The Packers running game took a hit when they lost center Mike Flanagan, the glue of the offensive line for who knows how long. Then add Chad Clifton and Ahman Green to the list of wounded, and where do the Packers turn? It's difficult enough to turn the ship around with your starters, but now try it with guys that aren't as good or journeymen that aren't good enough really to play at this level. Then move them around and have guards playing tackles and centers playing guards.
The strength of this team for the last several years is now a weakness. I will give the makeshift line credit. They did battle well against Carolina late in the game, giving the Packers a chance to win but. Fortunately Brett Favre worked out more this off season because he was running for his life a lot in the game. Brett played an awesome game. He was hot most of the game and looked like he was having fun and was trying to will the Packers to a victory. But imagine how Favre feels when his best just isn't good enough because he's surrounded by other players that just might not be willing to pay the same price.
Brett's only blemishes came on two plays, and neither one was his fault. On the fumble I believe David Martin or Vonta Leach ran into Chad Clifton as he was trying to block Michael Rucker, looking like the Keystone Cops. The interception came when Robert Ferguson refused to run the slant like he wanted to catch the ball. He ran the route like he was more interested in making sure he wasn't going to get hit than catching the ball. The sad thing is this isn't the first time he's had alligator arms when it's a choice of saving himself or making a play. Jump balls are all athletic ability, but taking a hit is heart and toughness.
Donald Driver played well showing more speed this year but he's the leader of the receiving group and he has to demand that this group not lose any confidence, and that Brett doesn't lose any confidence in them.
The running game is non-existent. It's like this offense is so one dimensional now. It has become so predictable. The play-caller, whomever it is, needs to understand that Najeh Davenport and Ahman Green have different strengths and running styles. They can't expect Davenport to be able to get around the edge because normally he can't where Green can. Green ran very hard and physical before his knee injury. When Green got hurt changes had to be made and they weren't. That's coaching. Since we are taking about coaching late in the game why was Vonta Leach in the game instead of William Henderson? At the time, the Packers needed pass receivers, not run blockers, and Henderson's hands are among the best on the team.
Offensively, the Packers can always get better in every position. When you have a loss like this one, you rise from the dead and get so close that it hurts more. Regardless of what anyone says you start second-guessing and doubting and waiting for the bad to happen. Then injuries start piling up and before they know it they can't buy a WIN!
Same song and dance here. The Packers need consistency. They have improved but how much more can anyone expect considering the lack of talent on this side of the ball. Aaron Kampman is playing above his head, but everyone else seems to be going through the motions. There were so many blown assignments by the linebackers and secondary that the Panthers wide receivers seemed shocked because they were so wide open. I have seen better tackling by my son's high school team. Guys just aren't making the plays when they have the opportunity. For example Al Harris had to get out of the way to allow Stephen Davis to score, and Earl Little became a high light tape for DeShaun Foster on how to execute the perfect stiff arm.
The defense has played as good as it can against the run, but quarterbacks are licking their lips. Their is no identity with this defense, no leaders. I thought Nick Barnett could be but he isn't. His play has leveled off and his tackling has been suspect, at best. Again, he got over-powered by the Panthers.
As usual, when they had a chance to shine they gave up the big return. It's like they play well when they don't have to, but when they need a big play they don't.
This is MORE THAN A LOSS. This is a back-breaker because the Packers have played their best and are 0-4. Yes, there's nowhere to go but up, but how are they going to get there when now they don't have their best players available? Not only did Carolina win but they beat them up on the way!
Editor's note: Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. If you have a question for Harry, e-mail it to PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth at firstname.lastname@example.org.