Week 15 Packers Stock Report: Smith and Nelson Rising, Newhouse and Finley Falling
This is where we’re at as Packers fans these days. Instead of basking in the glory of a 46-16 win, we’re worrying about the health of the team.
It’s kind of a weird feeling. Whenever I see Aaron Rodgers running around or another player trying to fight off tacklers for a couple extra yards, I start yelling at the TV: “Yeah! Go! Go! Go…..wait a minute! Don’t get hurt! Just go down!”
Don’t get me wrong. I want the Packers to go for 19-0 and I think they will, but damn, it sure makes for some nerve-wrecking moments in these final regular season games. Thankfully, it appears that Greg Jennings will be back for the playoffs.
Time for the stock report. I left Rodgers off this week, mostly because I was sick of always trying to come up with something new to say about how good he is.
Mike McCarthy gave game balls to Smith and fellow backup ILB Robert Francois after Sunday’s win. Smith’s 10 tackles and one interception also earned him a spot in the rising category. Smith has 24 tackles since replacing the injured Desmond Bishop on Thanksgiving.
I’m curious to see how Nelson plays with Jennings on the sideline. With Jennings on the field, Nelson has been on fire, totaling 80 yards or more in three of his last four games. He also has three touchdowns over that span.
I went to the week four game against the Broncos. Driver got carted to the locker room after getting drilled in the knee in the first half. He could barely walk and he had the towel over his head. It didn’t look good. At halftime, Vic Ketchman appeared on the Lambeau big screen and told us that Driver would not return. Literally 10 seconds later, Driver trotted onto the field and started warming up. He returned, and even caught a TD later in the game. Now Driver is heating up again and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Look, I’m not an X’s and O’s expert. I try to do more than just watch the ball during a game, but I can’t sit here and say I know everything there is to know about offensive line schemes, blocking assignments and other stuff that goes on away from the ball. But I do know this: The interior of the Packers line has played well since Josh Sitton got hurt and somebody deserves credit. The running game has improved and it appears that most of the QB pressures are coming from the edges. I’m putting Wells in the steady category, but I’ll gladly listen if you want to make a case for someone else on the offensive line.
Missing his LT, RG, RB, S, and both ILBs (am I missing anyone?), McCarthy has the Packers 13-0. For more on how great McCarthy has been, check out this piece from Bob McGinn.
I think Finley is a great player. I also think the Packers should bring him back next season, using either the franchise tag or a multi-year contract. Finley scares the you know what out of other defenses. But even the loudest YOTTO shouters have to shake their heads at Finley’s play over the last couple of weeks. Finley needs to hang onto the ball when it’s thrown to him and he needs to catch jump balls in the end zone against smaller defenders, not let them turn into interceptions.
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Newhouse and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Instead of patching up the defense for the stretch run, the coaching staff now has to worry about Rodgers’ blind side and whether Newhouse can hold up during the most important part of the season. I’m not counting Newhouse out yet, but getting Clifton back would be huge.
Palmer has 13 interceptions in seven games. He only has two games with a QB rating higher than 100. He’s only thrown for nine touchdowns. If Tim Tebow was playing this bad, people would get their torches and pitchforks and run him out of the league. But for some reason, people want to make excuses for Palmer.