Packers fall to Carolina, lose hold over NFC North


Nov 8, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is tackled near the goal line by Carolina Panthers strong safety Roman Harper (41) in the fourth quarter. The Panthers defeated the Packers 37-29 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The big question on social media during the Green Bay Packers visitation to the Carolina Panthers stomping grounds today – who are these Packers?

Twitter was abuzz with the laments of former players and fans alike.

Who are the Green Bay Packers of the past two weeks?

I haven’t been able to recognize the offensive or defensive units that came out to play against Denver and Carolina. Actually, I haven’t recognized this Packers’ offense for awhile now; it’s been a constant struggle without Jordy Nelson, surviving all the injuries and the missteps.

On the other side of the ball, the defense has been unrecognizable since giving up more than 500 passing yards to Philip Rivers before the bye week. Previously, they were the unheralded stars of the undefeated Packers.

What has happened?

Nov 8, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) reacts after scoring a touchdown as Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (23) defends in the fourth quarter. The Panthers defeated the Packers 37-29 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to pin in on just one thing or another. It’s hard to pin it at all, truthfully.

The team and the fans are looking for answers – none were found in Carolina, as the score was not truly indicative of the performance level of the team.

The game got out of hand early and Cam Newton and the Panthers offense were unstoppable until the end. Rodgers and Co. struggled for three of the four quarters, finally finding a rhythm when the game was all but out of reach.

The defense couldn’t stop a drive, allowing Newton and Jonathon Stewart to run all over them, forcing their will upon the defense in all aspects.

Newton was made to look like Tom Brady, slinging the ball downfield for HUGE chunks of yardage at a time, connecting with Greg Olsen, Jerricho Cotchery and Philly Brown for large gains, and three 50+ yard plays throughout the day.

Not only did Cam Newton have his longest run of the season, but he also enjoyed his longest pass play from scrimmage against this out of sorts Packers defense.

With Newton unable to be stopped from scoring and Aaron Rodgers unable to get any scoring going on offense, it was a combination for another long day for the Packers.

Twitter banter between former Packers players Nick Collins and Jermichael Finley ensued shortly after the Packers fell behind early.

Neither player could believe what was happening to their former team, after seeing what was done to them last week against the Broncos.

Nov 8, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown (10) catches a touchdown as Green Bay Packers cornerback Demetri Goodson (39) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Collins and Finley both sent out tweets mentioning that their respective services were still available. At this points – it would not be the craziest thing in the world to entertain their offers. Neither the tight end or the safety position really impressed today, though Richard Rodgers did bail the Packers out with two touchdown catches, extending the Packers chances into the waning moments of the game.

When former players are concerned about what is happening on the football field, there might be cause for real concern.

Players know that there are bad days and good days.

They know that the makeup of a team isn’t always what is exhibited and that fans will tend to panic before the team is ready to press the button. Having this prior experience and still having the reactions that they are having to seeing this team perform … is alarming.

We aren’t really in the mood for the whole R-E-L-A-X speech, again.

We aren’t idiots, we know that the season is far from over.

We are also aware that we are still in control of our own destiny in the NFC North, though the Minnesota Vikings have pulled into a tie with the Packers for first place, and are currently surging.

We know that the fortunes of players and teams are really controlled by what happens in December and January. We know all this … but we also know that we aren’t watching a championship caliber football team right now.

At this point in the season, we should be seeing guys rounding into form, units coming together and gelling in a way that shows improvement over the course of the past eight weeks.

We are seeing legitimate regression; and it’s scary.

With the bulk of the Packers’ division games coming in the next four weeks, they better figure out their damage real quick.

If not, they could be looking up from the middle of the NFC North standings at a Vikings team that looks primed for a playoff run.