In the unlikely event that no one else is going to step up and say it, I will take one for the team in saying that the “get right” game all Packers fans were hoping for this season is not going to come. The Green Bay Packers fell to 3-6 this past Sunday, after a 15-9 loss to the Detroit Lions, in what seemed to be the worst game the offense has ever played with Aaron Rodgers under center. This has been the story for the entire season ever since the Packers barely scratched out a win against a Bailey Zappe led Patriots team in Week four. The offense has never been able to find and keep a groove early on, which leads to a tired defense for the latter half of games to struggle even against second and third string quarterbacks. The fans have said every week that these things are going to change, or that the Packers will “find a way” to put it all together against the worse teams on their schedule, but it has yet to happen, and instead the Packers have lost 5 straight. Now with the second half of the season among us, there is not much room for optimism.
The Long Road Ahead
The strength of schedule when using teams current records becomes a massive hill to overcome when compared to what the Packers have already faced and lost to. To compare, the Packers’ strength of schedule for weeks 1-9 is currently 0.558, meaning their opponents have won an average of 56% of their games. The remaining strength of schedule for the Packers sits at 0.606, meaning opponents have won 60% of their games on average. This may not seem like a critical difference, however it should be noted that the only teams bringing that average down are the Chicago Bears, who seem to be clicking on offense more recently, and the Detroit Lions, who have already proven they have plenty of potential to beat us. Realistically, I don’t see this latter half of the season as having any reason for optimism based on strength of schedule alone, however do not worry, I have additional reason for making such a claim. That would be the very well known disease that plagues the NFL, seemingly more so than ever, that being the Injury Bug.
The Injury Bug
If you are a Packers fan, you may very well be aware of how impactful this last game against Detroit was on the roster, but in case you have not heard, the following players are now injured and/or on IR:
- OLB Rashan Gary (ACL)
- CB Eric Stokes (Knee)
- WR Romeo Doubs (High Ankle Sprain)
- MLB De’vondre Campbell (Right Knee)
- WR Randall Cobb (High Ankle Sprain)
These players are all key pieces to the game plan, and their absence creates severe holes in both the offensive and defensive schemes. Unfortunately, if there is one thing that the Packers are NOT known for doing, it is overcoming adversity. Many like to disagree and point at Rodgers’ ability to run an offense with Jeff Janis as a WR1, but the fact of the matter is sadly, this isn’t the same old Rodgers. He has clearly taken a decline, a small one at that but nonetheless, and pairing that with the lack of personnel to work with on offense, it leaves the team in a dire position.
Not only that, but with the lack of the team’s sack leader in Rashan Gary for the remainder of the season, the team’s tackle leader before injury in De’Vondre Campbell, and a struggling but solid corner in Eric Stokes, the depth chart at defense is just as thin. Teams are going to find much more success on offense against the Packers now, which will do nothing but increase the point differential every week, since it will be near impossible to win games given the people on the roster.
Well it certainly looks like it. On the bright side, players like Christian Watson, Aaron Jones, and Aaron Rodgers are all still healthy and ready to play against the Cowboys this upcoming Sunday. On the not so bright side, literally everything I have mentioned up to this point looks to be a long term issue that won’t see resolution until the end of the season, which will be far too late to make a playoff run anyway. Aaron Rodgers has recently played at his lowest level since he was drafted, the depth chart is at its shallowest, with WR5s playing WR2 & 3 snap counts, and the defense has lost 3 of its bright spots for at least a large chunk of the season. The next half of the season should not hold expectations for any Packers fans as an injury riddled, low morale team will be facing their toughest opponents yet. For those that will continue to be optimistic nonetheless, Godspeed and Go Pack Go.