Packers Digest: Week 7

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There is more than just some sense of urgency in Packer land.  Fans have taken to social media to voice their opinions on a deteriorating offense, that has been a big concern all season long.  Now, with last week’s ugly loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers are stuck searching for answers.  It doesn’t help that they play the Bears on a short week either.  Let’s take a look at all things Packers as they head into week 7.

Injuries

The Packers have been riddled with injuries ever since cornerback Sam Shields went down in week 1 with a concussion.  He now sits on IR, and the Packers hope he can be back by the playoff push in December.  The injuries have continued to pile up as the weeks have passed.  Second year cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins are both out this week with groin injuries.  The Packers will start Ladarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson outside this week against the Bears, with Micah Hyde most likely playing nickel corner.  The injuries don’t stop there.  Eddie Lacy was placed on IR Thursday after ankle surgery, and James Starks has a knee issue.  Undrafted rookie Don Jackson will get the start against the Bears, with Knile Davis (who they acquired earlier this week) being the other active back.  It is likely Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb will get snaps in the backfield.  A lot more weight will be on Aaron Rodgers’ shoulders without a workhorse at running back.  Also, having your fourth and fifth corner starting is a tough task for Dom Capers’ defense.

What’s Wrong With the Offense?

There are a lot of opinions on this subject.  Some people say it is all on Aaron Rodgers, while others point to the offense and give Rodgers a pass.  I admit, I gave Rodgers a pass for a while, but the numbers recently have drawn me out of that.  I believe it is a balance of both things, but, Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner had the best take on it. cvlceaawiae8mhn-jpg-large

This makes perfect sense.  Denver, and even teams like the Niners, found out last year how to stop the Packers offense.  That scheme has worked so well that receivers can’t get open, and Aaron Rodgers has lost trust in the scheme.  His mechanics are off because his trust and timing are off with all of the receivers.  Also, as far as scheme goes, Mike McCarthy needs to open up the playbook.  The plays are too simple, and he’s not getting creative enough.  It’s time to mix things up.  Go five wide on some plays.  Mix up the personnel.  Use formations that get receivers open, like bunch formations.  It won’t happen overnight, but little things like that will increase Rodgers’ trust, and receivers will have chances to get open.

How Do You Fix It?

Up above I started to lay ground work that could help the Packers solve their issues.  One thing that would take pressure off of Rodgers is having a run game.  With Lacy and Starks out, that will be much tougher.  However, the offensive line is top five in the league right now.  Don Jackson should be able to find some running room, and if not, you have to keep the defense honest.  Putting Montgomery and Cobb in the backfield also will help.

As for the playbook, different formations are absolutely necessary.  Bunch formations are excellent ways to help create space between receivers and defensive backs, as well as running plays that give receivers a chance to run after the catch.  Rodgers has found receivers with quick screens plenty before.  Getting bits and pieces of yards will keep the juices and momentum rolling.  When the momentum gets going, the Packers are a different group.

Personnel is another big part of the problem.  Jordy Nelson has been real good in the red zone, but everyone knows he isn’t what he was back in 2014.  That isn’t saying he’s bad, but he has lost a little of his speed.  Randall Cobb and Davante Adams haven’t gotten consistent separation this season.  It’s time to get the young guys involved.  It was about time the Packers got Ty Montgomery in the game.  He produced very well out of the backfield, and needs to get into the slot more.  He can be what the offense needs.  Speed is another big part of gaining separation.  Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis have the speed that the other receivers don’t possess.  It’s important to take shots down the field, and having home run threats opens the offense up for guys like Cobb and Adams.

This isn’t an overnight fix, but with time, a better scheme, and mixing up personnel, perhaps we will see the return of the dominant Aaron Rodgers.

Packers-Bears Preview

As I glanced over the schedule at the start of the season, I didn’t even question that this game would be a win.  Now, I’m not so sure.  With the top three corners out for Green Bay, the Bears should have a lot more success in getting open.  Brian Hoyer has played real well the past four weeks, and would like to continue his run this week.  The key on defense is the pass rush.  Matthews, Nick Perry, and Julius Peppers need to take advantage of the Bears mediocre tackles and get to the quarterback.  If Hoyer is given enough time, he will shred the Packer secondary.  Even getting young guys in there like Jayrone Elliott and Kyler Fackrell will help the Packers be fresh on defense.  Also, if the Packers could return to their run-stopping ways, they could make the Bears one dimensional.  Mike Daniels has a chance to wreak havoc with Josh Sitton out.  On offense, the plan is simple.  Mix the formations up, and get Cobb and Montgomery involved in the backfield.  Rodgers needs to be much better than he was last week, and I think he will find something this week.  It’s important for a fast start, and I think Rodgers is out to prove that he is still the Rodgers we all know.  It won’t be easy, especially because the Bears’ pass defense has been better than many thought they would be.  It will be tough, and this game will likely be a close one, but Rodgers and company will pull it out at home.

Key Players:

Offense – Ty Montgomery

Defense – Nick Perry

The Prediction

Packers 23, Bears 20

 

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