Packers Are on the Right Path

 

 

Green Bay Packers cornerback Chandon Sullivan had just hauled in an interception against the Dallas Cowboys and he had an immediate agenda once the play was over.  Waiving his teammates to follow, Sullivan headed to the end zone at AT&T Stadium, aka Jerry World, where he got down on both knees, paying homage to former Packers safety Nick Collins, who celebrated in similar fashion in that very same stadium during Super Bowl XLV.

 

 

A bunch of Packers in the end zone celebrating a big play is nothing new this season.  After every big defensive play, the team seems to get together and poses for a mock photo opp.  To them, it's a showing of comradery and solidarity.  To outsiders, of course it's the showboating Packers and they're chastised for being cocky and demonstrative.

These are likely the same people who not long ago were labeling the Packers "soft" and saying the team lacked an edge.  Those days are gone.

This team has changed 180 degrees and they're not a secret anymore.  This team is a tight-knit group that plays loose and expects to win.  Every team should expect to win the the Packers legitimately expect their teammates and themselves to come through in the big moments that have been lacking the past two seasons.

Since adding veterans Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos to the defense, the swagger has increased exponentially.  A mental edge is important for a dominant defense in the NFL and it's an intangible recent Packers defenses have not had since the Super Bowl days.

Even grizzled veteran Aaron Rodgers is getting in on the action.  He loves this new vibe and after the win Sunday against Dallas, Rodgers said his goal is simple: win.  

General manager Brian Gutekunst made moves in the offseason, bringing in new head coach Matt LaFleur and a few new personnel guys, namely Milt Hendrickson.  LaFleur has already infused new life into a Packers team that needed a direction and some hope for the future.

After seeing 2018 collapse before their eyes and 13-year head coach Mike McCarthy fired before season's end, it was a grim atmosphere around Lambeau Field.  That week 17 game against the Lions was a microcosm of the season: anything that could go wrong, did.  Rodgers was knocked out of the game early and Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater threw a touchdown pass.  Lions.  Kicker.  Touchdown.

Fast forward to now and a 4-1 Packers team will host the Lions on Monday night.  It's safe to say the odds are much lower that the Lions kickers are throwing successful passes in that game.

It's easy to get caught looking ahead but the Packers have re-established themselves as one of the top teams in the NFC and with wins in their next two games, could be sitting at 6-1 heading into a big road match up with the Kansas City Chiefs.

But why not dream a little?  After a gut-punching loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in week four, the Packers bounced back with the big road win in Dallas.  This team did something it has not done the past two seasons: faced adversity head on and won.

Rodgers threw short passes and got the ball out quicker, the run game was schemed to fit the Dallas defense and all that came of it was four touchdowns by Aaron Jones.  The defense was everywhere, creating three turnovers on the day.  That's going to be tough for opponents to beat.

With each passing game, these Packers show and prove that one game doesn't define them.  They can find a way against the odds to get the job done and win tough games.  No lead is safe and any amount of time on the clock is too much time.

At the quarter mark in the 2019 season, it's fair to say the Packers are a team still on the rise and the top of the mountain can be any and all of it if things continue ascending.  The arrow is pointing in the right direction: straight up.

  

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

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Comments (36)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
ricky's picture

October 09, 2019 at 11:14 am

That Rodgers is getting the ball out quicker has resulted in a lot fewer sacks. Ten in total so far- five in the first game against the Bears. Rodgers seems to be "buying into the system", taking what is available rather than waiting for something to develop for a big gain. After the last game, he even said he had plenty of stats, what he wants are wins. And more rings (left unsaid, but understood.)

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PackfanNY's picture

October 09, 2019 at 01:14 pm

I have faith that this team and coaching staff are more of a one game at a time kind of team. The tricky Lions are next. Remember that just a couple of weeks ago the Pack was knocked off the perch by a hungrier Eagles team. The Lions had just beaten the Eagles in Philadelphia. I expect a good game with the Lions trying to run a bit to set up some Stafford passes. I think Packers need to put the pressure on him so he doesn’t get too comfortable back there. I think the Packers prevail but it will be close.

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Tarynfor12's picture

October 09, 2019 at 01:51 pm

I'm now,in a long time, the most optimistic in this team and believe this team can now be as strong a contender for a SB, as any other strongly predicted to be before the seasons start.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 10, 2019 at 07:27 am

We noticed Tarynfor, we noticed...

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Leo Van Groll's picture

October 09, 2019 at 02:22 pm

IMO the signing of Zadarius Smith is going to go down as the best in years, for any team. He brought that comradeship & edge that the Baltimore Ravens D had.

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PackfanNY's picture

October 09, 2019 at 05:43 pm

I agree. However, I would add that Preston Smith has become his partner in pressure. Whenever I see Z closing you can usually see Preston right across from him. It’s been uncanny. Together the Brothers Smith have 10 1/2 sacks and we are only 5 games in.

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dobber's picture

October 10, 2019 at 10:09 am

IMO Preston Smith has been the better player so far, but who's to say how it would look if Z. Smith hadn't been playing--essentially--on one leg? He's a warrior.

Adding both of these guys (as opposed to signing one to play opposite of, say, Nick Perry) was a big play on the cap but is paying huge dividends so far.

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Favreisgod's picture

October 09, 2019 at 02:31 pm

On offense - I'd like to see us get into a groove that lasts a full four quarters. That said, things are happening that I believe will open up the intermediate and long passing game later in the year.

On defense - I'd like to see us do a little less bending. However, this D is a fast, swarming, menacing unit. I feel comfortable saying it's the best looking D GB has had since winning the SB.

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Nick Perry's picture

October 10, 2019 at 05:02 am

Well said John Lenon...

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croatpackfan's picture

October 10, 2019 at 07:29 am

When Packers offense will play full 4 quarters, D will be even better! It is pure logic...

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Packer Fan's picture

October 09, 2019 at 04:14 pm

The Pack are on the right track. Started with getting rid of TT. Then getting rid of MM who had gone stale. Gute has done well with the draft and he absolutely nailed it with bringing in the free agents. Lafleur has made won over the players and his system is starting to work. Looking good as the team gels.

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Nick Perry's picture

October 10, 2019 at 06:57 am

I was listening to Adam Schein on XM-Radio Monday morning and he was talking about Gute and the job he's done using FA. THEN he mentioned Ted Thompson and his approach to FA. Schien with what sounded like a bit of anger said "What a Joke" when speaking of Thompson.

Ron Wolf once described the Packers 96 SB team as a "Fart in the wind", obviously thinking they should have won more, he should have done more. He always said it was a mistake not bringing back Sean Jones among others.

Thompson's Packers won a SB in just Rodgers 3rd year starting. After that Thompson did NOTHING to help Rodgers. Thompson did such a great job in years 1-5 as GM and was given so much praise, he deserves 99% of the blame for Rodgers not winning at least one or two more by the time he left.

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GVPacker's picture

October 09, 2019 at 05:39 pm

I was very concerned by the way the Packers defense got smacked around by the Eagles at Lambeau but in in retrospect the Packers were still in a position to win that game considering how poorly the defense played! But my faith was restored by the way they were able to rebound on the road and Bitch Slap the Boy's in Dallas!

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Since'61's picture

October 09, 2019 at 05:49 pm

To me these next 2 home games are key for the Packers being on the right path. Good teams win at home. I’d like to see the Packers get back to dominating at home. Not just against the Lions but against the Raiders and all other opponents.

I want Lambeau to return to being a difficult place for opponents to play. Hopefully this will begin against the Lions. Division games are always the most important but after the next 2 home games the Packers will have 6 of their 9 remaining games on the road.

Therefore we need to win our remaining home games and hopefully return to dominance at Lambeau. Winning at home is the key to staying on the right path and then expanding that consistency to the road.

Need to improve our 3rd down offense and goal line offense. Those factors will become critical, especially on the road.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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Tundraboy's picture

October 10, 2019 at 09:05 pm

Yes!! Win at home convincingly and then go on the road! With this team and the camaraderie we've seen, I think going on the road will be a positive. How many times have we seen teams go on a mission when facing greater adversity. With the Packers, this could put them in the perfect position for the playoffs.

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SterlingSharpe's picture

October 09, 2019 at 07:05 pm

Top Ten

Rate our BEST 10 players. I mean how good they are NOW. Playing NOW.
This is difficult & none of us will have the same 10 guys!

1 Rodgers
2 Adams
3 Clark
4 Bakhtiari
5 P Smith
6 Z Smith
7 Amos (so solid)
8 Bulaga (playing well, top-3 RT)
9 Jenkins (All-Rookie 1st team OG)
10 Aaron Jones

By the way, I think Darnell Savage is phenomenal & more talented than Nick Collins even was (his speed is incredible plus he's smart). He'll get here on this list when healthy for a few more games.

I'd like to see some y'alls rankings!

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dobber's picture

October 10, 2019 at 07:54 am

I think there are several people on that list who could be #1. That's a credit to the current staff: they're putting players in positions to be successful.

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murf7777's picture

October 10, 2019 at 08:08 am

Savage is looking great but a bit early to declare him better then Collins.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 10, 2019 at 09:06 pm

Correction

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splitpea1's picture

October 09, 2019 at 07:34 pm

The Lions game could be challenging. Remember the Packers have only played against one good quarterback so far--and they got beat. The Lions have plenty of weapons at receiver and tight end and our secondary will have to work hard to contain them. Our offense should be able to move the ball against them, though, without too much difficulty. If our defense can do a good job on third down and hold the Lions mostly to field goal opportunities, I think we win. These guys have won four in a row against us (though none of them have been particularly meaningful), so it's time to reverse this right now.

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dobber's picture

October 10, 2019 at 08:01 am

They have some players on defense, but--as usual--they give up drives and big plays. A bottom-third defense that has been getting enough TOs to stay on the plus side, and can generate some pressure. Packers need to limit Kerryon Johnson and force Stafford to throw. Offense will give the ball away a couple times per game. It's gonna be a battle.

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pacman's picture

October 09, 2019 at 09:13 pm

'On the right path' - for sure. But not there yet. If this was a full rebuild and we have many years of our QB left, I would be satisfied. But we don't.

Special teams coverage and blocking needs lots of work. Is it the blocking or return guy that is limiting our returns? We need something shaken up there before it bites us.

I love that AR is finding JG and AJ and taking short gains. But if he could throw a great pass to Tonyan (great catch too), then why can't he lead MVS deep. There have been a few videos about how Shepherd show great Adams-like moves to get open. I hope we are not passing up Shepherd just so we can try to train MVS and Geronimo because we have more invested in them. That's TT and he's gone.

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CoachJV's picture

October 09, 2019 at 09:33 pm

I partly agree and partly disagree. MVS is going to be fine. Adams had the most dropped balls in the league in his 2nd season.

Unfortunately on the AR side of the MVS connection, MVS is outrunning Aaron's arm. And that is cause for concern for an aging QB.

Shepherd ain't all that man. He's really not... there is no hidden gem with him or Kumero... as much as we'd all like there to be.

LaF's offense does not use WR's in the traditional way. You have to let that go... LaF uses RBs and TE's to catch more balls than WR's. THIS system is not the pass-happy stable of WR's that the Pack used in MM's era. It's a new breed... and WR ain't as important as it used to be.

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CoachJV's picture

October 09, 2019 at 09:35 pm

double post

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pacman's picture

October 10, 2019 at 07:46 am

MLF's use or WR's - might be a new scheme but what about the other week where Adams was targetted and had a big day. So is this a week to week change? I tend to think the calls go to the 'trusted' receivers. Extra-Cheese had a clip of a pass to JG with a crossing GA open that would have been a TD. In the last years, AR would have held on to the ball and maybe have the TD or get sacked. So overall, I'm really happy with AR getting the ball out earlier that so many of use have been begging for for the last few years. So now that he has fixed that, it doesn't mean he is done learning. His has plenty of arm left. He just needs to get in sync with MVS' speed. It's obvious to everyone else. It must be tiring for him to apologize to MVS every week for underthrowing him.

I didn't watch much pre-season but Shepherd had lots of praise. I'm only a Kumero fan cuz AR praised his catching ability. And he's tall. But Lazard supposedly had some phenominal grabs too.

I'm not one that goes back on watches the game in slow motion, but I would love to see someone on this site do an analysis of WR's getting open or not.

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CoachJV's picture

October 10, 2019 at 04:21 pm

Pacman, C'mon... you said "I tend to think the calls go to the 'trusted' receivers."

That's what Defensive Coordinators think too. Which is exactly the reason MM's scheme was failing. It's way too predictable.
LaF's scheme might have Adams going OFF in one game, and the very next might feature Marcedes Lewis. You just don't know... and that is why we are 4-1.

I'll bet money that Jones will not be featured nearly as heavily this week. And some people here will then start saying Jones is inconsistent or a one game wonder... or something.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 10, 2019 at 07:55 am

I agree that the name of the offense so far is thriving in the dumpoffs and short throws. But that isn't sustainable. Look at 2011 - it was the opposite situation, but the Packers feasted all year on deep vertical routes, and once the Chiefs showed that of you jammed the receivers and played them right you could effectively stop the offense, they were done, and it took a good 2-3 years to get the ground game going effectively enough to open up some breathing room for the pass.

The ground game and horizontal/short offense is clicking. But teams are going to adjust quickly to focus on that. The intermediate/long pass has to start finding success against the softer coverages they're going to face (natural consequence of putting more bodies at the LOS), then we're going to keep seeing abysmal 3rd down numbers, stalled drives, and even more pressure on the D to keep GB in games.

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CoachJV's picture

October 09, 2019 at 09:26 pm

Agree that we are on the right path.

It is Game 6 coming up... still early in the season. There are lots of positives... Just count them.

1. MVS is going to be fine as a WR2... he will get there sooner rather than later.
2.Adams will be back soon.
3. Graham is starting to play a little better.
4. Jones is catching as good as any WR.
5. Jones is running like an elite back.
6. LaF is getting more comfortable in his role as a play-caller.
7. LaF draws up some nice plays sometimes and only getting better.
8. JK Scott... WTF is that all about??!!??
9. The Smiths
10. The 4 Sticky Ballhawks in the Secondary.

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Lphill's picture

October 10, 2019 at 05:33 am

Yes the Eagles game was winnable plus it was a dirty game on behalf of the Eagles , now with the Lions Pettine has to bring pressure and blitz and make Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket if not we are in for a long night. Packers have to be focused for this one score early and often is the key.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 10, 2019 at 06:55 am

Both Eagles lines pay the price in last weeks lost. Those were two beat up units that got pushed around pretty good. Like what happened to the Bears in London, reminds us how this is a week to week league.

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dobber's picture

October 10, 2019 at 08:05 am

" score early and often is the key"

Now more than ever this team is best-suited to play with a lead. Until the run D starts to shore up, they've got to force teams to be one-dimensional throwing the ball.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 10, 2019 at 01:04 pm

They have to be able to get Stafford on the ground or throwing wild without blitzing. This is a veteran QB who has shown he can be shifty, can escape the pocket, and when moving can make teams pay with his arm or his feet. He may not be the wizard throwing into the blitz that Rodgers has been in years past, but he is good enough to make GB pay if they have to constantly over commit to bring pressure.

That said, I think when Pettine decides to bring the free rusher, I hope it comes from all over the field. The CB/Safety blitz has been effective when used sparingly, but the rest of the defensive front HAS to be aware enough to plug up the escape lanes and not give Stafford daylight to escape to.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

October 14, 2019 at 12:49 pm

A. Jones is much much better on astroturf than grass. Just my opinion!!

Happy to hear Jamaal William's back!!!

Standing ovation time when he gets on the field!!!!!!

Charge the fans up!!!!

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murf7777's picture

October 10, 2019 at 08:15 am

Keep winning the TO battle and we will be 12-4. If we get TO’s in the Philly game we win that one also even thou they ran for 175.

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Houndog's picture

October 10, 2019 at 09:03 am

I can't wait for the Lions to come to town, and I'm thinking (and hoping) that the veterans on this team feel the same way. History will show that the past 2 seasons and 4 straight losses are an anomaly and the veterans know this, Rodgers for one can't be happy. This Packer team is very different from the past two seasons and I'm hoping they show it on Monday night. Watching Stafford run for his life would be priceless, and likely worth a few picks.

On another topic;
All the talk about the Eagles game takes me a bit by surprise. Sure, the Packers lost, but I'm not sure they were 'beaten' by the Eagles. For whatever reason I seem to remember the Pack fumbling the ball away more than once giving Philly a short field, a number of dropped passes throughout the game, and a dropped touchdown near the end of the game. If the Pack continues to improve week by week as we've seen thus far the Lions could be in for a long night.
Let's hope so!

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Red Right 49's picture

October 10, 2019 at 10:43 am

Enjoy the obvious esprit de corps in the D, their motivation to challenge and win is evident.

Both Smiths bring attitude to the field and that surely opens up opportunities for the defensive backfield to capitalize on.

The Smiths set a tone, a pace for the new guys, vets and rookies, to emulate.

Not unlike when the incomparable 92 set the stage for a defensive resurgence and a path to the Super Bowl.

Like this Packer's 2019 path.

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