The Green Bay Packers (1-2) couldn’t have asked for a better time to have their bye week. Three games into the season, the Packers have been one of the NFL‘s worst fourth-quarter teams (opponents are outscoring Green Bay 39-7 in fourth quarter) and one of the NFL’s most injury-prone squads … again.
Running backs Eddie Lacy (concussion) and John Kuhn (hamstring), cornerbacks Jarrett Bush (hamstring) and Casey Hayward (hamstring), along with safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring) were all ruled out with injuries before kickoff against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) this past weekend.
During the game, the Packers’ injury list had nearly doubled. Tight end Jermichael Finley (concussion) left the game early in the first quarter. Running back James Starks (knee) left the game near the end of the first half. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) was taken out of the game in the third quarter. Running back Johnathan Franklin (ankle) was limping around and hobbled during the Packers’ final offensive drive.
And yet here we are, three weeks into the season, and the Packers could easily be 3-0. If the majority of the injured players on this team can get healthy by the time they return to game action in Week 5 at Lambeau Field against the Detroit Lions, then it is time to break out the Packers.
For the most part, the Packers’ defensive secondary has had more trouble than success in the first three weeks. Not having Burnett, their key communicator and quarterback in the back-end of the defense, has proven to be tough this season. Hayward recorded six interceptions as a rookie last season, and the Packers certainly need his ball-hawking skills and experience in the secondary.
The running backs group of Lacy, Starks and Franklin has been surprisingly solid. Entering Monday, the Packers are averaging 128 rushing yards per game (10th in NFL). The Packers have legitimate talent in the offensive backfield, but if none of them can stay healthy, the Packers are in deep trouble.
Finley has shown vast improvement and the kind of talent that the Packers have been expecting out of him for quite some time now. Finley and wide receiver Randall Cobb have the ability to draw opposing defenders’ attention to the middle of the field and away from outside receiving threats James Jones and Jordy Nelson.
If fans were cursing Finley’s name before, they better think twice before cursing his name again because if you like it or not, he is a key player in the Packers’ offensive attack.
Lastly, it is time to thank the football gods that the Packers took a precautionary measure in the decision to remove Matthews during Sunday’s game. Matthews is the rock and soul of the Packers’ defense. If he would go down for an extended period of time, it wouldn’t be easy for the Packers to recover.
The Packers have outscored their opponents by eight total points in three games. It is time to clean up the fourth quarter play and get healthy because after the bye week, the Packers have 13 consecutive games. Buckle up — it could be a bumpy ride.