Banged up Packers off to a mediocre start; still plenty of reasons to be optimistic

After the hard-to-watch loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, Green Bay is 2-2.  And two things have become obvious throughout early stages of the Packers season:  1.)  The Packers have a ton of potential, and 2.)  They’re not living up to it.

There have been several small things that, individually, wouldn’t do much to keep the Pack from winning, but taken as a whole, are definitely hurting Green Bay.  Among these are dropped passes, penalties, and plain old bad luck.

Then there’s the more serious problems, namely the inability of the Packers to run the football.  Ryan Grant has been doing a whole lot of nothing lately.  It’s like the 2006 incarnation of the Green Bay offense.  Part of this may have to do with the fact that nagging injuries kept Ryan Grant off the practice field during training camp, thus depriving him of the opportunity to build chemistry with the offensive line.  Let’s hope this improves–or we could be in for a long season.

But the single biggest problem Green Bay has had is injuries, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.  Packer defenders have been dropping like flies.  Charles Woodson has been playing admirably through serious pain with a broken toe.  Al Harris suffered a serious spleen injury against Dallas, and the Packers initially feared that it might be season-ending.  Now Coach McCarthy says Harris may be back in 3-4 weeks.  Safety Atari Bigby is out with a hamstring injury.  A.J. Hawk is questionable with a groin injury.  Nick Collins re-injured his back Sunday, and Aaron Rouse went down against Tampa Bay as well, leaving the Packers secondary in absolute chaos (At one point Green Bay’s best safety in the game was Charlie Peprah–don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of him before either).  One of the most concerning injuries on Sunday was a shoulder injury for QB Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers says it might be a separated shoulder, while the Packers have suggested that it is only a bruise.  The Packers are expected to update us on Rodgers’ condition some time today.

When the Packers are healthy, they will most likely be serious title contenders (assuming they cut down on the aforementioned “small things” that are screwing up games).  Aaron Rodgers has exceeded everyone’s expectations, putting up solid performances in all 4 games.  Some critics will no doubt point out the fact that Rodgers threw 3 interceptions against the Bucs on Sunday, but he can’t be blamed for all of them.  The first pick came after Brandon Jackson let a perfect pass bounce off of his hands.  The third came after Rodgers’ shoulder injury.  He shouldn’t have even been in the game, but Matt Flynn was proving himself to be a devastatingly awful backup quarterback, so Aaron tried to tough it out for the final two minutes, which no doubt was a reason for the interception.  It was also no help that the Packers offensive line seemed unable to provide any kind of pass protection, meaning Rodgers was under heavy pressure for the entire game.

The Packers have what should be an easy game coming up against the Falcons.  As long as Rodgers is able to start against Atlanta, Green Bay should have no trouble leaving the field with a win.  Give this team a few weeks to get healthy and gain some momentum, and Green Bay will be on its way to the playoffs.  But if the Packers stumble against the Falcons or Aaron’s injury turns out to be more serious, then it’s time to start getting seriously concerned.  But for now, Packer Nation has plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

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