18

December

Packers Stock Report: NFC North Champions Edition

Clay Matthews

Ravishing Rick Rude would be proud of this Clay Matthews sack dance.

Watching the Packers this season can be very frustrating. You have shoddy pass blocking, dropped passes, a horrible kicker, failure to put teams away, shaky run defense, all kinds of injuries, odd playcalling and Fail Mary.

Yet here the Packers are, NFC North champs for the second season in a row.

It really is amazing what Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have been able to do with this team. They’ve adjusted the offense once it became apparent that they weren’t the juggernaut from a season ago. They’ve also overcome all kinds of injuries.

Yes, watching this team can be maddening. But this is a group we can be proud of.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Clay Matthews
The Packers best pass rusher returned, sacked Jay Cutler twice and made several other plays on run defense. In other words, it was a typical day for Matthews against the Bears. More importantly, Matthews busted out a Ravishing Rick Rude sack dance. Seriously, it was amazing. For those of you who don’t know who Ravishing Rick Rude is, click here. I hope Matthews wears pants with a picture of his own face on the rear-end next week. Turn the music off!

Randall Cobb
Defensive coordinators must just start screaming “FIND COBB!!! FIND COBB!!!” whenever Aaron Rodgers breaks the pocket. Cobb dropped an early touchdown pass (well, the throw was a little off, but Cobb will probably tell you he should have caught it), but made up for it throughout the rest of the game. Needs to get a little more zip on those punt throwback tosses, though.

B.J. Raji
It’s good to see the big guy getting stronger as the season wears on. Raji was very good against the Lions and was strong early against the Bears. It looked like the Bears were going to have no problem moving the ball on the ground at the start of Sunday’s game, then Raji woke up and put a stop to that.

Steady

Sam Shields
Somebody got to Shields in the offseason and convinced him that he had to be more physical. I would like to buy this person a beer. Shields missed a tackle on Matt Forte early, but when the ball was in the air in pass coverage, Shields fought hard. He also overcame another bogus call against him and managed to get Alshon Jeffrey flagged for offensive pass interference a few times. There were times last season where physical contact made Shields coil up into the fetal position. Not the case any more.

17

December

While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games

James Jones

James Jones and the Packers are NFC North champs. (Photo from the Associated Press.)

What was your favorite head-scratching moment from Sunday’s Packers win over the Bears? Here are your options:

  • Dropped passes from Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley on the first drive. Tough catches, yes, but catchable.
  • Aaron Rodgers getting sacked three times in the first half.
  • Cobb dropping a touchdown pass in the second quarter. The pass was slightly off, but it was catchable.
  • Mason Crosby whiffing on two more field goals.
  • Mike McCarthy going for it on fourth and 6 in the third, then trying a field goal on fourth and 1 in the fourth. Why not go for it both times?
  • McCarthy calling a throwback on a punt return up 11 points in the fourth that resulted in a turnover. Ugh.
  • Rodgers launching a bomb to Greg Jennings on third and 3 late in the fourth when a simple first down would have been fine.
  • Ryan Grant’s fumble.

That’s a lot of head-scratching moments to choose from. Oh, and by the way, the Packers won 21-13 and are NFC North champions.

The Packers have made me scratch my head a lot this season, but they keep winning. Through all the injuries, all the missed field goals, all the stalled drives and all the weird playcalling, the Packers are NFC North champions.

It’s amazing what this team has been able to accomplish so far.

Of course, there is still a lot more to accomplish. All of the perseverance and fortitude shown by the Packers will be for not if they blow their first playoff game.

How many head-scratching moments can the Packers afford in the playoffs? It’s one thing to have those moments against the Arizona Cardinals or Jay Cutler. It’s another to have them against the San Francisco 49ers or Eli Manning.

Clawing out victories and digging yourself out of holes shows that your team has mettle. Mistakes like the ones made by the Packers may also burn you big time against a good team in the playoffs.

We’ll see how this season turns out. For now, I’m going to stop scratching my head and enjoy another NFC North title.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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