The Packers are now 6-2 at the midway point of the 2015 NFL season. But which Packers team is it at this point in time? The team that was offensively blowing opponents away handily in the first three or four games of the season, aided in no small measure by a stifling defense? Or, is it the Packers that we've seen for about the last four games who can't convert third downs, can't effectively run the ball, whose receivers can't seem to get separation against defenders, an offensive line that has QB Aaron Rodgers under constant pressure and taking far too many hits, a defensive unit that gave up more than 500 yards to the opposing offenses in consecutive games and almost did so for a third game in a row? We just don't know.
Everything seems out of sync. Rodgers is missing or not even seeing receivers he'd otherwise be hitting in stride, RB Eddie Lacy can't get more than a few yards on a few carries, opposing receivers are left wide open for huge gains. Are the wheels falling off? Probably not. But a tune up is definitely in order.
Photo by Jim Biever, Packers.com
That tune up has apparently begun with head coach Mike McCarthy naming RB James Starks as the starter for this week. It's been rumored for a few weeks that the coaching staff has not been pleased with Lacy's performance as of late. Whether it's a lingering ankle injury, his weight or something else, he just isn't performing at the level that the team expects. He'll still be getting his reps, but the fumble against Carolina did nothing to endear him to the coaches right now.
It's also become known that quarterbacks and wide receivers coach, Alex Van Pelt, will be moving from the upstairs coaches booth down to the field. Whether that's to better interact with the players or offensive coordinator and play caller, Tom Clements, and head coach McCarthy we can only speculate. But obviously, McCarthy felt some adjustments are needed.
Just what the football doctor ordered?
Coming off back-to-back road games against undefeated teams -- and losing to both -- the Packers now come back to Lambeau and begin a stretch of four games against divisional opponents over the course of 18 days. Yowzers. At least first up in this NFC North gauntlet is the woeful 1-7 Detroit Lions. Now, it can rightfully be said that if the Pack loses to the Lions at Lambeau for the first time in seemingly forever, the team is in free-fall. Not that the season will be over, but...the Lions? At Lambeau? C'mon. If the Packers can somehow regain the mojo they had earlier in the season, they should be able to dominate this Lions team. Of course, it must also be said that the Lions have nothing to lose and will bring whatever they can muster against the Pack. It should also be noted that the Lions are better than their 1-7 record would indicate. But the Packers are so much better...but they need to demonstrate that again in no uncertain terms this coming Sunday.
We'll be back with a more timely preview closer to game time. For now, let's just get the chant going: GO PACK GO!!!
It can't hurt.