Packers vs. Washington: Rants & Raves

The Green Bay Packers head to Washington to take on the Redskins this weekend.  The Packers will try to stop the bleeding that is their current three game losing streak against a Washington team that is coming off of a thrilling victory over the Minnesota Vikings.  Perhaps there is a bit of foreshadowing in Green Bay visiting the nation's capital.  With big changes coming in Washington soon, a loss by the Packers could inch the team closer to some big changes of its own.  Head coach Mike McCarthy has come under much fire during this recent slide, many questioning whether his team is buying into his leadership.  McCarthy started his response by reminding us all that ". . . I"m a successful NFL head coach".  Let's see what he and the team can muster up this week.

On to the uplifting and "Debbie Downer" headlines gong into this game.

Rants

Where To Begin?

After a second-straight terrible showing against a team the Packers could have beaten, I have to wonder if this is rock bottom.  Certainly things can continue to get worse but right now, the Packers are still in contention to win the NFC North and not all is lost.  Saying "rock bottom" cries a bit of me being petulant here.  But it's unfamiliar territory, that's for sure.  

Usually this is where I look at the areas of biggest concern and that the team is struggling with.  Right now, that's everything.  Injuries have forced this team, more so than in recent memory, to dig deep into their roster for production and regular playing time.  Guys like LaDarius Gunter, Kentrell Brice and a hobbled Quinten Rollins are being asked to replace the likes of Sam Shields and Damarious Randall.  Kyler Fackrell to try and man a post vacated by Clay Matthews and that Julius Peppers doesn't appear capable of any longer.

Matthews was back at practice this week and has a chance to play.  Without him, the Packers have lost three straight and haven't generated any pressure on the passer.  Nick Perry clearly misses his USC running mate on the other side and has been a ghost for three weeks straight now.  Jayrone Elliott played more snaps against the Titans and while he didn't flash big stats, his energy level and demeanor was a bit of a shot in the arm.  Washington's passing game features DeSean Jackson who can still get behind a defense and tight end Jordan Reed, who is already a mismatch against the Packers secondary.  Without pressure on Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Packers aren't likely to be in the fight for long.  

Linebacker Jake Ryan could very likely miss this game as he hasn't practiced all week.  That means more of Joe Thomas in his place.  Thomas didn't have a great day against Tennessee so that doesn't bode well for the Packers.  The depth on defense for this team is just not suited to play a lot of snaps.  Injuries have changed the complexion of the entire unit and, as a result, the team.  That's the defensive side.

On the offensive side, we know the running back position has been a revolving door.  It swung even more with the Packers putting Don Jackson on injured reserve and claiming the recently-released Christine Michael, who had been with the Seattle Seahawks.  Michael will surely get some touches against Washington but beyond the question of how he'll fit into McCarthy's game plan is whether the score will even allow Green Bay to run the ball in the first place.  The Packers have faced early deficits that they never overcome in the last two games.  With that, the ball stayed in Aaron Rodgers' hands and it was up to the passing game to try and bring them back.  I'll go out on a limb here and say that if the Packers don't get at least 20 attempts total (and I'll include scrambles by Rodgers) they won't have a great chance to win this game.

Staying on that side of the ball, the offensive line has turned into a big question mark.  Left tackle David Bakhtiari left Sunday's game and is day-to-day.  If he can't play, Jason Spriggs will go at left tackle and has the small task of trying to hold off linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who is rejuvenated and having a good season.  Lang most certainly won't play this week so it looks like another week of Don Barclay in his place.  Fingers crossed.  Once the biggest area of strength on offense, the line has joined the rest of the team in dealing with injuries and shuffling pieces.  But it could be worse.  Corey Linsley has seamlessly filled in for J.C. Tretter at center.

Special teams have been atrocious and especially the kick coverage.  A 99-yard touchdown to start the game against the Indianapolis Colts and another long return later in that game have this team right back to the same issue they were having a few seasons ago when they were one of the worst units in the league.  Trevor Davis lost his punt return duties last week after fumbling against the Tennessee Titans after the defense finally got  a stop.  And Mason Crosby is suddenly human and missing kicks.  When it rains it pours.  The Packers typically defer when they win the opening coin flip and start on defense.  Unless Crosby can absolutely kick it into the first row of the stands, the Packers may want to take the ball first or risk another bad start.  But it's not on the kickoff that the Packers need to worry as much as it is on punt return.  Washington's Jamison Crowder has a long return for a score already this season and averages nearly 17 yards per return, best in the NFL.  Speaking of asking young players to step up big, Packers punter Jake Schum's one big job is to keep Crowder from any running room or it won't end well.

All of that aside, this is going to come down to how well Rodgers plays this week.  If he's able to regain his accuracy and approach this game much like he did the Atlanta Falcons, the Packers may have a shot.  If it's anything like the last two weeks, the Packers are in trouble.  Rodgers mentioned the team's lack of energy last week but no one needs to come out with more than does #12 this week.

Raves

Nelson, Cobb & Adams, LLP

Washington's secondary is an area the Packers can get after.  After cornerback Josh Norman, the rest of the unit averages out.  Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams have remained top targets in the passing game and that won't likely change anytime soon.  Adams has absolutely broken out over the past over the last month.  He had over 10 catches against the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons and while not as many catches the past two weeks, his yardage has been up and he has two catches of 40 yards or more.  His average last week against the Titans was 26 yards on six catches.  Nelson caught a few back shoulder balls that were reminiscent of his days pre-ACL injury.  These two are going to be needed in a big way this week.  

Randall Cobb is finally healthy (I think) and everyone should be aware of his status for Sunday's game so that should be out of the way.  That said, Cobb needs to become the pace setter for this offense.  The underneath and easier throws need to start happening for this offense to produce again.  Easier said than done when Rodgers throws an easy ball behind Cobb for what would have been an easy first down.  But Cobb, against manageable coverage, can become a "security blanket' of sorts for Rodgers, much like a tight end usually is.  With Jared Cook's status up in the air and Richard Rodgers unreliable, the tight ends aren't able to fill that role.  Enter the shiftier Cobb.  Could this be a sneaky big game for #18?  That opportunity appears to be there.

What Else?

The Packers run defense still ranks fourth overall in the NFL, in terms of yardage allowed.  They came out extremely flat last week and allowed a hobbled DeMarco Murray to jog into the end zone 75 yards later and untouched.  That won't get it done against Washington, who average 113 yards per game on the ground.  Not having Ryan in the middle hurts this effort so look for safety Morgan Burnett to step into more of a role in run support.  

Beyond that, I"m not sure what else to cling to.  McCarthy has to find a way to game plan and get his team a win.  Winning cures a lot of ails but the Packers need to find their groove again and that seems to be an uphill battle.  Another loss will only round up more of the angry mob and calls for change in Green Bay.  The Packers season is hinging on every week and it starts with this game, a tough road match 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 (19)

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Point-Packer's picture

November 19, 2016 at 07:23 pm

Ugh, Special Teams..

After Schums schitty schtart to the scheason I openly questioned wtf TT was thinking. Extreme homers asked "who else TT was supposed to get?" "Michael Palardy" should have been my answer. All the dude did on Thursday was crush the ball down the field. Panthers GM knew where the talent was. TT? Pulls in Schum.

Fire Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson. Time to clean house.

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PETER MAIZ's picture

November 20, 2016 at 01:45 am

If Green Bay gets clobbered this Sunday, it will be the end of the McCarthy era and it seems that Washington is a bit better rounded at this point. Could McCarthy have lost the locker room? That's my take.

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Point-Packer's picture

November 21, 2016 at 12:46 am

I hope you are right about getting clobbered and firing the fat idiot.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

November 20, 2016 at 03:44 am

Put it to rest you two Viking fans.
Fire the successful coach is the first and only by refuge of the spoiled and the ignorant

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Nick Perry's picture

November 20, 2016 at 06:38 am

Neither of those two are Vikings Fans Amanofthenorth. They're both Packers Fans who have grown tired of McCarthy's stale predictable offense and same tired excuses in his press conferences. MM has had an excellent run and he IS a good coach, but 11 years in one place is a long, long, time. To long if your names isn't Bill Belichek. When you have opposing teams say after a game they KNEW the Packers would run (Play A,) in a certain situation, change is necessary.

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Hematite's picture

November 20, 2016 at 05:24 am

Win or lose this will be an exciting game.
Win!
Winning is always exciting, and the losing streak is broken.
Lose?
The excitement for change will pick up steam.

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Point-Packer's picture

November 21, 2016 at 12:47 am

Exciting? My ass.

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stockholder's picture

November 20, 2016 at 07:26 am

Carl Bradford promoted after 2 years on practice squad. But then they release Perrillo? Didn't expect that! Why? Thomas would have been a better choice!

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WKUPackFan's picture

November 20, 2016 at 07:48 am

Goofiness seems irrelevant in light of the sad news regarding Adam. Nevertheless:

Brady Poppinga absolutely skewered Tyler Dunne on Fox Sports Radio yesterday. Brady said that not a single player ever trusted Dunne or had any respect for him at all. Brady further said that the main thing Dunne is concerned with is that his name is being mentioned on the radio.

Brady always has great information during his weekend FSR hosting (unfortunately his broadcast partner seems incapable of grasping that information) so I tend to believe his opinions.

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realitybytez's picture

November 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

wrong thread?

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NMPF's picture

November 20, 2016 at 07:58 am

Thank you TT for finally getting Perillo off the 53. 4 receptions and 1 ST tackle, now dump Forest Gump (Janis) with his 9 receptions and 2 ST tackles. Neither fits into long term plans nor should they.

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holmesmd's picture

November 20, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Shut up, you sound like a 12 yr old

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Point-Packer's picture

November 21, 2016 at 12:48 am

No, you are a moron. Janis sucks balls and shouldn't be on this team.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

November 20, 2016 at 08:27 am

We could solve our running back issues right here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2016/11/19/joe-thomas-55-year...

If you don't mind a little nepotism.

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Oppy's picture

November 20, 2016 at 12:54 pm

Zero talk of the Packers promotion of Carl Bradford to the active 53. (Edit: in the article, I see that others have commented on his signing, however)

My honest appraisal was that Carl Bradford out-performed both Martinez and Thomas during the preseason. Clearly, the Packers didn't agree; but I was shocked he didn't finally crack the rosters after the camp and preseason he put together.

I am thrilled he's getting a shot. I will be eagerly watching how he performs tonight. I think he is sorely under valued thanks to a poor fit at OLB and consequent learning curve at ILB and injury that kept him off the 53 and labeled a bust for the first two years of his career. I'm pulling for him.

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EdsLaces's picture

November 20, 2016 at 02:00 pm

Yeah I'm pulling for him too...he's traveled a long road to get here.

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Point-Packer's picture

November 21, 2016 at 12:49 am

Nope, was complete garbage. Along with the rest of the D.

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holmesmd's picture

November 20, 2016 at 10:57 pm

This defense has had a cataclysmic meltdown the likes of which I have never seen. This team may not win another game this year. SMH. What a cluster ****.

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al bundy's picture

November 20, 2016 at 10:58 pm

Another cluster by the pass d

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