Pack Move Into First, But Fingers are Crossed for FinleyPosted:Oct 21st, 2013 1:14 pm
First, allow me to apologize for the tardiness of this post. Let's just say it was a long day at Lambeau and a long night in Appleton. I think you get my drift.
Here's where we are, six games into the 2013 season: we can't even truly celebrate victories, without being concerned about the increasingly lengthy injury list. The latest was the scariest. Amid reports that Jermichael Finley couldn't move for a moment after getting hit in the head/neck and lay motionless on the field for a time, we now await word on the severity of his injury. As I write this, it's being reported that he is in ICU with a neck injury and may or may not have had surgery. We'll cross our fingers, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Finley's playing days may be over. I hope I'm wrong.
On to the game, which went pretty much as expected. The Browns again demonstrated that they have some talent on both sides of the ball, but without an NFL-caliber quarterback they have no chance to compete. They will also be in the market for a running back. With no threat of a running game, they're forced to rely on Brandon Weeden, who showed a frightening lack of accuracy most of the day.
The Pack, meanwhile, did what they had to do. Down six starters to start the game, they relied on young guys to step and for the most part they did. A by-product of all the new faces was that special teams was stressed--the Pack allowed a couple of long returns. We also saw more penalties than we're accustomed to seeing, 10 for 97 yards and several came at very inopportune times.
But let's look at the positives: Jarret Boykin made the most of his opportunities, on a day when shutdown corner Joe Haden spent most of his day tracking Jordy Nelson. Eddie Lacy continues to provide a strong rushing attack. His numbers were not spectacular against a strong Browns front seven, but he did enough to keep the defense honest and even caught five balls out of the backfield.
And then there's Rodgers. When you watch a performance like Weeden's, it makes you appreciate #12 even more. And for Browns fans, whose team brought Rodgers in before the '05 draft and considered selecting him with their #3 pick, it's gotta be maddening to watch him and think about what might have him. But hey, they'll always have Braylon Edwards (well at leas he gave them one monster season in '07). Rodgers was surgical, finding Boykin and Finley early and often, converting third downs with ease and reminding us that as long as he's in uniform, it matters little who else is with him.
On the other side of the ball, Jamari Lattimore continues to impress. I don't think he's taken Brad Jones' job at this point, but you can make the argument that as well as Jones has played, there appears to be zero drop-off with Lattimore in there. The young pass rushers held their own, but let's be honest: we're lucky they were facing Weeden. For much of the day he had a lot of time back there. The Packers sacked him three times, but without Matthews, Perry and a 100% Mike Neal, the pass rush was ordinary. That's to be expected. Fortunately for the Packers, they were facing a team without much firepower.
Three straight wins and the Packers are sitting atop the North, by a half game over the Lions and Bears, with two prime time division games coming up. The groin injury to Jay Cutler is a major storyline to follow, while the Lions' home loss to the Bengals again exposed the soft underbelly that is their back seven on defense.
For now, we'll await word on Finley's condition. As his agent tweeted Sunday night, with an injury like this football doesn't matter. A 25 year old man, husband and father is in a Green Bay hospital with a very uncertain future. All of us fans, Packer fans and everyone else, should keep him in our prayers.