Monday, December 31, 2012
Free Head Exam: Green Bay Packers
By Kevin Seifert
After the Green Bay Packers' 37-34 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, here are three issues that merit further examination:
And here is one issue I still don't get:
- I spent most of Sunday chronicling Adrian Peterson's pursuit of history and the Vikings' surprising run to the playoffs. Frankly, I didn't think the Packers' loss revealed to us any unknown weaknesses. Nor did it set back what has the potential to be a deep playoff run. The Packers made multiple charges to get back into a game against a desperate team that was riding the wave of Peterson's performance as well as a frenzied crowd. If there is anything to be concerned about, as we noted Sunday, it's the Packers' total inability to slow down Peterson this season. He has rushed for 409 yards against them in two games, including 230 after contact.
- Overshadowed by the commotion of Sunday's events was a strong season-ending performance by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He lost a fumble on one of the five sacks he took, but otherwise he was laser-sharp in the second half. He completed 70 percent of his passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns overall. On the season, Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating (108.0) for the second consecutive season. His threw its second-most touchdown passes (39), compiled the third-highest completion percentage (67.2), had the fourth-fewest interceptions (eight) and ranked No. 8 in yardage (4,295). Not bad for a "down" year. According to statistics compiled by the Packers, Rodgers' combined passer rating of 114.9 since the start of the 2011 season is the highest two-year rating in NFL history.
- At this point on Black Monday, there are five vacancies for general managers in the NFL. A few more jobs could open up in the coming days. It would be short-sighted of the league's owners not to at least scour the Packers' front office roster for candidates who have been trained in an approach that remains the envy of the league. General manager Ted Thompson recently has sent two assistants off into general manager jobs, John Schneider to the Seattle Seahawks and Reggie McKenzie to the Oakland Raiders, and his current group deserves its share of the credit for the NFC North title. I'm not sure if any of those assistants are ready to become general managers, but owners would be foolish if they didn't at least seek out conversations with members of a group that includes John Dorsey (football operations), Eliot Wolf (pro personnel), Brian Gutekunst (college scouting) and Alonzo Highsmith (senior executive).
Is place-kicker Mason Crosby fixed? Both of his attempts Sunday, from 51 and 40 yards, were clean. That's the good news. The bad news: Crosby finished the season ranked a distant last among 31 qualified kickers with a conversion percentage of 63.6. Seven of his 12 misses came from outside of 50 yards, a figure that should placate some concerns. But at this point in Crosby's career, you wonder if he is just a streaky kicker. This isn't the first time he has had extended struggles during a season (see 2009), and his career conversion rate since joining the Packers in 2007 is 76.8. That ranks Crosby last among all place-kickers with at least 100 attempts over that span. If you're hoping to see Crosby turn into a lights-out and consistent place-kicker, it's just not in his history.