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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Seeman: Don’t pack it in yet Green Bay fans

After a second consecutive gut-punch overtime loss this weekend to the Miami Dolphins, there are a lot of people who think the sky is falling in Titletown.

Maybe it is.

Tailback Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley are out for the year and might not see game action again until 2012, depending on whether the players and owners can come to a labor agreement before the deadline this March.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is getting buried by defensive linemen again this season, and it’s rumored he has contacted the Chilean government to help with the rescue. He’s also not the same paragon of efficiency he’d been in his first two years as the Packers starting quarterback. He’s already up to seven interceptions, which is as many as he threw all of last season.

Offenses the past two weeks have gotten anything they wanted against the Packers — Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb passed for 357 yards, while Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 137 rushing yards for Miami — and the special teams couldn’t down a punt inside the 20-yard-line if they had three guys standing on the goal line to start the play.

Like the bus in “Speed,” the Packers are leaking gas and ready to drive head-on into a taxiing airplane. Fans are Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, looking for any way they can to escape the impending explosion.

At least, that’s what many cheeseheads believe.

But like Third Eye Blind, I wish they would all step back from that ledge.

Overreaction defines the NFL viewing experience. A whole week passes between games, so something has to fill the void between Monday and Saturday. In Green Bay, where the only redeeming quality of the town is the football team, the overreaction is blown to nuclear proportions.

More often than not, the intervening discussion of the week is impassioned talk about how the offensive linemen are undisciplined and how head coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t know his headset from his challenge flag. Rational thought during football season is more difficult to find than Osama bin Laden.

The roar for a new running back from fans, for example, is reaching deafening levels. But the Brandon Jackson-John Kuhn combination has averaged 4.4 yards per carry, while Tennessee running back and supposed fantasy stud Chris Johnson averages 4.3.

Defensive injuries have also crippled the team. By the end of the game Sunday, the Packers were down to the ninth linebacker on the depth chart, a guy named Robert Francois. Everyone in Wisconsin who had played linebacker at any level had their phones nearby because it might have been ringing with one more Packers injury.

Sooner or later, though, the defensive cavalry will ride over the horizon for Green Bay as well, with linebacker Clay Matthews’ face painted in William Wallace blue.

Matthews should be back next week against Minnesota. He alone is enough to concern Brett Favre, but linebacker Brandon Chillar and defensive end Ryan Pickett will also be returning to help shore up the run defense.

Two of the more important returning players are cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby, both of whom were members of the starting 11 on defense to start the 2009 season. They’ll return to practice this week, and from that point it will be determined whether they can play Sunday against the Vikings.

The return of Harris will improve the secondary by putting Tramon Williams back in the nickelback role, which will send Sam Shields back to the sideline. Bigby will do the same by putting god-awful Charlie Peprah on the bench where he belongs.

Keep in mind the Packers are still only a game behind the division-leading and inconsistent Chicago Bears. Green Bay also started last year in a similarly disappointing fashion, losing to a previously-winless Tampa Bay team to fall to 4-4. From that point, the Pack went 7-1 and finished a game out of the division lead.

As bad as a 3-3 record seems for a team that still has Super Bowl aspirations, Packers fans need to keep the faith and take solace in the fact that it could be worse. The Packers could be the Cowboys.

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    Ian StewartOct 20, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with your general point that it’s not time to panic for Packers fans, but some of the points you bring up to try to make your argument are weak at best. First of all, comparing Jackson and Kuhn’s average yards per carry to Chris Johnson’s is absurdly misleading. Opposing teams generally put 9 defenders in the box to try to stop Johnson; neither Kuhn nor Jackson is threatening enough to warrant that type of special attention. The Packers running game isn’t good enough to take extra coverage off our receivers nor is it effective in pass protection.
    Like you I’m also excited for the return of Bigby and Harris, but you’re a little off on the details of their returns. Bigby is eligible to practice this week, but all indications are that he won’t be ready to play by Sunday. That’s part of the reason the Packers traded late last week for safety Anthony Smith from the Jaguars. Harris is more likely to play Sunday, but it’s very unlikely he will instantly take back his starting role. Tramon Williams has been surprisingly solid in coverage this year, at least not bad enough to bench for a player who hasn’t actually played in a year. Chances are that Harris will come back as the nickel back, though with the number of nickel packages the Packers play he’ll still be on the field for a high percentage of defensive plays.
    It’s not time to panic, but it’s hard to argue that we’re still a legit Super Bowl contender the way we were a few weeks ago. I hate to admit it, but the significance of Grant and Finley for the season is hard to overstate.