By Mark Metzler
The Packers looked incredibly mediocre in beating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20. But, you’ll have games like that. At least the Packers won.
Starting out as average, the team never looked any better than flat the entire game. Give the Jags credit. They game planned well on both offense and defense — running fairly easily and stopping the Packers on the ground. The Jags were fueled by a 90-yard punt return when Packers’ punter J.K. Scott outkicked his coverage thanks to a howling wind at his back. Scott’s failure to stop the return will show up on highlights for a good time to come. It wasn’t flattering, but at least he didn’t fall over.
The Packers have to play better if there is any hope of making a championship run. I think they are capable, but the team will have to click across the board to advance in the playoffs.
Thankfully, Aaron Rodgers played well again against the Jaguars, despite throwing an infrequent interception. Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a good game, showing his speed on a long touchdown and actually holding onto the ball for two games in a row.
Davante Adams was solid again, including a nice touchdown to put the Packers ahead, finally. It was good to have Christian Kirksey back at linebacker. He plays well when he’s healthy. It was also good to have David Bakhtiari back at tackle. He is a key to success. News reports said he just signed a big contract and four-year extension. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe he’s a Hall of Fame player.
The Packers were still missing wide receiver Allen Lazard and starting cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King due to injury. It turned out OK against the Jaguars, but they do need to be back full speed as the season moves on and the Packers move into the playoffs. Hopefully, those three can be back and near full speed on Sunday. The Packers play a very tough Baltimore Colts team that is making its own playoff run in the AFC. The Colts are a legitimate team, so we should get a better idea of the Packers’ potential over the long haul.
It’s early, but right now the Packers are the top seed in the NFC for the playoffs. This year seven teams instead of six will make the playoffs in each league. So, instead of the top two teams getting first-week byes, only the top seed will get the bye.
‘The Golden Boy’ is gone
Near the beginning of Jerry Kramer’s book “Instant Replay” he talks about coming to the Packers’ complex and finding a distraught Vince Lombardi. The reason for Lombardi’s distress was the New Orleans Saints had just picked Paul Hornung in the expansion draft (the Saints were new to the league in 1967). Lombardi explained that he had to put Hornung on the draft eligible list and the Saints took Hornung. (Each team did that and expansion teams picked from that list. The Packers also lost Jim Taylor to that expansion and the Saints.) Hornung, who had battled injury for several years, decided to retire and put a cap on his Hall of Fame career. The emotion that Kramer details in the book is moving and really illustrates what Hornung meant to Lombardi and those legendary Packers teams.
“The Golden Boy” left this earth last week. He was a true threat. He could run, catch the ball, pass on the halfback option and kick the ball. He was the Packers’ primary kicker for a number of years. In 1960 he set the record for most points in a season at 176. That was a 12-game season. The record wasn’t broken until 2006 over a 16-game season. He was also the NFL MVP in 1961, as well as being the Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame in 1956. The Packers took him first overall in 1957.
Of course, he was a noted bad boy and got into whatever trouble he could in sleepy Green Bay. He and Detroit Lions’ Hall of Fame tackle Alex Karras were suspended for the 1963 season for betting on football. The story goes that they bet each other on the outcome of a Packers and Lions game, each betting on his own team. Legend has it that the amount of the wager was a carton of cigarettes.