Monday, December 28, 2015

Cover Your Eyes: Packers Beaten Badly In Arizona, 38-8

I thought the loss at Denver was going to be their worst loss of 2015, but the Green Bay Packers one upped themselves with a terrible loss in Arizona. Still, it's good to remember that they've already made the playoffs and knocking the Cardinals out of the No. 2 playoff spot was always a long shot.

The Cardinals overall have been a better team this season, but the Packers can make themselves a whole lot better if they could get their offensive lineman back healthy. That would make them a much, much better team:
The Packers have asked a lot of backup LT/RT Don Barclay this season, and he's been a complete disaster. The former undrafted player had some good moments in 2012 and 2013, but those are long gone. On the play above, he was a revolving door for veteran DE Dwight Freeney, who had been looking for an NFL job for months before the Cardinals finally called him in October, and he had three sacks on Sunday. Barclay has been a lot worse than former 1st round OT Derek Sherrod, who was so bad in 2014 that he was cut mid-season though he only had played in a couple games. If the Packers had any other decent backup tackle, Barclay would have probably been released mid-season too. They have to go with someone other than Barclay for the rest of the season, to at least give themselves a chance.

In Barclay's slight defense, the entire line was a disaster. DE Calais Campbell was a nightmare in the middle (he drove LG Josh Sitton back on a play in the first quarter that led to a sack). RT Bryan Bulaga was having a bad day too until he was sidelined with an ankle injury.

The good news is that none of the injuries to their starting offensive lineman are serious. But they won't be back to full health before the playoffs start either. If Sitton and Lang can continue to play next week while LT David Bakhtiari and Bulaga (and Corey Linsley too) rest, maybe they'll be in good enough shape for a playoff run. But then Mike McCarthy is going to have to work out a different game plan to account for a couple of missing lineman against the Vikings.

As for the rest of the team, there's one other personnel move that would help; it's time to bench WR Davante Adams. I've been all for giving him another chance this season but bad things seem to happen when he's in the game. He spends too much time dropping passes and running poor routes with only the occasional big play to make up for it. He should get another chance to prove himself next preseason, after another off-season of work and practice, but right now they should be giving their other receivers more playing time. WR Jared Abbrederis is healthy now and he's had the entire season to get used to the offense, after barely playing at all last season or this preseason because of injuries. While I'm not his biggest fan, WR Jeff Janis can't be much worse than Adams at this point.

While the offense might be the weakest it's been since Aaron Rodgers became the starting QB, it can be a lot better with those couple moves. Meanwhile, the defense and special teams are about as good as they've been at any time over the past several seasons, though Dom Capers has to improve a pass rush that disappeared against the Cardinals after two early sacks. They have to focus right now on getting as healthy as they can over the next two weeks, and make a couple moves on the offensive side of the ball (Barclay and Adams) so that this was their last loss of the season.

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