a little bit over the top. Once again - I believe that the Packers have a scouting problem - In order to be on the Ravens and the Steelers - you have to be mean and hit hard - this also reflects onto the special teams. I will give the coaches a little bit of a break because they have only done virtual practices and the little bit of on the field stuff was probably not assigned to ST - wont doubt if the team goes in a different direction on ST staff next year - but is there a guru out there?

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 17, 2020 at 05:24 pm

Offer Nolan Cromwell 3 million to come save the special teams for the stretch run.

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PeteK's picture

December 17, 2020 at 10:23 am

The whole group has been a disaster, especially the players that fall like a set of bowling pins.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 19, 2020 at 01:00 pm

NP, I'll drink to that. John Harbaugh, the Ravins head coach, was the special teams coordinator for nine years and places importance on that aspect of the team. While he is now the head coach, he is heavily involved in the special teams and it is certainly reflected in their result. I have to now look it up to see where they are currently ranked...I expected them to be a top 5 special teams, but here is what I found: "According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens easily rank No. 1 in the NFL in special teams, with their overall efficiency rated 13.6% better than the average NFL team.Oct 9, 2020. I agree with Nick Perry that they were pinching the bucks when they wouldn't allow Matt LeFleur to hire the guy he wanted. Good post NP!

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:29 am

Something i have been thinking about is, are the Packers better off playing off the bye or keep playing? I get everyone wants the week of rest and time for their bodies to heal, but both bye weeks last year and this year they came out flat and got throttled. Last year we did beat the Seahawks after getting a bye for the playoffs.
Whatever reason under LaFleur it seems that they struggle when they play really well and have to take a break. During games if they are steam rolling someone in the first half it almost always has been a struggle in the 2nd half.

So my question is, are we better with the bye or better keeping the momentum going?

Around the NFC North:

The CHICAGO BEARS- one of the best things I saw this week on Twitter was people still trying to justify how Trubisky was the right pick at least over Watson.

The DETROIT LIONS - I was impressed with what Bevell did offensively. He might be a strong candidate to be the Lions next HC.

The MINNESOTA VIKINGS - Just hoping they win enough games to take the 8th spot in the NFC. Give them as low of a draft pick as possible without making the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers watch:

Rodgers is the real MVP. He deserves it.
Remember how he had no weapons, no WR's this offseason. Remember how everyone has talked about how unstoppable the Chiefs offense is with all the weapons they have.

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Razer's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:03 am

Having home field advantage and getting your wounded back are obvious pluses to the bye. Coming out flat is the overwhelming negative. Matt Lafleur has yet to demonstrate that extra time off benefits the effort. I don't think continuous play hurts this squad. Keep the thunder rolling.

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Coldworld's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:57 am

I think the Bears should stick with Trubisky and Pace. It was a great pick. I agree with you on Bevell. Hopefully competence will mean the Lions will move on and he will go elsewhere.

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canadapacker's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:10 am

I think that we need to watch out for the Lions in the future. It would be a big mistake to dump Stafford after this year - but they now have a pretty good assistant to the boss in Spielman and Riddick might be good as GM. If there was an order of teams that I absolutely would never hope for - it is a toss-up between the Vikes and the Bears, but I always liked the Lions back in the Packers dark days - maybe it was because of Barry. But I think that Trubisky is not done in this league yet.

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:36 am

I think Trubisky will be a backup in this league for a long time.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 17, 2020 at 02:55 pm

No. The Lions will always find new ways to screw the pooch. I’m old, and they have pretty much been bad -to- mediocre my whole life.

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TimBackes's picture

December 17, 2020 at 10:35 am

I'd always rather have the bye. Two games to the Super Bowl versus three? Easy choice. Rust vs. Rest tends to be more of a myth than anything.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:01 pm

When it's playoff time the extra R&R and game planning put in for the opponent's is an advantage. Packers with the Home Field are good odds.

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murf7777's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:52 am

and the current team is not designed for cold weather“. That seems to be the sentiment amongst us fans, to play the devils advocate I’d state the following.

Rodgers has shown to play well in the cold weather.
They have two receivers in Adams and Tonyan who seem to catch anything thrown their way.
Williams is a north south runner.
Maybe Dillion becomes that X-factor, although I think Jones will do just fine in the cold.
Packers will be more used to the cold vs any of the competition(TB, Nor, Sea, LA,AZ)
In the playoffs, some fans may be in the stands

I’m sure there are more reasons....

I’d take Lambeau Field every day of the week and twice on Sundays. It has to be their #1 Priority for the obvious reason for a bye, but also home field advantage.

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Razer's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:10 am

I agree. I think that Coach Lafleur needs to get the team practicing outdoors down the stretch just to temper them for the playoffs.

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canadapacker's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:18 am

I agree - look - there is cold and there is cold. We are not talking about the Ice Bowl - we are talking about playing in weather that will not be above freezing. We will see when Carolina comes to town on Saturday night. - High of the day 28 F so probably 15 at kickoff. For a team that practices at 50 F , that might get their fingers stinging when they touch the ball. The same can be said for the Rams, Saints , Cards and Seahawks - so I think that those guys who dont think it matters have not shovelled snow. AR and the boys are used to it and AR is used to throwing a rock hard ball.

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:35 am

The Lambeau turf has a reputation for being slick, especially when wet or cold. The odd part of the whole thing is that the Packers should know this and be ready for it, but we see them impacted by it as much as any visiting team.

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Lphill's picture

December 17, 2020 at 07:54 am

I'm tired of hearing on the sports shows about Green Bays run defense which usually they are referencing last years championship game, the Packers have to make a stand against the Titans , even holding them to 125 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns can result in a win for the Packers as long as Rodgers gets his opportunities , and don't count the Vikings out just yet.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:06 pm

Tannehill is having a very good year.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:17 am

"Bears, Lions and Vikings fans are going to be real pissed when Jordan Love turns out to be a third consecutive Hall of Fame quarterback and extends the Packers’ merciless rule of the North to nearly 50 years."

Tim, I like the confidence you have that this is a done deal. "When", and not "if", is the word of the day! :)

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mrtundra's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:24 am

GO PACK, GO!!!

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:32 am

For all of the whining that some constantly engage in about Gute and TT, they never ruined the franchise for multiple years as Spielman and Pace have done in Minnesota and Chicago. TT and Gute have never traded multiple #1 picks for one player or never signed a middle of the road QB to a totally guaranteed contract. Those are only two examples of the multiple blunders, and in fact GM malfeasance, committed by Spielman and Pace.

TT and Gute never mortgaged the future in a quixotic attempt for one year glory, and I am confident that Gute will continue to be a good steward moving forward.

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:54 am

To be fair the Packers had Rodgers.

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Coldworld's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:02 am

And the Bears have Trubisky and Foles and the Vikings have Cousins’ stupendous contract. I think you make his point. As for Detroit, well, even I can’t write that long a saga.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:11 am

And who drafted AR? That's right, TT!

Of course, the despicable TT critics will babble about how the AR pick was a "no brainer" or that AR "fell into his lap". Those critics are the very same people who booed AR at training camp and engaged in revolting slander regarding TT's mental acuity.

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:30 am

The thought was we needed a cb before a qb.(Rodgers) Had it not been for Favre' injured thumb. Rodgers may never have been drafted. Favre was upset. The friction obvious. TT got Lucky. He still failed with Brohm. As other picks. While he did earn the "IN TED we trust". He Also earned "CHEAP TED" . TT was better then Sherman. But not WOLF!

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:14 pm

We get it, you hate TT. You think that you know more than a person who built a Super Bowl winning team.

Later in this thread you are ranting about how Thornhill was more highly rated than Savage (want to provide a citation for that?). Well guess what? Brohm was 1st round rated when TT picked him in the second round.

It's bummer to be a hypocrite, isn't it?

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fordguy's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:36 pm

I forget, how many spots did TT trade up to get Rodgers?

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 08:55 am

DP

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:38 am

I would argue that Pace's mistake in CHI--dealing for Mack and selling their draft capital, burying their salary cap in Mack and guys like Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Danny Trevathan, and planning to ride Trubisky--was made out of desperation, nailed them to an unproven QB, and stuck them into a fixed roster window. Fox had just been canned, Nagy was fresh on the scene, and the Bears were wallowing in their post-Lovie Smith/Marc Trestman mess. Pace essentially had done nothing in his couple years as GM, and he was reportedly feeling heat from above. He mortgaged their cap and future on a wing and a prayer. Neither Pace nor Spielman has been able to build an OL that's worth a crap, and that's been a significant flaw in both teams. I'll at least give Spielman credit for recognizing that he needed a soft rebuild on his team, and buying hard into it last offseason...but his doubling down on the Kirk Cousins deal is a head scratcher.

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Since'61's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:05 am

I’ll take the bye and the home field for the playoffs.
A week’s rest, more time to prepare and hopefully some fans in the stands should all be advantageous. Maybe Raven Green and Ervin get healed up and return thanks to the extra week. It’s all good.

The question is will the Packers remain motivated to play for the #1 seed. We know they have lapses during the games but will they play flat knowing that they are already in the playoffs.

They could have a let down this week against the Panthers who have nothing to play for. Hopefully they will take command of the game early so that we can rest our starters for at least part of the 4th quarter.

As for cold weather the Packers need to enjoy it quickly because in Green Bay they actually do not have a choice about cold weather in January. Especially with the league scheduling playoff games in the evenings for rating purposes.

As for special teams either punt out of bounds or go for it on 4th downs. Kickoffs will become more difficult to kick out of the end zone as the weather gets colder. Squibb it may be the way to go. Ridiculous that after 13 games our ST coverage is the biggest concern for this team. GPG!
Thanks, Since ‘61

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murf7777's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:39 pm

61’ you and I both believe in the importance of the bye and home field advantage. I have faith in MLF that he understands the same and will make sure his players do as well. Certainly, our other leader Arod knows the importance as well.

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:17 am

Yes- MR. RODGERS can Win it all with help. He gets hurt, their done. ST- Yea- you can blame the coach. But BG made the problem and never solved it. His trades didn't bring us anything. The waiver wire is his source now. He's given away more draft picks then any other GM in Packers history. Especially the TRADE VALUE! Is it Luck or money? He had the money to spend. And now we are about to giveaway/ Lose talent, because he's over spent. Why can't we afford Jones,King ,Linsley and others? Because he wanted a QB. Why did he believe Rodgers was JOHN HADL? Why did he keep making excuses for Graham. Yes if the Packers don't make the Super-Bowl,Evaluate Gute and not the Team.

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2020 at 01:57 pm

"Yes- MR. RODGERS can Win it all with help. He gets hurt, their done. "

True, but if Mahomes gets hurt, KC is done. Russell Wilson gets hurt, Seattle's done. Pittsburgh's done if Roethlisberger gets hurt. The thing about elite level players is that most teams struggle (especially in the playoffs v. other high-end teams) if/when they lose them.

"He's given away more draft picks then any other GM in Packers history. "

Someone slept through the Mike Sherman years...

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Leatherhead's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:07 pm

Which is why you plan your season, you have to figure out how you’re going to keep your QB healthy over a 16 game season and the playoffs. Especially if he’s older, like Rodgers and Brees and Roethlisberger and Brady. You can’t just say “he’ll buy time with his feet....let’s put a bunch of superduper WRs and throw it downfield 40 times. All I takes is ONE hit.

Our current strategy gets the ball out of Rodgers hands and keeps him from getting beat up. I like it.

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frankthefork's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:17 am

Tim, this is a great summary and as filling as the lager...Hey, all I want for Xmas is a SB. If we get there A Rod will get his 3rd MVP.

Boy, special teams need special attention. I have complained for 2 years about both the D and ST, but to continue as bad as GB's specials are, I think some FO special attention is needed prior to playoffs... if we lose a playoff game it will be because of field position or turnovers. I don't know why our FO is so frozen in the tundra. GPG

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

December 17, 2020 at 09:55 am

It is part of football but I worry should the Packers have to win all three games to have the #1 seed that they may end up losing some key players due to injury. Then they march into the playoffs undermanned. All is fine and good if they play to win all three games and do not have any significant injuries in those three games.

This is the 2nd year under ML and 3rd year with Gutey at the reigns. Remember just two years ago how all of us bemoaned the state the team was in and how long it was going to take to infuse talent? I believe what we are seeing with the special teams play is mostly about the team still needing time to bring more talent in to round out the quality of players at the bottom of the roster.

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murf7777's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:43 pm

So, are you saying they should try to win the three games with mostly back ups? You cannot control injuries, the best you can do is to put all resources into winning the last three and hope for the best on the injury front.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 17, 2020 at 04:52 pm

Every team uses bottom of the roster players on Teams.

NFL teams with much worse records than the GBP, ...therefore teams with LESS talent than the GBP.

The bottom of the roster is NOT the issue on Teams!!!

The problem is the continued mental mistakes that are either not coached into the Teams players or the lack of accountability from the ST Coaches towards players that have been coached up but under-perform.

It is time to change the voice and message on the gbp Special Teams. Right now, MLF needs to take charge and insert himself into the ST room and reinforce the mission and accountability of the ST units. Changing coaches right now would be a distraction that the team does NOT need, BUT... Menninga should be shown the door at the end of this season regardless of how the ST perform through the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. He has been given a very fair chance to do the job and he has FAILED.

2 years is enough time to place your stamp on an organization and Menninga has failed to do so, time to move on to another voice and plan for the GBP ST as soon as this season ends.

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ricky's picture

December 17, 2020 at 10:00 am

Why are the "Special Teams" so bad? Because the Packers consistently hire coaches who are second or third rate. They've had several chances to hire really good ST's coaches, and instead decided to spend less and hope for the best. This is now coming to bite them, big time. As you noted, every team has a constant churn at the bottom of the roster. But when teams are running the ball out of the end zone, even if they're starting five or six yards deep, that is an insult to the kicking team. Spend some money, get a guy in who knows how to coach, and move forward. As far as Scott, he apparently is battling nagging injuries and personal problems this season. Maybe he'll be like Crosby and bounce back from a really bad season. But having some competition during (hopefully) training camp next year would also be helpful.

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ckoski's picture

December 17, 2020 at 10:21 am

One of the factors impacting special teams is the trading away of the fourth round the last two years. I don't mean to overstate this. It's certainly not the only reason, but you build strong special teams by having strong depth, and you build strong depth through wise use of mid to late round picks. Gutey traded away two fourth rounders to trade up for Savage and another to trade up for Love. I hated both trades at the time they were made, and still do, and this is one of the reasons.

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TimBackes's picture

December 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

Eh... would you rather have Savage or a special teams player?

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 11:18 am

I'd rather not have Burks. That was terrible! He could of had Thornhill. Will Savage Turn out better then Thornhill? Who was higher rated. All Rookie Team. And still could of had Jenkins without the trade - up.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:05 pm

Burks and Savage were not in the same draft class.

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 01:07 pm

True - Burks was a trade up for 2 picks. Draft capitol wasted. If Bg wasn't head strong for Burks. Instead of taking a QB and a RB in 2020. Just think what this team could have been like with Queen and Chinn. You get to watch Chinn play OLB this Saturday.

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murf7777's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Every team makes errors while drafting. Each team can point to we should’ve drafted so and so. The reality is the Packers over the last 25 years are one of the winningest franchises in the NFL, so their drafting and cap management isn’t as bad as many complain about.

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stockholder's picture

December 17, 2020 at 01:13 pm

And only 2 super-bowl wins to show for it. The Patriots?

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:43 pm

Stockholder, what would make you happy? Unless you have a time machine, all the issues you continue to raise are irreparable.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

December 17, 2020 at 02:11 pm

To be fair we might still have gotten Savage or an equivalent player. He's not close to All-pro so not sure the price was worth it. Gute does tend to toss away draft picks. Oren Burkes didn't Gute trade up for him? Love?... did he need to move up? Regardless, the team is pretty good right now but could use some better coaches. If only he could trade a 4th for good DC and a 5th for a good ST coach this team could be really good.

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ckoski's picture

December 24, 2020 at 01:34 pm

False question. First, I think Savage was going to be there without the trade up. Of course, we'll never know, but let's assume he was gone. The question, then, is not Savage or a special teamer. It's Savage or the three other players they would have had instead, including a comparable high pick. Or, if you want to play along, trade down, add picks, and then the question becomes Savage, or Thornhill plus three or four other players.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 17, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Tim, before you were born, Green Bay had more than a few breweries and the last one that was around when I was a teenager closed in 1966. Here are the names and dates they were operating in Green and Gold Country:

Breweries listed under Green Bay, WI
Brewery Name Start Date End Date
East River Brewery 1864 1888
East River Brewery 1888 1891
Henry Rahr's Sons Brewery 1891 1900
Henry Rahr Sons Co. Brewery 1900 1913
Rahr Brewing Co. 1913 1920
Rahr Green Bay Brewing Co 1933 1966
Anton Blasch Brewery 1851 1879
Union Brewery 1866 1873
Bellevue Brewery 1857 1865
Christian Kiel Brewery 1860s Unknown
Landwehr & Beyer Brewery 1870s Unknown
East River Brewery 1864 1888

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Leatherhead's picture

December 17, 2020 at 02:02 pm

A nice column and good read. Some good food for thought, but I think you miss the mark badly with your special teams rant.

First, stop thinking about special teams as a unit, because it isnt. There's a kickoff team. Currently, about 55% of our kickoffs are touchbacks, so there's no return. We haven't given up a kickoff return. Our kickoff team has cost us exactly 0 wins.

We have a FG/extra point team We're a perfect 15 out of 15 on FGs. Not only is 100% the best, but we've attempted the fewest FGs in the league. A missed FG on 4th down is basically the same thing as a stripsack fumble on third down. So I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that our placement team is pretty good.

We don't return many punts, or kicks. We have fumbled a kick return away, and it cost us against Indy. We haven't fumbled a punt but we've only returned 9 all year....second fewest in the league. I have long advocated against returning punts and kicks and I'm pleased to see that Coach LaFleur agrees with me. Get possession of the ball and put Aaron Rodgers on the field and get the bottom of your roster off the field.

The punt coverage team has had the most conspicuous failures. We've punted 39 times, and only 14 of those were returned. The other 25 were mostly touchbacks and downed inside the 20.

Of those 14.....two have been for TDs. Only four punts have been returned all year, and we've given it up twice. This is bad, legitimately bad, and IMO it's another argument for us just not allowing returns. Better to lose yardage by punting it out of bounds than to give up a long return.

Amazingly, we still won both games. Our punt coverage unit has cost us exactly 0 in the W/L column.

We have three specialists: The long snapper, who has been perfect on every punt and placement this year. We have a FG kicker who hasn't missed a single FG. He has missed a few extra points, but did you realize that 71 extra points have been missed this year? (1060 attempts, 989 made).

So two thirds of our specialists are as good as you could reasonably hope for. The third is JK Scott, who has taken some heat this year. Yes, he did look pretty Special Ed. on those tackle attempts. His 45.5 average includes a blocked punt that wasn't entirely his fault, and without it, he'd be a lot higher than the 21st in yards/punt.

In summary, the "special teams unit" isn't nearly the trainwreck that people like to pretend. Our specialists, and our teams, are at least average in every respect other than the punt coverage unit, which has had a couple of big breakdowns.

I'd also like to say this to the "Fire Mennenga" people: Mennenga is doing what LaFleur is telling him he wants done. If LaFleur wanted things done differently, he'd tell him and he'd fire him if he didn't do it. Same with Pettine, on defense. He doesn't tell LaFleur "I'm going to play a weak prevent and give up some points to burn the clock". LaFleur tells him "this is what I want".

I guarantee you, Mennenga and Pettine and everybody else works for the HC, and they'll do what he tells them to do.

When I was coaching the Freshmen, the varsity HC said "Do this" and I did. I didn't always agree. He's say "play this guy at this position" "run this offense", "don't run up the score" and I did it, or next year there would have been a different coach to go along with the ass chewing I'd have gotten. That's the profession these guys are in.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

December 17, 2020 at 02:19 pm

Well thought out comments Leatherhead regarding STs. My question is about LaFleur and his influence on Pettine. Did he really tell Pettine how he wanted to defense to play? It seems he has recently, but highly doubt he did for the first 9 or 10 games. Every interview early on with LaFleur centered almost exclusively on offense. He came advertised as an offensive-minded coach. Now, at least, due to the defensive failures, he seems to be looking more seriously at that side of the ball. Hopefully, he'll evolve into a complete coach very soon.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 17, 2020 at 03:01 pm

Before the season even started, I’m confident LaFleur and Pettine had numerous discussions and were on the same page.

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Bear's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:33 pm

You understand, so many people don’t.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 17, 2020 at 06:28 pm

Who gave up the 71 yard return that put Detroit right back into the ballgame?

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Charlotte's picture

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