Free Head Exam: Green Bay Packers

After the Green Bay Packers' 23-20 loss Sunday to the Miami Dolphins, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. ESPN Stats & Information came up with some numbers that suggest the Packers' defense was pretty weak up the middle Sunday, an unsurprising development considering the injury situation at linebacker and safety. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne completed 14 of 17 passes between the numbers for 135 yards and two touchdowns. When he targeted outside receivers near the sideline, he completed nine of 21 passes. Meanwhile, tailbacks Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams gained 86 percent of their combined yardage on runs between the numbers. Future opponents will no doubt notice the trend.

  2. Over on Twitter, @JezzicaBe noted the irony of quarterback Aaron Rodgers getting two teeth chipped on a hit one day after we discussed multiple other occasions of questionable contact. After taking in the weekend's action, I think we can all agree the NFL has failed to protect all players -- quarterbacks or otherwise -- from head shots. Google "James Harrison" or "Dunta Robinson" and you'll see what I'm talking about. Where and when will it end? I shudder to think what could happen before substantive changes are made. This game has moved from violent to dangerous and is approaching a level that isn't even entertaining. NFL vice president Ray Anderson told NFL.com that he could start suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits, but we'll wait on the action behind those words. Everyone wants to see collisions. No one (I hope) wants to see violent injuries.

  3. I didn't like the late penalty call against Robert Francois any more than you did. It appeared that Francois was beyond the necessary yard off center on a fourth-quarter punt, and the call shouldn't have been made. I know it extended a Dolphins drive, but I hope no one is hiding behind it to explain why the Packers lost. There were multiple other opportunities to win this game. More concerning is why the offense continues to have long gaps between efficiency, as well as the Packers' difficulties winning close games. All three losses this season have come by three points. Their special teams haven't been very good as a whole, and I imagine that Tim Masthay could be kicking for his job Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings. But let's stop blaming officials for losses that were otherwise avoidable.

And here is one issue I don't get:

Weekend reports about the potential availability of Dallas Cowboys tailback Marion Barber naturally connected the Packers. I don't doubt the Packers' need for a player of Barber's multiple skills, even though his bruising style suggests a body older than its 27 years. But I'll say it once again: Why do we include the Packers in trade rumors for veteran players? I can't totally rule out the possibility, but let's just reiterate that such a trade would fall wholly against general manager Ted Thompson's recent history. Look at what he's done so far this season. Reacting to the Packers' slew of injuries, he's signed running back Dimitri Nance off the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad. He's re-signed defensive end Mike Montgomery and now traded for safety Anthony Smith, who spent 2009 in training camp with the Packers. Like it or not, those moves fit Thompson's profile much more than trading for Barber.