Packer Slackers: Missed Chances Kill Green Bay: The Good Bad and Ugly of Week 5

Chris CoombsContributor IOctober 10, 2010

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 10:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers lays on the ground after a hard hit against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter at FedExField on October 10, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins won the game in overtime 16-13.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ouch, I almost feel like ending this article right there.  

Football's a great game for drama, but that only holds true if you get the right result.  When you lose it hurts and this one's gonna linger.

It should also be noted that Chicago now holds a significant advantage over the Pack in the early runnings for the NFC North title.  With the NFC playoff picture so very crowded, this should not be taken lightly, Green Bay now sits at 3-2 but they could and possibly should be undefeated at this juncture. 

Make no mistake, there is still a long way to go this season and there's ample time to turn things around, but the same old problems that have plagued the Pack for the majority of Mike McCarthy's tenure as head coach keep cropping up week after week and this makes me wonder if the current staff has it in them to avert a slide into underachievement.  On another day, with a couple of better decisions this would have been chalked up as a win, this performance was not without it's good points — but the Pack have once again done a Plaxico.

The Good

Aaron Rodgers: Up until the last offensive play, Rodgers looked pretty good.  This Redskins' defense is very underrated and he dealt well with a unit that was able to exert regular pressure.  He didn't fold as one might have expected after the loss of his primary threat in Jermichael Finley, and his connection with James Jones seems to grow with every passing week.  You also get the feeling he's feeling the blitz better this year and although I still think he holds the ball too long, at least he's trying to make plays on the run rather than just waiting for the hits.  To pass for nearly 300 yards and end up losing is rough on the guy and this game should at least assuage some of the doubts that some Cheeseheads were having about number 12.

Bradon Jackson: All over the NFL world, fantasy owners are wondering what the point of the game is.  Having done nothing in his previous three starts as the primary runner on the team, Jackson proceeded to have a career day with 140 all-purpose yards, including 115 on the ground. 

Even if you take out his 71 yard dash in the first quarter, he still had 44 yards on nine carries at an average of just under five YPC.  Very respectable numbers which bode well for future weeks.  He seemed to be a lot more direct and sure of his ability on the ground and the line was a lot more helpful than last week.  If he can keep the hesitancy out of his game then the loss of Ryan Grant, while still significant, may not be as keenly felt.

The Pass-Rush: Donovan McNabb's figures look pretty but to anyone who watched this game, they don't tell the whole story.  Outside of three or four big completions, McNabb was harried all day and could barely move by the end of the game.  Clay Matthews was only in the game for three quarters and still had 1.5 sacks, but perhaps more encouragingly his loss was not felt too much.  The level of the rush certainly dropped but the 'Skins QB was still hit with regularity.  Mike Neal looks to be a real find at end, and Desmond Bishop, (who I almost made one of my 'Good' marks in his own right) displays the kind of dynamism that has been sorely lacking from the Green Bay defense this year.

The Bad

Aaron Rodgers' Game Management: When it comes to passing the ball there's few I'd rather have.  When it comes to being a 'Game Manager' I'm really rather vexed.  Maybe it's due to two years as a starter under his belt, or maybe it's seeing himself as a leader on offense, whatever it is Rodgers seems to be making more and more changes at the line of scrimmage.  And it's interfering with his rhythm.  Say what you like about Mike McCarthy - and I frequently do - but the guy knows quarterback play.  So let him make the decisions and live or die by them.  His clock management at the end of the fourth quarter was atrocious, having just made an excellent completion to Andrew Quarless, he then wasted precious seconds trying to save the timeout and spike the ball at the line.  If you're confident in your kicker making it from that length, why not try one more running play with a hot Brandon Jackson, (words I never thought I'd type!) and make it even easier?  The two minute drill is something Rodgers is normally very good at, why try a 53 yarder with a guy who's accuracy has been questionable?

Special Teams Coverage: Tim Masthay was solid as a punter today, Mason Crosby missed two long FGs neither of which were gimmes.  That's not my Special Teams beef this week.  For the first time this year I was genuinely worried by the opposition return man.  Brandon Banks nearly went the distance twice, and Korey Hall earned his corn as captain of special teams by bringing him down twice.  But Washington were gifted field position which their offense really needed late in the game.  I am in little doubt that if Green Bay had been able to stop Banks, then the Defense would have stopped McNabb getting the 'Skins to Graham Gano's range.  A definite step backwards this week.

Penalties:  The same old problem.  I'll keep this short because you've read it all before from a multitude of writers.  Green Bay is giving away games due to flags.  I have nothing more to say here as I simply don't have a way to say anything that hasn't been said before.

The Ugly

Inconsistency: Ponder this, the Packers are 3-2 and yet still hold one of the best records in the NFC.  And they still haven't put together a complete performance on either side of the ball.  The defense looks more capable of stopping teams on downs rather than on turnovers this year, which in my mind is a good long term sign.  But they kill themselves with rookie mistakes . 

And it's not just rookies making them.  Like it or not but Charles Woodsn is as guilty as anyone.  He may be the reigning defensive MVP but I'm sick to the back teeth of hearing analysts saying things like "That's just the way he plays". 

Give me a break.  There's playing hard and tough and close to the line, but Woodson's crossing the boundary too much at the moment and it's costing the team.  The offense lacks rhythm and consistency and maybe believes its' own hype.  The addition of a good performance from Brandon Jackson will no doubt give them a boost, but even then, why did you only give him ten carries.  The whole Green Bay ship seems rather rudderless just now.

Final Thoughts

I think we may be in a situation where a certain Mr J. Bush may be worth a look at safety to cover until Atari Bigby is back, Charlie Peprah is an abomination.

If Desmond Bishop plays like that then why has A.J. Hawk been a starter for so long?

First and Goal from the three and you can't score?  That's appalling at any level.

Is Pat Lee worth a longer look at as a returner?  He's the only Packer I've seen who truly attacks the line with ball in hand.

Tramon Williams and James Jones are quietly becoming very good players.  Mike Neal, BJ Raji and Cullen Jenkins could be one of the top D-lines this year.  The future's certainly bright.

Andrew Quarless can certainly fill in for Finley for however long he's out.  Not to the same level, but the drop-off won't be too steep.

Why not just run the ball in OT Mike?  You were in the red zone!

The Pack are still in a good position to make the post-season.  Nobody seems to want the NFC.

It was bad yes, it will sting yes, but the season is far from over.


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