We expected another triumphant win and instead got four turnovers, generally uneven play, injuries that at one point left us with a fifth-string wide receiver playing running back and an All-World quarterback who, at times, barely looked like he could make an All-Neighborhood team.
As exhilarating as it was to watch the Packers bounce back from a rough start to score 30 unanswered points, it was just as maddening and disheartening to watch the play suddenly turn sloppy, with interceptions, missed assignments and batted-down passes.
All in all, the game showed us many reasons for concern, and Packers fans can only hope these concerns are addressed during the upcoming long break. Still, it doesn’t help anything to panic or worry. It’s still a long season ahead, and the goal is still to win the division and move forward from there.
Meanwhile, here are a few concerns I’ve been reading and hearing, and reasons to take a deep breath and exhale:
Reason for concern: What happened to Aaron Rodgers? That may have been the worst game of his life.
Reason to take a deep breath: Did anyone else notice Rodgers’ facial expression, tone and body language during the press conference following that game? I think he was about to explode. He may indeed have played his worst game in the past three years, and you know what that means? We aren’t likely to see another game like that from him for a while to come.
Reason for concern: Now we see why Johnathan Franklin is a fourth-stringer. He fumbled the game away.
Reason to take a deep breath: Franklin’s fumble left a bad taste in the mouths of Packers fans everywhere, to be sure. His 126 total yards and that sweet 51-yard run he broke, however, were delicious appetizers for what he may bring to the Packers going forward. Besides, if the offensive line gets a push on that fourth-and-inches play, he’s not a sitting duck for that helmet-to-ball hit, and the Packers are looking at a first down at the Bengals’ 29, with just four minutes of clock to kill.
Reason for concern: Why did Mike McCarthy decide to go for it on fourth down anyway? If the Packers kick a field goal, they’re up by 6 and the Bengals are forced to score a touchdown to win.
Reason to take a deep breath: The coaches make the calls, but it’s up to the players to actually make the play calls work. All we can do is relax and take that deep breath; I guarantee he knows more about this stuff than we do.
Reason for concern: Two losses in three weeks, both of which easily could have been – and probably should have been – wins. Even the Redskins hung 20 on us in the second half. Why can’t the Packers finish?
Reason to take a deep breath: It’s true, and Sunday’s meltdown was especially ugly. But don’t forget that we have yet to see a healthy Packers team; we don’t even know what that looks like.
I believe losing Jermichael Finley on the first drive and then Clay Matthews in the second half were huge in this game. Clearly, the Packers had game-planned to get Finley into some coverage mismatches. And did you notice how less aggressive the defense seemed after Matthews departed? He had a sack and two forced fumbles in the first half, and was flying around like a man possessed. No offense to either Mike Neal or Andy Mulumba, both of whom shared time in relief and neither of whom was credited with a tackle, but they aren’t Clay Matthews. He’ll be back and healthy after the bye.
Reason for concern: Speaking of health, the Packers are a freaking infirmary. We have so many running backs injured that we may have to give Ahman Green a call.
Reason to take a deep breath: The team has a bye this week. Thank God. Yeah, I don’t have anything else on that one.