Eyes Front: Packers Face a Desperate Chargers Team

Packers must establish a ground game early.

It’s a rare thing to be both a mystery and a punching bag at the same time, but the Los Angeles Chargers have managed it. For decades. 

What is it about these powder-blue boys that leads them to underperform so consistently, to year after year fool the pundits and dash the raised hopes of their 374 fans, and to fail so spectacularly in the most important moments?

It would be one thing if over the years the SD-LA collective were the Bears or the Jets, with their perennially pathetic rosters, but this is a franchise that’s trotted out the likes of Fouts and Rivers, Seau and Winslow, Sproles and Woodhead, Tomlinson and Gates and many more.  Yet every time they got close to success, something would go sideways. It’s baffling. 

This year is no different, if not worse. A deep roster with a top 5 QB and talent on both sides of the ball, the preseason darlings are staring once again at not making the playoffs. Their much maligned coach, Brandon Staley, is an alleged defensive guru whose defense ranks dead last in most first downs allowed per game, 29th in yards per play given up and 24th in points per game surrendered.

He’s also a wild card as a game manager, leading to occasional losses.

All of which is to say that this will be a desperate team visiting Lambeau on Sunday, with a coaching staff on seats that are scorching hot. Staley and company simply cannot afford another loss. 

Here are things to watch:

Key advantages for LA:

Justin Herbert is the real deal, and when Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler are healthy — and they are — this is one of the most dangerous offenses in football. Yes, they have struggled against premier defenses such as Dallas and Kansas City, but last week they hung 38 on the Lions.

The Packers are hardly an offensive juggernaut, so keeping pace will be a challenge. If this is a shootout, it does not favor Green Bay. 

The Chargers run game has taken awhile to ramp up, but has fired on more cylinders the last three weeks. And that has made the pass game that much more dangerous. Ekeler is the big name, but Joshua Kelley is someone to watch, having taken on more of the running load and doing it well. With Joe Barry’s defense still getting gashed for big runs, the matchup is hardly favorable. And meanwhile, Barry must find a way to neutralize Allen or the Packers don’t stand a chance. Jaire Alexander’s health will have an outsized impact on the outcome. 

One thing the Charger defense is good at it stopping teams on third down, something the Packers struggle with. Green Bay needs to make a special effort not to be in third and long often. 

Key advantages for Green Bay:

Joe Barry worked for Brandon Staley on the Rams staff, so he should have some good intel on what Green Bay’s offense should plan for. The bad news is the Packer D is cut from the same cloth as LA’s. 

Jordan Love showed some promising signs in Pittsburgh last week, and the Charger secondary can be exploited. But overall Love remains an inconsistent quarterback with unrealized potential. The 20-plus yard accuracy has got to improve. 

It’s going to be imperative that the Packer rushing attack get traction early. If it does, Love can start throwing the ball to enable the team to keep pace in what will be a high-scoring affair. Still, I am skeptical about further progress. There were schematic improvements last week, but the offense still struggles to sustain drives. Christian Watson is beginning to look like a warmed over MVS, valuable for tearing the top off the defense once or twice a game, but with no guarantee that Love can get him the ball. 

Integrating Watson more in the intermediate passing game will be critical. The Packers have the receiving weapons, they just need to use them. 

Once again, fans should keep in mind that winning these games is not of primary importance. The focus should be on improvement from week to week. GPG.

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHEESEHEAD NATION WEEKLY NEWSLETTER HERE.

__________________________
Jonathan Krim grew up in New York but got hooked on the Packers — and on hating the Cowboys — watching the Ice Bowl as a young child.  He blames bouts of unhappiness in his late teens on Dan Devine. A journalist for several decades who now lives in California, he enjoys trafficking in obscure cultural references, lame dad jokes and occasionally preposterous takes. Jonathan is a Packers shareholder, and insists on kraut with his brats. You can follow Jonathan on twitter at @Jkrim.

__________________________

9 points
 

Comments (56)

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

November 17, 2023 at 07:20 am

The bump in the road that these Packers' fans are experiencing is nothing compared to what we older fans went though in the late 70's through the 80's. These players are, basically, growing up before our eyes. Keep growing, learning and improving. Our success lies in the future, not right now. BTW, I like kraut on my brats, too!

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Tundraboy's picture

November 17, 2023 at 11:15 pm

Early 70's we're pretty rough too!

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fireball's picture

November 17, 2023 at 07:27 am

Staley reads somewhat like Matt LaFeur.

On the other hand, this looks like another loss for the Packers.

I remind everyone that Bart Starr was not a great quarterback as a passer. What he was good at was managing the great Lombardi teams.

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T7Steve's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:25 am

I don't know what you mean by Bart not being a great passer.

Not turning the ball over in the NFL is great passing. His record for fewest interceptions stood till we were lucky enough to get Rodgers who respected Starr's game greatly.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 17, 2023 at 05:45 pm

Right!

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dobber's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:33 am

He was a very good passer in an era where QBs were head-hunted and pass-catchers got mauled.

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Starrbrite's picture

November 17, 2023 at 05:45 pm

Right m!

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NickPerry's picture

November 17, 2023 at 07:29 am

"Once again, fans should keep in mind that winning these games is not of primary importance. The focus should be on improvement from week to week. GPG."

This is SO right on the money, especially at this point is the season at 3-6. Two weeks ago when the Packers won I even said in Nags "Gut Reactions" piece after the game, winning was much better before going on one of my negative rants about what went wrong that week, even after the win.

I REALLY want to see improvement form everybody and at this point could really care less about a win. Even if it feels better that week for the moment, THIS franchise needs picks as high as possible in each round. My BIGGEST concern has NOTHING to do with 2023 anymore. All I'm concerned about is WHO is leading this team in 2024, WHO will be making the draft picks, and WHO will be coaching them up in 2024.

I'd like to see Love take some gigantic steps forward making us feel he could lead us to another title. I'd like to see Watson catch the ball with DBs draped around him, alone wide open, and everything in-between. I want to see Sean Rhyan playing RG, and continued progress from Wicks and Reed. And I'd like to see Luke Musgrave catch the ball, turn up field, and run without stumbling and falling down...That's not too much to ask is it? Just SOME continued progress!

On defense it will be the same ole, same ole as long as Barry is involved. Eckler IS healthy and so is Allen. Herbert is the REAL deal. With Alexanders shoulder, back, and whatever else is ailing him not 100%, this could get really, REALLY ugly. I'm sure Barry will be ready though. With his 2 down D-Linemen and 2 OLB on the edge standing up, I'm at least 25% sure they can hold the Chargers under 200 yards rushing. The BEST thing we have going for the Defense is Staley who can't get out of his own way either.

GPG!

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T7Steve's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:33 am

NP I agree about the learning and improving part.

Part of learning and improving and the next hurdle this team needs to clear, is winning close games.

Start doing that and you'll see a winning culture because it better to learn while you win and you learning curve increases as you go.

Once you learn and get used to winning, losing isn't accepted because you're just young and learning.

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PeteK's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:52 am

Yes, but beating the worse teams on our schedule and staying close to the others is imperative for the all important confidence building. Winning only 3-4 games means we are further back in the rebuilding stage.

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NickPerry's picture

November 17, 2023 at 12:14 pm

Agreed Steve... You know Rodgers was 6-10 his first year starting and they lost a TON of games by 7 points or less. BUT, this still feels a whole lot worse than 2008.

Love is playing with new everybody. Rodgers had Driver with Jennings going into year three, and James Jones into year two. That's a HUGE difference in that group. Plus the Packers had a TE or two that weren't rookies.

To be honest, I don't know what in the hell Gutey was thinking when he put this together. I mean I get the whole "growing together" thing but damn, give Love something other than a few rookies, a 4th rounder, and a guy who's supposed to be a number one WR from a D-II school who ran the ball. That's a pretty tough ask.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 17, 2023 at 11:33 pm

He gambled that Bahkiari would be Love's anchor, and that blew up right away.

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Coldworld's picture

November 18, 2023 at 07:23 am

The odd thing is that Nijman kept Rodgers upright quite adequately, particularly at LT. We didn’t need to gamble at LT. The coaches chose to.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 18, 2023 at 06:35 pm

Yes. And all the while MLF bemoaned throughout camp that Bahk's situation was disrupting their plans, whatever the hell those were.

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Bitternotsour's picture

November 18, 2023 at 08:07 am

Gutekunst was thinking that the 2nd iteration of Mark Murphy's "all in" had failed, destroyed the salary cap, and that some hard times were on their way. Sadly we didn't take all that draft capital that Denver offered us, but Murphy, he's no idiot.

You can't have vet presence at skill positions without money to pay for it. I was optimistic over wins and losses, but the evidence shows that MLF isn't the guy to steer this rebuild/reload.

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Razer's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:45 am

...I REALLY want to see improvement form everybody and at this point could really care less about a win. Even if it feels better that week for the moment, THIS franchise needs picks as high as possible in each round. My BIGGEST concern has NOTHING to do with 2023 anymore. All I'm concerned about is WHO is leading this team in 2024, WHO will be making the draft picks, and WHO will be coaching them up in 2024...

I like how you summarized my outlook for the rest of this season. We are not playing for a playoff spot but we are, hopefully, building a foundation to take back the NFC North. Finishing behind a rebuilding Vikings hurts more than I'd like to admit.

2 points
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NickPerry's picture

November 17, 2023 at 12:05 pm

UGH...I hate the Vikings too. Probably more than the Bears but that's because I grew up in Minneapolis during the 70's and 80's when the Vikings were good so I got it extra bad from my buddies who were ALL Vikings fans.

My only saving grace and it STILL holds true today, it they still haven't won shit! The only thing the Vikings will do this season is move lower into each round of the draft. Playoffs? Maybe but IF they even make it to the playoffs they'll be one and done. Just like every other year!

3 points
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stockholder's picture

November 17, 2023 at 07:37 am

if winning isn't important - Nothing is.
“Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

6 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:40 am

"Trying is the first step towards failure." - Homer Simpson

7 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Homer also said he likes his beer cold, his TV loud, and homosexuals flaming.

This is a good season to remember that as it seems not much else good is coming out of it.

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2023 at 07:42 am

At this point, we need to worry about not beating ourselves. Until we can stop that consistently, the quality or motivation of the opposition isn’t the critical factor.

6 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:00 pm

Players against coaches?

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MooPack's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:18 am

This -
"Their much maligned coach, Brandon Staley, is an alleged defensive guru whose defense ranks dead last in most first downs allowed per game, 29th in yards per play given up and 24th in points per game surrendered."

Combined with this -
"Joe Barry worked for Brandon Staley on the Rams staff, so he should have some good intel on what Green Bay’s offense should plan for. The bad news is the Packer D is cut from the same cloth as LA’s. "

Is rather revealing for both teams' defenses. One would easily surmise bad schemes is the problem.

6 points
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Qoojo's picture

November 17, 2023 at 11:01 am

That's the thing that I always watch for a sign of a bad coach. The HC was hired for their prowess on one side of the ball, and that side of the ball looks like it can't even tie their shoes properly. With the last two games, it looks like GB's offense can now tie their shoes.

Traditionally, in GB, it always hires offensive minded coaches that hand everything off to the DC. I seem to remember JB's hiring was met with resounding "What?!" then followed with some "it will be ok...right?"

JB is straight up shit. Never should have been hired. Never was a rising star or even showed occasional competence. This last bit is drastically more negative than I usually post.

1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:02 pm

100% correct though.

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RCPackerFan's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:25 am

"Once again, fans should keep in mind that winning these games is not of primary importance. The focus should be on improvement from week to week. GPG."

Winning isn't the most important thing. Improving is the most important thing. However it would be great for this young offense especially start to learn how to win and build more confidence.

I feel like the offense is coming off a good game overall. They went against one of the best pass rushers in the league and gave up 1 sack. Love's throws looked the best we have seen all year. I feel like the offense is trending in the right direction. I want to see them keep taking steps and improving. The young WR's are really stepping up as well.

But we just want to see progress. Keep taking steps!

4 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:38 am

This should be an interesting match-up. The Chargers excel at finding ways to end up a field goal short of a win, and they'll go to great lengths to hand the game to their opponent. I'm not sure either team is capable of getting out of their own way to win; maybe a tie?

Like many of you, I'm looking for improvement in our young players. JT O'Sullivan was less enthusiastic in his QB School breakdown of Love from last week. "Stop, drop, and roll" made me chuckle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wMVN0DAcM8

3 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:45 am

"JT O'Sullivan was less enthusiastic in his QB School breakdown of Love from last week"

Interesting. I haven't watched it yet, but saw somewhere they said that he was glowing about Love after this last game. I will try and check it out today.

1 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

November 17, 2023 at 10:50 am

Let me know what you think. I wouldn't say "glowing" by any means. He pointed out the good throws, but focused more on what a "better ball" would have done in several situations. There was more emphasis on missed opportunities on routes, IMHO.

2 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:06 pm

Agreed. Yes he improved. TV announcers saying this or that was thrown "perfectly;" no it wasn't. It was just nice to see something completed. Especially on some chunk plays. In stride and on time JL wasn't. JT's QB school is exactly that, he'll focus on what to improve and there was plenty there.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 05:05 pm

I watched and you're both right. What I like about his videos is honest analysis, great film breakdown, and concentrating on what can be improved. JT was glowing about what JL did well, and honest about what he didn't, even on plays that worked.

There was lots of both. I call that an improvement because for several weeks they couldn't move the ball at all. Further, I don't see a big improvement in pass protection, I see JL getting the ball out quicker. While some people say he doesn't have happy feet in the pocket, JT shows lots of times he does and would do better to just hold still and then he could fire on time, and perhaps more accurately too.

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Coach Cleve Steamer's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:43 am

“The Packers are hardly an offensive juggernaut, so keeping pace will be a challenge. If this is a shootout, it does not favor Green Bay.” Green Bay in a shootout? The Packers don’t exactly have a gunslinger in Jordan Love and with no mention of the Packers’ running the ball. The rushing game is anemic and of little help in gaining first down yardage or touchdowns. Measureable team progress and high draft picks are the consolation prize.

3 points
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Tundraboy's picture

November 17, 2023 at 11:40 pm

MLF, shootout.? I'll be shocked if they get rolling before the 2nd half.
..

1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 05:06 pm

They did last week. They're going to have to make a habit out of that.

1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:12 pm

Rebecca, I'll disagree on the point that progress is a consolation prize. This season, that's the goal. How that progress could be measured? I think it's pretty subjective.

After the draft I said I'd be happy with 6 wins, because it matches AR12's first year as a starter and his third went pretty well. 6 wins are still possible, but seem less likely. The Bears have been improving and the only progress in GB was last game; I'm not sure they win 1 more game.

I don't expect progress until MM is gone, so 2025. I hope that doesn't ruin all the talent on the roster before then. Maybe tomorrow brings a pleasant surprise?

0 points
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Razer's picture

November 17, 2023 at 08:57 am

It will be interesting to see how our D-line sets up this week. After the whole 2 down linemen challenge, I wonder if either Barry or LaFleur have the balls to trot out a light line against a decent run game. If we do get run over I expect some challenge flags thrown at next week's presser.

If our O-line gives Love a decent pocket I expect some long drives and scoring. We have enough horsepower on offense IF the guys don't trip over each other or the coach doesn't spend the week practicing flea-flickers or halfback passing plays.

Just give us a hard fought game and I'll toast you all day long. GPG

2 points
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RCPackerFan's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:02 am

"I wonder if either Barry or LaFleur have the balls to trot out a light line against a decent run game."

The problem is this week we are going against a very good QB who can beat you with his arm. Unlike the last couple of games where the QB wasn't as big of a threat. I would expect more of the same.

6 points
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T7Steve's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:12 am

Plus, they'll want to prove they were right!

-1 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:32 am

"Once again, fans should keep in mind that winning these games is not of primary importance. The focus should be on improvement from week to week."

How can one buy into this bs, and then rage against the coaches? Are you saying it's OK for the coaches to NOT create a game plan that is about winning, but to plan for individual growth?

The first order of business in sports is play to WIN, and from that aspect derive what is needed for growth of a player and the team.

It's OK to lose, but you plan to WIN, and evaluate growth from a loss or win.

4 points
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Packerpasty's picture

November 17, 2023 at 11:26 am

Winning is important...create a winning attitude...I dont get this "winning isn't important" stuff...remember preseason when the Packers were going to the playoffs with a wild card or even the division title?? That what many of these people said back then...now its.."just show improvement doesn't matter if they win"...yup..BS...and another excuse to go along with all the others like "young" "only his first year" etc...Chargers are a desperate team!!! Well there ya go, good as excuse as any to lose...

3 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

November 17, 2023 at 11:52 am

I commented in another article how the masses are now denying the win total and playoff expectations, and always just wanted to see growth.

Worse, they actually buy into this bs.

If MLF is looking for his 'Illusion of Complexity', he should read some of the bs here at CHTV, articles and comments.

3 points
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White92's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:22 pm

For sure. When I see this "winning isn't important" BS, I throw up in my mouth a little. So many on this site were squawking about winning the division and playoffs. Now suddenly "winning isn't important".

-1 points
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Green Bay Shareholder's picture

November 17, 2023 at 12:11 pm

I am with you brother - typically you don't get paid big bucks to go to school, you get paid at this level for results. Even Lafleur figured that out, no one cares about your injuries, experience, development, management issues, salary cap problems - they care about results, just like any business. Can you imagine Lombardi speaking to his team in 1959 telling them he didn't care about winning games - LOL !! He never had a losing record, I wonder why ? And what was the record the previous year of the team that he took over - that is Leadership gentlemen. That is what we need someone to aspire to in this organization, at any level at this point. Read how he introduced himself to the team and the speech that he gave as recited by Fuzzy Thurston. No one getting paid to participate or develop, he demanded results and 120% effort all the time.

3 points
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White92's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:23 pm

Hell yes

1 points
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Starrbrite's picture

November 17, 2023 at 05:56 pm

Yep—I won a most improved player award in H.S., which basically meant I still sucked.
This crap about gradual improvement went out with ExLax. Feel good stories about improvement mean nothing imho.
Go Packers!!

0 points
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Oppy's picture

November 18, 2023 at 10:05 am

Do people like Packerspasty or White92 fail to understand that with a young team, the most important thing is growth.. because growth leads to winning?

This isn't rocket science. Of course you are attempting to win every week; but you're looking for growth. We're a team in massive transition- talent wise, salary cap wise, leadership wise. Growth today pays dividends tomorrow, a team- especially a young team- trends towards a window marked by maturity, experience, and a balance of established and young players. That window is where you're looking for a few free agents to plug holes or put you over the top, that window is where you're hunting as a legitimate contender for championships. The 2-3 years getting to the start of that window is paved with improvement and growth.

Why do some people act like this is difficult to understand?

0 points
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jhtobias's picture

November 17, 2023 at 09:54 am

I really believe that this season would be a huge sucess if we start losing 35 to 31 .

Two things it accomplishes : 1. Shoing the growth this offense needs and with a defense that any honest person can see is either horribly coached or schemed like a high school team . Or we have a gm eho cant draft .

If it is coaching then lafluer has a choice to make sink with his coaching staff or change . If it is drafting then gute needs a change. Arguing smongst yourselves about the problems.

-1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:18 pm

Huge success would be still holding the other team to under 20 points while we score your hoped for 31.

1 points
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Via.Lombardi's picture

November 17, 2023 at 10:25 am

There is no coincidence that Brian Bulaga chose to retire a Packer a few days before the team plays the Chargers.

1 points
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joejetson's picture

November 17, 2023 at 07:06 pm

Here's a different statistic to judge the Packers performance this season- DVOS. Not DVOA, DVOS. DVOA (defensive value over Average) compares team success against the league average.
DVOS, on the other hand, compares crummy teams success versus other crummy teams. Hence, "Defensive Value Over Sh*t".
So, looking at the most important statistic, won-loss record versus other shi**y teams, Green Bay registers a disgraceful .333. (Wins vs N.O. and L.A. ; Losses vs Atl., L.V., Den., Min., Pitt.)
You can argue maybe Min. And Pitt. aren't really "Shi**y" teams, because of their records. But they certainly aren't Top Tier teams either. They just don't beat themselves like the rest of these teams. Basically, these bad teams are poorly coached teams that rarely beat anyone other than their fellow Shi**y brethren.
(You may notice I did not include GB's win over the Bears. The reason for that is the Bears are so unbelievably 'Shi**ty', they fall a whole category below Shi**y.)

1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:20 pm

What then do you call GB if we lose the final game of the season?

0 points
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Boneman's picture

November 18, 2023 at 08:09 am

Whenever I hear or read about using the season for "talent evaluation" I throw up in my mouth a little bit. Seriously, the difference in talent at the professional level is razor thin with few exceptions. Players like Mahomes and Donald are unicorns that just don't fall into teams laps. It is ALL about the coaching and organization. It is all about competing and ultimately winning. The real evaluations are happening with the coaching staff and within the organization. If highly drafted players don't perform well will we get rid of them? Of course not, they will be given every possible chance and will only be jettisoned as a last resort. What we need to watch is if the team plays smart, plays hard and competes. Anything less and the staff will be blamed and few players will be affected.

0 points
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Packerpasty's picture

November 18, 2023 at 10:34 am

I always thought training camp and pre season is what talent evolution is for...tell these players that go out there everyday that wins dont matter this year...your potential injury is for "evaluation" of others...nah, this is the big boy league..if you dont win its because of a roster with little talent...at this point of the season this "young" BS is getting "old"...

-1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:23 pm

You can't say this roster has "little talent."

-1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

November 18, 2023 at 01:22 pm

Playing smart ain't happening, and there's no staff turnover.

The way to fix that is to cut our 5 best players, obviously.

0 points
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Ferrari-Driver's picture

November 19, 2023 at 10:06 am

I want to win every game we possibly can this year and every year. Losing games merely to move up in the draft goes against everything I believe. Can any of the old timers here imagine our old head coach, Vince Lombardi, saying or thinking "I don't care if we win any more games this year; I'm only concerned about seeing some improvement?

0 points
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