The Green Bay Packers’ 24-15 victory over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday wasn’t pretty. Just about everyone predicted that it would be a blowout in favor of the Packers, but Green Bay was unable to put the game away until the fourth quarter. It certainly wasn’t what Green Bay fans were looking for from their team and, though a win’s a win, the game was a bit disconcerting.
The Jaguars are the worst team in the league. You can find them scraping the bottom of the barrel in nearly every statistical category. And that was before they lost Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew was pretty much the sum total of the offense before he suffered a foot injury two weeks ago. The Packers should have crushed the Jaguars, right? Even with their own injuries, the Packers should have dominated against a team that has almost no recognizable name on the roster. The Packers were unable to establish any sort of run game against a team that’s ranked 25th against the run. Is this game a cause for concern among the Packers?
As unhappy as I was with the win, I don’t think it is something to bite my nails over. Every team has injuries at this point in the season, but the fact that the Packers were without their top two receivers, their starting running back, their starting fullback, a starting safety, a starting cornerback, their starting middle linebacker, and their backup middle linebacker has to count for something. Furthermore, two defensive linemen – Jerel Worthy and Mike Neal – went down during the game.
Those are some significant injuries to the starting lineup. Particularly on offense, where the Packers’ barrage of receiving weapons creates matchup nightmares for opponents, these injuries had a huge effect. Without Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson, no receiver on Green Bay commanded a double-team or extra safety help over the top, which gave the Jaguar defense a lot of freedom in their scheme.
The Packers cannot use injuries as an excuse, but I do think it’s important to recognize the challenges they were facing Sunday and not go into a panic over fears that the team is regressing. Though many of their injuries are long term and the younger players will have to step up, there is some hope on the horizon.
There’s no official word on Nelson’s hamstring injury, but since Nelson was a game-time decision Sunday, there’s a strong chance he’ll be ready to go next week. Once Jennings has his surgery, he’ll reportedly only be looking at a three-week recovery time rather than the initial six-week estimate.
Next Sunday, they play the Arizona Cardinals, who are coming off a short week and a major beatdown, and who also have the worst offensive line in football (yay! someone else is worse in that category than the Packers!). While this is not to say the Cardinals game will be an easy victory, the Packers certainly could be facing a much tougher situation next week if they had to play a playoff-bound opponent. But the best news is that the bye week is just two weeks away and will be a welcome rest for the banged up team.