The Four Agreements From Week 8

This week, your bald and important friend is back to break down what went right, what went wrong, and what we do now in the aftermath of the Packer's loss to the Buffalo Bills.  

Life comes at you fast, Packers fans.  Four weeks ago,  Green Bay had the fourth best odds to win the Super Bowl.  Thirty days later, they aren't even favored to make the playoffs.  This is the reality in the NFL for bad teams.  The Detroit's and Houston's of the world would feel perfectly at home wallowing in a 3-5 start.  Green Bay?  A 3-5 start chafes like running in jeans on a cold November afternoon.  The window for this Packers season hasn't been slammed shut. Yet.  But, it's getting mighty stuffy inside 1265 Lombardi.  If you like your coffee with lots of sugar and cream, this might not be the article for you.  You are free to turn your iPad off now, jump in your car, and head down to Starbucks for a grande pumpkin spice latte.  Maybe they will even throw in a parasol, two of those stupid little straws, and a sprig of holly in there for you.  But, for those of you who like your coffee plain, buckle in and let's see if we can find four things from this week's loss to Buffalo that Packers fans the world over can all agree on.

  • Agreement #1--Trade Winds Don't Blow In Wisconsin

Welp, the trade deadline came and went with about as much action as I got in the 10th grade.  I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.  I know the Packers' Twitter cognoscenti, not to mention all the former player talking heads on TV, were absolutely flummoxed by Green Bay's acedia.  Newbs.  Those of us that have been around for a while were, um, a little less than shocked.  Yes, it's true--Brian Gutekunst spent Tuesday like he has spent most of 2022--at the post office (You can't mail it in if you don't have stamps!).  Brian's 2022 effort is reminiscent of the divorced dad who forgot to get his kid a Christmas present, and is forced to rummage through the racks at Walgreen's at 11PM on Christmas Eve (Merry Christmas, Aaron--I got you a Dusty Rhodes Funko Pop and a summer sausage!).  It's not 100% Brian's fault though.  This season was not in his game plan.  He stacked up all his chips to win a trophy last season, with the idea that Rodgers would ride out of town a champion, and Green Bay could start a soft reset to the Season Of Love.   They say if you want to make God laugh, you should announce your plans out loud.  Man, the Big Guy must be getting quite the chuckle watching this Packers season unfold.  

The truth is, this team isn't one player away.  Nor, are they two players away.  This isn't 2016.  Aaron Rodgers is not Roy Hobbs.  This team is 3-5.  It's going to take 10 wins to secure the NFC wildcard.  That means the Packers would have to go 7-2 the rest of the season to secure themselves a spot in the playoffs.  They still have games against Dallas, Philadelphia, Tennessee, Miami, and Minnesota.  This team got throttled at home by the New York Jets two weeks ago.  They aren't beating the Eagles.  There is optimistic, and then there is gullible.  You choose in which category you best fit.  The theme for the Packers this season has been the thin margin of error they traverse each week between winning and losing.  That margin for error now applies to the schedule as much as the team's talent.  And, that line is thinner than Paris Hilton in 2007.

If Gutekunst was being proactive, the Packers would have been better served by selling at the trade deadline.  I am not a "Blow it up and Fire Everybody" guy.  But, I am also not a "last dude at the party" kind of guy.  This team is not built to win this year.  And, one glance at their 2023 ledger suggests they are more than likely not going to be built to win next year, either.  Saying some hard goodbyes to Packer stalwarts yesterday would have given the Green and Gold some draft capital to jumpstart the rebuild that is surely waiting.  Aaron Jones won't be on this team next year.  You had an opportunity to turn him into an asset yesterday.  Ditto for Allen Lazard.  Instead, Gutekunst and Company are going to stand around and waive goodbye to these two like people in the 1930's would waive at ships as they pulled out of port, with absolutely nothing to show for it.  It's starting to feel like Brian Gutekunst is definitely the guy who stays at the party too late.

  • Agreement #2--What We Have Here Is Failure To Communicate

This Packer team has been trying to tell us who they are all season.  We just aren't listening.  Two weeks ago, in his post game press conference, Matt LaFleur was asked how he could fix the offense.  He replied, "I don't know".  It was a rare break from the canned answers he gives after every loss.  He was telling us the truth.  We just didn't want to hear it.  He dropped another truth bomb on us during the Buffalo game in his halftime comments.  He said he challenged the defense to "play physical, play with passion".  It was a prime-time game against the best team in the NFL, and Matt was having to implore one of the highest-paid teams in the NFL to care, just a little.   Truly shocking.   Then, just yesterday on the Pat McAfee Show, Aaron Rodgers admitted that this team has not been practicing well and that Sunday was the first time this season he felt like they came ready to play.  Your eyes can lie to you.  They can see past things you don't want to accept.  Your ears don't.  

The most damning statement this week didn't come from the Packers, directly.  It came from Rob Demovsky.  Rob wrote a piece for ESPN detailing frustrations within the Green Bay defense, specifically calling out defensive coordinator Joe Barry, and his lackluster defensive scheme.  This is the type of talk that comes out when teams are fractured - when they are on the verge of breaking apart at the seams.  LaFleur was asked about this disconnect on Monday, and backed his defensive coordinator, but also mentioned that the Packers need to listen to their guys a little more.  I think this team, its coaching staff, and the front office have a fundamental issue with their shared vision for this team.  Gutekunst has built a ball-control team that leans heavily on its defense.  Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur want to air it, damn the torpedoes.  Our defensive personnel suggests a team that would thrive in a man pressure scheme.  Joe Barry is versed (I cannot in good faith say well-versed) in running zones.  It's a conundrum.  

Perhaps, this team would be well served by spending less time talking to the media, and more time talking to one another.  Communication is the key to any great relationship.  It's how you form connections.  How you organize.  How you mobilize.   How you adjust.  Watch any game in this four-week slide, and it is clear that this team just does not communicate well.  Quay Walker and De'Vondre Campbell have often been seen pointing at one another after blown assignments.  The defensive backfield has struggled to get on the same page from game one.  And, while they may be young, dumb, and, um, full of athletic talent, Rodgers needs to be coaching up more than tearing down.  In this era of living with an iPhone in your hand and AirPods in your ears, conversation is becoming a lost art.  If LaFleur wants to turn this ship around, he needs to find a way to translate his message to these players, which in turn should translate into more positive numbers in the win column.

  • Agreement #3--Holy Shit, running the ball actually worked!

For months, Packers fans have been screaming this, repeating the same line like a dogmatic mantra, like a prayer, like a wish--RUN THE DAMN BALL.  Guess what?  We did.  Guess what else?  It kinda worked.  Now, listen, it's hard to say anything worked in a game where you lost by 10, and were down by three scores most of the game.  The Bills are fantastic, and our defense was garbage, but, if there was a bright spot in this game, it was the fact that Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers tucked their pride away for one week and let Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion finally eat.  And, eat they did!  The Packers ran the ball 31 times for 208 yards, and it was as glorious as a double rainbow.  Sure, Rodgers looked bored as shit, and he immediately poo-pooed the idea of transitioning to a run-based attack in his post-game press conference, but, for one beautiful moment, it looked like we were finally going to get the offensive scheme we have been clamoring for all season.  

Now, here is my question.  Why did it take Matt LaFleur 8 weeks to finally realize that Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are his two best offensive weapons and that possessing the ball, moving the chains, and keeping our dumbass defense off the field is a good thing?   Packers fans started calling for this in Week Three.  How many of these L's that we have taken over the last month would have been converted to W's if we had just run something similar to what we ran on Sunday against Buffalo?  Green Bay's offense in 2022 has been like a romantic comedy where the handsome guy keeps chasing after the high-maintenance cheerleader, all the while completely ignoring the girl next door, who he is best friends with!  Our running game is that girl!!!  Why did it take LaFleur so long to notice her?  Was it the eyebrows?  Are his eyebrows taking up so much of his time that he couldn't see what was right in front of him the whole time?

Is the running game going to be a cure-all for every on of the Packers problems?   HELL NO.  But, it is the first baby step in the direction of Green Bay playing this new thing called "Complimentary Football".  Yes, the more the Packers put this scheme on tape, the more teams will key on it and try to take it away.   Which could ultimately help the passing game get on track, as well.  As teams adjust out of the two safety shell they have been playing against the Packers, the more opportunities Rodgers will have against single coverage.  Huh?  This sounds familiar.  Oh yeah.  It's because we mentioned it in this column after Week 4.  Keeping Matt and Aaron committed to this is going to be like having a weekly intervention for your booze-hound cousin.   Rodgers and LaFleur are always going to be one sip of a beer away from downing an entire bottle of Beefeater.   Like i said, baby steps.  

  • Agreement #4--Can't We All Just Get Along?

This season has officially turned into the last 30 minutes of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  And, I am not just talking about the on-field product either.  This fan base, is, um, how do I put this delicately?  Not handling things well.  Is that fair?  The last two weeks on Twitter is making me long for the calm social media waters of November 2020.  Goodness, gracious.  Half of you hate Gutekunst.  Half of you love him like he was your Nana.  Half of you named one of your kids after Aaron Rodgers.  The other half wants to launch Rodgers, and his endless collection of swoop-neck hipster tees to Saturn.  One group is calling for LaFleur to be fired immediately.  Another group telling that group what a bunch of ungrateful bastards they are.    Packers Twitter over the last 14 days has been about as toxic as one of the ponds on the perimeter of LaGuardia Airport.  This season has been a disaster.  Right up there with Chernobyl, or that time Steven Seagal hosted Saturday Night Live.  But, at the end of the day, we are all Packers fans.  

Sure, some of us process our frustration differently.  And, some of the ways we process that grief is just ruthless.  We need to put down our Apple-branded rectangular firearms for a minute and just remember why we love this team in the first place.  Maybe it's the communal feel of cheering for a small-town team?  Maybe it's the three decades of truly beautiful quarterback play we have borne witness to.  Maybe it's the case full of trophies on display at Lambeau.  Hell, maybe you just need something to waste your time on til ice fishing season starts.  Whatever the reason, despite our differences, we are all Packers fans at the end of the day.  Some of us may have different ideas on how the team should pursue success.  That doesn't make us wrong.  That just makes us fans.  Try to keep this in mind next time you want to complain about one of our player's fragility after he has just accrued a concussion.  And, remember--Just because you thought it, doesn't mean you need to post it.   Next time you see a Peter Bukowski tweet that doesn't jibe with your opinion, or a national pundit posts a video about Gutekunst's recent draft record, just take a beat, maybe a deep breath or two, and let the moment pass.  This is supposed to be fun, remember.  Plus, it always could be worse--you could be a Bears fan.  

  • Catching Strays

​​​​​​​Darnell is a savage in name only.

If you had told me in the preseason that the Packers would be facing a must-win game against Detroit in Week 8, I would have said "Detroit has a professional football team?"

Is Brett Favre the modern-day Jacob Marley?

Judging by his post-game presser garb, I  can only assume Aaron Rodgers is in a My Chemical Romance phase right now.

Royce Newman dressed up as Jesus for Halloween, which is apropos because that is the word I happen to say most when I watch Royce play football.  

Tim Preece lives in Utah because he makes poor life decisions.

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Comments (13)

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

November 02, 2022 at 06:52 pm

Just takes one game' to alter the trajectory of a team. A quote from swollen head Mr. Rodgers. Same quote the captain of the Titanic said as he's ship slowly sank to the bottom. Rodgers must be back on mushrooms.

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LeotisHarris's picture

November 02, 2022 at 07:04 pm

It's true, Tim, if you let people talk they'll tell you they are and Matt LaFleur is no exception. When caught in moments of candor, he's also a solid example of why the good lord gave us three ears so we could hear what is not said.

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Rebecca's picture

November 02, 2022 at 08:54 pm

Rodgers in an MCR phase! LOL KACHING!

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Rebecca's picture

November 02, 2022 at 08:55 pm

Seriously entertaining article Tim!

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fangirl's picture

November 03, 2022 at 12:03 am

When I listen to locker room interviews and Rodger's pressors, I don't feel urgency nor excitement; they sound scripted and canned.
I would be very surprised if this team can manage the 38 points the Lion's usually score @ home.

Fun article!

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Tundraboy's picture

November 03, 2022 at 03:15 am

"And, while they may be young, dumb, and, um, full of athletic talent, Rodgers needs to be coaching up more than tearing down. "

And if that attitude doesn't change than nothing good offensively or defensively will happen on the field

Also who the hell wants to come to a team with THAT

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Tundraboy's picture

November 03, 2022 at 03:27 am

Sorry just had to get that out. Fun article , especially the Newman Jesus reaction. lmao

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Tundraboy's picture

November 03, 2022 at 03:27 am

btw, not all are Apple people.

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LLCHESTY's picture

November 03, 2022 at 05:48 am

Funny article but saying LaFleur has ignored the run in the previous 7 games is not being truthful. Against the Bears they had 203 yards at 5.3 a pop and against the Patriots 199 yards at 5.7 per carry. The problem with those games, and against the Bills, is that they also gave up more than 150 yards rushing each time. If you want to be a ball control offense it helps to have the ball.

The Lions are equally bad vs the run and pass so whatever works but starting out leaning on the run is probably the way to go. If they can't stop it and they don't kill themselves with penalties and drops maybe they don't get behind by three scores this week.

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Rarescope's picture

November 03, 2022 at 09:49 am

Well done as always Tim - sadly there isn't much funny about this season so far. Seems like your article was posted at a weird time of day too. I wonder if that's to account for the low number of comments here.

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Oppy's picture

November 03, 2022 at 10:55 am

"This team is not built to win this year."

I dunno, man. People keep saying this team is a shell/husk, but the outside of the loss of Davante Adams and Billy Turner, there's not any tangible difference in personnel on the field. In fact, I'd say it's improved at many positions.

For all the talk about the offensive line play (which is legitimately an area of concern), they are playing with improved talent than they had available most of last year. Now, I'm not saying the OL was good last year without Bakh and Jenkins all season, but the offense was able to generate points and give Rodgers another MVP, so I would assume with Bahk and Jenkins increasingly available, and the rest of the guys with a year more seasoning, the OL should be able to cope with the loss of Turner and at least provide a level of play that should suffice.

At WR, the Packers lost Adams, clearly a huge blow to talent, but then again, the Packers seemed to have made the conscious decision to let go of the crop of understudy WRs and start fresh (I'm guessing Rodgers had a lot of input on those decisions, as well as some of the young WRs wanting out.) That being said, Toure, Watson, and Doubs all look to be high talent players. Health a factor for Watson, of course.. but all three of these WRs look like they may be significant upgrades over all WRs not named Adams who played in the green and gold in 2021.

On defense, they added DL talent/depth, added LB talent (though Quay is definitely showing rookie growing pains), and otherwise have the same talent. I've been vocal about questioning Savage's talent for over two years now. I was disappointed they picked up his option.. but that said, it's the same back end the Packers have won 13 games with for a few years now.

Special Teams has been tweaked enough that it's definitely improved and even looks good some weeks. Yes, they have had two games that were flashbacks. But mostly, improved.

Ultimately, someone explain how this team "isn't built to win". It's the same basic structure we've had for a while.

There's big problems with this team, but I don't think it's about personnel on the roster. Implementation? Yeah, that's an issue. But the players are there to win now. Superbowl? Well, probably not. But, they shouldn't be this big dumpster fire we're seeing so far.

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T7Steve's picture

November 03, 2022 at 11:17 am

"but that said, it's the same back end the Packers have won 13 games with for a few years now."

Except it should be better now that there's a healthy Alexander, no Kevin King and another year of experience with the young guys.

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MainePackFan's picture

November 03, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Oppy, my thoughts exactly. You just did a much better job expressing them than I would have.

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