August 4, 2021

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The role is not to be discounted

4 min read
The role is not to be discounted

Guys, I can draw a comparison between our beloved Packers and Badgers. Both are coming off disappointing seasons. Both are committed to running the ball and getting all they can out of their defenses. Both are off to a great start and both face dangerous opponents from Michigan at home who I think are badly underrated. One couldn’t ask for a better weekend of football coming up. Would you agree?

With a day off in between to soak in the rest of the action. Bring it on.

Who will be the player to watch in the game this week?

Whoever’s assigned to Hockenson, and I don’t expect it to be one player all game.

It seemed like the Packers sustained a lot of injuries against the Cowboys. How are things looking at this point in the week? What are the key areas to watch as we head into Monday?

Thursday was the first practice of the week, and Jamaal Williams, Corey Linsley, Kevin King and B.J. Goodson were all practicing. Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, Tony Brown and Darnell Savage were not. How the Packers mix and match personnel in the defensive backfield, without Savage if he can’t go, is an area to watch.

Trap games can be real as teams allow expectations to influence their preparation and execution (see 15-1 season!). Sandwiched between the Cowboys and Chiefs, we get the Lions and Raiders. When the schedule came out, either of these games could have been labeled a trap game. Since both teams have been playing well, and both are coming off their bye weeks leading up to the game, have we avoided the trap-game mentality?

Theodore from St. Louis, MO

Cardinals putting up 10 runs in the first inning of an elimination playoff game got me thinking. What’s the most points put up by the Pack in Q1 of a game? Any game, not just an elimination game?

The Packers scored 35 points against Cleveland in the first quarter on Nov. 12, 1967. It’s tied for the NFL record for the most points in the first quarter.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

The more I learn about the intricacies of an offense or defense, the more impressed I am with how intelligent most players are. There aren’t many “dumb jocks” at this level, are there?

They might get here, but they don’t stay here.

Connor from Boca Raton, FL

Why is Blake Martinez not getting more hype around the league? Plays every snap and is one off the league lead in tackles.

The Packers are perfectly happy with what Martinez provides as the nerve center of the defense, to use Pettine’s phrase, and he has playmakers all around him. The role is not to be discounted. More national attention will come when Martinez is making more of those splash plays. He has one sack this year after five last year, but he hasn’t had an interception or forced or recovered a fumble since 2017. I’m not saying he should start chasing those plays, because I don’t think the Packers need him to, but that’s the reality when it comes to “hype.”

Phil from Brisbane, Australia

I do a fair bit of whining about the league and some of their more controversial decisions, but I wanted to try for balance in saying I think they made a good decision suspending Burfict. It may have been clear and obvious, but it still needed to be adjudicated correctly and they deserve some respect for that.

I still say it’s on the GMs to quit signing guys like that.

Larissa from Minneapolis, MN

The Patriots have been better than everyone else for 15 years and I think it disingenuous to pretend otherwise. However, a decade-plus of 3-6 divisional freebies per season does wonders for one’s margin for error to clinch and for load management. I do think it’s extended their contention window. I don’t blame them, just disappointing that circumstance gives the already best team another little push. Kind of like when the Warriors signed KD thanks to a cap spike. Is this all just sour grapes?

Somewhat, but the circumstances are hard to ignore, and I’ll give a shout-out to Bruce from New Canaan, CT, for also recognizing how many bad decisions and other mistakes New England’s AFC East foes make because there’s so much pressure to compete with the Patriots. It becomes a vicious cycle and self-fulfilling prophecy of mediocrity. Your point about margin for error with regard to playoff positioning and home field is one I’ve been making about the Patriots for a long time. Last year’s AFC title game in Kansas City was just their third road playoff game since ’06. They had lost their previous two and four of their five postseason road games from ’05 through ’15. That’s why I said last winter this most recent Super Bowl title was one of their most impressive in my mind.

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