14

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls (with Podcast): Packers Midseason Edition

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers

Packers coach Mike McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers have five divisional games in their final seven contests.

The first half of the season has come and gone for the Green Bay Packers and the bye week could not have come at a better time.

The Packers have won their last four games but are dealing with an injury epidemic that goes beyond even what they faced in 2010 when they overcame the loss of 15 players to injured reserve and won their fourth Super Bowl title.

Could a similar fate be in store for the 2012 Packers?  That remains to be seen.  The Packers are only one game behind the Chicago Bears for first place in the NFC North and with five of their six division games remaining, all of the Packers’ goals for the year are still very much within reach.

Before we look ahead, let’s take one last look back at the good and the bad of the Packers’ first nine games of 2012.

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For a more in-depth discussion, listen to the podcast using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

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Game Balls                                     

QB Aaron Rodgers

Something definitely is wrong with Rodgers.

OK, I can’t even TYPE that with a straight face.

After an alleged “poor” start to the season, Rodgers has returned to his MVP form throwing 15 touchdowns to just one interception in the Packers’ four game winning streak. Rodgers currently is on pace for 44 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Look just like MVP numbers to me.

What’s remarkable is that he hasn’t missed a beat without his two best receivers in Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.   The Packers have an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position and with no running game and lackluster play from their starting tight end in Jermichael Finley, it’s remarkable the numbers Rodgers puts up week in and week out.

Look for more of the same in the second half of the season, especially when Nelson is healthy, as Rodgers very well could win his second consecutive NFL MVP award.

WR Randall Cobb

14

November

Packers Midseason Grades: Special Teams

Tim Masthay

Packers P Tim Masthay has been excellent in special team.

Special teams wraps up our midseason Packers grades report.

I feel like parent-teacher conferences are now over and it’s time for the student (the Packers) to try and find a way to get an ‘A’ on the final report card while the parents (Packers fans) keep nagging the kids to get their homework done and turn off the video games.

If you missed it, here are our grades for the offense and defense.

Kickoffs: A-
When the Packers are kicking off, it’s usually a good time to grab a snack or refill your beverage.

Out of Mason Crosby’s 47 kickoffs, 26 have went for touchbacks, ranking the Packers 10th in touchback percentage. When opponents do return it, they don’t go far, averaging only 24.4 yards with a long of 38.

This unit also forced a fumble that should’ve ended the game against New Orleans, but the refs botched the call.

It appeared that Crosby had at least one angle kickoff against the Cardinals where he tried to use the sideline to pin the returner inside his own 20. It worked and I wonder if we might see more of that down the stretch. You can afford to take some risks like that when you’re coverage has been excellent.

There’s always the chance that Mike McCarthy could call for an onside kick like he did against St. Louis. Crosby is excellent at onside kicks and the Packers recovered his only onside attempt.

On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t leave the couch when the Packers are kicking.

Punts: A-
We’ve see too much of him this season, but it’s nice to know that when Tim Masthay trots on the field, the odds are good that the other team will be stuck with less-than-desireable field position.

Out of 44 Masthay punts, 19 have been fair caught, which is tied for the league lead. When opponents do get a chance to return one, they don’t go far. The Packers only allow 6.3 yards per return, sixth best in the NFL.

Masthay (or, ”Ging,” as Aaron Rodgers calls him), averages 44.5 yards per punt and has dropped 24 punts inside the 20.

Masthay and the punting unit turned things around late in 2010 and were a major reason why the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC championship. They haven’t slowed down since.

12

November

Packers Midseason Grades: Offense

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers has the Packers 6-3 this season.

With nine games under their belt, the Packers are technically beyond the midseason, but that’s just a technicality.

There’s no Packers game to review this week, so now is as good a time as any to grade what’s happened so far.  The offense is up first. The defense and special teams will be up later this week.

Quarterbacks: A-
Aaron Rodgers does things no other quarterback in the NFL can do. All the injuries the Packers have suffered are frustrating, but as long as Rodgers is on the field, the Packers have a chance. I enjoyed reading the comments made by several of the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive players after the Packers beat them last week. They were being asked about Randall Cobb, James Jones, the Tom Crabtree catch, and a bunch of other stuff, but they kept coming back to Rodgers and how great he is. Meanwhile, in another room down the hall, Rodgers was talking about how poorly he played.

I suppose I could be as harsh on Rodgers as he is on himself and knock his grade down to a ‘B’ if I really wanted to. I could point to the reduction in explosive plays, holding the ball too long, and the fact that the Packers are averaging about three yards fewer per completion than last season.

Those are all valid criticisms, but it’s not enough to knock Rodgers’ grade down, in my view. The guy has racked up almost 2,400 yards to go along with 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions without his No. 1 receiver, a shaky offensive line, and a receiving corp that drops too many passes.

Honestly, I was going to give the Packers quarterbacks an ‘A,’ but I knocked it to an ‘A-’ because of Graham Harrell’s goal line fumble against the Saints.

Running Backs: D+
Not every son or daughter gets straight ‘A’s’ in school. Some try hard, only to realize that the best they can do is a ‘C.’ Some don’t try at all and are thrilled if they manage to eek out a ‘C.’

The Packers running backs fall into one of these two categories.

Right when the Packers rushing offense appeared to be waking up, Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury. But even before the injury, it’s not like Benson was on his way to the pro bowl. He only averaged over four yards per carry in two of his five games and never cracked 100 yards.