The Lions are back at Lambeau/Lamborghini Field on Sunday, where the Packers have not beaten the Lions since 2014. Back then, “Two and a Half Men” was still on television and the price of gas was above $3. Amazing!
We got to speak with Jason Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company, SB Nation’s Green Bay Packers blog, about the Packers’ season thus far, the biggest storylines and what to expect from the team on Sunday as they look to rebound from last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings in prime time.
You can read our own answers to Jason’s questions here.
1. Aaron Rodgers is coming off a fairly mediocre game, albeit against one of the better defenses in the country right now. However, one might be able to piece together an argument that this is not exactly a new occurrence for him either (17th in quarterback DVOA and DYAR in 2015). Is there an emerging problem here with Rodgers or the offense, and if it's not stemming from Rodgers, where is it coming from?
The struggles don't appear to be the result of a single cause. Rather, a combination of poor play from Aaron Rodgers and schematic/personnel issues have come to plague the Packers' aerial attack.
Rodgers has struggled with his ball placement for a calendar year now, missing not only downfield but also on routine throws that he used to complete in his sleep. He also has developed the bad habit of bailing from the pocket prematurely, breaking the design of the play and forcing his teammates to adjust to a more backyard-style of quarterbacking. Sometimes that results in game-winning Hail Mary touchdowns, but more often it forces incompletions and stalled drives.
But Rodgers' doesn't deserve all of the blame. The Packers have yet to adjust their play calls to reflect that they no longer possess the top-to-bottom depth in the receiving corps that helped produce all those prolific seasons from 2009-14. Much of the passing game still relies on wideouts beating their man at the exact time the quarterback completes his dropback, something which just hasn't occurred with regularity of late. Head coach Mike McCarthy has begun to incorporate more complimentary-route concepts, but not enough as of yet to re-establish passing efficiency. Until that happens, Rodgers overall performance could continue to suffer.
2. A lot was made of the Josh Sitton episode, and so far the offensive line for Green Bay has shown signs of struggles. Who is leading the unit, and who are the Packers leaning on to get back on track?
The offensive line performed well in Week 1 and backslid against the Minnesota Vikings the following Sunday, but that regression likely has more to do with the opponent than an issue of personnel. The Packers still have one of the better tackle tandems in David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, and the interior possesses the ingredients to perform at a high level.
With Josh Sitton's departure, veteran guard T.J. Lang has the most experience of the group and has stepped into a leadership role. So far, he has yet to give up a single pressure of any kind through two weeks. Success of the unit doesn't depend on just one player, but Lang makes life much easier for the two men playing on either side.
3. Who is the best pickup from the entire offseason for the Packers?
Rookie linebacker Blake Martinez went from a fourth-round pick expected to play only as the dime linebacker to a starter and point-man for the entire defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers sends the calls to him rather than any of the more veteran players on the unit, which speaks volumes of Martinez's maturity and intelligence. His instincts put him in position to make plays all over the field.
4. If the fanbase's patience, or lack thereof, for Mike McCarthy could be expressed through a chicken wing sauce or flavor, what would it be and why?
Some segments of the Packers' fan base tend towards the more fickle side, so for that segment I'd suggest Quaker Steak and Lube Triple Atomic Sauce. For the rest, perhaps a mango habanero is more fitting.
5. Is Clay Matthews a real person? I've yet to see anything come out of his mouth that wasn't in service for the brand of some insurance company or oversized truck decals. Please give you best theories on how he has come to be this way.
Clay Matthews simply understands two very important rules:
- Get the money first
- Don't forget to get the money