Tuesday Late Afternoon QuarterJack
Losing sucks. But the Packers “D” is a D.U.F.F.
I’m not going to feel good about Sunday’s loss. And we now only have one episode of Breaking Bad left (cue Vince Gilligan holding up a foam #1 finger). Needless to say, this next Sunday will be bittersweet not only because Walter White is going to die (there’s no way he can’t, right?), but also because us Packer fans have to sit on this loss for another week while I ponder the implications of Bears fans having an undefeated team.
What is surprising (at least to me) thus far is how the 2013 Packers are being perceived, which is (actually, come to think of it, not surprising at all) that the 2013 Packers are carbon-copies of the 2012 Packers, notably the defense. While the Packers conceded 34 points to the Bengals, the break-down tells a different story–this is the story that you get when you actually watch the games. (When reading power rankings from national sportswriters, you must keep in mind that there’s no way they watched every minute of every game, which essentially explains their incompetence). I found that the Packers fell 7 spots down to 12. These mean nothing to me (and, more importantly, to actual standings). They do, however, represent how the general fan views this team. They see 1-2, they see 34 points given up, they see a defense that gives up points easier than a high school boys basketball score keeper. But I say nay! No way in hell is Miami a better team than Green Bay for the same reason there was no way a Kevin Kolb-led Arizona team at 3-0 was better than the 2012 Packers. Be logical about this.
What I can construe out of their record last year is that the Packers were indeed 1-2 after week three. What I know is different from last year to this year, though, is that the defense is markedly improved. 14 of the 34 points scored on Sunday were a direct result of a turnover. Rodgers threw two interceptions late in the game, one leading to a short field and a score. While it would have been ideal for Cincinnati to be held to a field goal, I can’t place full blame on a defense minus its best playmaker (Matthews was out after the first half with a hamstring injury) and secondary depth (Again, Burnett and Hayward).
The Packers defense is much more akin to the D.U.F.F. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) who plays the role of personal bouncer for the hot friend than the hot (and for the sake of this metaphor, loose) friend.
Look at some of the performances:
- Sam Shields, more or less, shut down a top 3 wide receiver in the league.
- After the 14-0 deficit, the Packers managed to get a punt and four consecutive turnovers.
- Defensive score on a turnover
What about the offensive yield from the turnovers? Nine points. It’s farting-on-a-first-date-type-weird to say, but this game was on Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers plays so consistently well that we’ve become spoiled as a fan base. Watching him struggle is a reminder that playing QB in the NFL, as it turns out, is difficult. Fortunately, Sunday’s game was an outlier, not a trend, an exception, not a rule. A bounce-back game is about as sure-fire as it gets. The chip on Rodgers shoulder deserved its own South Park personification a la Minge and Gary.
This schedule wasn’t easy to start. San Francisco is also 1-2. But does anyone really believe they are not a Super Bowl contender? I wrote in August that the Packers would be lucky to be 4-0 or 3-1 coming out of this stretch. There’s no way they lose to Detroit in two weeks. They have the time to heal up injured players (Lacy, Burnett, Hayward, Starks, and Matthews), and I’m expecting a convincing win.
Moving forward, the defense could still be the achilles heel of this team, but I haven’t seen evidence of that thus far. I see a team that needs to be more opportunistic. I see a team whose quarterback needs to sharpen his crunch-time killer instinct. I think one more score in the second half would have sealed that game. All of these issues are easily attainable for this team, especially considering Lacy, Starks, and Franklin all look to be competent runners. Detroit will game plan against the run, and their secondary will consequently be spanked like Mr. Slave (jeeeeeeese chrisssst!)
I’ll leave you with a quote from the Packers.com editor Vic Ketchman who has worked in the sportswriting business for a long, long time. He was asked about the prospects of making the playoffs, and how Chicago’s hot start may close the door on the division. Ketchman responded, “No, I don’t [believe that to be true]. In my old-school football world, the season doesn’t begin until Thanksgiving. Everything between now and then is meant to separate the contenders from the non-contenders. The Packers will be a contender. Then we’ll find out what they’ve got under the hood.”
Shameless Twitter Plug — @jackdw44