If there’s one thing Packer fans should know by now, it’s that this team usually doesn’t hit its stride until a few weeks have passed—and as frustrating as it may be having hear the constant terms of reassurance by Aaron Rodgers when the team is struggling, the Bad Man tends to deliver on his promises:
- Three years ago, the Packers started 1-2, and angst from Packer fans brought about a simple message from Rodgers: “R-E-L-A-X. We’re going to be OK.” Green Bay went on to finish the season 11-2 and reached the NFC Championship game.
- Last season, the Packers were 4-6, essentially left for dead—and after a fourth straight loss, Aaron Rodgers has the audacity to claim that “I feel like we can run the table, I really do.” And with that, the Packers followed Rodgers’ lead and reached the NFC Championship game.
Of course, you have all heard these statements and know them well—and while the Packers have crushingly fallen short of the Super Bowl in recent years, these years will still go down as tremendously successful seasons. So now we’re in 2017; what is the narrative for this season?
It’s a simple statement that should resonate as obvious, but it’s something we as sports fans have difficulty understanding—hot takes are the basis of sports shows, and experts are consistently looking for stories to dissect at all angles. And it is no fault of their own—it makes for good topics of discussion and entertainment for fans. But at some point, it’s time to pump the brakes and let the season play out—It is not the end of Tom Brady every time he has a bad game, divisions are not won or lost after two weeks, and in the Packers’ case, the season is not doomed. The Packers started the season off against two of the best teams in the entire league, and emerging 1-1 can be viewed as a positive outcome.
Going forward, Green Bay has two very winnable games at home against Cincinnati and Chicago—games in which their number one priority is to get healthy. With starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga out, the Packers called upon Justin McCray and Kyle Murphy, and, while their effort on Sunday night was adequate, their lack of NFL experience showed.
The Packers also lost inside presence defensive tackler Mike Daniels, who had a dominating Week One against Seattle. If these injured players aren’t fully healthy, McCarthy would be wise to let them rest over these next couple of weeks—give the young tackles a chance at in game reps, let the young rookie corners get playing time, put Kevin King on A.J. Green—so that if any one goes down for the season, the depth is there to step in for the rest of the season.
Another key aspect that starts with the offensive line is the running game—Ty Montgomery has fully embraced the starting running back role, but his usage has been limited. According to ESPN, Montgomery leads all running backs in playing time, remaining on the field for 139 of 158 Packer offensive plays, yet he’s only mustered 29 carries for 3.1 yards per rush and 10 receptions. Rodgers threw the ball 50 times on Sunday—and while I always enjoy what Rodgers can do when he steps back to pass, a lack of a running game has completely eliminated the play-action deep ball that Rodgers has perfected. Montgomery is ready to roll, feed him the ball.
The Packers are a complicated team—with such lofty expectations, a loss in any fashion unleashes doubt about this team. But we are only two games into the season—don’t get caught up in what this team is or isn’t, wait to see what they can become. The Packers may be fashionably late to the party, but when they arrive, they are the life of the party.