23

September

Packers Fan Panic – Looking at the reasons

Packers Fan Panic - Looking at the reasons

Packers Fan panic – why?

After a tough week 1 loss to the 49ers, Packer fans took to every medium possible and were ready to jump off the ledge.After a tough week 1 loss to the 49ers, Packer fans took to every medium possible and were ready to jump off the ledge.While it surely doesn’t happen often in season openers, let alone home season openers, it does happen. Now to be fair and for those of you who follow and hopefully will now follow me on Twitter, I definitely was waving the white flag a bit early in the 49ers game. Reason? I have watched this team and their tendencies since Aaron Rodgers took over at QB. They don’t tend to play as well when having to come from behind. They haven’t taken well to being out muscled and don’t have many last minute wins under their belt so the situation just didn’t seem ripe for a comeback. Now I’m not saying they can’t win a game in the last minute. I wouldn’t put anything past Aaron Rodgers and after all he is the reigning NFL MVP.

I can understand the reason for concern. Last year’s team put up points in their sleep. It seemed they were already up 14-0 at the opening kickoff every week and along came week 13 and the Pack hadn’t lost a game. Would they? Brash fans took to Twitter, Facebook, radio talk shows and proclaimed their team’s dominance. They were surely primed for another championship run. Then came the abrupt end to the season and 7 months to stew over it. Was it a fluke? 2012 season opener comes and another loss at home. Now surely the sky is falling, right? No! Now, yes I did pick the Bears and I had a feeling the Pack would come out flat. All the Packers did was show me that I have a lot to learn about the 2012 team. I can admit it and I challenge the ney sayers to as well.

They do have the ability to bounce back after a tough outing. I’m not taking anything away from how well the 49ers played in week 1 but maybe that first game was somewhat of a fluke. In game 2, the Pack came back and were able to run the ball, rush the passer and defend the pass much better than they had the week before. Two different teams the 49ers and Bears are, but this at least shows that they prepared and came ready to play.

Another stiff test awaits them this coming Monday night as they travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. It’s the Packers’ road opener and is one of the toughest venues to play in. CenturyLink Field boasts some of the, if not THE loudest fans in the league. This will be a good test of the team’s ability to maintain composure in a hostile environment. It will also test their communication as a team. Rodgers and the offense will likely operate with a silent snap count for much of the game unless they are able to build an early lead that takes the crowd out of it. A win would go a long way in gaining back some of the confidence that was lost so very quickly after 1 loss.

As far as the team goes, they surely have their share of question marks. Why is TE Jermichael Finley still dropping the ball? I am running out of theories. Catching a football requires both mechanics and concentration. If one is lacking, there’s a good probability the ball falls to the turf. I don’t see anything overly flawed in Finley’s mechanics so I have to defer to the concentration. I have seen Finley pull in some very tough passes and get up and snag balls away from defenders in the end zone. He had 3 TD’s at Chicago last year and that spectacular catch and run late in the game at NY last season comes to mind as well.

The ability is there. But then there are games like last year’s contest at Kansas City and the home playoff loss in which it’s hard to think back without recalling a few untimely Finley drops. Surely those were not the only drops nor the sole reasons for the losses, but they didn’t help. For as much as I have heard about Finley’s potential over the past 3 years, it’s time for that potential to start nicking the ceiling. I have my doubts that he all of a sudden gets over the dropsies. A zebra rarely changes its stripes. The Pack seem to be working 2nd year TE DJ Williams into more of their formations and we all saw backup TE Tom Crabtree take a fake FG into the end zone so there are some other options. These next few weeks will say a lot about where Finley fits into the team’s plans throughout the rest of this season.

Why did they seemingly turn to the run in the 3rd quarter of the Bears game when their lead was anything but safe? Because they can now. With Cedric Benson, the Pack have something they haven’t had since 2009 and some would argue, even before that: a dependable running back. After Ahman Green left in 2007, the Packers have not had that stud, workhorse back since. Ryan Grant was steady in 2007 but never flashed much since and had injury problems. After his ankle injury in week 1 of the 2010 season, he was never the same back and the team did not bring him back in 2012.

When it became clear that James Starks might not be the answer the team was looking for after struggling in the first preseason game (and a pedestrian 2011 season), the team signed Benson. The former Bear and Bengal gives the team a dependable and smart back who has the vision and desire to get the tough yards. Without that option in the arsenal last year, it was up to Rodgers and his arm (or feet) to get the job done. It seems safe to say that Rodgers won’t be the team’s leading rusher this season.

After struggling in week 1 due to a very tough 49er defensive front and uninspiring run blocking by the Pack O line, Benson was able to rack up 80 yards in week 2 against his former team. One play in particular that stood out to me was his hard 3 yard run with 2:30 left in last week’s game to pick up a 1st down and force Chicago to use its final timeout. From there, it was 3 kneel downs and the Pack had their 1st win of the young season.

I am reading that fans are panicking that Rodgers isn’t throwing enough and that something must be wrong with him if they’re running when they used to throw like clockwork. Think balance, my friends. Anytime a team can gain more balance, they are going to make life very tough on opposing defenses and their coordinators. And while you’re thinking “balance”, have some patience. If the play action opportunity doesn’t present itself in every game, it eventually will. The Pack are still very much a “pass first” team and defenses will be keying on Rodgers. Given a few weeks of consistent success on the ground and suddenly defenses will have to start picking their poison. That’s when the other options begin to reveal themselves. The big question is: what will the Pack’s identity be come season’s end?

Next Question: Why is Aaron Rodgers throwing passes right to defenders? Once in each game so far, Aaron Rodgers has thrown a pass that seemed to be right at a defender. In week 1 it was a throw that 49er linebacker NaVorro Bowman picked off. The throw was intended for a Jordy Nelson who was crossing just behind Bowman. From the vantage point behind the line of scrimmage it looked like a bad throw from the beginning. The game moves fast and players are in position one second and gone in another. But I’m still not sure what Rodgers was expecting to happen there. Bowman had virtually sat down in coverage and must have blended in with the backdrop? That’s all I can come up with.

Then comes week 2 and again, Rodgers puts one right into coverage by Bear LB Lance Briggs. It’s only because Briggs isn’t a wide receiver that he didn’t come down with the ball. But it was another throw that was put into a spot that wasn’t really open. Perhaps Rodgers’ success over the past 2 seasons has given him more of a sense of security that he can eek the ball in there. Hopefully it’s not an issue with his vision, which I’m sure it is not. For a QB who has been so incredibly careful with the ball and who prides himself on his pinpoint accuracy, this is surely a bit of a concern. In a loud venue such as Seattle and with opportunistic DB’s, Rodgers will again be challenged to keep the ball out of the other guys’ hands in week 3.

My best guess is that AR just needs to get more confident and in sync with his WR’s. That will come with increased reps and as the season moves along. As good as the Packer passing attack has been, defenses are keying on it. Rodgers & Co. will have no easy roads to running on all cylinders, but my money is on that they eventually do before not.

What’s with the resurgence in the pass rush? 11 sacks through 2 games reminds us more of the Packer defense that won a Super Bowl in 2010 and that established their identity in 2009. Last season, the team seemed to have an aversion to the pocket. It was a virtual Bermuda Triangle. Surely the loss of DE Cullen Jenkins was a factor and his replacement, Jarius Wynn, was merely a body. They weren’t able to generate pressure on the QB and opposing passers had all day to find open receivers. The result was that the Pack gave up a record number of passing yards.

The difference this year? The Pack added D linemen Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels in the 2012 draft. Veteran CJ Wilson is a year wiser and was the opening day starter at RDE. Thus far, BJ Raji is getting a much better push than he did last season and that may be the result of increased rest as they rotate Daniels in more often. Another significant change was the move of All Pro OLB Clay Matthews from the left to the right side. Matthews has 6 sacks in 2 games after getting only 6 all of last season. He appears to be benefiting from more 1 on 1 matchups vs. left tackles as well as additional threats Worthy and 1st round pick Nick Perry on the left side. In relief of a young Perry, who needs time to develop, Erik Walden was more effective in week 2 than we saw him be last season. He had a burst off the line and reminded Jay Cutler of what life was like when he had 3 sacks vs. the Bears in week 17 of 2010.

ILB DJ Smith had a sack of Jay Cutler on the first snap of last week’s game and those types of fast starts set the tone for the entire game. One of the byproducts of the effective pressure was 4 INT’s from a very opportunistic group of DB’s. They have lived and died by the takeaway the last 2 seasons and if they can continue that trend this year, they have a great chance to be playing well into January. The increase in QB pressure is also a very good thing to see when you consider that D Coordinator Dom Capers has a tendency to peak in his 2nd or 3rd year in a system and then sees a decline in performance from there. Hopefully the Pack have added the right guys who can literally push their way back to a solid playoff run.

As the season goes on, these questions along with new ones will mount. Each week will provide answers and clues as to what this Packer team will ultimately become but again, I urge you all to remember: it’s week 3. Remember 2010 when a late hot streak catapulted them into a championship run. Remember how in just 4 days, a team that got punched in the mouth got up and threw the punches. Most of all, remember NOT TO PANIC!

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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29 Responses to “Packers Fan Panic – Looking at the reasons”

  1. cow42 says:

    i think it’s funny how 80 yards on 20 carries qualifies as a stellar game by a running back for us Packers fans. says a lot about the state of their recent running game.

    i’m nervous because it sorta looks like the book is out on this offense. since the KC game it hasn’t looked the same. i’m not smart enough to know why, but i am observant enough to see that something’ just – ain’t – right.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      4.0 ypc is great for the Packers, because it helps their strength: the passing game. It’s all relative.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Mark says:

        I agree. I am not so concerned about the stats, but 4.0 ypc is enough for defenses to play honest and respect it a bit. Benson is one of those guys who goes 2, 3, 5, 3 and then 40. But to get to that long run, you have to committ to it. Him running will only make #12′s job easier in the long run.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

      Regarding Benson’s output in Chicago, I see what you’re saying but I definitely didn’t use the word “stellar”. That wasn’t what I was going for. It’s something that will help open up play action. It gives the offense big-play opportunities that it’s had in the recent past.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • cow42 says:

        you really think that defenses are going to start sprinting up to stop cedric benson (or starks, etc)?

        i think it’s a bit of a pipe dream to think that defenses are going to stop playing pass first against the Packers just because cedric benson is in the backfield.

        benson was able to run for a 4.0 clip because of the way the defense was playing. if i’m a d-coordinator i’m going to go ahead and let the Packers try to win by running… if you lose because you couldn’t stop benson – then you’re horsesh*t anyhow.

        only way defenses are going to start worrying about the Packers running is if the Packers were somehow able to get a game-changing superstar at the rb position… benson is no game-changer.

        defenses are going to continue to do what they have been lately – sit back, take away big plays, allow 3-4 yd runs, and make the Packers put together 10+ play scoring drives… as of late, the Pack hasn’t been patient or efficient enough to do so consistently.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

          I re-read the piece several times and I need help seeing where I mention opposing defenses “rushing up to stop Benson (or starks, etc). Repsect the run? Yes. Play the run first, no, never said that. Don’t always read more into what is written

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

          • cow42 says:

            explain what you mean by “respect the run”.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

            • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

              :) Nicely played

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

              • cow42 says:

                hey – i like the article… agree with most of it. and i’m not just referring to your opinion when i say that i don’t think defensive coordinators will worry even a little bit about benson (or any Packer running back). No matter what the Packers do running the ball – no defensive coordinator should change what they’re doing one iota… take away big plays DO NOT bite on play action… play the run on the way to the qb.

                just my opinion.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

                All good, I’m just jabbin’ at you. Benson is going to become more of a factor as the season rolls on. They’ll never favor the run but he will be a bigger part of the conversation. Especially late in the season when the weather turns. They can also start working in some draws and screens to keep the play action viable.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • Oppy says:

                Cow,
                the difference between a completion and and break-up at the pro level is often times a matter of inches or a split-second.

                If a defensive player hesitates one iota longer than he otherwise would because the run game is a legit factor in the game- which a 4 yard a carry average is- the passing game has gained a measurable edge over the defense, especially when you have a passer as talented, strong armed, and precise as Aaron Rodgers with weapons as capable as the Packers’ entire WR Corps.

                Yes, averaging 4 YPC with Benson is plenty to influence the defense just enough to make a difference.

                Sorry, continue being super-negative worry guy. Carry on. :)

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • cow42 says:

                not worried.
                not trying to be negative.
                just saying’ that if i was a de-coordinator of a team playing the Packers, i would tell my back 7 guys to not worry about the running game AT ALL. no matter the weather, no matter how good benson’s running.
                just my opinion.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

                Really? Four down lineman for the running game, and that’s it?

                C’mon, man!

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

              • cow42 says:

                ok – that’s a bit ridiculous. maybe i’d have an lb or 2 help out.

                point is, i don’t think any defense should be worrying about cedric benson.

                i think a lot of people are seeing what they WANT to see with benson. he’s not special. he’s capable t best.

                on the list of players d-coordinators worry about, benson probably ranks #5 or 6…

                rodgers
                jennings
                nelson
                finley
                cobb
                benson

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

    The age of the internet has it’s perks and downsides.

    It makes people way to critical of the team because now they are mini-experts and I will not go further without saying that I myself have blame as well. I have and will make mental notes that might be incorrect. I wan’t to be optimistic but sometimes it can be hard when your team just struggles early.

    What I try to do is to not look at the stats, as you cannot use them during a game but after it. All a 300 yr/game QB means is he averages 300 yards, but was that game a blowout on the other teams behalf and he had to throw to win the team the game. Same with a running back with the team in the lead.

    While every game is important, people have to remember that winning every game is not possible to win the championship. In fact, it’s recommended that you lose a few to teach the team what mistakes you have and how to fix them before the playoffs and in a sense to keep the fire building in the team because after mental spending 16 games to win each one, is taxing to be exhausted.

    Losing is never fun, but the league is not the BCS. I don’t mind the Packers losing 4 games to win the Superbowl and for Aaron to film more Pizza Hut Commercials.

    Just one game at a time.

    As Aaron would say.

    “Sssssssssh. Less Worry, More Watching”

    Because after all, the only people who can only change how the Packers play, are the Packers themselves. Yelling at the television in furious anger, will not cause the ball to magically pop out of the hands of the QB.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  3. toolkien says:

    Some people call it being spoiled, but the reality is that many Packer fans don’t seem to grasp that things work in cycles and there are highs and lows, and the curves in between. It seems whenever the Packers hit a high, even a “historically high” high, they want to turn it into the “new normal”.

    So many Packer fans ran down the post-mid 90′s (1998-2004) Packers because they weren’t the Packers of 1996. They failed to understand that that team was a historically great team. Just because they didn’t reach that height again through the remainder of the first window of opportunity (’97-’98) or the second window of opportunity (’01-’04) then the Packers were stumblebums. From ’98-’04, the Packers had the best regular season record, 2nd in point differential, 3rd in yardage differential. Also, they had the best winning % against playoff teams played in the regular season, 6th in point differential, and 3rd in yardage differential against playoff caliber teams.

    The Packers problem was TURNOVERS in the playoffs. And yet people ignored that (couldn’t blame Favre?) and ran down the rest of the team – not enough hall of famers, defense was “terrible”, no running backs and the list goes on. They expected the Packers to be the Packers of 1996 or it was hopeless. Now it appears if the Packers don’t score 575 points the end is coming.

    Well, the Packers are going to face defenses that altogether are better than last year, and they are facing offenses that generally, given last year, aren’t going to give the ball away like teams did last year, and so there will be less feeding of the ball back to the high scoring offense. I think 440 points is a reasonable amount to expect for 2012. And as the Packers are playing more pedestrian offenses than last year, they likely won’t give up as much (maybe 310-320). That should get them into the playoffs.

    And from there it’s a matter of NOT TURNING THE BALL OVER. It doesn’t matter if they get there 15-1 again this year, or 10-6 like 2010, if they turn the ball over, they’re sunk. There is nothing that I have seen so far that tells me the Packers won’t make the playoffs, and there is nothing they can do now that will comfort me as to how they will do once the playoffs come as far as turnovers. So it’s just a matter of taking it week by week. Simply, there is just too much radicalization between regular season and the post season for week 3 to tell you that much about likely winning it all. The Packers just have to get in and then not turn the ball over. If they do, they stand as good a chance, if not better, of winning it all.

    To take any sort of retreat in an aspect of the game and turn it into “panic” pretty much wastes too much time and energy. Winning it all is a slim proposition to begin with, worrying about things that don’t really tell if they will or won’t is a waste of time. The Packers have a team that should average a +7-+9 in point differential and that is good enough to make the playoffs. And there is nothing that can tell us whether the will or won’t hand the ball to the other team like it was on fire like they’ve done so many times over the last decade and a half. The one time they didn’t, they won it all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. QOTSA1 says:

    I’m not panicking just yet, but Rodgers and the rest of the offense has not looked sharp going all the way back to Raiders game last year. In Rodgers’ last 6 starts he has only had a QB rating over 100 once.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy says:

      Let me start by saying I agree completely, QOTSA1, that the offense has not looked sharp and their timing is just plain ‘off’ a bit in their last handful of games.

      That being said and out of the way, do you have any idea how ridiculously spoiled and silly it sounds to complain that the QB has only posted a rating of over 100 once in the last six starts??

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • QOTSA1 says:

        I know Packer fans have been spoiled by their QB play for many years, and most teams would kill to have what the Packers have had at QB for the past 20 years.

        But the fact remains the Packers are 3-3 in their past 6 games. This team is a very average team if Rodgers is only good and not great. They have almost no running game, and if we are lucky, their defense will be average this year.

        If the Packers want to get back to the Super Bowl they will need Rodgers to play at the same level he played at at the end of the 2010 season and the beginning of last year.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • quackieduck says:

          I love the Packers,but they can not win only on defence. Hawk and Williams are Great. but. Mr. Rogers is not playing up to par. Not cutting him down he’s playing hot and cold now. He needs to get his mind on the game again. And Give him protection. And I loved it when you guy’s walked off the field. You were in the right All the way. I wish I had the money to have you guys sit out the season under protest. Jim

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Mark says:

        Does anyone think the “off timing” has anything to do with what the guys are doing to prepare? #88 is a headcase born to be on Twitter and #85 clearly is spending all his off time taping commercials or promoting a Fantasy Football website. I mean guys get what they put in. Guys who aren’t serious make mistakes and get hurt. Guys who don’t prepare drop passes. I’m just saying. Anyone else see a trend?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Barutan Seijin says:

    Well,toolkein, the 1996 team won a Super Bowl & the not-quite-as-good 1997-2004 teams didn’t. Seems to me that Packer fans were spot on. Fart in the wind and all that.

    I have to disagree with the turnovers argument, too. When Favre — or anyone, really — is under pressure, the turnovers increase. Cover the receivers & win in the trenches and the turnovers will come.

    You seem to be suggesting that Favre was the problem. Well, maybe, but he was also one of the best things about those teams. Would they have made the postseason without Favre? Doubtful. It’s not like you can retroactively replace him with Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers at the top of their games. They had Favre and he was the best option the team had at the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  6. FITZCORE1252 says:

    “The throw was intended for a Jordy Nelson who was crossing just behind Bowman.”

    It was to Jennings, just an FYI.

    GBP 4 LIFE

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jason Perone Jason Perone says:

      You’re right it was Jennings and good catch. Regardless it was a bad throw and let’s not lose sight of the point and bigger picture.

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  7. Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

    We forgot how to deal with losing. We forgot that a season is a long time in the making. We forgot that a team still needs to develop through each game it plays. We forgot that Aaron Rodgers is human.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • cow42 says:

      if aaron rodgers proves to be only human then the Packers won’t be in the super bowl.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Mark says:

    I agree with alot of the comments. Rodgers hasn’t been bad, he just hasn’t been great. No one can throw for 300 yards w/ 3 TDs every week. I like the way he is spreading the ball. We haven’t missed Jennings (he is probably off doing a commercial right now or tweeting an advertisement). Give it time.

    I am not off the wagon and will be at Lambeau next Sunday. As Bart Scott would say, “Can’t wait!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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