Green Bay Packers: Three answers, one question
After the Packers' 27-24 loss to Atlanta, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
1. You can call this a knee-jerk reaction if you want, but it's probably time to start asking whether the Packers' chaotic training camp is catching up with them. The Brett Favre situation hung over most of camp, distracting coaches and players alike as everyone wondered who their quarterback would be in 2008. The Packers did their best to focus, but camp is supposed to be a time to re-establish the basic fundamentals and build a discipline for the season amid a distraction-free environment. And yet for the second consecutive week, coach Mike McCarthy noted poor fundamentals and "common mistakes" during his post-game news conference. I don't know if anyone is ready to connect the dots yet, but it's worth considering.
2. The Packers haven't been able to meet their offseason goal of establishing more consistent pass rush. They didn't sack Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday and, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, knocked him down only twice on 28 throws. Veteran defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has been a disappointment and the rotation of linebackers Brady Poppinga and Brandon Chillar hasn't made much difference.
3. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed something by playing with a sprained throwing shoulder, which is a nice way of describing a mild separation. You probably shouldn't underestimate the symbolism of staying in the lineup, the way Favre always did. But more important, the Packers know they can count on Rodgers to play relatively well when he is less than 100 percent. As tough as it sounds, that's a must for all successful NFL players
And here is one question I'm still asking:
Can you still consider the Packers the most well-rounded team in the NFC North? Entering the season, I thought Green Bay had the best top-to-bottom roster in the division and one of the better collections of talent in all of the NFC. Given the significant injuries they've suffered, especially on defense, that distinction might no longer be valid.