The Angels Are Back & They’ve Got The Answers
The Pocket Doppler Angels group is made up of the women that contribute to PocketDoppler.com, the moniker in homage to Charlie’s Angels. Individually and combined this group is as knowledgeable about the Packers, football & sports in general as anyone out there. Every other week or so they’ll answer your submitted questions on the Packers, football or other topics submitted. To submit your question for the next column today, click here or on Twitter, @PDAngels. On to the question & answers!
Steve asks: With the bad news now that Cedric Benson is out for 8 weeks, who will be the Packers featured running back?
Colleen: It seems to me the Packers have no choice other than to depend on Alex Green. That answer at first may sound like I am doubting Green can step up to the fill the void caused by Benson’s injury. In fact, based of the little I’ve seen of Green, including one fantastic run in the Texans game, I really think he can do the job, hopefully complemented by a healthy James Starks. What I really fear, though, is that Mike McCarthy, despite his stated desire not to throw the ball 90 times a game anymore, will shy away from pursuing the running game that Benson was opening up. It shouldn’t be that hard to duplicate an average of 3.5 yards per carry if you have a decent running back and some fair run blocking. But it will be very hard to duplicate if the game plan is abandoned.
Kelly: Alex Green will get the start, making him the featured back. Kuhn will take a larger role, similar to what he did in 2010, if the Packers don’t decide abandon the run all together. They have shown no confidence in Starks (who hasn’t seen playing time since August). Saine showed slight promise last year so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him active over Starks.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers took a look at some free agents (Tim Hightower and Joseph Addai come to mind), but expect that ultimately TT and MM will maintain their “next man up” mentality. Of course, Samkon Gado is still available…
Lauren: I fully expect McCarthy to start with Alex Green, then rotate between Green, Starks and Saine. I don’t think we will see a lot from Saine, but MM is known for his revolving door on the RB end.
Jon asks: There’s been talk of some chemistry issues between Aaron Rodgers & Mike McCarthy. What do you make of that & do you think that could be part of the reason Rodgers seems off this year?
Amanda: Jon, I could be very out of the loop on this, but I haven’t heard any chatter about chemistry issues between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. I don’t believe a chemistry issue between the Packers quarterback and head coach is the reason the offense is struggling.
One reason our offense isn’t RED HOT like last year is because the Packers have made changes, either by choice or by force. Randall Cobb was definitely present on special teams last year. This year Cobb has become an influential part of the offense making 22 receptions for 244 yards as compared to 2011 when Cobb had only 25 receptions for 375 yards.
While Cobb has stepped into action, veteran Donald Driver has kept a low profile on the field this year. Driver has always been the man to count on when plays are not coming together, but his limited presence can only have so much impact on the game’s outcome.
The Packers have attempted to develop a running game by adding Cedric Benson to the roster. Up until now, it looked like they were going to have some alternative plays to use and mix up the opponent’s defense when necessary. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a risk the Packers needed to take to keep their offense fresh. Unfortunately Benson suffered a foot injury against the Colts and will be out for at least the next eight weeks.
Opposing defenses have watched how magical the Packers offense can be. No longer do they doubt Jordy Nelson as a legitimate target for Aaron Rodgers. The coverage on Nelson is definitely there this year and has put more pressure on Rodgers to find other options on the field.
All of these reasons together are why Rodgers seems off this year. Sure he’s not playing quite up to his phenomenal numbers of last season, but by no means is he Jay Cutler or Tony Romo.
Nathan asks, for KelKel: What horse was your all-time favorite horse to watch race?
KelKel: Zenyatta was hands down my favorite horse to watch race.
Wins are a rare thing in horse racing. Every week thousands of horses compete in hundreds of races around the country. Most horses never win a race. Some win a few. An elite horse who wins consistently is rare. Zenyatta was elite.
She won 19 consecutive races from 2007 to 2010 before finishing second in her final race. Holds numerous North American thoroughbred racing records. Won Horse of the Year Honors in 2010. Was a finalist for AP Sports Female Athlete of the Year.
She was a flawless champion with a thrilling, come-from-behind running style. She did the impossible…she didn’t lose. Generations before me had had Man O’War and Secretariat. Affirmed and Alydar. Zenyatta was the horse that this life-long fan of the sport had been waiting for.
Kevan asks: I’m skeptical of Marshall Newhouse’s likelihood to develop into a better pass protector and hold up against the Pierre-Pauls, Pepperses and Allens of the league. What say you all?
Kelly: Long story short, he had better because at the current time, he’s all we’ve got. The lastest out of Lambeau is Derek Sherrod is nowhere near where they want him to be rehabbing his leg after that devastating compound fracture last winter. In all honesty, he’s functioning better than I had anticipated. I have been worried more about Brian Bulaga’s regression this year on the other side than Newhouse’s ability to help protect the blind side. The offensive line was pretty effective shutting down Chicago’s rush earlier in the season, but a more challenging foe will be JJ Watt bearing down on Aaron Rodgers. But that’s not to say Newhouse is not improving with time. The Packers need to help him develop even if it is a baptism by fire. Expect extra help from a beefy H back like Tom Crabtree to shore up the line this week against Watt and his 11 inch hands. At this point in the season I would rather focus on making the line a more cohesive unit than start play musical linemen hoping one permutation is better than an other.
Jen asks: Do you think the Packers can turn things around with 11 games left & still make the post-season?
Lauren: Yes, I do think we can make post season. We do need a win this Sunday, but we started 3-3 in our Super Bowl run. It pained me to see so many Packer “fans” say the season was over, they were done, etc on Sunday. This team has a way of rallying when everyone writes us off, and MM does his best coaching with these types of conditions.
Amanda: Oh yes. I actually believe that they could win out the rest of the games. Before you laugh at me, I want you to know that what I think they can do and what they actually will do are two different stories. Let’s take a look at three things.
1. Talent. HOLY CRAP! We have some of the most talented offensive players in league. The O-line isn’t perfect and improving it would greatly impact our offense. Rodgers still has a multitude of receivers to target. Not only do we have talent on offense but our defense has some great players as well. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry have brought back some of the pass rush we missed last year. Tramon Willaims and Charles Woodson are still making big plays to show how deadly the Packers defense can be. They are not perfect but the talent is there.
2. Schedule. Houston is going to be a tough one. However, the Packers do this thing sometimes where they lose really easy games and then win the game that you least expect them to. After Houston, the next three games should all be won by the Packers. I expect the Packers to take the next three of four. After they play the Cardinals on November 4th, the Packers have their Bye week, which is perfect timing before they face some of the better teams.
3. 2010 Season. A lot of what we are seeing from the Packers this year mimics the 2010 Packers who won the Super Bowl. They struggled in the beginning, losing games they shouldn’t have and barely making their way into the playoffs. However, the Packers found their momentum and clicked at the end of the season and rolled their way to a Super Bowl Championship. Now, in 2010 our defense was much stronger, but we have seen bits and pieces of defensive domination this year. They just need the consistency.
Can they turn things around? Yes definitely.
Will they? I am in a good mood today, and I refuse to think negatively about this team so I’m going to say YES! They won’t win out the rest of the season, though. I think the Bears and Vikings have their names on two of the games.
Jayme: Yes. The Packers have been playing average. Good moments, bad moments, but mostly down the middle. There doesn’t seem to be any one reason, except that the team just isn’t “clicking” yet. While that’s not something we know how to fix, it’s also something that can change on a dime and be better tomorrow. The fact that the Packers have all the weapons they do, and have had sections of games where their defense has been able to hold opponents gives me hope for the remainder of the season.
Also, while the Packers still have the Texans and the Giants on their schedule, they also have the Titans and Jaguars. The Packers have yet to play the bulk of their division games as well. Win those games and a couple others, the post-season should be no problem. The Packers just need to get on track and soon. In three weeks, if things haven’t changed, my answer to this question could be very different.
Greg asks: What’s your take on this weekend’s Packers game against the Texans? I’m not very hopeful about it.
Annie: They’re toast…..I’m just kidding…..but seriously……
Let’s face it, the Packers aren’t exactly in the right place and mindset to walk into Reliant Stadium on Sunday and put on a smoke show. The momentum definitely does not seem in their favor. The Texans are undefeated for a reason and having to face them when they are playing at the top of their game is going to be the toughest test for the Packers so far this season. Defensive end JJ Watt is slaughtering O-lines left and right while raking in 7.5 sacks through Week 5. Arian Foster shows no signs of slowing down his running game, and the Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson duo are sure to make any secondary look like a JV squad. These guys alone could tear up the most critical holes in the Packers arsenal. Newhouse and company are struggling this year to help keep Rodgers standing upright, and the defense almost forgets that teams really do have running backs. As far as the secondary goes?…well…let’s not even go there.
BUT….with that being said, we all know what this Packers team is capable of doing. All is not lost, yet (and that’s a pretty big ‘yet’.) This team can make a statement by beating the Texans and showing the rest of the league that they really are who we all thought they were. The defense has been about as inconsistent as it gets while the run game is on the verge of extinction now that Cedric Benson is out. Rodgers has shockingly shown us that he really is human after all. But as seen in the past, we KNOW what Rodgers can do. (uh…hello? Reigning MVP, here) We KNOW what a high caliber offense looks like. (you say the name Jordy and I faint) And we KNOW just how badass the defense can be. (I expect a new Avengers movie starring Matthews, Woodson, and Tramon any day now…) Just these 3 things alone are what bring this team above and beyond the rest, and have since the SBXLV days.
Also, as I’ve said for the last few seasons, the Packers struggle with the Third quarter when they are ahead. We saw exactly that last week against the Colts. They need to put this game away early and not let up until the clock says zero. McCarthy needs to come out after halftime ready for bloodshed and take it to the house. Aside from the obvious improvements that are needed, one of the biggest factors in this game are going to be how well they handle the pressure if they do get ahead, and how well they manage the clock once in that position. The third down conversions and dominating the red zone are what is going to keep this offense alive and thriving like they have in the past. The Packers offense has been touted as one of the best in the league when it comes to embarrassing the opponents in the red zone. Rodgers has proven time and time again just how powerful this offense can be when the end zone is in their sights. As long as they can finish these drives when the time is right, and not have to rely on field goals (insert groan) to win the game, you’ll see just what the term “high octane” really means.
But it all has to happen and it has to happen now. If the same Packers team that played in Indy last week comes out, I hate to say it, but they will be looking at yet another long plane ride home and floating further away from their playoff hopes. Given the perception of this team so far this season, handing the Texans their first lost and placing themselves back at the top of the tier just may be all the motivation the Packers need to grabbing the W.
Lauren: Look, I was born and raised in Houston. I went through the Oilers, the Oilers being sold, the Cowboys being awesome (my dad is a huge fan) and then the Texans becoming a team. My parents are season ticket holders, so I’ve been to games at Reliant more times than at Lambeau.
I had to hear all about it when we lost 24-21 up in The Bay in 2008. The Texans have a scary balanced offense with Schaub, Foster and Johnson…. but I think we do have a shot, and here’s why:
Matthews vs. Watt: I’ve heard more trash talk from Texans fans about SWAT! this week then I have about the 1985 Bears…. ever. Guess what? Your Swat got a sack taken away from him, so Claymaker now leads the league in sacks. Rodgers has a keen sense most of the time of where the top DE is. He needs to turn it up and be tuned into Watt like no other. You know how big his hands are, Aaron. Don’t let him swat.
Offense, don’t let the passing lanes free up at all, and the tackles need to get Watt out of the pocket.
Loss of Cushing: It’s a big deal. With his position, it’s not supposed to impact the score as much as I think it will (which is why they don’t have rules in place for the type of hit Cushing sustained on Sunday.) Do they need a rule in place? Absolutely. But until it impacts a score, I don’t even think they care. Tim Dobbins will move into his position, but he’s not even close to Cushing caliber. The Texans are an emotional team, and Cushing is one of those leaders. Cushing had 114 tackles last season with 2 INTs.
Interceptions: We’ve only had 1 this year, and that’s odd for us. Last time the two teams met Schaub threw for 414 yards, the third-highest total of his career. Guess what? Time to learn to read Schaub and intercept his throws.
Rodgers: If he can stop holding on to the football for so long and get the passing game going, we’ll be in good shape. I can’t help but wonder WHY he holds onto the ball so long when the O-Line is holding back defenders for so long. Miscommunication with MM? I think it’s playing a lot into it. But we have a surly, pissed off QB1. And we need to get consistent pass protection. Bulaga has given up 24 pressures already this season. What gives?
FOR THE LOVE, Stop. Arian. Foster. You know how to contain RBs. Do it.