The Ravens played like their jobs were on the line, while the Packers didn't. On several plays throughout the game I could see Packer players trying to make something happen, a big run after a catch or something like that. On the same play I could also see players just trying to get out of the way of the action, not realizing that their block just might be the one that springs the play. It was an embarrassing site for all Packer fans.
Each week I talk about players performing at a high level. It's very important because you're always being evaluated on every play. This was a game where a lot of the players by their performance showed the front office and people around the league that they just might be finished playing football. Players have to realize, you're not just playing for your job with your team, teams around the league are watching you play as well. There's a saying in the NFL," Winning breeds winners." Do you think another team is going to sign you to their roster after you have been cut from a losing team? The answer is no.
The offense played with about as much fire and intensity as the defense. I think a lot of the players were just trying to get through the game. There was one series early in the first half when the special teams did an excellent job of getting the offense great field position. Here's a great opportunity for the offense to get the ball in the red zone or scoring zone and make a difference in the ball game. Instead they go out and stumble around and only got a field goal. That's unacceptable. When you get this type of field position offensively you need to buckle down, dig your feet in the dirt and get the football into the endzone.
Yes, the offense for the Packers has been depleted with injuries, but again the majority of the league is playing with injuries. Players like Samkon Gado has proven that even a guy that's fourth or fifth on the depth chart is on the team for a reason. They have to be able to perform and get results at the professional level. That's what NFL scouts get paid to do, find talented players, and it's the coaches job to get them ready to play. Were the Packers ready to play their best game? Based on the final results of the game, I have to say no.
One guy who has been waiting for a chance to play and got his opportunity was Aaron Rogers. Aaron did a pretty good job under the circumstances. He shows the ability to be a leader and keep drives alive. His huddle presence and field awareness were very good and I was impressed with his arm strength and accuracy. He also showed the ability to scramble and make good decisions on the run. Playing in the fourth quarter and getting some game experience is essential for his growth. Yes, he had three turnovers, but what would you expect? The defense knows your going to pass; you're trailing by three or four scores. The defensive coordinator has an open playbook at that point. Take your pick. blitz the rookie quarterback, or sit back and show him multiple coverage that he's never seen before. Just getting the opportunity to be on the field in high stress situations will make for some valuable experience for the Packers rookie quarterback.
This was the first game in a string of games that the defense didn't play well. Over the past few weeks against Chicago and Detroit the Packers did a good job of moving themselves up in the defensive standings. Before the Ravens game the defense was ranked 6th in overall defense and first in pass defense.
Baltimore is the worst offense in the NFL, but against Green Bay they looked like a play-off contender. Kyle Boller and Todd Heap looked unstoppable. The Packer defense let the Ravens go 96-yards on their third possession of the game for a touchdown. How does the NFL's worst offense go 96 yards on the NFL's sixth-ranked defense? Easily, in my opinion.
The game started out with the Packers offense going three plays and out, then the special teams giving up a big punt return setting up Baltimore's first score. On the next series the Packers offense gets one first down then punts, so the defense is again back out on the field with maybe a three- to five-minute rest. As a defensive unit you get tired of trying to win games by yourself. The offense continues to struggle and the special teams are no help at all. From a defensive standpoint I know how they feel. Mentally your saying, "come on guys help us out." As a defense you can only do so much. With the season going like it is, all you can do is go out and give it your best shot. When the other two phases of your team are not performing up to par it's a rough situation.
No excuses for the defense, this was a poor performance. Given the way the rest of the team is playing the defense just wanted to be part of the team.
The return of quarterback Rex Grossman into the starting lineup should improve this already improving Chicago Bears team. He returns from an early season injury and now the Bears seem to think they have added another dimension to their offense. If the Bears can balance their offense, running the football with Thomas Jones and passing to Muhsin Muhammad, this offense along with the Bears excellent defense, could spell trouble for visiting teams in Soldier Field. If the Bears can secure a home playoff game, the sky the limit for this team. We all saw what the cold weather did to the Atlanta Falcons and Mike Vick. It made the best player in football look human.
First things first. The Bears still have to come to Lambeau Field, and the Packers are still going to suit up and play. This is the oldest rivalry in football and the game is on Christmas Day. If you can't get hyped up for that, who cares what the records are, you're in the wrong sport.
Knowing Coach Sherman he's telling his team to continue playing hard and play for each other. Right now that's all they can do. It's easy to quit if you don't have any pride. The better person you are, the harder you work, the greater the sacrifice, the more pride you have. If the players for the Packers aren't willing to make some sacrifices, working hard and playing for each other, then these last two games as Packers could be just that, their last two games.
Former safety Ken Stills played for the Green Bay Packers from 1985-89. He is currently an assistant coach with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe.