Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Offense Is Playing Great and The Injuries Aren't That Bad

It's been kind of a gloomy week, despite the win over the Lions, because LB Clay Matthews was injured. However, I'm very optimistic after a commanding win over the Lions (be it without WR Calvin Johnson) and it feels like the Packers are about to go on a run.

This headline is a head scratcher: Packers offense not firing on all cylinders. QB Aaron Rodgers isn't playing like it's 2011, but this is a powerhouse offense. They're the number two offense according to Football Outsiders, which is basically the best any team can hope for this season when QB Peyton Manning is on pace for 64 TDs and 3 INTs. Rodgers isn't having his best season statistically, but otherwise the offense has made two major improvements to areas that had been holding them back.

After watching Rodgers take hit after hit for the past few seasons, he's only been sacked 11 times this season, which is tied for 8th best. Also, the offensive line has helped two different backs go over 100 yards rushing in a game (Franklin and Starks) and Lacy just missed the mark with 99 yards against the Lions. That's even more impressive considering there have only been eighteen 100 yard rushing games in the entire league so far this season.

The additions of Franklin and Lacy have obviously helped, but I've also been impressed with the run blocking of LT David Bakhtiari. Another key promotion has been C Evan Dietrich-Smith, who's been much better at taking out the inside linebacker against the run than C Jeff Saturday was. The pass offense is still outstanding, ranked behind only Denver and San Diego according to Football Outsiders, but now the running attack is a top 3 unit, behind only Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

As for the injuries, the return of S Morgan Burnett last week was great to see. Hopefully CB Casey Hayward can end his season long absence and return soon. RB James Starks is hurting, but that was inevitable. LB Brad Jones is a big loss, he's good at every aspect of the game, but he might only miss one week (with another hamstring injury?). There's no player more important to the defense than LB Clay Matthews, but they actually have no idea when he might be back (in a good way). His thumb won't heal but he can play with a cast and he might return sooner than we originally believed. Matthews could also use the time off; he looked a bit slow during the Lions game and his hamstring might still be bothering him. There will be some problems on defense next week, against a Ravens team that has a lot of problems on offense, but the defense should be getting all their starters back shortly.

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