Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Week 5 of 2010 - Packers/Redskins Review via Injuries

Sometimes teams are snake bitten by injuries from the beginning of the season, unfortunately that is what it looks like for the 2010 Green Bay Packers. Going into Week 5, it looked like the Packers' most glaring need was running back. The Packers not only lost in overtime on the road to the Washington Redskins in Week 5, but they suffered a number of injuries to key players leaving notoriously conservative Packers general manager Ted Thompson with a ton of holes to fill.

Instead of going over the Redskins loss blow-by-blow, I will do it in a much more painful way by slowly dissecting the major injuries the 2010 Green Bay Packers have suffered so far. Before the season I ranked the 2010 Green Bay Packers opening day roster 53 to 1 so I put my ranking before each players' name just to show impact of each injury.

Players already lost for the season:
#7) Ryan Grant (RB, ankle): Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn, Dimitri Nance, Korey Hall, and Quinn Johnson are not the answer at running back. Last week, I said the Packers should have acquired Marshawn Lynch. At this point the Packers have too many holes to worry about failing to acquire Lynch. The best that Packer fans can hope for is that rookie James Starks, a guy that has not played in a live football game for over two years, will hit the ground running when he comes off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6.

#23) Morgan Burnett (S, ACL): The health of Al Harris (CB) and Atari Bigby (S) when they come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6 will determine who fills in for Burnett. If only Harris is healthy then Woodson will move to safety for 2010. If only Bigby is healthy then Woodson will stay at cornerback for 2010. If both Harris and Bigby return healthy then Ted Thompson (along with Packer nation) better thank their lucky stars because that alone will keep the Packers in the Super Bowl hunt.

#43) Derrick Martin (S, knee): The Packers signed Robert Francois off the practice squad, which means they only have two healthy safeties on the roster heading into their Week 6 game against the Miami Dolphins at home. See what I mean about running back not being the biggest hole to fill?

#46) Justin Harrell (DL, knee): Long time Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Packers columnist Bob McGinn wrote a great article on how horrible of a draft choice Harrell was, so let's move on because there is no way I can top McGinn.

Players most likely lost for the season:
#5) Jermichael Finley (TE, knee): This is the good news/bad news story of the day. On the second snap of the Packers/Redskins game Donald Lee fumbled at the end of a 17-yard reception. During the ensuing return Finley tore his meniscus. Originally it was believed that Finley would be out for 3 to 6 weeks because the injury would force Finley to have his meniscus removed. During surgery the doctors realized they could salvage Finley's meniscus, which means that Finley will be out for 8 to 10 weeks instead of 3 to 6 weeks. This does not help the 2010 Green Bay Packers much because Finley will most likely have to be placed on injured reserve. This does help the 2011 through 2020 Green Bay Packers though...see what I mean about good news/bad news? Even with Finley out, the Packers have 4 very dynamic wide receivers. Unfortunately the Redskins game showed that Finley might be the straw that stirs the receivers drink though.

#9) Nick Barnett (MLB, wrist): After getting multiple opinions, Barnett decided to have wrist surgery which means he is out for at least 8 weeks. With Brandon Chillar ailing, A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop hold the keys to the middle linebacker castle...yikes.

Players questionable to play this weekend against the Dolphins:
#1) Aaron Rodgers (QB, concussion): When did Rodgers actually suffer the concussion? The Packers contend it happened on Rodgers' last throw of the game, a back breaking overtime interception. Many people are questioning that theory though. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Packers beat writer (and soon to be Boston Globe lead NFL columnist) Greg A. Bedard put together some pretty interesting numbers that show Rodgers might have suffered a concussion early in the second quarter against the Redskins. It goes without saying that the 2010 Green Bay Packers' season hinges on whether Rodgers can return healthy. Even if it almost guarantees a loss, the Packers should consider sitting Rodgers this weekend against the Dolphins. Concussions are the hot button issue in the NFL and all the medical literature shows that violent hits close to the original concussion are what cause the long-term problems.

#4) Clay Matthews (OLB, hamstring): Despite having Charles Woodson (reigning NFL defensive player of the year), Matthews is the catalyst of the 2010 Green Bay Packers defense. Matthews tweaked his hamstring in the second half against the Redskins and the defense never looked the same. The bad news is that Matthews continues to tweak the same hamstring that kept him out of his first two NFL training camps. The good news is that Matthews' injury is not as severe as first feared. While it might be wise to sit Rodgers this week against the Dolphins, the Packers will need Matthews this weekend if they hope to have any chance to beat the Dolphins.

#8) Ryan Pickett (DL, ankle): Ankle injuries are never a good thing, especially for offensive and defensive lineman. Two things soften the Pickett injury. First, the Packers play a ton of nickel defense meaning only two defensive lineman need to be on the field. Second, the emergence of rookie defensive lineman Mike Neal means that the Packers have four legitimate NFL defensive lineman on the roster.

#17) Mark Tauscher (OT, shoulder): Much like Pickett's injury, the only thing that makes Tauscher's injury bearable is that the Packers have quality at that position. Last week against the Redskins rookie Bryan Bulaga filled in well at right tackle. I know it was only one game but the Packers now know they have their left or right offensive tackle of the future. Rest assured, Bulaga will see extensive playing time this year.

#30) Sam Shields (CB, calf): Although Shields missed the Redskins game because of injury, with how much the Packers play nickel, the Packers are going to rely heavily on Shields in 2010. Shields has all the tools to be a good NFL cornerback in 2013 but he needs to be a good NFL cornerback in 2010 unfortunately.

#40) Donald Lee (TE, chest): It can't be overlooked that Lee's fumble against the Redskins in Week 5 lead to Finley's injury. If that wasn't bad enough, Lee caught a touchdown pass and tried a FedEx Field Leap. That happened to be Lee's last play in Week 5, he missed the rest of the game with a chest injury. Initial reports are that Lee will be out a few weeks which means the injuries to Finley and Lee will allow Ted Thompson to try and justify his selection of Andrew Quarless (TE) at the end of the 2010 NFL Draft. Since Thompson selected Quarless, he cut Spencer Havner (a rare two-way player that played both tight end and outside linebacker). With versatile players at a premium on any roster, especially a roster ravaged by injuries, having a player that can play on offense, defense, and special teams would be amazing. Instead the only healthy tight ends on the current Packers roster are Quarless and second year player Tom Crabtree.

Final Thoughts:
All told that makes it 6 significant injuries to guys I had ranked in my preseason top 20, with 3 of those guys (1 for sure) most likely lost for the season. Yes, the 2010 Green Bay Packers could use an explosive running back. Unfortunately as you can see from all the horrible injury news above, the Packers have a ton of holes at a number of other positions that must be addressed as well.

If the 2010 NFL season is a football game, the 2010 Green Bay Packers just started the second quarter so the Packers will probably suffer even more injuries. Ted Thompson is a notoriously conservative general manager. As a result, I don't expect Thompson to make any bold moves. Since Thompson hates to trade draft picks, here is what I would do if I were Ted Thompson.

First, sign Adalius Thomas in place of Maurice Simpkins (MLB). The Packers desperately need an outside linebacker to play opposite Clay Matthews. Thomas played extensively in the 3-4 throughout his career so his knowledge alone wold be worth having on the roster.

Second, give Al Harris (in place of Jarrett Bush), Atari Bigby (in place of Robert Francois), and James Starks (in place of Quinn Johnson) every chance to be on the 53-man roster as soon as possible. All those guys should be fresh since they spent the last 6 weeks on the physically unable to perform list.

The season is not over, and the 2010 Green Bay Packers still have several key players on the field. For the Packers to meet their 2010 expectations, they will need several role players to take their game to the next level, and for Ted Thompson to acquire a handful of players to fill the holes left by the notorious injury snake.

1 comment:

  1. Nut - I have to say that Sunday's game was a fat pin prick to my Packer balloon. With all of the dismal injury reports, it's hard not to fall into a death spiral of disappointment. Can you give us some good news? What are some of the positive things the Packer Nation can hold onto and hope for during the rest of the season?