Green Bay Packers fans have plenty to be worried about, but it’s also important to take a deep breath, says our author, Kevin Gibson. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Green Bay Packers linebackerClay Matthews
will be out at least a month with a broken thumb. It’s this week’s primary cause for concern. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, they racked up injuries almost as fluently, with outside linebacker Clay Matthews suffering a broken thumb, Brad Jones injuring his hamstring and Robert Francois tearing an Achilles tendon, ending his season.
The win evened the Packers’ record at 2-2 after a tough start to the season and got the team off to the right start in division play, but it doesn’t come without questions and worry. That’s why it’s time again to take a deep breath.
Reason for concern: We can probably live without Robert Francois, but not Clay Matthews. The defense is doomed for at least the next month, and maybe longer.
Reason to take a deep breath: Yeah, losing Matthews is huge, and he has played like a man possessed this season, racking up 18 total tackles, two forced fumbles and three sacks. But let’s not forget that the Pack was 3-1 last season when he was out and that Nick Perry and Mike Neal actually got after the quarterback pretty well on Sunday. Dom Capers and his crew will make adjustments.
Reason for concern: What’s up with the offense stalling in the red zone?
Reason to take a deep breath: Good thing we have a really good place kicker, isn’t it? But seriously, it’s a problem, to be sure; the Packers should have won that game by three touchdowns. Green Bay started the day with a 15-play drive that used up nearly eight minutes of clock, which is a brilliant thing – but it resulted in only 3 points when the Packers stopped running the ball once they got inside the 20. The very next drive took 12 plays and nearly four minutes, with the same end result. This is a problem Coach Mike McCarthy and the team are well aware of. My feeling is that sooner rather than later, we’ll see more running plays in the red zone. I think there is a red-zone predictability factor that will be addressed.
Green Bay Packers running backJohnathan Franklin
doesn’t seem to be having any trouble holding onto the ball in this photo. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Reason for concern: Johnathan Franklin has fumbled twice in his last four carries, with one of them costing us a win. What are the Packers going to do if this keeps up?
Reason to take a deep breath: I don’t expect Franklin to get the ball much or at all, at least for a while. If James Starks returns next week, Franklin slides to No. 3. And if he’s not careful, he’ll be wearing sweats and a baseball cap on Sundays and watching Michael Hill take his reps. The point is, if this doesn’t make Franklin focus, nothing will. He’ll be OK.
Reason for concern: Jermichael Finley dropped what should have been a first down reception on a fourth-and-four play. Will he ever stop doing that?
Reason to take a deep breath: Sir Drops-a-Lot’s contract is up after this year, at which point he’ll likely be someone else’s problem. Maybe the Vikings will sign him and he can drop Josh Freeman’s passes next year.