Packers are at a crossroads

Packer Report's Bob Fox explains why he thinks the Green Bay Packers can turn it around in next two weeks.

The 2008 season for the Green Bay Packers certainly is not turning out like the 2007 season. After five games, the Packers have three losses, which is the same amount of games the Packers lost in ALL of 2007. The Packers are also having a rash of injuries that the 2007 team, for the most part, didn't have to deal with, like a season ending torn pectoral muscle injury that Cullen Jenkins suffered against the Tampa Bay.

There are other injury issues as well. Aaron Rodgers is playing with a sprained throwing shoulder. Atari Bigby has missed three games because of a hamstring injury. Bigby's replacement Aaron Rouse, is also out now with a knee injury. Charles Woodson has had to play with a fractured toe. A.J. Hawk missed most of the pre-season with a chest injury and now has a groin strain. Scott Wells has had to battle with a lower trunk injury that has plagued him for almost two months.

Ryan Grant has not been able to really cut it loose because of a hamstring injury. Korey Hall injured a knee against Detroit in the second game and is yet to return. Chad Clifton suffered a hamstring injury in the Atlanta game. Josh Sitton and James Jones both suffered sprained knees late in the pre-season and although Jones has since returned, Sitton has not played since his injury and he was a starter at the time.

But there are other causes to the 2-3 record the the Packers currently have, which has them tied with the Minnesota Vikings for second place in the NFC North, behind the 3-2 Chicago Bears. Both the offensive and defensive lines for the Packers have been very inconsistent. In the last three games for instance, opponents have averaged 195 rushing yards against the Packers defense. Losing Jenkins certainly doesn't help.

The offensive line has had issues all season long creating a viable ground game and also protecting Rodgers. The injury situation across the line has not helped, but the major issue has been inconsistency. Penalties have been a big issue, as they also have affected the whole team.

The Packers had nine penalties against the Atlanta Falcons, which is ridiculous. However, in hindsight, it looks like two of the call against the Packers that game were bogus. The holding call on Mason Crosby's 43-yard field goal on Jermichael Finley and the pass interference call on Pat Lee on a third down were both bad calls. Those calls cost the Packers 10 points in a game decided by a field goal. Those calls didn't seem to happen in 2007.

The 2007 season was like a day at the amusement park. The Packers had a 13-3 record and won the NFC North. Brett Favre had his best season since he won three straight MVPs in the mid 90's and he broke almost all the meaningful passing records in the NFL in 2007. The playoffs started with a come from behind rousing 42-20 win against former head coach Mike Holmgren and the Seattle Seahawks at a snow bowl-like Lambeau Field.

Ironically, the 1-3 Seahawks are the Packers' next opponent, this time in Seattle. If you think things are bad in Green Bay, look at Seattle. The Seahawks lost to the New York Giants (the Packers opponent in the 2007 NFC Championship game) 44-6 last weekend. The Giants amassed 523 total yards, including 254 rushing yards. In addition, Matt Hasselbeck hurt his knee in the game, although he may be ready for the Packers.

The Packers need an opponent like the Seahawks right now, even in Seattle, which is a very tough place to play. The running game needs to get untracked, and Seattle is just the defense the doctor ordered. Remember, Grant gained 201 yards in the playoff game last year. Rodgers should be healthy enough to play again this week, and he will have plenty of options in the passing game, as the Giants threw for 272 yards last week against the Seahawks as well.

The Packers must play one opponent at a time, but the Packers will then face the Indianapolis Colts at Lambeau the following week before the all important bye week. The Colts are not playing like they normally do. Missing the preseason due to a knee injury has obviously affected Peyton Manning's effectiveness. The Colts defense is not as aggressive without the injured Bob Sanders. The Colts were very fortunate to get a come-from-behind win last week against the Houston Texans to go 2-2 for the 2008 season.

The Packers' goal should be to be 4-3 at the bye week. The bye week can help as the injured will hopefully get better with another week to heal. In addition, the Packers will hopefully get back DT Justin Harrell from the PUP list. Harrell needs to play a big part in the interior of the defensive line for the second half of the 2008 season.

The Bears are in first place by one game, but the Packers are already 2-0 in the division thus far.

The Packers can still have success this season, but they are at a crossroads right now. The Packers must take care of business the next two weeks to get into position to make a run for the playoffs the second half of the season.

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