There's But Two Things You Can Do While Lying Down And Throwing A Football Isn't One Of 'Em
I don't know much about the NFL but I'm a firm believer in two theories:
1) Three things happen when you throw a football, and two of them are bad.
2) You can't get much done when you're on the ground.
If there's a speck of Metrodome turf that hasn't been visited by Aaron Rodgers backside after Monday night's 30-23 loss to the Vikings, it has yet to be found. Minnesota's defense sacked him an incomprehensible EIGHT times and spent the rest of the night chasing him around. Rodgers didn't help his cause by unnecessarily hanging onto the ball, but to have the night he did (career best in yards, with two touchdown passes) amid all that harassment speaks to what kind of a quarterback he COULD be, if he ever gets a solid offensive line in front of him.
Kinda like what Brett Favre had to work with when he was still in green and gold.
Even the most unapologetic Four-a-holic is admitting that, while Favre had the better night, no comparisons can honestly be made until the Green Bay offensive line improves. Anything above "abominable" would be an upgrade at this point.
Some in Favre Nation may claim that Monday night proves once and for all that GM Ted Thompson was wrong to give up on Number Four. They're wrong, but that's their privilege.
Where Thompson screwed the pooch is by leaving the team young and vulnerable in the trenches. Last season, it was the defensive line. Now, it's the offense: Mark Tauscher is gone, Chad Clifton is hurt, and several young players (Allan Barbre, Breno Giacomini) are either still learning or not ready. For all the talk of developing o-line cohesion in camp, the group has hardly had a chance to play together. Now, it's banged up and thin, with guys playing out of position.
The results are sadly predictable.
It took huge onions for Thompson and Coach Mike McCarthy to seize control of the team back from Favre last summer (see Bob McGinn's piece from Sunday's Journal/Sentinel if you need further proof that the QB was trying to impose his will on the front office). They knew they had a good thing in Rodgers, but there's always a risk that someone with promise can also end up being a bust. Now, Rodgers' biggest fear isn't "busting" but getting busted-up.
Thompson's mistake wasn't letting Favre go, but rather in failing to give the successor a decent offensive line to play behind. How you take such a gamble without having all the pieces in place is beyond me, but I'm sure that Favre himself would be hard-pressed to perform with this gaggle of guys watching his back. Remember, he'll be 40 years old the next time he plays a game. Favre never was blazing fast, and he'd be a sitting duck with a turnstile like Daryn Colledge guarding his backside at left tackle.
The season is far from lost--the Packers lost a game to the Bengals they never should have dropped if they are to be considered contenders in the division and protectors of the Lambeau turf. The Minnesota loss, while unfortunate, wasn't totally unexpected. Green Bay gets Chad Clifton back after the bye, and maybe even defensive back Atari Bigby, too. Those are two huge pieces of the puzzle. The first game after the break is at home with the Lions. That's low-hanging fruit, followed by the Browns and then the Favre rematch in Green Bay. The NFL schedule gods did the Packers a huge solid, giving them a week off and two bottom-feeders before granting them a home rematch against Minnesota. Then comes a trip to winnable Tampa Bay. Those are four winnable games.
Provided, of course, Rodgers isn't watching them in a wheelchair.
It's darkest before the dawn, Packers fans, and I truly think this team can make a run of it. The 2007 Giants were an abysmal lot early in the season when Green Bay tattooed them in the Meadowlands. New York would right the ship as the season grew on, and upset the Packers at Lambeau for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
It's too early to be finding trophy space for any sort of new hardware in Lambeau these days. Victory means different things to different people. Right now, I'll consider it a win if Rodgers can walk safely through his local Target during the bye week without getting dumped on his ass. Then, let's keep the sacks down to a number we can count on the fingers of just one hand against Detroit. We'll see how it goes from there.
Baby steps, Packers fans. It's all about baby steps.