Packer Hustle: Contradictions abound

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Elliot Hughes
December 29, 2015

I don't know if the NFL has ever before seen a team like this year's Green Bay Packers. We're talking about a team that has a winning record, clinched a playoff spot with three games left in the season and yet is still unequivocally, embarrassingly, objectively bad.

Those annoying 7-9 and 8-8 teams that sneak into the playoffs every now and then by virtue of winning their awful divisions – they are something else entirely. They are not the Packers' kind. They are bad and have bad records. They also typically take longer to clinch a playoff spot because they are bad and struggle to beat out other bad teams for the right of representing their bad division in the playoffs. The Packers don't even play in a particularly bad division!

Contradictions are everywhere. The Packers arrived in Arizona with a playoff spot tucked well away. They have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, a defense that performs well and a posse of playmakers on offense. They got backhanded, 38-8, and nobody was particularly surprised.

Does anyone expect them to win a playoff game? It's like watching a team being raised for slaughter. The Packer are cattle.

Forces of Doom

1. The offensive line (Last week: NR)–I know the injuries along the offensive line piled up, but were they playing flag football rules? They can use their arms and do more than just generally try to get in the way of the defender.

2. Aaron Rodgers* (Last week: NR)–Aaron effing Rodgers keeps throwing interceptions in the red zone. This is a red flag. This is a sign of society about to crumble. Stock up on bottled water and gasoline. The end of times is nigh.

3. James Starks (Last week: NR)–Starks has been routinely celebrated in this blog as a super sub who rather consistently catapults the offense into basic functionality. But now he's fumbled four times in the last four games. I don't know if we can trust this man anymore.

4. Davante Adams (Last week: NR)–It was impressive to watch Adams find two new ways of screwing up against Arizona. Rather than have the ball bounce off his hands in the end zone, he allowed the ball to sail RIGHT BETWEEN THEM. That other time when he reeled in a nice 38-yard grab and then spiked the ball, which got him a penalty, is some real thinking-out-of-the-box stuff.

5. Jake Ryan (Last week: NR)–He wasn't the only one to whiff on tackling Arizona running back David Johnson (which Ryan did several times), but he also got scorched on a 29-yard reception by Johnson, as well.

Ascended from FOD: Damarious Randall (allowed a touchdown Sunday), the passing game (not that the passing game outside of Rodgers' and Adams' contributions was good...), third-and-short offense (it only went 0-2 on third-and-short Sunday because the Packers were too busy facing third-and-14 miles).

Forces of Victory

1. Eddie Lacy (Last week: NR)–He waited until the latter part of the third quarter to get things rolling, but his 12 carries for 60 yards and his 28-yard touchdown reception were literally the only good things Green Bay's offense had going for it.

2. Mike Daniels (Last week: NR)–His interception in the second quarter was perhaps the biggest play of the game for Green Bay. Of course, the offense subsequently squandered it.

3. Morgan Burnett (Last week: No. 3)–Rarely out of position on Sunday. The hit he put on a wide-open Johnson in the flats near the goal line – which jarred the ball loose for an incomplete pass and forced a field goal – was a hell of a play.

Dropped from FOV: David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga (the former did not play Sunday and the latter actually had a decent outing until he got hurt), Julius Peppers (had just one tackle), James Jones (he's not a deep threat, so it would be great if Green Bay stopped pretending he is), John Kuhn (had a standard fullback game).

Next week: Minnesota Vikings

This is a weird time for Packer fans. Purple Enemy No. 1 is visiting Lambeau Field. Winner gets the division crown and a home playoff game. And people are walking around, morose and dopey, shrugging their arms and advocating for the Packers to lose in order to play Washington in the playoffs. Again: People are amenable to losing this game to the Vikings. This state has gone absolutely loopy.

*Rodgers' performance is judged based on superhuman standards.


Reporter Elliot Hughes has been with GazetteXtra since 2015. His sportswriting has appeared in The Huffington Post, the Isthmus and The Classical. Follow him on Twitter @elliothughes12 or email him at [email protected].

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