Hello Wisconsin: Offensive Line Health Now a Top Concern Heading Into Playoffs

Special teams is bad, no doubt, but the immediate concern is offensive line health.

There’s no denying that the Packers’ special teams unit is bad.

Like, bad is understating it. They’re historically awful.

If the Packers have a fatal flaw that is going to prevent this team from winning the Super Bowl, this very well could be it. More than any other issue with the team, it’s a wild card that could rear its head at the worst possible time, and in a tight game could be the difference between championship and elimination.

Now, that being said, with as bad as the special teams unit is, it still is not my primary concern at the moment.

That honor would  go to the offensive line. 

In 2020, there is a very strong possibility that the Packers manage to get to the Super Bowl if David Bakhtiari doesn’t tear his ACL. His absence could very well have been the difference maker in a game that was just a couple plays away from going the other direction against Tampa.

That was a team that still had Elgton Jenkins, Corey Linsley and Billy Turner all in the lineup.

What the Packers have at this moment is an offensive line that’s more decimated than I’ve ever seen a unit in the NFL.

Going into Week 15, the Packers will not have a single one of their preferred starters at their preferred positions.

Were everyone healthy, the line would undoubtedly look like this:

Bakhtiari - Jenkins - Myers - Runyan - Turner

Instead, they’ve got this:

Nijman - Runyan - Patrick - Newman - Kelly

Now, offensive line coach Adam Stenavich has done an absolutely remarkable job with the hand he’s been dealt this year for injuries. But every team reaches its breaking point eventually, and I’m terrified that the Packers are reaching theirs. 

We still don’t know when Bakhtiari will return. He practiced Wednesday, which is a good step, but if/when he will return is still a mystery.

Matt LaFleur also had good news during his press conference on Wednesday he mentioned Billy Turner’s injury is likely not season ending. But what exactly does that mean, and how serious is his injury? Will he be back for a playoff run? That’s a mystery at the moment.

It seems inevitable that at some point the Packers are going to have a rematch with the Buccaneers. But regardless of who the team faces in the postseason, they’re going to have to find a way to a) run the ball and b) keep Aaron Rodgers upright. A time of possession disadvantage and a susceptibility to pass rush are two great ways to lose a playoff game. 

If Bakhtiari and Turner can both get back in the lineup, the amount of concern significantly drops for this unit, and then the special teams once again becomes my top concern.

But until this unit can get healthy, I’m not going to lie–it scares me. I have to believe the Stenavich magic has its limits, and it’s only a matter of time before this JV offensive line gets exploited by a tough front seven.

But WOW is that special teams awful!

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

New Glarus Brewing Company is well known for its flagships like Spotted Cow, Moon Man, Two Women and Dancing Man. However, the brewery’s best offerings come from its Thumbprint series, where they show off their versatility by producing a wide variety of different kinds of beers for the more adventurous beer drinker.

One of the latest offerings I came across while perusing the aisles of the Woodman’s liquor store was New Glarus’s Blueberry Cocoa Stout.

Several years ago, this is a beer to which I would not have given a second thought. Up until this year I had never had a beer that successfully used blueberry to tasty results. The flavor always ended up feeling sort of “off.” 

But it feels like over the last couple years, breweries have really hit their stride with using fruit and berries as adjuncts, and they’re doing it in really creative ways.

A stout featuring blueberry and chocolate flavor is not something I’d have ever come up with myself, nor something I could have seen myself enjoying until relatively recently. But they pulled it off quite well.

Here’s how New Glarus describes the beer on their website:

“Exquisitely balanced mélange of indigo berry spheres fuse with silky milk chocolate leading this sensory adventure. Happy Wisconsin spotted cows contributed their natural milk lactose sweetness to this authentic milk stout. Fudgy English barley malt delivers the chewy chocolate luxury balanced with German Ariana hops. Brewmaster Dan invites us on a flavor journey that encourages us to melt into our senses and relax in his indulgent Blueberry Cocoa Stout.”

The beer comes in at a very mild 5% ABV, so you can enjoy it without worrying about the alcohol content. 

It should be available all over Wisconsin at liquor and grocery stores. Give it a shot–it may surprise you!

An unusual MVP race

Usually by this point of the season, someone has separated themselves from the pack in the MVP race. This season, there really isn’t an obvious top dog.

Aaron Rodgers has certainly worked his way into the conversation. At this point, though, I highly doubt the AP voters would give him the honor after the COVID controversy earlier this season. Regardless of what he does the rest of the season, I feel comfortable ruling him out.

But who else is there?

Tom Brady seems to be the likeliest bet. The award has basically turned into a quarterback-only award, and Brady is the only other quarterback who has a) been playing the whole season and b) consistently been playing at a pretty high level.

If Kyler Murray’s injury didn’t remove him from contention, his primetime performance against the Rams in front of a national audience very well could have.

Matthew Stafford played himself out of consideration in November.

Patrick Mahomes played himself out of consideration in September and October.

Josh Allen has not replicated his 2020 campaign.

If there was ever a year for a non-quarterback to win, it would be this year. In such a case, one would have to think the top contenders would be Jonathan Taylor of the Colts (if the Colts manage to make the playoffs) or Cooper Kupp of the Rams. But it feels like voters don’t even consider non-QBs these days.

The betting favorite has to be Tom Brady, but at this point, your guess is as good as mine.

Around the NFC North

Here we go once again around the NFC North leading into week 15.

-The CHICAGO BEARS gave the Packers a bit of a scare in the first half on Sunday night, but the natural order quickly reestablished itself after the intermission as the Packers took control and dominated the rest of the game. What was most stunning to me in watching the way the game played out was how uninterested Matt Nagy appeared to be in his team winning the game. He repeatedly punted the ball away on fourth downs when it would have made far more sense for his team (a team with absolutely nothing to lose, by the way) to go for it and try to score some points. The greatest Christmas gift the Packers could ever receive is a Matt Nagy contract extension.

-The DETROIT LIONS are 1-11-1, which, as I saw someone share on Twitter earlier today, still somehow manages to be better than their postseason record in the Super Bowl era (1-12). If that’s not the most Detroit Lions statistic you’ve seen this week I’m not sure what is. 

-The MINNESOTA VIKINGS beat the Steelers on Thursday, which was entirely predictable given the fact that the Packers needed them to lose to be able to clinch the division title against the Bears. No worries. Now, the Vikings join the other two teams in the NFC North in advanced covid protocols. The Vikings had the league’s highest rate of unvaccinated players entering the season, and now have had the most players on and off the COVID-19 list. Almost like there’s some sort of correlation there.

The worst Christmas songs

I do love me some Christmas music. Bing Crosby, Andrews Sisters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, old-school carols, some new-school bops.

But there are some songs that are just straight up bad, no matter who performs them. 

“Christmas Shoes,” for example. What in the Lifetime Channel hell is this crap? Is there anyone in the world that enjoys this song?

“Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” Paul, I love ya, but this song is outrageously annoying. 

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Is it a rule that every single edition of this song must be over-the-top schmultz? I’ve never heard a version of this song that didn’t suck.

“My Grown Up Christmas List.” Another one that’s constant schmultz with lame lyrics and an overly sentimental melody.

Remove these from every Christmas playlist in the world. Thank you.

Things that stuck out at Lambeau Field

The Packers moved to 5-0 when I am present at Lambeau Field. This may have been my favorite trip yet, simply because I finally had time to experience the lead-up to the game itself and enjoy the experience. I got to meet a bunch of Packer fans from CHTV and Twitter for the first time, finally got to do some tailgating and, of course, enjoyed plenty of brews.

Here are a few things that stuck out to me from the in-person experience in this, my fifth visit for a game.

  • You really don’t get the full sense of how huge some of these players are until you’re there in person. Like, sheesh, these are some massive athletes.

  • For the first time I ordered some stadium food and it was better than expected. The Touchdown Brat ($9.75) was pretty good and I didn’t feel like I was being completely ripped off with the purchase, which is more than I can say for a lot of stadium foods.

  • There’s nothing people at Lambeau love more than someone who’s never been to Lambeau before. I met a bunch of people throughout the day who have never been to Green Bay for a game, and they all mentioned how gracious and accommodating everyone was, and how they kept getting food and drinks shoved at them throughout the day. I personally enjoyed being able to record the very first time fellow CheeseheadTV writer Mark Oldacres, hailing from the United Kingdom, ever walked into the Lambeau Field bowl:

  • It really is crazy how much smaller the field feels in person than when you see it on television.

  • The stadium really does a bad job with replays. I don’t know how many of the television angles they get, but most of the replays they play (especially after penalties/questoinable decisions) don’t give you any kind of good insight into what happened.

  • The fans were mostly excellent. They had to be reminded to quiet down on offense several times, but for the most part people were loud all game long, and nobody ever told me to sit down.

  • The Titletown District is really something cool. The stuff that’s built up around there is impressive in person and you can see how much value it adds to the gameday experience around the stadium. I enjoyed a pregame snack and beverages at Hinterland before moving on to investigate the tailgating scene.

  • There’s really nothing like the Lambeau gameday experience. The fact that it’s located right in a residential area is so crazy, it never ceases to blow my mind. My friend and I parked for free right in front of an elementary school, like a block away from the stadium. The fact that that’s even a thing–it’s so wild. 

Cannot wait to get back again for another game. Hopefully it’s not my last with Aaron Rodgers as the team’s quarterback.

Who’s going to return the football?

You can’t keep putting Amari Rodgers back on kick and punt returns. It’s coaching malpractice. But who is left?

Malik Taylor made a dumb mistake and is out with an injury. Randall Cobb muffed a punt and is out with an injury. Tyler Ervin isn’t on the team and it’s not clear if he’s even in consideration to be brought back in. 

Look. At this point, literally anything is better than what Amari Rodgers is giving in the return game. Put someone back there and have them fair catch it every time. Heck, don’t put anyone back there at all. 

Juwann Winfree just got signed to the 53. Will he get a look in the return game? No clue if it’s something he’s ever even done before. 

It’s something the team is going to have to figure out, because they can’t keep rolling the dice with Amari.

The prediction

With Lamar Jackson likely being out for this game, some of the tension gets lost. Even if he does play he will likely be significantly hampered by his ankle injury.

However, the Packers still have some challenges to overcome. The Ravens have a strong defense and a tenacious front, and the Packers are thinner than they’ve ever been along the offensive line. It could be some tough sledding.

Ultimately, though, the difference is going to be the quarterback play. The Packers are good enough on both sides of the ball that even with Jackson playing they should be able to win the game. 

It might not be pretty, but the Packers will get yet another win and advance to 11-3 with three games remaining as they maintain their hold on the top seed in the NFC.

Packers 28, Ravens 17

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

8 points

Comments (75)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PackEyedOptimist's picture

December 16, 2021 at 07:10 am

Hey! I just bought the NG blueberry chocolate stout last week, and I had my first one during the Bears game! :-D It's good, but almost seems like you're drinking cold hot chocolate...it's very little "beer experience."
I'm concerned about the OL too. Basically, if ANYone goes down now, Braden is the replacement. Imagine if Covid hits the OL room...
I'm of the official I-told-you-so crowd who disliked the Amari pick (I picked Nico Collins, who is doing well); Amari's even worse than I thought he'd be. Good story, bad player. Someone threw out the idea of not putting anyone back as a PR, just rushing the punter, and honestly, that's better than putting Amari back there; you might at least force a shank.

4 points
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TimBackes's picture

December 16, 2021 at 07:51 am

Far too early to say Amari is a bad player. Now, he has no business returning punts, but I'm willing to give the guy time to develop at his natural slot receiver position. He's barely had a chance yet.

5 points
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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 16, 2021 at 07:51 am

Nothing makes those beers go down ...... and come back up again like our Special Teams.

11 points
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blacke00's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:10 am

The media will likely give the MVP to Brady. but does he really deserve it? He has a corp of very good receivers, very stout RBs and a very good O-line. This year Brady has had very little if any real obstacles to overcome. Give a lot of those above mentioned QBs that same position and see how well they'll play....much...much better. Turn it around and put Brady in some of the positions other QBs have had to endure and let's see if he is the MVP.

5 points
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jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:47 am

I agree with you. Good press = Undue respect. Post-season awards in all major sports are the same.

3 points
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Ya_tittle's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:50 am

totally.

1 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:14 am

OL -
Hopefully we can get Bakhtiari back soon. That would be a step towards getting some of our greatest players back. Hopefully Turner will be able to return as well. Sounds like he has a chance to. Myers I am not sure about. If he were to come back do they keep going with Patrick? But if they can get their OT's back for the playoffs that would be huge!

MVP-
I can't tell people how to feel, but one narrative that somehow is still out there is that if the Packers lose the 1 seed, Rodgers doesn't deserve the MVP because he was unvaccinated and got Covid and had to miss a game. I wish that part would just go away. He tested positive and had to miss a game, no different then many other players. Regardless of their vaccination status.

One thing I will say though, who has played better then Rodgers the last few games? If this continues, I don't see how he isn't the MVP.

NFC North-
Bears - They may have something in Fields. Nagy had some great concepts in the 1st half. Until GB adjusted. If they get a good coach and scheme they could be tough in the future.

Lions - Can they hold onto the 1 spot? Or will they find a way to screw that up by winning?

VIkings - They looked great against the Steelers. I think that has more to say about the Steelers then the Vikings though. Vikings could be a dangerous team moving forward though. Don't sleep on them.

Return game -
I could be wrong, but outside of the muffed punt I thought Rodgers looked more comfortable returning punts. The part that stands out to me though is how there is almost no room for the Kick returner to go. It seems like at about the 20 yard line there are 3-5 guys able to tackle the returner. TV doesn't show the whole thing, but are guys just whiffing on blocks?

Until they were to bring someone else in, I think they will just go with Rodgers.

3 points
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dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:42 am

"...one narrative that somehow is still out there is that if the Packers lose the 1 seed, Rodgers doesn't deserve the MVP because he was unvaccinated and got Covid and had to miss a game. "

It won't matter that half the league right now it seems is in the Covid protocols...so much so that there have been talks with the players association of rewriting the protocols. ARod's shine has been dulled somewhat over the last 10 months. Tawmy is the media darling, anyway, and it's a loaded deck.

" Nagy had some great concepts in the 1st half. Until GB adjusted. "

This is the story of Nagy's career. Remember when he came over to the Bears and lit it up for half a season?...never mind that the defense staked them to short fields week a after week, everyone loved his gimmicky plays and everyone caught on to him. Fields running for his life improvised that offense to respectability against the Packers last week. Nagy isn't even calling the plays now, is he? Still...I hope the Bears--with two games left against the Vikings---win just enough to save Nagy and Pace.

"VIkings - They looked great against the Steelers."

They can score, but that's a bad defensive team. Period. If last week's game was any longer, they lose. They've got some flashy stats, but they're an aging and declining defense that struggles against credible offenses--even in obvious passing situations, they can't make enough plays. Week after week they white-knuckle it to the end of games--they even win some if Cousins is playing well.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:39 am

The Steelers are also not very good this year.

5 points
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dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:51 am

Imagine if they had a QB who could actually run that offense and take advantage of their skill position guys... ;)

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:27 am

A year too late …

2 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:53 am

I think I would make the argument with the league covid protocols on the Vikings unvaccinated take by the author.
But I get what you are saying. I just have still seen that take about Rodgers not winning it because he missed a game with Covid. Its just a bad take. One of the reasons is because they only looked at his unvaccinated status, and not that he tested positive for covid.

Nagy is a perfect guy to be in an assistant type of role or offensive coordinator to and offensive minded HC. A guy who can come up with great designs and concepts. But not a guy that should bein control of it all. He will likely go somewhere and help an offense out next year.

Completely agree about the Vikings. That being said, they have the offense to put pressure on other teams offenses to keep up. Not saying they are going to the Super Bowl, but they are a team to not sleep on.

3 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:03 am

“Tawamy is the media darling”— that’s exactly right. He gets sacked once every three games and when he does, he’s upset with the officials. Geez he bugs me.

5 points
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Rebecca's picture

December 16, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Tawwwwmy sucks. No personality whatsoever. Has this guy ever laughed?

3 points
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jont's picture

December 16, 2021 at 01:37 pm

"... half the league right now it seems is in the Covid protocols...so much so that there have been talks with the players association of rewriting the protocols."

Key point, dobber, this is going to be a story soon.

Given the heat of some people's feelings here, I hesitate to comment on this, but from the league's and players' perspectives the isolation protocol must be looking like far more trouble than it's worth.

Understanding that even vaccinated people get infected, the current league policy on covid means quarantines will be a permanent feature of the NFL; every team will miss players for every game.

Meanwhile, while big numbers of players are testing positive, pretty much none are actually getting sick. Along with broader, statistically valid data showing the players' demographic group rarely suffering notable ill effects, lengthy quarantines can seem too much.

I wonder if a change will come before the end of the season.

(And, if anybody cares, I and my family are all vaxxed.)

1 points
2
1
Lphill's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:22 am

They said Myers was a few weeks now looks like never , they said Bak was ahead of schedule back in the pre season and still no return date , are they over protective of their 100 million dollar man ?

-3 points
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dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:53 am

Bakhtiari just had his knee worked on again before Thanksgiving. Back on the field yesterday. He'll play yet...some are speculating he might get a couple series this week, but I'd be surprised if he did. I think he returns for the Vikings in two weeks.

I think you're right in that Myers is a long shot to play again this season. He had knee surgery around Halloween and they have been very tight-lipped on him.

5 points
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PeteK's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:24 am

Demovsky reported that Turner's injury is not that bad and he should return. However, he also reported that Bak is not ready to practice yet.

3 points
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dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:52 am

He practiced yesterday...

https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2021/12/15/packers-lt-david-bakhtiari-p...

Which apparently surprised even LaF who said earlier in the day that he didn't expect Bakhtiari to practice.

5 points
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ImaPayne's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:20 am

Ya you got it. They play games with return times to try and fool our opponents. My take Alexander aint coming back soon and neither is bakt, plus Bakt may be one and done career wise.
Hope I'm worng but his injury could have been career changing, like Beluga, always hurt after his first major knee injury and never relied on again.
Smith I dont think wants to come back (he may want a trade for mo money) and Alexander maybe shouldnt come back but get taken care of permanently for next season.

-6 points
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7
Galacticat's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:26 am

Are we really sure that Runyon was “undoubtedly” the preferred starter at RG? Personally I don’t disagree that would probably be ideal, but that doesn’t seem to be how the Packers were operating in the pre-season. Newman looked like he was locked into a spot while the final guard battle was between Runyon and Patrick. If Runyon was the preferred starter, then why wasn’t the final guard spot a battle between Patrick and Newman? It struck me as curious at the time, and still does now,

4 points
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dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:27 am

"Are we really sure that Runyon was “undoubtedly” the preferred starter at RG? "

It makes me feel better at this point! ;)

The question that should really scare us is: who's the next tackle off the bench?

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:41 am

Braden is per LaFleur

4 points
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dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:26 am

MVP Race--at this stage, I don't see how the media darling in Tampa doesn't win it. He'd have to completely implode, get killed, or be arrested for blowing up Jamaica at this point. Still, the better Brady plays (defeating the aging QB stereotype) and the more ARod is in the running, the more options it can generate for the Packers in managing the ARod situation this offseason--and having options is good. I throw up a little in my mouth just thinking about it all. You say that it's become a QB only award, but the same was being said about the Heisman for awhile. I think it either takes an exceptionally weak QB year or an otherworldly season by a position player to get someone else in the running, but college has shown that it can happen in recent years. This was the second straight year sportswriters defaulted the Heisman to the Alabama player most had heard of.

AmRod--I'm with PEO above: I saw a so-so athlete on a great college team with an outstanding college QB throwing to him...which is probably why he lasted to round 3. For whatever reason, the pundits attached AmRod to the Packers early in the draft process and they mostly applauded the pick. What happened to the creative stuff we were sold?... routes out of the backfield? Pitch plays? RPOs? Jet sweeps? Whatever the case, it's too soon to give up on him and the Packers need to find a role for this guy and rebuild his confidence...that's something that's best-suited for May-August, not December-February.

Which brings us to "Returning Punts"--Kickoffs aren't a problem. Patrick Taylor did some returning in training camp. Winfree, too. Both are easy plugs for Malik Taylor there. Punt returners are mostly WRs and DBs. Aside from Cobb and AmRod, none of the current Packers WRs and DBs have a significant background in returning punts except (wait for it)--Jaire Alexander--who was a high-end college returner until his jr year when he was too valuable to risk there. Do any of us want him coming off IR and fielding punts? Didn't think so...unless he's told that he must fair catch EVERYTHING, and not even then.

"The worst Christmas songs"--anything played before Thanksgiving or performed by anyone who wasn't alive during the Reagan administration. Standards and instrumentals please.

"I got video of @MarkOldacres entering the Lambeau bowl for the first time ever....". -- I remember that first time at Lambeau: a September game against the Saints early in the Majkowski era. The field was so green and it was sunny, warm, with seats so high in the bowl you could see over the top into the local neighborhoods. Packers went down 3 scores in the first half and roared back to win in cardiac fashion on a late TD to Sterling Sharpe. A great first Lambeau game...

"ARound the NFC North"--
The Lions---suck
The Vikings---suck
The Bears---still suck

"Prediction"--I think this is a white-knuckle week for the Packers. The Packers are going to struggle to run the ball and struggle to protect ARod. Jackson's not going to play, but Huntley is OK. Tight, grind-it-out, road game...24-20 Packers.

5 points
5
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Coldworld's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:05 am

Amari Rodgers was not a classic receiver in college. He was a guy they schemed to get open in space in college. He was very effective when they did so. He looks so much more decisive and athletic on film than he has seemed here. On punts, decisive and effective too.

I heard an interesting tidbit recently. That Amari looks great on the scout team but when put with the ones he seems to go to pieces, particularly if he’s working with Rodgers. The two just haven’t had the chance to build chemistry and that seems to make Amari tentative, and lose his composure.

I look at college film and what I’ve seen this year, and it’s hard to convince myself that it’s the same athlete. In that context, the above anecdote makes a lot of sense. Amari is, I infer, a player who needs confidence more than most. A player that needs to feel comfortable to unlock his potential. Right now he looks hesitant, slow and to be overthinking on returns. Hard to see that improving in season.

I’m not suggesting sympathy is required, but good coaches are able to sense when usage is likely to lead to a downward spiral and change things up to get more out of an individual. I’m not sure we are handling him well.

Personally, I’d have gone out and signed a punt returner and given Amari a break to rebuild and a few offensive opportunities similar to those he excelled at in college. Build him up. It’s time to pick up a decent punt returner and let them handle kicks too ideally. It’s not like we have an option as a punt returner on the PS in the event of injury either.

I stress, I’m not so much worried by yards as by the ability to catch and to make good decisions back there. The return/fair catch argument is irrelevant here. We need to show teams that we aren’t going to turn the ball over first. Yards gained are a bonus.

2 points
2
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Brockrice99's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:36 am

I'm just praying we can get Billy back having at least on solidified person on the right side of the line is important, not that Royce is bad, he has just been inconsistent, as expected out of a 4th round rookie thrust into a starting roll right away. Bahk concerns me... it has been nearly a full year since his ACL injury and he is not back yet? I understand he had the procedure to clear everything out in his knee... but a year is on the way longer end of the recovery time for an ACL injury, so it is a little concerning how he has yet to come back, really hoping he can be back for the playoffs.... as well as Jaire and maybe Z, wishful thinking.

3 points
4
1
dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:02 am

"I'm just praying we can get Billy back having at least on solidified person on the right side of the line is important"

Agreed. Kelly had back problems for awhile this season, and we don't know how long he'll hold up. My guess is that the next RT up on game day is Newman (or maybe Runyan) and that Kelly is the primary backup at LT right now.

"Bahk concerns me... it has been nearly a full year since his ACL injury and he is not back yet?"

We're only at a little over 11 months, and he is practicing so I'm not terribly concerned about the timing, especially given the setback. The length of ACL recovery tends to be a little longer for linemen, and is related to how much collateral damage there was in the injury. That said, Bakhtiari's ACL was supposedly pretty routine and even Bryan Bulaga had a 10-month recovery from one of his many ACL injuries (does he even have knees anymore?).

" as well as Jaire and maybe Z, wishful thinking."

Don't know what to think about Z--I expected him to play yet this season. He's got too much to lose by not playing, so if he's close, I think he tries. Alexander has been practicing, so my bet is that they activate him soon.

0 points
1
1
Leatherhead's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:08 am

If we get the #1 seed, our first playoff game is SIX WEEKS away yet. As I’ve mentioned before, when you have access to state of the art injury treatment and rehab, you can do quite a bit of recovery in six weeks. Alexander and Bakhtiari are already practicing.

2 points
4
2
Johnblood27's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:55 am

MVP - when does the voting occur? Right after the regular season ends I think. The last 4 weeks will tell the tale since there are 3-5 candidates who, if they blow it up the last 4 weeks, can earn the award. Please, not brady.

Tim, it is cool that you met Oldacres at the game and hung with him some, good on you for being a good "host".

Around the NFC North-

vi-queens - their hollow soul-less shell showed in the second half, pathetic franchise.
bares - they are exactly who we thought they were, but we didn't let them off the hook-they still suck!-ownership has its privileges!
LOLions - 2021 kneecap count - 1 bite, 11 sloppy kisses, 1 toothless grin

A major bit of attention needs to be given to the special teams units across the board. At this stage of the season, that sounds like taps for the st coach. Let's just see how much true leadership MLF has, this is his crucible and being MM loyal is just negligent and facilitative towards failure. The ball is squarely in his court, how will he play it?

2 points
3
1
dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:04 am

"LOLions - 2021 kneecap count - 1 bite, 11 sloppy kisses, 1 toothless grin"

Winner!!

2 points
2
0
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:19 am

OL
Stenavich is certainly doing one helluva job and deserves a raise and promotion before we lose him, but I agree with Tim that eventually the OL will break, most likely due to one more injury. Is there even anyone left on the practice squad to plug in if we lose yet another lineman?

Beer
There was (is still?) a small brewery in Stoughton that made a very good blueberry beer. I tasted it at Evansville's Octoberfest celebration (now only a fond memory due to covid) in 2018. As for other fruit beers, years ago the "new" Adler Brewing company in Appleton made a good peach beer, but yeah, a lot of fruit beers are terrible. I'll be skipping the New Glarus recommendation because I don't like to chew my beers. Perhaps I'm too old school, but I generally like my beers to contain only the four ingredients in the modern Reinheitsgebot.

And what's with New Glarus's over-the-top pretentious description of the beer? Are beer lovers now supposed to speak about beers as if they were wine snobs? Are we soon going to have terroir (of the hops, at least) added to our beer vocabulary?

When is a "beer" no longer a beer and just a flavored malt-based beverage? It seems we're rapidly coming up on that era, with "beers" tasting of anything EXCEPT beer.

And you whippersnappers stay off my lawn!

Returner
Lazard returned 21 punts in college. Let him go back there and just fair catch everything. Winfree also returned at least one punt against the Cardinals (which he fumbled out of bounds, so maybe he wouldn't be a good idea...). Honestly, I think someone cursed our punt return team.

Prediction
Packers win a close one.

5 points
5
0
dobber's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:57 am

"When is a "beer" no longer a beer and just a flavored malt-based beverage? It seems we're rapidly coming up on that era, with "beers" tasting of anything EXCEPT beer."

Amen, brother!

"Lazard returned 21 punts in college. Let him go back there and just fair catch everything."

Good catch on Lazard! I'd missed him...

4 points
4
0
Coldworld's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:36 am

Lazard as a short term option would be a lot more palatable if we were not so perilously thin at WR at this point and if we had another almost TE type.

I just can’t fathom why we can’t pick up a punt return specialist and be fine with it. Waiver risks on Scott or McDuffie hardly threaten to be franchise changing. It seems to me that LaFleur and Drayton are pushing hard for more of the same.

2 points
3
1
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:14 am

I agree about our thin WR corps, which is why I want Lazard to ONLY fair catch the punts. But yeah, why the hell won't Gute pick up someone to just return punts (and maybe kicks)?

2 points
2
0
Leatherhead's picture

December 16, 2021 at 03:33 pm

Yeah. No to Lazard. Anybody who is going to be our punt catcher needs plenty of reps during the week, and he’s a first string player. This is another argument for bringing a guy like Erwin…..all he has to do is catchthefrickinball.

You could leave Amari in there. Maybe some good coaching and a show of faith will turn the tide.

1 points
1
0
jont's picture

December 16, 2021 at 01:00 pm

"When is a 'beer' no longer a beer and just a flavored malt-based beverage?"

Das Reinheitsgebot:
“Ganz besonders wollen wir, daß forthin allenthalben in unseren Städten, Märkten, und auf dem Lande zu keinem Bier mehr Stücke als allein Gersten, Hopfen und Wasser verwendet und gebraucht werden sollen. Wer diese unsere Anordnung wissentlich übertritt und nicht einhält, dem soll von seiner Gerichtsobrigkeit zur Strafe dieses Faß Bier, so oft es vorkommt, unnachsichtlich weggenommen werden.”

Steige von meinem Rasen aus!

-1 points
1
2
Johnblood27's picture

December 16, 2021 at 02:47 pm

hey kraut, y'all lost the war(s)!

translation...

The purity law:
“We especially want that from now on in our cities, markets and in the country no more pieces of beer than barley, hops and water should be used and needed for any beer. Anyone who knowingly violates this order of ours and does not adhere to it should be relentlessly taken away from the judiciary by his judicial authority as a punishment, as often as it occurs. "

Get off my lawn!

you're welcome!

-2 points
0
2
jont's picture

December 17, 2021 at 08:07 am

Just an aside: who would down vote this? I think he was joking as guys just shoot the shit about beer.

As a person of German heritage, I officially absolve everyone for kraut jokes.

1 points
1
0
Johnblood27's picture

December 17, 2021 at 08:11 am

;-)

some folks just never get it, glad you do!

1 points
1
0
Johnblood27's picture

December 18, 2021 at 07:59 am

oh yeah Jont, there are one or two nimrods who down vote every comment I make. I could type "chocolate chip cookies" and they will drop a couple down votes on me.

No big thing, my feelings are not hurt, nor is my butt... LOL!!! I'm still me and goin' strong!

0 points
0
0
Razer's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:21 am

Totally agree with Tim that the O-line is the primary concern going forward. Loosing solid starting talent is one thing - playing different guys every week is another problem. Coaches have done a great job. On the bright side, Dennis Kelly looked good and Nijman has settled in. If the line practices together and Rodgers leans towards a quicker route selection, we should be just fine. I do want to see us work the RBs more, either in runs or out-of-the-backfield. We have more talent in the backfield than any other offensive position - use it.

The Baltimore game will tell us if we can adjust to the O-line reality and compete in the playoffs.

Couldn't care less about the MVP stuff. The most valuable player in a team sport like football is meaningless. Aaron Rodgers would be at the helm of a 500 club if it wasn't for a defense and players like Campbell, Douglas and Clark keeping us in games.

0 points
1
1
ImaPayne's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:16 am

They havent done a good job finding guys who arent injury prone, out of shape, smallish, and mostly passed on by 31 other teams other then Bakh of course.
Still they did a good job so far but they are breaking down and we have nothing to fill in with and no one is giving up their talented O linement any time soon.

-3 points
1
4
ApplesAndTons's picture

December 19, 2021 at 09:44 am

Bakh will have to white-knuckle it if he wants to see the field.

0 points
0
0
PeteK's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:32 am

That beer surely must have been tasty as you took a few bites of the glass. LOL

2 points
2
0
TimBackes's picture

December 16, 2021 at 02:43 pm

Ha! Just noticed that. Portrait mode must have a hard time focusing on glassware.

1 points
1
0
Spock's picture

December 16, 2021 at 03:12 pm

I noticed that too! Is Tim drinking out of a broken glass? Could explain the "tastes like a little blood" he forgot to put in the description, lol.

2 points
2
0
Swisch's picture

December 16, 2021 at 09:36 am

As for concerns about the offensive line, I'm just trying to block them out of my mind.

3 points
3
0
PeteK's picture

December 16, 2021 at 04:49 pm

Hahahaha clever.

2 points
2
0
Starrbrite's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:13 am

Annoying Christmas songs:
“Feliz Navidad” —or my version—
“The Fleas On My Dog”.

-2 points
1
3
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:18 am

I agree, and you can add 'Little Drummer Boy'. The song is incredibly annoying, and what parent in their right mind would allow a kid with a drum anywhere near a newborn?

I worked as a bank teller during the Muzak days of the 80s and heard enough Christmas carols over six years to last me the rest of my life. Every day for at least a month, the same carols over-and-over-and-over-and-over-and...

2 points
2
0
Starrbrite's picture

December 16, 2021 at 12:18 pm

Lol—that’s hilarious.

1 points
1
0
ImaPayne's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:13 am

The Special teams problems are not due to the coach. Quit blaiming him. Its due to the fact this team lacks speed players. Of the few we do have, they cant be risked tackling and playing on kick offs.
That is the heart of the problem, the ones we are using are second and third string what evers who cant out run a senior citizen and cant tackle a 300 pound wrestler who is stuck in the mud.
By the time our front line guys get to the 20 the runner at the 30. My bottom line is your not finding the speed guys sitting back that the end of all your rounds or hoping they are undrafteds just waiting to be discovered.
We used to have a receiver who was tall and very fast, not very good catching a ball, but he would motor on down and make a lot of tackles for us by being there when the ball was there. They have no one like that now other then St Borwn who is a concussion machine

-2 points
4
6
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:21 am

On the Bears TD return, we had both gunners at the 10, waiting for the guy to catch the ball. They failed to disengage from their blockers (and it appeared that one of them was actually held, too). The returner split the gunners and the rest was history. Speed was not an issue there.

4 points
5
1
stockholder's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:32 am

This OL will be just fine. Bahk will return. Turner will return. And since they threw a couple of rookies in there. Why worry. The biggest worry is turn-overs. And since everyone is pointing at the Special Teams. Here's another option. Jaire Alexander. Yes, he did return punts in college. Not to mention Kick-Offs. So if Amari won't remove his face guard. Alexander is my option.

4 points
5
1
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:27 am

Wow. Worried about turnovers (presumably on special teams) and not the OLine. I hope you're aware that a poor Oline increases the likelihood of sacks, which, if from the left side of the line, increases the likelihood of a strip sack ie.a turnover or rushed, poorly thrown, passes which can become interceptions. It also increases the number of punts which, given our stellar ST play, increases the likelihood of long returns. These 'short fields' increase the likelihood of the opponent scoring more and us losing.

So yes, you should be a little worried about the OL until at least Turner returns; if he were returning soon we'd already know about it.

And using Alexander as a punt returner (unless he's told to always fair catch) is nuts.

-1 points
1
2
egbertsouse's picture

December 16, 2021 at 10:36 am

Anything with fruit or nuts in the title is not a beer. Just like anything with cranberry juice, apple, or chocolate is not a martini. Hell, I didn’t even consider a vodka martini a “real” martini until about 5 years ago. Seriously old school is a polite description of my attitude.

Worst Christmas song? Those interminably looooong renditions of Little Drummer Boy. Pa-rum-pa-pa-rum my ass!

5 points
5
0
Crankbait's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:21 am

Vote with your wallet....
New Glarus owners are huge lefties and support BLM, Antifa and socialism.
I was at the Rams game and saw the new Titletown digs.... just spectacular..... Take your kids there when young and they will be Packer fans for life!

-2 points
6
8
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:31 am

Do you have proof of your assertions about the New Glarus owners? If not, then you're possibly guilty of libel since you're trying to harm their business with an inaccurate statement. Not that anyone will ever take you seriously anyway.

And you do realize that there is no "antifa" group or organization to support, don't you?

1 points
7
6
fordguy's picture

December 16, 2021 at 03:31 pm

And you do realize that there is no "antifa" group or organization to support, don't you?

Really. have you ever searched the internet?
https://www.newsweek.com/prosecutors-make-first-move-break-antifa-cell-1...

0 points
3
3
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 04:42 pm

A "cell" is not an organized group, like say the Weatherman and Black Panthers in the 60s. It's effectively a local gang, limited to California. Note that while the authorities talk about ANITFA, they don't define the term and are not doing actively doing anything against it. Because a regional group or national group doesn't exist. Unlike Proud Boys or Oathkeepers.

"Antifa" is a boogeyman of the far right.

And Crankbait's comment is still libelous unless he proves that the New Glarus Brewery owners are supporting the causes he cites. I didn't bring this shit up, but if a person is going to make outrageous comments, then that person needs to back those comments with FACTS.

3 points
5
2
fordguy's picture

December 17, 2021 at 02:54 pm

"effectively a local gang, limited to California"

Are you serious? Are Portland and Seattle in Cali? I would go on but the fact you wrote what you did says all that needs to be said.

-2 points
0
2
Striker's picture

December 16, 2021 at 04:56 pm

Sounds like an excellent reason to buy even more New Glarus.

2 points
4
2
jannes bjornson's picture

December 16, 2021 at 08:35 pm

Yes, indeed, drink the Coors swill and support a Family of known nazi sympathizers.

1 points
2
1
barutanseijin's picture

December 19, 2021 at 12:04 am

They support socialism by running a capitalist enterprise? Sure thing, cranky.

0 points
0
0
Swisch's picture

December 16, 2021 at 11:34 am

The Touchdown Brats may be very tasty, but I hear the Field Goal Brats are hit and miss.

3 points
4
1
gpt999's picture

December 16, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Considering the entire ST debacle, I do not think MLF should be a coach of the year candidate specifically because of his non-action in this area. I am getting the sense that MLF is still far too offensively focussed vs overall team focussed. A great head coach doesn't do that. If Hackett is as good they say he is, then give him more responsibilities with the offense so that MLF can help/ENABLE other areas on the team - specifically STs!

If you had to choose between Bill Belicheck and MLF, who would you choose for coach of the year? Even though I am a Packers fan, I would choose Belicheck hands down this year. Why? Because EVERY facet of his team - offense, defense and STs - are satisfactory to great. He takes lesser talent and puts them in situations where they can be successful. Not to mention that he puts competent assistants in each area.

Accordingly, even with his fantastic won-loss record to date, MLF still needs to grow into becoming an outstanding head coach who can deliver Super Bowls. Go Pack Go!

4 points
4
0
Starrbrite's picture

December 16, 2021 at 07:48 pm

The reason I can’t vote for Bellycheat, is because they’ve played in what is the worst division in football for 25 years. They are virtually guaranteed division winners. His cheating scandals do not impress me either.

3 points
3
0
dobber's picture

December 18, 2021 at 11:25 am

Hasn't stopped them from winning titles...

0 points
0
0
jont's picture

December 16, 2021 at 01:07 pm

"My friend and I parked for free right in front of an elementary school, like a block away from the stadium. The fact that that’s even a thing–it’s so wild."

A point of comparison, $60 for parking at So-fi in LA is the bargain of the year and goes fast. $150 is about the average. Within a 9-iron to the gate is $500 to $1,000.

4 points
4
0
fordguy's picture

December 16, 2021 at 03:36 pm

He either got there really early or got really lucky for a free public spot.

1 points
2
1
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 04:44 pm

My family used to park for free on the street at 50th and Wells to go to Braves and Brewers games (up until late 70s at least). A bit of a walk, but no issues otherwise, and a nice atmosphere. Not sure if they've changed the parking regs for that neighborhood since then.

3 points
3
0
Tedlyflyfisher's picture

December 16, 2021 at 01:34 pm

Starting the MVP campaign today. Help me spread the message:

RASUL DOUGLAS FOR MVP!!!

4 points
4
0
Vanghuisher's picture

December 16, 2021 at 04:04 pm

Adam Stenavich should get a raise. The guy is a phenomenal coach.

MVP race- If people look at it objectively Rodger should beat Brady. The Buccaneers’ strength of schedule is dismal. One could easily argue Brady’s numbers should be better. Couple that with the facts the Packers O-line has been banged up all year, their number 1, 2, and 3 receivers have missed significant time and the Packers had one of the toughest schedules in the league Rodgers should take home the trophy.

4 points
4
0
jurp's picture

December 16, 2021 at 04:46 pm

I'd like to see a non-QB finally get the award. Problem is that I don't any DL is going crazy with sacks, and there seems to be no WR and RBs having truly great years, either. Maybe give it to Hochuli for the effects his crew are having on their games? (yes, this is sarcasm).

2 points
3
1
dobber's picture

December 18, 2021 at 11:27 am

I wouldn't be surprised to see Stenavich get an upgrade to "Associate Head Coach/Offensive Line" or the like to make it harder for other teams to try to poach him with a promotion.

0 points
0
0