6

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Bears 27, Packers 20

With the Bears behind them, the Packers will move on without Aaron Rodgers.

With the Bears behind them, the Packers will move on without Aaron Rodgers.

On top of suffering their third loss of the season, which puts the Green Bay Packers in a three-way atop the NFC North, the team lost its unquestioned leader for at least several weeks.

On the game’s first series, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked by Bears defensive end Shea McClellin. The hit wasn’t violent, but Rodgers was slammed hard into the Lambeau Field sod and reportedly suffered a fractured left collarbone.

Of course, many Packers will point the finger at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bob McGinn. Last week, McGinn wrote a column suggesting the Packers could win without Rodgers. The article ran Nov. 2–two days prior to Rodgers suffering what he calls a “significant injury.” If you haven’t yet read McGinn’s piece, you should do so.

Now, obviously, losing Rodgers is a tough blow for the Packers. Rodgers probably the best quarterback in the NFL, and Seneca Wallace is a significant downgrade from the 2011 league MVP, but while expectations for the rest of the Packers’ season are different now than they were Monday, the Wallace-led Green Bay Packers aren’t quite the Curtis Painter-led Indianapolis Colts when the Colts were forced to play without injured quarterback Peyton Manning.

In 2006, Manning led the Colts to a 10-6 record. The following year, which Manning missed with a neck injury, the Colts plummeted to 2-14 and “earned” the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. In recent years, losing Rodgers for any amount of time may have been a fatal blow to the Packers’ season.

But now, I’m with McGinn. This Packers team can win without Rodgers.

The team’s newfound offensive balance has been a pleasant addition to the team and will now act as the crutch the team will rely on as they tackle the start of the second half of the season without Rodgers. A hungry Eddie Lacy and healthy James Starks, along with a dramatically improved offensive line have the Rodgers-less Packers offense in a much better place than they’ve been in recent years.

After losing Rodgers to injury Monday, Wallace was clearly not ready game action. This much we know. But with a week of preparation, it’s hard to imagine Wallace turning in anything short of an improved performance Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

When Rodgers suffered a concussion in Detroit in 2010, Matt Flynn took over in relief and flopped. He completed a respectable 15 of 26 passes for 177 yards but was unable to stretch the field and failed to find the end zone. The following week, after practicing with the No. 1 offense, Flynn came in and nearly led the Packers to a road win against the New England Patriots.

I’m not saying Wallace is poised for a 251-yard, three-touchdown performance this week against the Eagles, but I fully expect him to be better than he was Monday.

Of course, this is all contingent on how much time Rodgers misses. If Rodgers misses three weeks and the Packers can win one of their next three games (vs. PHI, at NYG, vs. MIN), then they’re sitting pretty despite a mediocre 6-5 record heading into their Thanksgiving showdown in Detroit. And frankly, Wallace may be capable of winning two of the next three.

Then again, winning two of three would require the defense to step up–something it didn’t do Monday against Josh McCown.

Game Balls

Eddie Lacy

At this point, there’s not much more than can be said. No way in the world did I ever expect Lacy to be the best of the last three running backs to come out of Alabama. Mark Ingram was supposed to be Emmitt Smith as a former Heisman Trophy winner, and everyone thought his backup, Trent Richardson, was even better. Richardson went No. 3 overall in last year’s draft, but he has yet to show game-breaking potential. At this point, Lacy is the best of the bunch. In some ways, Lacy is a combination of everything Ingram and Richardson were supposed to be.

James Starks

Yeah, Lacy has been great as the team’s clear-cut No. 1 back, but Starks deserves credit, too. By no means is Starks a small back at 6′ 2″ 218 pounds, but he’s the team’s slasher, serving as a nice change-of-pace from the physical Lacy. If not for DuJuan Harris’ season ending before it even got started, Starks may not even be in Green Bay right now. But he is, and he’s making the most of his opportunities.

Jamari Lattimore

The guy just continues to make plays. He’s another Desmond Bishop, in some ways. You put him on the field on special teams–which he’s played a lot of–and he blocks a punt, setting his team up with great field position, which led to a James Starks touchdown. You put him on the field on defense, and he seems to live in the opposing backfield. It’s hard not to be excited about Lattimore at this point.

B.J. Raji

For two weeks in a row, Raji has been one of the best players on the Packers defense. Raji was paying tribute to Dikembe Mutombo on multiple occasions Monday night after making plays behind the line of scrimmage. For a guy with an expiring contract being pushed by a deep and talented defensive line, Raji is starting to play with a sense of urgency.

Lame Calls

Aaron Rodgers is injured

If you read the introduction, you’ll see pretty quickly that I’m not ready to stick a fork in the 2013 Green Bay Packers. But still, it’s going to be different watching the Packers without No. 12 under center. It’s too bad, but then again, things could be a lot worse than playing a few games with a quarterback not named Favre or Rodgers, considering the team has been in good hands at football’s most important position for the past 20-some years.

Defense

Yikes. It wasn’t a good day for Dom Capers and the defense–to say the least. Bears fans seemed to come into the game with a premeditated excuse that they’d be without their starting quarterback. Then the Packers lost their quarterback, too. However, all things aren’t equal. Josh McCown played better Monday than Jay Cutler has ever played at Lambeau Field, and that’s a fact. Seneca Wallace’s game would have been Rodgers’ worst home game ever. So, yes, McCown deserves a lot of credit for playing lights out. But the Cutler-less Bears made it look way too easy against the shorthanded Packers defense.

Sam Shields

Shields is having a great season, but Monday wasn’t his best night. Already this season, Shields has blanketed Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Baltimore’s Torrey Smith and Cleveland’s Josh Gordon. But against the Bears, both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery had their way with the Packers’ secondary. And against the run, Shields reverted back to his old ways and wanted no part of making physical tackles near the line of scrimmage.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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21 Responses to “Game Balls and Lame Calls: Bears 27, Packers 20”

  1. packett says:

    Marques, thanks for the stiff-lipped positive-as-can-be article. I would agree, GB could win 2 of next 4 if it wasn’t the egg-laying the defense put out. I’m a packer fan, but that is different than a High school or college fan, when you are loyal now matter how bad your team is. As pro team, we buy a product. Pay money. Give adulation. But we deserve a product. What we got MOnday nice, I’d send back for a refund. I’m wouldn’t go back to the store for the next 4 weeks either, until the shop owner convinces me to give up my time is worth a good display. Little effective pass rush and pathetic contain on dump off passes when everyone knew Forte and Bennet were the outlets that would get McCown going. Yes..a few bright spots; Lattimore, Raji, and definitely Lacy/Starks. But the coaches didn’t have the player ready, and the players din’t execute. So what’s the use of pointing the finger at players or coaches. We got a defective product.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 12

  2. Razer says:

    Good write-up Marques and thanks for keeping a positive view of a bad night. I think that injuries are overwhelming this team. I don’t think that this game goes in Chicago’s favor if we have our OLB and a pass rush – regardless of the loss of AR. No pass rush (or being outplayed by the Bears OLine) exposes our weak MLB play through the middle and soft corners. With Matthews and Perry our defense is far more urgent and McCowan’s 50% completion rate is even less and his 3rd down conversion less again.

    I can’t take people blaming TT for this. Last week we were the best stocked and best drafting team in the world. Today, Ted is the dumbest man in the world. We have a totally rebuilt O-line, a great running attack (I am astounded by this) and enough depth to cover for the loss of a our receiving corps other than Jordy Nelson. Even our defense has shone despite the loss of all but one of our starting linebackers. This is a well built team and we will rise from this fire.

    As for losing Rodgers and only having Wallace as a backup, we are no worse than the other teams trying to fill in for the lose of their starting QB. Give the man a chance to start and lead this offense.

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    • packett says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Razer says:

        Pickett, Raji and Jolly are the base of a 3-4 line that is disruptive at best and hold the line at worst. Most, if not all, of the penetration is by our LB’s. Your two first round picks that get that pressure didn’t play, our second year Lattimore is the next best that we have. Given that we have 4 of our last 4 first round picks sitting on the bench or on IR, we have done well. Hoping that rookie Datone Jones and second year Mike Daniels are going to destroy a good Chicago OLine is wishful.

        Like most people, I want it now but I realize that rookies and guys who have swapped positions (Neal, Jones) are not going to get you consistent results. Let’s hope that Clay Matthews can make it back this week. If not, you can start complaining about Nate Palmer not being a pro.

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    • Dobber says:

      The reasons why CMIII and ARod are regarded as elite talents is because of their ability to be impactful on the field. Any team would be foolish not to scheme around those elite talents while they have them.

      By definition, removing an elite player and replacing him with a non-elite player is an immediate problem, not solely in the loss of his play but also because it requires that you adjust your scheme to shift away from that position. If you’re saying the Packers should have elite players at all positions and throughout the depth chart, well, that’s a head-scratcher.

      That said, this coaching staff has shown the ability to adjust to losses and be competitive given the opportunity to prepare. In-game, they struggle.

      I think most of us agree that if AR played a full game on Monday, the outcome might have been significantly different. If you’re saying that any backup at the QB position should have replicated the performance of AR, then you likely underestimate what AR does for this team.

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  3. Nick Perry says:

    Thanks Marques, I think you left off one for sure, Tramon Williams. He dropped a pick that 95% of the DB’s in the NFL would make, and wonder why he’s even out there. All night long I watched him play 12 yards off and t was pitch and catch. The right side of the offensive line also comes to mind. Shea McClellin has a 1/2 a sack going into the game. He had 3 Monday night. Newhouse and Barclay, who’s regressed all year were awful. Maybe his best position is Guard in the NFL but it sure as heck isn’t RT. Packett’s right, the coaches didn’t have the Packers prepared and I don’t care what anyone say’s, Ted T deserves a lame ball for not having a decent backup. The Packers have continued to play roulette at backup QB since Flynn left. Last season Harrell came in for one play and fumbled a hand off at the 2 yard line.
    Lastly a lame call on McCarthy for not challenging the Quarless catch. For all the STUPID challenges M.M. has made, he doesn’t drop the reg flag on the one where he actually had a chance to win.

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  4. Michael from Winnipeg says:

    If I may add to this…..

    Give more carries to James Starks, please. Once he gets thru the line, I think he brings a better running style than Lacy. Dont get me wrong, love Lacy. However, Starks seems to have that break-away ability, and speed, once he gets to the second level.

    Lattimore, more please. Just go easy on the after-play antics Jamari, before you get an unsportsmanlike penalty.

    Defense. I commented elsewhere that it looked like Capers was gambling with his coverages, and looking to get his DBs in position to get INTs, hoping for mistakes by McCown, instead of having better coverage, on the Bears taller WRs. We arent winning the turnover battle, one of MM’s keys to victory. Also, too many yards given up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

    • marpag says:

      I’m totally agreed about giving more carries to Starks. Even if he isn’t as dynamic as Lacy (and he isn’t, of course), you’ve gotta be a little worried about putting too much of a pounding on Lacy with the season only half over. Wouldn’t hurt to have a specialty package here and there for Franklin, either. If Rodgers is out for a while, those guys are going to get run hard.

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      • Nick Perry says:

        Absolutely agree. The one good thing about Lacy though is he didn’t have much wear and tear from college like Monte Ball did. I was so happy the Packers got Lacy over Ball, Bell who went to Pittsburgh, or Bernard. Starks is running the ball maybe better than he did in the SB run. Both TD carries, against the Vikings and then the Bears were beautiful runs.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  5. Dobber says:

    “McCown deserves a lot of credit for playing lights out”

    Let’s not anoint McCown as the next Kurt Warner here. He barely completed 50% of his passes and missed several open guys. The problem was that there were SO MANY open guys, either due to poor coverage or a pass rush that allowed receivers to run open, that he had plenty of chances.

    I think the Packers can get 2 of the next three, but they’re going to have to be efficient on offense and play aggressively on the defensive side. They’re going to need to be nearly flawless, and they were not that on Monday night.

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  6. John says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Nick Perry says:

      Common John, this team is decimated by injuries. Look at it this way. The first round picks from 2005, 2009, 10, 11, and 2012 were all out for that game. Thompson gets 7 picks a year, sometimes more. First round picks are the blue chips, the ones that are supposed to be the stars. That fact that the Packers lost by only 7 without Rodgers, Cobb, Finley, Bulaga, Sherrod, Perry, Matthews, Lang, and James Jones to name a few and Jones who was really about half of himself is amazing. While I wish Ted would at least touch the FA market once in a while, you can’t blame them. The depth on this team to be 5-2 heading into this game was amazing. I have a feeling that if the Packers can get Rodgers back for the Thanksgiving game, they could be 3-0 without Rodgers. A week of practice, the headphones on Rodgers helping Wallace at the line with calls, it’s going to be fine.

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  7. Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

    The secondary was atrocious, but let’s not forget that the front seven was without two First Round OLBs: Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. Mulumba also ended up getting injured during the game… So that left Mike Neal and who?

    I’ll need to go back and watch the film, but it’s no wonder the Packers had a hard time setting the edge against Forte’s runs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Nopainnogain says:

      secondary has definitely been a weak link especially with certain matchups. fact is, they got speed but they’re small and get out-muscled by big receivers like Marshall, Jeffery, and Boldin.

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      • Dobber says:

        This is a problem for most secondaries aside from Seattle. It’s a bigger problem when your DBs not only are small, but play small…which was true on Monday.

        Philly doesn’t have the same kind of size in its receivers, and the Packers have enough DB to be able to play their wide-open style.

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  8. Elo says:

    Just didn’t see the same fire in the D as in previous games. Hayward looked completely unprepared to play and I agree with other posters that Tramon and Sam Shields seemed to play much softer this game. If the plan was to play loose and get INTs, it didn’t work. No pressure on McCown gave him way too much time for the receivers to get open and McCown didn’t make mistakes. The last 7 minute drive of the Bears in the 4th quarter was very painful to watch.

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  9. GBPDAN says:

    This D better play better this week because Philadelphia’s O has a lot of weapons. I hope clay is back and I hope this D is embarrassed and mad and plays lights out. We will not beat philly, with Wallace, unless the D plays well. Phillys Oline probably isn’t as good as Chicago’s improved Oline (I hope) which will help.

    Im going to give Wallace a chance to prove me wrong, that TT made a huge mistake by gambling with the Backup QB situation, now that he has a week to prepare. But, I have a bad feeling.

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  10. Fritz1218 says:

    packett says:
    November 6, 2013 at 7:46 AM
    packett, you don’t happen to live in MN as I do, do ya?? You sound like the ViQueen fans and media. They have been stating the exact same thing for years and ours is a temporary problem because of injuries. In MN most that make comments like yours get real defensive when called on so I suppose you will also, but for heavens sake what the hell do you expect? Do you think that our 2nd & 3rd string players should be all pro talent also? If you’ve got tickets as I do, why don’t you give them up? I still look forward to being at Lambeau this Sunday. They are still my Packers and am appreciative of the team that TT has assembled. Look we’ve had more injuries than any other team the last 4 or 5 years(and that bothers me also) but we’ve also been more resilient than other teams in similar situations. Myself I’m grateful to have TT & MM running our Packer Program.
    GO PACK GO!!!!

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  11. Archie says:

    With the return of CMIII & NP, the defense has no more excuses. But I think my worst fear has been confirmed, this team is a one man show. TT/MM have gotten a lot of undeserved credit by riding AROD’s coattails. NOV will not be pretty. This will be an eye-opener for those that adore on TT/MM. W/o AROD, this team can’t win.

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  12. Dobber says:

    From Packers.com, so take it with a grain of salt…

    “Rodgers only sustained what we call a chip fracture. It’s the best news we could hope for because a chip fracture does not limit movement and will not inhibit Rodgers’ play. All you need to do is provide adequate pain relief and he’s good to go. Expect Rodgers to be back by Thanksgiving or, if we’re lucky, even sooner.”

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