Green Bay Packers: The best football is yet to be played


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is pressured against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated Packers 44-23. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers best football is yet to be played.

In my last post I said the week 8 matchup with the New Orleans Saints was the tipping point of the Packers 2014 season.

Then they went down to New Orleans and got dismantled by the Saints, 44-23.

I must admit when I wrote that piece I clearly expected the Packers to defeat the Saints and improve their record to 6-2. They didn’t, and now with a 5-3 record the Packers will invite the Chicago Bears to Lambeau Field to begin the second half of their season.

The first half of the season saw the Packers play some very capable offense one week and the next week not hardly even resemble the team they were the week before.

Think back to the first three weeks of the season. If you recall, there was good reason Aaron Rodgers told fans to R-E-L-A-X after the debacle in Detroit.

It was because they stunk.

Then they rattled off four wins in a row and saw the offense score with efficiency and consistency. But down in the Bayou they more resembled the Packers of weeks one through three.

New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball past Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House (31) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The same can be said on the defensive side of the ball.

After wins against the Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers it seemed Dom Capers’ squad was ready to take a step forward.

Then the Saints came marching in and the Packers took a giant step backward and raised all the same concerns that existed heading into the season – poor run defense, lackluster play by the inside linebackers and poor tackling.

In New Orleans, Aaron Rodgers and the offense struggled in the red zone. The defense, as previously mentioned, scuffled along trying to tackle. Although they are concerns, they are not problems that cannot be fixed mid-season.

This is why I believe the Packers’ best football is still in front of them.

Green Bay has no shortage of offensive weaponry.

Granted the tight end position could use an upgrade or Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers, or dare I say, Brandon Bostick, decide they are going to be the guy and become a playmaker.

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are both elite players and Davante Adams is showing signs that he can be another threat.

With these guys and the tandem of Eddie Lacy and James Starks and of course Aaron Rodgers, fixing the red zone problem is realistic.

The defensive shortcomings – mainly improving the tackling – is a matter of will. When the Packers dumped Derek Sherrod, a 2011 first round pick, the message is clear, no matter when you were drafted or your pedigree, if you can’t do the job, you’ll be out of one.

And for defensive players who aren’t tackling they should take notice and let Sherrod’s empty locker serve as a reminder. The will to tackle may just improve.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 38-17. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the ugly loss in New Orleans I still feel the Packers tip the scales as an ascending team in the last half of the season.

They are relatively healthy, which enables both the offense and defense to continue to build chemistry as the season progresses.

The talent the Packers need to win is already on the roster. It’s now a matter of bringing it all together down the stretch.