The Green Bay Packers are 4-0 and look like the best team in the NFL, but Packers fans shouldn’t make hotel reservations for Indianapolis just yet. There are still holes on this team, and the biggest might be the nonexistent pass rush.
I debated whether to include Clay Matthews in the falling category for this week’s stock report, but decided to hold off for now. I understand that teams are game-planning for Matthews, and that he’s doing a good job against the run and setting the edge, but the Packers need him to rush the passer. Period.
There are a lot of LBs in the NFL that are good against the run and setting the edge. There are only a few that are elite pass rushers. Matthews was an elite pass rusher in 2010, and the Packers need him to return to form in 2011.
I was at Lambeau on Sunday and Matthews too often appeared content engaging his blocker and trying to read which direction the QB might scramble. Matthews needs to blow up whomever tries blocking him and force the QB to scramble in one direction or the other.
Maybe he’s playing hurt, maybe he’s just playing within the system. Either way, he needs to start putting QBs on the ground. I’m betting that if Matthews gets going, so will the rest of the Packers defense.
It might be time to just give Rodgers his own category, something above rising. I hate wasting a rising slot on Rodgers because it’s obvious to anyone that has watched football for more than 5 minutes that Rodgers is really good, and getting better. When Rodgers connected with James Jones on a touchdown in the third quarter Sunday, my wife and I thought he was throwing it right to a Broncos defender. The Denver defensive back’s coverage was so good, that we couldn’t even see Jones from the angle of our seats, but Rodgers fit the throw in anyway. That about sums up how Rodgers is playing right now.
Another player that maybe deserves his own category. Where would this defense be without Woodson taking over the Carolina game and getting an early pick-six against the Broncos? Woodson’s nose for the ball, aggressiveness and football IQ have covered up the early struggles of this defense. If Dom Capers can get this defense back on track, Woodson should get more opportunities to blitz and wreak even more havoc.
Ted Thompson showed just how saavy of an investor he is by locking up Nelson to a contract extension before his inclusion in this week’s stock report. If Thompson would have waited until after Nelson made the rising category, it would’ve cost the Packers at least another $7.52 (yes, that’s 7 dollars and 52 cents. This stock report is a big deal. A very big deal). For now, Nelson is the Packers second best receiver, behind Greg Jennings and ahead of Jermichael Finley.