Packers Stock Report: A Week 1 Roller Coaster

After a game with severe highs and lows, we look at the risers and fallers after a 24-23 victory agasint the Bears.

After a dark, flat season as a fan last year, I needed an Aaron Rodgers moment like that to shake me from my stoic indifference and help me rediscover the joy in being a sports fan.

Sunday night’s game was a classic Greek tragedy and comedy all in one. Defeating the Bears on a national stage in that fashion—with all those ups and downs—played out like a five-act work from Shakespeare. That comeback victory was a work of art.

The game wasn’t perfect, and there will be time for critiques later, but what a treat it is to root for Aaron freaking Rodgers. After a single knee injury reopened the wounds from lost seasons of recent past, Rodgers plucked every cheesehead worldwide from an autumn of depression and bitterness.

In a more analytical light, what better game could there be to open the regular season stock report? A roller coaster ride like that certainly shone some light on what offseason storylines were legitimate and which ones were just talk.

Stock is Rising: Buy! Buy! Buy!

Mike Pettine: I don’t want to overplay the performance of the Packers’ defense Sunday night simply because they won. There were problems stopping the run, mobile quarterbacks still seem to pick up first downs with ease and the only turnover generated was in the game’s final seconds.

But, my goodness, Mike Pettine figured it out.

The Bears jumping out to a 7-0 lead was the least surprising thing about Sunday night’s game. Pettine was a coordinator in a regular season game for the first time since 2013 and faced a first-time head coach and a first-time NFL offensive coordinator.

Chicago was able to open the game with looks that Pettine probably hadn’t prepared for, and a 7-0 deficit nearly became 14-0 in the first quarter. But the defense made the appropriate adjustments for a red zone stop and played relatively well thereafter, even while the offense tried to give the game away in the second quarter. Clearly that game will be remembered for what Aaron Rodgers did, but the score could have gotten truly out of hand without Pettine’s unit playing like it did.

Randall Cobb: There’s not a whole lot to say here except that many fans were dead-wrong about saying Cobb should be cut or traded. His career high numbers speak for themselves, and we all got a little reminder that he and Rodgers have been working together for a long, long time.

Geronimo Allison: It seems like so much offseason discussion was about which young receiver would step up to fill some of the production void left by the departed Jordy Nelson. And while the three talented rookies drew much of the attention, Allison has continued to quietly improve. Most importantly it appears Rodgers trusts him enough for him to start on the outside opposite Davante Adams all season.

Allison doesn’t have to be a Pro Bowler this year. He and Cobb simply have to be good enough to make defenses pay for keying too much on Adams, and Sunday’s performance bodes well for that. Oh, and he might have made a nice catch on a terrific throw for a touchdown. At that moment, how many Bears fans started thinking, “Wait, this isn’t happening, is it?”

Timing: There were obviously other forces at work, but the Packers’ offense was paradoxically much better with an injured Aaron Rodgers than a healthy one. Green Bay fell into a familiar and frustrating pattern early on, with Rodgers holding on to the ball while his receivers failed to sufficiently separate from their matchups (more on this later).

The knee injury forced Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin to alter their offensive play calls and sparked a change of emphasis in Rodgers’ decision-making.

“I’ve got to get the ball out. I can’t be moving around a whole lot back there,” Rodgers said of his mindset upon reentering the game. “We did a good job mixing things up in the second half with some of our quicker-hitter stuff and actually some vertical stuff, too.”

No one in green and gold is happy about Rodgers getting hurt, but it sure was nice to see him help his offensive line out a bit and deliver the ball on time.

Stock is Falling: Sell! Sell! Sell!

The “New” Playbook: With all that transpired Sunday night, it can be easy to forget that the Packers’ offense was pretty gross early on. Their first four drives netted just 15 yards and resulted in four punts. Mike McCarthy said the offensive staff revisited the entire playbook in the offseason, but it sure didn’t look a whole lot different.

Throws to a tight end in the flat for one yard. Pick plays that flirt with offensive pass interference. Isolation routes that look like playground improvisation on film. Rinse. Repeat.

There is a very delicate balance for McCarthy to find in play-calling, and I don’t want to make it sound obvious or easy. On one hand, no coach does less to help his quarterback. On just about every play, Rodgers has full pre-snap control, and he ends up reading the entire field just about every time he takes a dropback. Coaches across the league are placing receivers in bunches or stacks, using motion to prevent jams and generating simple reads and easy completions for their quarterbacks. This also limits how many hits the quarterback takes.

On the other hand, Rodgers is the closest thing to a football superhero that exists on planet Earth. His ability to improvise, generate big plays from nothing and make defenses pay for even the slightest missteps—all while protecting the ball better than anyone—is truly unique. If McCarthy and Philbin schemed up too many half-field reads or predetermined plays, they’d be limiting the talent and big-play potential of one of the greatest to ever play the game.

I’m not sure what the exact right balance is between helping Rodgers and letting his full arsenal of talents be unleashed, but I know the Packers haven’t quite found it in recent years.

DeShone Kizer: Oh, buddy. I know he’s got arm talent and mobility and potential. But, oh, buddy.

Kizer was the Packers’ quarterback for two series and produced two of the most embarrassing turnovers I’ve ever seen. Even while giving due credit to Khalil Mack, who was a good as advertised in the first half, Kizer’s performance was putrid.

Combined with the notion that 2018 could be a virtually Rodgers-less season, Kizer’s play in the second quarter put Packers fans in a dark place. One friend of mine started punching doors in his apartment, and I’m sure there were fans worldwide who did worse. (By the way, don’t do this.)

It’s still way too early to declare the trade for Kizer a bust, but Damarious Randall did have an interception for the Browns, and Kizer almost gave the game away. Randall reportedly didn’t fit in well in the Packers’ locker room, and he wasn’t Brian Gutekunst’s pick anyway, but early returns on Kizer are not great.

So, thank goodness for Aaron Rodgers. The comeback was extra special because of just how deeply Packers fans had fallen into a pit of despair before their spirits soared sky-high when Rodgers started painting a second-half masterpiece. For what feels like the 100th time in his career, happy Aaron Rodgers Appreciation Day!

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Comments (43)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:14 pm

"McCarthy said the offensive staff revisited the entire playbook in the offseason, but it sure didn’t look a whole lot different."

It's going to look similar if Rodgers hangs onto the football instead of throwing on time. I'm sure McCarthy made adjustments but the biggest adjustment was by Rodgers to get the ball out on time.

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MITM's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:34 pm

Im not sure why it took Rodgers getting hurt to figure out that the semi hurry up, quick snap quick pass offense would combat the pass rush, tire out the defense, and get first downs? It didnt look like Philbin was calling the plays in the first half.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:58 pm

I don't think Philbin ever calls the plays. MM does. But Philbin organizes everything for MM and probably makes a lot of recommendations.

Almost every play they have has short and long developing routes in the progressions. It's up to Rodgers to make the reads and choose. Way to often he holds out on the early reads. I don't know why exactly, but it is not always because no body is open. Rodgers is at his best when he takes the quick reads early and waits for things to open up deep. I hope he continues to do it.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:33 pm

The head coach was the reason for not having the team ready to play 60 minutes and also poor play selection. If you can score 24 points in the second half then you can score 24 points in the first half. This is a coaching issue not a player issue. Terrible game management.

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Coldworld's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:57 pm

A head coach can start with the wrong strategy against an unknown opponent. The test is can he then correct that error. MM did both. Ultimately that is the sign of a good coach.

I think we will see a lot of different looks on offense in future games.

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fthisJack's picture

September 11, 2018 at 07:45 am

a lot of the problem in the first half was knocking off the rust. MM didn't play his starters a lick in preseason and it showed. next year he better give them a lot more playing time to get them ready for game 1!

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dobber's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:49 pm

As I recall, Mack didn't play a lick in the preseason either...and didn't even practice.

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EdsLaces's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:33 pm

We really need Jones to come back in 2 weeks and make some plays on the ground or the long developing plays will get 12 killed.

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Lphill's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:37 pm

Reports coming out now Rodgers may not go Sunday against Vikings , MM said it's not a must win game being week 2 and it's a long season so if Aaron needs a week to heal up to avoid further injury than that's the right decision. I agree

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:02 pm

MM isn't going to tip his hand which is funny because it won't matter to Zimmer. He will prepare for Rodgers and if Hundzer plays it won't matter.

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MITM's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:18 pm

Am I crazy to say that even keeping in mind he gave the ball away twice in 14 snaps - 1 resulting in a touchdown, that Kizer still looked noticeably better in his positive moments than Hundley did. He came into a situation against a good defense that was playing off an alltime high with confidence through the roof and the taste of blood on their tongues - but was able to do some things that just felt better than Hundley. Idk, and im NEVER the overly optimistic type of homer either....something just felt better with him than Hundley.

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Demon's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:01 pm

I dont know what you are talking about. Despite the change in uniform number i couldnt tell any difference between Kizer aand Hundley.

Ok well the uniform number and the chewing gum. I still got that same sinking feeling of last year when Kizer was in the game. Deja vue all over again.

I dont know who is available but there HAS to be someone somewhere better than that!! Is it asking too mch that our backup QB not embaress himself everyweek?

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D.D. Driver's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:02 pm

Yes.

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Oppy's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:44 pm

Kizer is night and day worse than Hundley.. and im not exaggerating.

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Coldworld's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:58 pm

Just possessed of a terribly short memory

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2018 at 09:06 am

No; I actually watch the QB's play.

Hundley may have been ineffective last season during all but three of his starts, but he's a far better QB than Kizer.

Kizer has needlessly happy feet, makes HORRIBLE decisions, doesn't seem to have much feel for pressure or natural ability to navigate a tight pocket. While he has a pretty good arm, he seems to let throws get away from him- wildly- too often. He's been a pick machine his entire career.

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2018 at 09:08 am

The nicest way I can put it is the game is too big for Kizer at this point. You would not expect to see him react the way he does after a near-full season of starting experience.

Kizer, if pressed into action, will be an endless trail of Packers fans' tears.

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dobber's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:48 pm

Arguing over shades of awful is not how I want to spend my day... ;)

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Lare's picture

September 10, 2018 at 05:12 pm

If Rodgers can't start against the Vikings, from what I've seen the Packers may just as well rest their other starters and concede the loss. They have zero chance of winning with Kizer as the QB.

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MITM's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:38 pm

Not sure if anyone mentioned this in the comments on any of the other articles but

Its funny how things work out. The Packers signed Kyle Fuller to a sizeable offer sheet this offseason as a RFA. The Bears immediately matched the offer without hesitation. From what I understand Fuller is a very good corner against everybody BUT the Packers. Just look at the luck he had last night. If we signed Fuller maybe someone else doesnt drop that INT for the Bears at the end of the game and we lose. Maybe Fuller doesnt make some of the plays Jaire made at the end of the game for us. Things tend to work out the way they should

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:26 pm

If we're looking at how things could have been imagine if GB had Mack instead of Chicago. Would the game have even been close?

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MITM's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:44 pm

Heres the thing about Mack. I dont know for sure if this is true, but ive seen that they traded Mack to the Bears over the Packers solely on the 1st rounders almost guaranteed to be higher picks. If thats true, and it wasnt just because we didnt offer 2 first rounders (which has also been speculated ) than I can live with not getting Mack but only for that reason. Only if it was a matter of the Raiders assuming the picks would be higher, and not that we just didnt offer 2 firsts.

That being said, my serious gripe has been and still is passing Tj Watt. We traded back and obtained Biegel for our troubles, who is already gone. We drafted Kevin King, only to use our next 1 and 2 on corners the following season, not to mention signing Tramon Williams, all while still being starved for OLB talent.

Reggie Gilbert needs to be starting over Clay Matthews, alongside Nick Perry. Gilberts athleticism was on full display covering that wheel route. Just wow. Nick Perry is always hurt but you know what, if you match Sacks to games played, whenever he does play hes almost always good for a sack.

This defense right now lacks a serious playmaker in the LB corps. The Broncos have 3 first round picks at OLB, and another very good reserve OLB in Shaq Barrett. The Packers need to be calling about Shane Ray. Im praying Oren Burks shoulder doesnt pop out all year long until he has offseason surgery like King. Burks would have made as much of a difference as anyone on defense last night vs those 2 RB's. We really need him to be a star from the jump, and I know he can be if hes healthy.

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lebowski's picture

September 10, 2018 at 05:53 pm

Watt's stat line last night is just salt on the wound

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dobber's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:47 pm

Did anyone else who was ever drafted after the Packers picked get three sacks in a single game ever? We could add their names to the list, too.

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Demon's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:15 pm

Ok if we are going to do that, imagine if TT would have taken his pills on 2017 draft day and selected TJ Watt with his 1st pick.
Instead of a wounded stork and a schlub LB who didn't even last 1 season.
So when TJ Watt had his 4 sacks last night for the Packers and CM3 made his bonehead play that nearly cost GB the game, he could have been cut immediatly after the game.

Win Win situation for everyone!

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bad-y's picture

September 10, 2018 at 03:49 pm

It is true that Rodgers was holding the ball too long in the first half. Part of the blame for that has to go on the coaching staff. They need to have formations that allow receivers more chance to get open. Also, how about "buying" Bryan Bulaga. He had a rough time against Mack on first game back 9 months after ACL. He had his struggles but... Spriggs

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:27 pm

As I posted in the 1st initial reaction to the game. Why the hell didn't MM have Lewis help Bulaga? Isn't that why we brought him in? Jimmy Graham had 8 yards. Why did we ignore TEs?

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Coldworld's picture

September 10, 2018 at 07:01 pm

The Lewis question is the most valid one that I have seen. Graham was on the field for more about ham 50 snaps. Why I don’t know given the way he was used and Lewis’ strengths.

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4thand10's picture

September 11, 2018 at 11:23 am

That is the million dollar question JS.

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blue eyes's picture

September 10, 2018 at 04:32 pm

I told my buddy (a Bears fan) that Rodgers should be charged with animal cruelty after teasing all those Bears lastnight. :)

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 10, 2018 at 05:03 pm

Watt with four sacks. A position we're dreadful at and we could have taken him and Thompson didn't and I'm so glad that white hair isn't ruining my Packer watching any more. How many SB's did the combo of Capers and Thompson cost this team?

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Lare's picture

September 10, 2018 at 05:17 pm

It all falls back on Mark Murphy. If he's doing his job it doesn't get to the level it did.

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stockholder's picture

September 10, 2018 at 05:19 pm

The bears were Jacked! MM gave all his starters a free day off before the season started. Who thought the packers were out of it? I didn't. They played like a team that was stoned in the 1st quarter. Blame the OL for Kizer's play. (Mack was in his face.) That same line came out to play in the second half. A Better McCray and Bulaga. I'm not going to judge Kizer because of them. Both are keys, for the packers to win against the Vikings. This team kept a hot Bears offense on the bench. Glad Capers is gone. A-Rod has this teams stock going UpI

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Qoojo's picture

September 10, 2018 at 08:34 pm

Favre had his issues with INTs. Rodgers has his issue with holding onto the ball too long and always wanting to hit the home run, instead of taking the quick/timing play to keep the chains moving.

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Minniman's picture

September 10, 2018 at 08:38 pm

I've been rolling the permutations of Kizer as the (contingency) starting QB around in my head - mainly to try and get a bead on the scenario that "ok Rodgers is out and he's in the game - how do I promote his success and GB's victory".

To start with, you've got to give him a better pocket to operate in (as stockholder said above). Add a tight end if needed (even initially while he finds his feet).

Next - he's a natural runner (and the backup QB anyway) so give him license to run. If the above step is taken re o-line bolstering then there's going to be some lanes open up anyway.

Expecting the new backup to be Aaron Rodgers is folly - plan accordingly and play to their strengths.

BTW, this isn't a "fire MM" post, just an unqualified fan venting!

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dobber's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:45 pm

I think you're qualified to be a fan.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 11, 2018 at 01:37 am

Lots of talk about Bulaga, but the interior OL looked fairly bad. Goldman couldn't be moved, and Akiem Hicks did whatever he wanted. We do face Chicago again, MN twice, and LAR later this season.

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2018 at 11:12 am

.

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2018 at 11:11 am

Lots of people reacting emotionally.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that watching the game in a large group- say a private packers party in your home or, worst of all, going out for the game (to watch at a sports bar, for example) usually leads to feeling the game instead of viewing it. Listening to the talking heads on TV interpret the game instead of watching it with your own eyes also distorts perception. Instead of being tuned in to the game itself, you are taking in an overall experience. I'm not knocking it, people should enjoy the game how they like- but these types of viewing don't necessarily lead to an accurate recollection of the game itself.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 11, 2018 at 10:52 am

"Lots of people reacting emotionally." LOL.

I'm guessing you wouldn't say that to your wife. [I learned very quickly never to tell my wife to calm down since it had the opposite effect!]

As it happened, I watched the first half with a newer acquaintance of mine. And it was nothing short of a penance. I watch almost all the games alone, or sometimes with my brother-in-law, who is pretty knowledgeable in his player evaluations. I got hammered a bit earlier during TC when I noted that our starting interior OL wasn't particularly good (I think I wrote that Taylor is low average, Linsley is a tick better than average, and McCray aspires to average). So, I just pointed it out again with real, regular-season evidence.

Akiem Hicks and Mack both got wonderful grades from PFF. It is a bit of a zero-sum game: generally, if Hicks or Mack got stellar grades, they got it at the expense of one or more GB players.

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Oppy's picture

September 11, 2018 at 11:18 am

I want to be clear that my statement about emotional reaction was not a barb directed at your comment, it was an offering as to why many fans will not see or react to things that actually transpire on the field- like weak ol play in the middle. It doesn't directly support the narrative of a great khalil mack or a struggling Brian Bulaga.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 12, 2018 at 01:19 am

Thanks. Not that I don't overreact at times. I am a fan.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:24 pm

Kizer is "The Pastry Chef"

He is a turnover just baking in the oven.

He always has been.

MM has to change THAT first and foremost and I believe that is a mental/decision making issue. Fix that before any footwork or accuracy or jump roping or arm exercises.

Look at his 2 turnovers Sunday.

He runs outside of Bulagas block directly into Macks arms and does not protect the ball at all. 100% on Kizer and a very bad series of poor decisions.

He gets flustered in traffic in the pocket and shuttles the ball into the air with no apparent purpose to his release and it lands directly in Macks arms for a gift pastry TD.

What was he thinking? comes to mind well before What is he doing? comes up.

The decision making has to be taught before the operations can be corrected.

This is a problem that has followed Kizer throughout college and into the pros.

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