Through the team’s first seven games, the Green Bay Packers were 5-2, and looked prime for a Super Bowl run. But, after a rash of injuries including the loss of Aaron Rodgers, the team has not won in five games and is on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Here are my top five Packers storylines through the first three quarters of the season.
5. Eddie Lacy is answer to the Packers running game
Eddie Lacy fell all the way to the second round of the NFL draft because he was said to be overweight and to have had injury concerns. After the first twelve games of his NFL career, all those concerns can be wiped away.
Aside from the concussion he suffered in week two against the Washington Redskins, Lacy has remained fairly healthy during his rookie campaign. He also has been very successful. Lacy ranks ninth in the league with 822 rushing yards and has six touchdowns. When Aaron Rodgers is in the Packers lineup, Lacy is the answer to a Packers running game that has been non-existent in five years.
4. David Bakhtiari was the steal of the NFL draft
Before the season started, the Green Bay Packers lost starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga to a torn ACL. That meant the team could go one of two ways: Either start backup tackle Marshall Newhouse or start rookie tackle David Bakhtiari.
Thank goodness they went with the rookie. When Newhouse has come in after an injury to another offensive lineman, he has been eaten alive by opposing defensive lineman. Bakhtiari, on the other hand, had done a great job protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blind side when Rodgers was healthy. When Bulaga gets healthy, the Packers will have to make a decision on what to do with the former first round pick.
3. Mason Crosby has fixed his kicking issues
Last season, Mason Crosby was having trouble kicking the football. Every time he lined up for a field goal, I had to hold my breath and hope that it would be good. Whether it was a 30 yard field goal or one from 50, Crosby couldn’t make anything.
What a difference a year makes. Crosby has turned the corner and is now hitting anything and everything. On the season, Crosby is 26-30, including a long of 57 against the New York Giants. Now, his confidence is at an all-time high and if the Packers can get into the playoffs, they got the kicker if they need it.
2. The injury bug hit hard…again
Besides the injury to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers suffered other numerous injuries throughout the first 12 games of the season. Cornerback Casey Hayward, who led the team in interceptions last season, played in only three games and was recently placed on injured reserve. Joining Hayward on IR is tight end Jermichael Finley, backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, and left tackle Bryan Bulaga. The team also has played without wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb, and linebacker Clay Matthews. The injury bug hit the Packers hard, and it might be too much to overcome.
1. Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are in trouble
Before Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, the Packers were 5-2, on a four game winning streak and looked like a Super Bowl contender. Since Rodgers broke his collarbone, the Packers are 0-4-1, and are currently 1.5 games behind the Detroit Lions for the division lead.
Without Rodgers, the offense has struggled mightily with three different quarterbacks, including the dreadful performance on Thanksgiving against the Lions. The defense is also feeling the effects of Rodgers’ injury. The defense is on the field more and as a result, is being picked apart by opposing offenses. If the Packers want to make a playoff push, they need Aaron Rodgers under center.
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