The Green Bay Packers will enter their bye week bruised and battered, both mentally and physically. The Packers lost a sloppy turnover fest in Cincinnati on a day that saw quarterback Aaron Rodgers play poorly for one of the few times in his career. The last game I remember him playing this bad was the Kansas City loss in 2011.
The Packers had a 100-yard running back for the second week in a row but this time it wasn’t enough to overcome their four turnovers. One of the turnovers gave the Bengals a 3-yard drive and another was returned for the winning touchdown. In between those two fumbles Rodgers threw two interceptions, the second a huge momentum turning play with the Packers threatening to put the game away. Instead the Bengals went 95 yards in five plays and the comeback was on.
The game was pretty much what I expected as confidence was not high going in. The Packers just never seem to do well against the Bengals. Oh well, they are were I expected them to be at this stage and there were some positives from Sunday.
The Packers’ defense didn’t play that bad, in fact they were pretty good when Clay Matthews was in the game. Of course the annual Matthews hamstring injury popped up again and his status is unknown. Last year he missed four games.
Rookie running back Jonathan Franklin broke the 100-yard barrier in his first extensive playing time. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson continued his stellar play, making the impossible catch look routine.
Areas of concern certainly have to start with the injuries, followed closely by the play of the offensive line, which suddenly can’t seem to pass block. On the injury front, another week, another concussion, this time Jermichael Finley was lost on the first drive of the game. The Packers’ offense never really recovered from it.
Running back James Starks hurt his knee (again) after rushing for 55 yards while he was in the game, and of course the aforementioned Matthews. Hopefully the bye week provides enough time to get those three plus Eddie Lacy back. Actually I could care less about Starks, he’ll just get hurt again anyway. Hopefully the Packers use the roster spot they opened when they cut Jeremy Ross today to get another running back.
Speaking of Ross, head coach Mike McCarthy said he wasn’t sending a message but he sure didn’t waste any time getting rid of the guy who has fumbled twice in his last four games leading directly to 14 points. I suspect Randall Cobb will resume full time punt return duties and maybe Franklin will handle kickoffs.
I liked the bye being this early when I first saw the schedule and as it turns out it is a great time for it. The Packers need to get healthy and stay that way. Something has to change in the way they they train, but that is a story for another day. Now is the time to heal, both mentally and physically.