3-1 Isn’t So Bad
With two close wins in the books, it’s easy to feel that the Packers aren’t all that great this year, that their just scraping by. However, 3-1 is 3-1. It doesn’t matter in the end if they won by 20 points or one point per game, it only matters that they get the W. By most any standard, 3-1 is a fast start, and the Packers are tied with Detroit atop the NFC North, we’ll take it. Save for 2011, when Green Bay started the year on a torrid pace, en route to a 15-1 record, the Packers always seem to struggle as they figure things out early on. Worry not about the kinks, they’ll work themselves out.
Home Sweet Home
Keep in mind that this is a terribly small sample size. The Packers are 3-0 at home and 0-1 on the road. That one loss was on the road in Atlanta during a game in which the Packers were decimated with injuries and had a few horribly unlucky breaks. This goes back a few seasons though. The Packers are strikingly better at home than they are on the road. A trip to Dallas could prove the continued struggle or be a sign of a team starting to figure things out in hostile territory.
Injury Bug Bites (Feasts?)
Allow me to sing you the song of my people, “(insert Packer player here) is down on the field with an injury” (repeat 2-5 times per quarter). Year in and year out, it seems as though Green Bay is decimated with crucial injuries. As of this week, 11 players were on the injury report. The team hasn’t had the same starting offensive line in a single game and almost no position group is without players who’ve missed time. That being said, one thing that is different so far this year is the number of players on injured reserve. Don Barclay, Jason Spriggs, and Kyle Murphy, all offensive linemen, are on injured reserve. Save for them, no meaningful players are out for the year. The five starting linemen could (at long last) share the field against the Cowboys on Sunday, Davante Adams avoided long term injury after his scary hit last week, and key defenders Mike Daniels and Nick Perry appear to be recovered from their early season ailments. So, while unfortunate, the injury bug hasn’t taken players away for the year, though it has hit several players minorly. So long as the team can get healthy by the end of the year, they’ll be peaking at just the right time.
Defense: Jury’s Out
What to make of the defense? Against Seattle and Chicago they looked stifling, only allowing a few break out plays here and there. Against the Falcons they appeared helpless, and against the Bengals they looked below average at best. One thing appears certain, they’re better than last year, but are they good? Signs point to them certainly being above average for an NFL defense this year, though they still have a long way to go before they so much as approach the caliber of the top defenses in the NFL. In short, it’s not great, but it’s lightyears better than last year so far, and we’ll take that.
The return of Brian Bulaga and David Bakhtiari could send the offense into the stratosphere. All five of the starters have been solid when they’ve played, and the combination of all five will drastically change the offense. To this point in the season, the impact of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks has been muted by virtue of them staying in to block or at the very least chipping pass rushers before going out on their routes. A better line will improve the run game and open up the passing game, allowing Aaron Rodgers to prove why he deserves to be in the MVP conversation year in and year out.
Don’t hold your breath just yet, but the defense is approaching peak strength. Mike Daniels is back, and Vince Biegel could come off the Physically Unable to Perform list very soon. Feels like the team hasn’t had a totally healthy defense since Reagan was in office, but the dream could be a reality soon.
They haven’t been flawless, but no NFL team is. Keep your chins up, Packer fans, it might still be our year.