Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Packers are 5-0 after win over Rams. Begin preparations for Chargers.

For the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers defense was the difference in a team win versus a possible loss, as the offense continues to struggle...at least by recent Packers' standards, that is. The Pack dispatched the Rams, 24-10. We had the winning margin -- 14 points -- as part of our prediction, but seems as if we were once again a bit optimistic about the overall scoring power of both teams.

Nevertheless, the Pack came away with an important win at home against a team that had taken down two of the supposed early season juggernauts in the league, the Seattle Seahawks (who may be more pretender than contender this season) and the Arizona Cardinals. The win did come at a price, however: more injuries. RG T. J. Lang went down with a knee injury, although it is not believed to be serious...at least if you believe the Tweets he sent out afterward. NT B. J. Raji left the game with a groin injury, also not believed to be serious. OLB Nick Perry sustained a shoulder injury, and was seen with his arm in a sling after the game. Packer fans had been waiting for the former first-round draft pick to make an impact, which he had been doing so far this season: he had accounted for multiple tackles in the first four games and was tied for third on the team with 3-1/2 sacks, trailing only Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, who both have 4-1/2 sacks.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gives fellow safety Micah Hyde a congratulatory pat to the head after Hyde's interception against the Rams.
Photo by Associated Press

As noted, the Packers defense has been something to behold so far this season. Believe it or not, they rank seventh in the league in overall defense. Quite a change from what we've seen in recent years, isn't it? Yay. Oh, yay.

Despite injuries in all areas of the defense, including starting safety Morgan Burnett who has missed the last three games, the Packers "D" is stepping up big time. The pressure they are getting on opposing quarterbacks is coming from everywhere on the field. And even rookies are getting in on the act as evidenced by 2015 second-round pick Quinten Rollins who grabbed two of the four interceptions against the Rams, including a pick-six for a touchdown.

Conversely, and as even admitted by QB Aaron Rodgers and other members of the squad, the offense seems to be sputtering. While having generated the third-best rushing stats in the league going into the game against the Rams, the leading rusher for the Packers on Sunday was Rodgers with 39 yards...that's not what you want to see. Yes, the offensive line was playing against arguably the best front four in the NFL, but...c'mon.

The biggest shocker of the day, perhaps, as regards the offense was the play of Rodgers and his receivers. They just didn't seem to be on the same page. Rodgers offered some soft criticism of both himself and his receivers in his post-game comments, saying that he needed to do a better job throwing the ball than he did while his receivers have to run better routes. The result of this confusion Sunday were two interceptions of Rodgers (one tipped and another trapped, which should have been overturned) and a fumble on a stripped ball. These were the first interceptions of Rodgers at Lambeau Field since 2012. The odds finally caught up with him.

Overall, the Rams never really threatened. The Packers defense did give up 159 yards rushing to RB Todd Gurley, with about a third of those yards coming on one run. But overall, Rams QB Nick Foles was under pressure all day. If the Packers defense keeps playing with this level of intensity throughout the rest of the season, it's championship-worthy. We also know that the offense will get things straightened out. The emergence of a downfield threat to stretch the field -- something missing and obviously so since WR Jordy Nelson's injury -- will help a great deal.

Next up at Lambeau: the Chargers
We'll do a game preview a bit closer to the event, but the 2-3 Chargers will be coming to Green Bay for a late afternoon game this Sunday. They are coming off a last-second loss at home against the Steelers. They'll be looking to get back to .500 and perhaps hope to find a Packers team looking past them to their bye in week 7. They shouldn't count on that, though. Whether all (or most) hands are on deck for the Pack or not, we can expect the offense to get back on track and the defense to continue its stellar play.

Go Pack Go!!!