Aaron Rodgers wants to be back in time for the Atlanta Falcons game and Clay Matthews’ thumb is healing nicely. Truthfully, though, none of that really matters for the Packers’ 2013 season. After Rodgers went down against the Chicago Bears, the Packers have lost time and again. They are 0-4-1 in games that Rodgers was unable to finish or inactive for and, more importantly, they looked worse each time. A close loss to the Bears was followed by a manhandling by the Philadelphia Eagles, which was backed by a sound thrashing by the New York Giants. “Ah,” you’ll say, “but they tied the Minnesota Vikings! Surely this is progress!” Possibly, until you consider that the Vikings were 2-8 going into the game. Tying a team with a .250 winning percentage implies that, just maybe, you’re only as good as them at best. And, of course, the world saw the 40-10 drubbing by the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, a game that shouldn’t have even been that close. Matt Flynn was woefully unproductive for the Packers, unable to provide any spark or even get rid of the ball on time. Has anyone else wondered why so many passes have been deflected at the line of scrimmage for this team lately? Is that a thing now? Oh,and the Green Bay defense? They didn’t even board the plane to travel to Detroit. Little did you know that the men running around pretending to tackle Reggie Bush on Thursday were actually just random fans they pulled from their seats. “You’re the lucky winner! Go get run over by Megatron! Happy Thanksgiving!”
With Rodgers out, the rest of the team needed to step up and compete, particularly the defense. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened, making the Packers look, even more, like a one-man team. The Packers are this year’s version of the early 2000′s Colts: entirely invested in Peyton Manning with no money left for talent at the other positions. While Rodgers is superhuman and does cover up many deficiencies on both sides of the ball for Green Bay, it’s time to ask the question: Are the Packers one of the least talented teams in the NFL?
Hear me out.
There are a handful of talented players on both sides of the ball in Green Bay (Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, and…oh, it pains me to say this…Mason Crosby) but would any of the rest of the players be starting on other teams? Tramon Williams was undrafted to start his career and is showing why this season. Sam Shields was a wide receiver in college and he’s the best defensive back the Packers have. And don’t let Morgan Burnett’s two fumble recoveries against the Lions fool you, he’s average at best. Offensively, James Jones is flashy but incredibly inconsistent, Jermichael Finley was the only tight end who showed any ability downfield on a regular basis, and the entire offensive line has seemingly gotten worse as the year has gone on. The only player who can be easily excused is backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, benched against the Vikings for Matt Flynn, who in turn showed against the Lions why Green Bay is his third team this season. Tolzien was thrown into a tough situation against the Eagles when Seneca Wallace (oh yeah, remember him? No? Don’t worry, no one else does either) went down with some mysterious groin problem. Tolzien played admirably well for a couple games but did manage to throw five interceptions, more than the Packers secondary had managed to collect all season prior to the Lions game.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the NFL, a top-tier quarterback is actually required in order to be competitive which has a trickle down effect in which the rest of the roster slowly gets neglected. We’ve seen it with the Packers in the late 90s, the Colts in the 2000s, and the Steelers over the past two seasons as well. Is Aaron Rodgers worth his money? Every penny. Without him, the Packers would be dragging the bottom of the barrel every year and this season has proven that. Clearly, something must be done. It’s imperative for Ted Thompson and his staff to improve the talent in Green Bay over the next couple years, or Rodgers’ prime will be wasted playing for a team that’s just not going to be good enough.
Oh, and Dom Capers doesn’t look like a defensive mastermind anymore. That ship sailed in 2010. I’m willing to volunteer my services.
Hey, I can’t do any worse, right?
A Wisconsin native, Paul Gilleland loves all things football but especially those of his beloved Packers. Sarcastic and opinionated, Paul tends to speak his thoughts about the NFL without much of a filter. Please comment or email Paul directly at Pgilleland@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com. You can also find him on Twitter @PMichaelG