Where do we even begin to dissect this disastrous game that portends a downward spiral for this Packers team unless something dramatically different happens to change the path on which it seems headed? Yes, there were game-ending injuries Sunday to linebacker Jake Ryan (ankle) on the first defensive series of the game, and to tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and guard T.J. Lang (ankle) later on. Lang may be the worst, as he was seen in the locker room after the game on crutches and wearing an air-boot. Oy. And penalties. Oh, the penalties.
Even the venerable "Voice of the Packers," Wayne Larrivee, when asked what's ailing the Pack had no clear answer this morning on 620WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee. He doesn't think it has to do with the scheme, play-calling or coaching necessarily; as he reminded listeners, it may have more to do with personnel as these same three factors seemed to be doing just fine when the Packers had Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley, for example. So, personnel, albeit with many young and untested players who are now forced to play starting roles because of injuries, is part of the issue right now. All he could say is that in his roughly 38 years covering football he thinks that what really plays a key factor in championship-caliber teams is spirit and emotion. Right now, he's not so sure the Packers have much of that going for them.
Photo by Danny Damiani/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis
We have to agree with Larrivee on both points. Personnel, and particularly GM Ted Thompson's time-worn (and perhaps worn-out?) approach to building a team through the draft seems as if it works as long as the starters stay healthy. But when you get past the second or third team players -- and we have, in some cases now -- the lack of quality depth shows on the field and on the scoreboard. To Larrivee's second point -- spirit and emotion -- we haven't seen much of that all season, have we? As we have pointed out here on several occasions, the Pack has played two good halves of football all season...and they were in two different games. Everybody seems flat from the get-go, as evidenced by last week's opening kickoff return by the Colts and yesterday's opening offensive play for a 75-yard touchdown run by the Titans. Hello!??? Anybody awake on that field? Doesn't seem so.
How do you get that missing mojo back? Winning would help. But now on a three-game losing streak, and with two more tough road games coming up in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia before returning to Lambeau Field to take on the Texans, is immediate winning even in the cards? As much as it pains us to say it, we don't think so.
Case in point: the green 'n' gold glasses which most Packer fans wear (including yours truly) causes a bit of blindness when it comes to our team. It might be hard to realize but in the last 21 games, the Packers are now 9-12 going back to last season. Nine wins, 12 losses. The problem didn't just start this season. It's got a history. Something deeply rooted in the locker room if not the players' psyches. Perhaps the head coach has lost his team, outworn his stay; legendary coach Bill Walsh is reported to have said a coach shouldn't stay in one place for more than 10 years because things get stale for an organization after a while. Perhaps that's the case with McCarthy. Thompson, too, perhaps.
Of course, no dramatic coaching or front office changes will be made during this season; it's just not the Packers way of doing things. So this so-far dreadful season will play out how it will. Those of a "glass half-full" mentality will point out that at 4-5 the Packers are only one game out of the NFC North lead. Others might respond that that's only because this division pretty much stinks at this point overall. The once invincible 5-0 ViQueens have now dropped 4 in a row. Detroit didn't win or lose because they were on their bye week. Will Da Bearz do anything? C'mon.
So, if by some stretch of the imagination the Packers can turn things around, they do have a chance. But really, where will they go with the current state of injuries, journeymen and otherwise inexperienced players thrust into starting or other key roles, and the palpable lack of spirit exhibited week after week? The Packers will write the final answer to that question. Each one of us can in the meantime have our own conclusion. For Packers beat writer extraordinaire, Bob McGinn, he puts it like this: Packers' season on the brink. How's that for rich brevity?
Having said all that: Go Pack Go!!!