The good? The Packers proved they can fight back with the best of them, gutting out a 19-17 road win on pure want-to.
The bad? Three key players went down with injury, two of them key cogs in the offense and one a potential rising star on defense.
It’s a tough situation the Packers find themselves in; Greg Jennings departed via free agency and quickly became a big-mouthed jerk. OK, fine, we’ve still got three wide receivers here who can start for any team in the league. Except now, with a leg injury to Randall Cobb that will sideline him at least eight weeks (he was placed on IR on Tuesday with a broken fibula) and a knee sprain to James Jones that may or may not keep him sidelined in Week 7, now we have just one, along with unproven backup Jarrett Boykin. Oh boy.
Not only that, but we’ve lost three linebackers – two of them starters, no less – in two weeks. The expected healing time for Nick Perry’s fractured foot remains unreported, while we know Clay Matthews is out for multiple weeks. We’re still holding out hope for the prospects of Brad Jones’ return.
But now is not time to panic. Instead, Packers fans, it’s time to take a deep breath.
Reason for concern: Holy lord, we may have to start Nate Palmer.
Reason to take a deep breath: Did you not see A.J. Hawk on Sunday? Three sacks, five tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and he flew around all day with his ears pinned back as if he was channeling Clay Matthews’ unspent adrenalin. He was the undisputed defensive leader on Sunday – he was the guy Ted Thompson knew was in there all along. Why are we just seeing it now? Who knows? But Mr. Steady became Mr. Studly at just the right time.
Jamari Lattimore had himself a pretty nice game as well. With a little duct tape and patience, the linebacking crew will come together and hold the line in Matthews’ absence.
Reason for concern: Holy lord, we may have to start Jarrett Boykin.
Reason to take a deep breath: Yeah, yeah. Boykin started off looking like he was in completely over his head, and it worried me. A lot. But once he settled in, he showed the game is not too big for him. His 43-yard catch and run in the third quarter was a thing of beauty, with the young receiver breaking ankles and finding ways to get extra yards. He’s no Cobb, but look for the Packers to find creative ways to get him involved. What choice do they have?
Reason for concern: Holy lord, the offense can’t finish drives.
Reason to take a deep breath: OK, I’ll admit that this is a legitimate reason for concern, and it may be an even bigger concern with Cobb currently on crutches. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision this team being driven by defense, but there it is. I think at some point Mike McCarthy is going to have to figure out that it’s OK to run the ball on third and short.
I think he has to figure out that inside the 10-yard-line, Eddie Lacy is still going to find seams in the blocking scheme and can pick up yards. Vic Ketchman over at Packers.com says Green Bay’s identity is that of a passing team, and he’s right; in fact, I don’t think that identity will go away as long as No. 12 is taking the snaps. But with our receiving crew banged up, the running game rolling along and the defense playing well, I see a measure of change ahead, at least in the short term.
Reason for concern: Holy lord, Mason Crosby missed another field goal!
Reason to take a deep breath: It’s cool. This isn’t 2012. He’s 13-of-14 and appears to be hitting the ball better than he has in his career. Maybe the pay cut woke him up.