by Mark Metzler
Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans was one of those that made me apprehensive, but by the time it was over Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Jamaal Williams ran through the Texans’ defense for a 35-20 win.
I admit that I was worried right before the game. With David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones out with injury, and coming off a bad loss with against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I thought the Packers would have to play a good game against a competitive team. Plus, safety Darnell Savage and cornerback Kenny King were out for the game, depleting the defensive backfield
Well, the Packers did play a good — but not great — game with Rodgers, throwing four touchdowns and Adams catching two of those. Adams had 196 yards receiving. Williams had a good game, taking over as the primary back for Jones. He had over 110 total yards, including 77 rushing.
I was wrong about the Texans’ capabilities. Other than a few flashes, the Texans are not a competitive team this year. It’s hard to believe for a team that wasn’t that far from the Super Bowl last year. Well, they did trade away De’Andre Hopkins, who is now leading the league in receptions with the Cardinals. It was not a good move, and one of the head-scratchers of all time.
Of course, the Texans do have some legitimate stars. Deshaun Watson is good. He’s certainly a top-10 quarterback in the league. He can run. He can pass. He can pass on the run. Then, of course, there’s J.J. Watt. He’s slowed down a little, but he’s still a star. For the most part, he had his way against right tackle Rick Wagner. One of the smart moves the Packers made was moving Billy Turner to left tackle to protect Rodgers’ blind side. Turner played a good game. To be fair, Wagner was actually passable.
I give the Texans credit playing hard through the end of the game. They didn’t give up and were still realistically in the game until seven minutes left when Preston Smith stopped Watson on a fourth and one.
So, the question becomes this: What will the Packers do against the next good defensive team they play? They really will need to tighten up their blocking on the line. If they can do that, they should be able to compete and win. I’m sure the team learned something from dealing with the speed of the Buccaneers.
Defensively, the Packers will have to step up their linebacker play. The team is still running a number of people through inside linebacker. It’s concerning, and will be even more so against a strong running team.
It would be nice to get another weapon. I know the Packers don’t normally do that in the middle of the season, but if you look back at the year the team won Super Bowl 31, they signed top free agent wide receiver Andre Rison about halfway through the season after Robert Brooks went down with an injury. Rison played a total of eight games with the team, including playoffs, and the team went 8-0. You might remember his big touchdown catch in the Super Bowl.
There aren’t any good free agents left, so the Packers will have to make a trade. I think the team should go all in and get Julio Jones from the Falcons. I believe he’s signed through 2021. Of course, the team will have to pay dearly – at least a second-round pick – and it will eat into the salary cap. But, time is running short. I’d say roll the dice.
This Sunday, the Packers have the Vikings at Lambeau. The Vikings have pretty much cashed it in, but if they can get up for a game, it will be the Packers. Let’s hope the Packers stay focused.