At 4-6, the Green Bay Packers are sitting in a very unfamiliar spot. Not since 2006 has Green Bay started with such an underwhelming record. The same year that Mike McCarthy came to Green Bay. 10 years later, the team finds themselves in the same situation.This team is riddled with injuries, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fans all over. How will they overcome the adversity and make a run to the playoffs? It starts this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Here is how they can get it done.
Packers Linebackers Must Counter the Speedy Darren Sproles
The Packers linebackers will have their hands full with Darren Sproles on Monday night. Now in his 12th NFL season, the 33-year-old Sproles has shown no signs of slowing down, racking up an impressive 854 all-purpose yards this season (319 rushing, 304 receiving and 212 punt returns). With Blake Martinez out with a knee injury and Jake Ryan likely returning from and ankle injury, it would appear as though Joe Thomas would get the assignment of covering Sproles.
Thomas has been at his best when covering backs on third downs. A trait the Packers are desperately going to need Monday night. He may also have to be mindful of rookie fifth round pick Wendell Smallwood, who recorded 79 yards on 17 touches in place of Mathews and Sproles last week.
Cook Continues to Open the Offense
Jared Cook burst back onto the scene last week in Washington with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown to lead the Packers’ passing game. Even though his day ended with a fumble lost he gave the fans and the team a glimpse of what could come.
Like Washington, Philadelphia has some question marks on their back end. The Eagles primarily use safety Malcom Jenkins in the base defense and a slot cornerback in the nickel and dime sub-packages.
Cook won’t need to record 10 catches for 200 yards to be successful for this offense. His presence alone could be big enough. Philadelphia is aware of the damage done by Cook last week and will be focus on stopping him. Which will open the field up for Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb.
Nick Perry has to shred Allen Barbre
The real key to winning this game will be the pressure that Green Bay’s defense can put on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. The front 7 of the Packers defense has been invisible the last few weeks. The lack of pressure has resulted in the prolonged covering by these young, inexperienced corners. I think we have all seen how that has turned out.
Outside linebacker Nick Perry will have an opportunity on Monday night to showcase his abilities. Not only is his counterpart Clay Matthews back for a second straight week, but he will be facing a guard playing tackle.
Allen Barbre, a former fourth-round pick of the Packers in 2007, has found a home as a guard on Philadelphia’s offensive line. However, he’ll likely be called upon to make his first start at right tackle in two years with Halapouilvaati Vaitai sidelined with a knee injury.
The record is ugly. The fire doesn’t appear to be there. The injuries have dictated the outcome. In fact, over half of the starting defense was injured at one point or another this season. Regardless, this team needs to come together and find a spark to get a run going.
Perhaps, the addition of running back Christine Michael will help. Or maybe the return of cornerback Damarious Randall will be just enough to get this secondary back to something a little more respectable. Each week this team will most likely return another starter. The question is: Will it be too little too late?
This is a desperation game for the Packers. It’s a desperation game for the Eagles. The Packers are only two games back of the 6-4 Detroit Lions in the NFC North race, but cannot afford to lose more than one game the rest of the season. Philadelphia is far back in the NFC East with Dallas running away with it. They will be fighting for a Wild Card spot with the Washington Redskins.
Both teams are on the outside looking in. But only one team has a veteran, two time MVP. The edge goes to the Packers.
Green Bay Packers – 34
Philadelphia Eagles – 30