The Green Bay Packers are just a little bit past their halfway mark for the season, so it is time to go over what has all happened so far this season and give an outlook for the future.
Plus: The Offense – The Packers offense started the season slowly. There seemed to be a big struggle in finding an identity and it caused some disruptions amongst the unit that led to bad offensive games. These past couple weeks have seen the offense resurface as the dominant unit that it was last season.
Plus: Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers’ has once again shown just how good of a quarterback he is, especially in these last couple of weeks. Take last week for example. Even though the Cardinals were playing great pass defense and his receivers had issues dropping the ball, he still finished the game with four touchdowns and made key plays with his feet to earn the win. Rodgers has supplanted himself right in the thick of the MVP race once again and if he can keep leading the Packers to victories than he will surely be one of the finalists.
Minus – The Running Game – While the Packers number one back, Cedric Benson, went down with injury, the running game as a whole has been very lackluster. Alex Green and James Starks have done all they can to get it going but it doesn’t seem to be doing any good. The unit did have a good performance against the Cardinals, but in most cases the unit has been pretty much non-existent. This is something that has to change.
Minus – Greg Jennings – Jennings has been out all season with an injury and Packers’ fans will still have to wait a couple more weeks for his return. You can’t blame Jennings for being hurt but not having him on the field is hurting the team. Luckily for the Packers, other receivers have stepped up. Like….
Plus – Randall Cobb – Cobb has really planted himself as a do everything type of player. Last week he took handoffs in the backfield with mild success, and he has become Rodgers’ favorite target for passes. This is all in addition to him returning punts and kickoffs. Cobb is still young and most likely a season or two away from his “prime,” which means Packers fans could be in for quite a treat when his “prime” comes.
Minus – Team Health – The Packers have suffered a plethora of injuries so far this season and the names just keep piling up. The bye week should help, but these injuries do affect a team’s performance. The Packers have a deep depth chart and have been able to perform well, even with all the injuries, but you can only test out the depth chart for so long. For the Packers to really push forward they will need to get healthy.
Minus – The Schedule – The Packers scheduling makes almost no sense, in fact the entire NFC North’s schedule doesn’t make sense. The majority of the conference games are at the end of the season. If the NFL wants to push player safety they shouldn’t schedule the hardest hitting games and rivalry games at the end of the year when players are all beat up and not 100 percent. The Packers need to get healthy for these key games but don’t be surprised if more players go down.
Now here are some other midway season assessments.
Biggest Win – Week 6 against Houston – The Packers were facing a lot of doubt about how good they were as they had only played on real solid game this up to that point. They marched into Houston and destroyed the Texans on national TV and haven’t lost since. That game could be the signature win of the season.
Biggest loss – Week 5 against Indianapolis – This was a game the Packers should have had and they looked like they had it. The Packers were up big at half but came out asleep in the second half, scoring only six points, as the Colts raced past them to pull off the upset. This was the game that really got the media talking and wondering what was wrong with the Packers.
NOTE: The biggest loss could have easily been the “fail mary” game in Seattle but since that game was a complete joke I refuse to give it acknowledgement beyond this little blurb.
Best Play – The best play of the first half of the Packers season is Tim Masthay’s fake field for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. The fake punt came on fourth and long and was a key play in the game. On the play, Masthay shovel passed the ball to Tom Crabtree who burst through the line of scrimmage and cruised to a touchdown. The play gave Masthay special teams player of the week and will be one of the more exciting plays you will see all season.
The Packers have the toughest part of their schedule in front of them. They play five division games in a tough stretch that could determine who wins the division. The Packers look like they will be able to make the playoffs; either via the division winner or by being a wild card team, but this stretch will really test them. They need to keep playing at the level they have been at these past couple of weeks and they need to get healthy. Earlier in the year the team looked suspect, but now they look similar to the dominating team they were last year. If they can get healthy and survive this tough second half of the season, there is no reason they shouldn’t be a favorite to win the Superbowl.