Jon Meerdink over at the Acme Packing Company was kind enough to answer some questions about the team in green and yellow in advance of Sunday’s contest. I tried to have fun with the last question because, well, the football part seems a little depressing right now.
Windy City Gridiron: Given that the Packers are going to coast to an NFC North title this year, do you believe the Packers regret their decision making in the 2020 Draft, namely taking a QB and not a WR from a historically deep class?
Acme Packing Co.: I’ve told myself this so many times that it’s become a bit of a mantra: if Jordan Love actually does turn out to be the quarterback of the future, then this entire draft class will make sense. Packers fans should know that better than anyone, given our experience with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers did, after all, take him when Brett Favre was still playing at a fairly high level, and that seems to have worked out pretty well.
But man, it’s tough to remind myself of that fact when the Packers still seem to have trouble with the same things that plagued them all last season: poor run defense and inconsistent wide receiver play. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say as the Packers themselves regret it, but it’s certainly been a sore spot among fans.
WCG: Aaron Rodgers has seemed to have morphed back into fire-breathing dragon mode, a most unfortunate development for many of us who hoped he was devolving into a league-average QB. What seems to be the reason behind this reinvigoration of Rodgers?
APC: I think it boils down to being in year two of Matt LaFleur’s offense and the comfort that comes along with it. Rodgers himself has mentioned many times how beneficial it was to get the extra classroom time a virtual offseason made necessary, and it’s showing on the field. He seems fully on board with the offense and he’s executing at a high level, and he seems to be having a lot more fun as a result.
WCG: It appears that the defense has fallen down a little bit from where they were a year ago, hanging around in the middle of the, ahem, pack. The brief glimpse of Packers Twitter I see would seem to indicate a desire to slash the tires of Mike Pettine before every game. Is it coaching or are the Packers missing a piece or two on that side of the ball to make a deep run?
APC: I think it’s a little of both, but primarily coaching. While the Packers could use more help on the defensive line and at inside linebacker, the defense under Pettine has seemed to be far less than the sum of its parts for most of the last two seasons. Even if there are some weak points, they have a number of high-end players: Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark, and Jaire Alexander along are among the best at their positions. Certainly, it seems like the unit as a whole should be performing better just given the presence of those players alone. Pettine doesn’t seem to be getting the most out of his group, even if it still has its shortcomings on the personnel end.
WCG: Enough beating around the bush. You know what’s going to happen on Sunday. I know what’s going to happen on Sunday. The Packers are going to win this division when all is said and done. How far do you think this team will go? Are they NFC Championship Game contenders or going to win it all?
APC: The playoffs being the unpredictable beast that they are, I have a hard time saying how far they will go, but if they don’t get to at least the divisional round, whether it’s through a first-round bye or by winning a wild card round game, this season will be a colossal disappointment. Even with its various shortcomings, this team is too talented to be at home after the first round. If they don’t end up among the NFL’s final eight teams, I think this season is an abject failure.
Having said that, I still think this team is a legit contender in the NFC. From my vantage point, it doesn’t seem like there are any real, true juggernauts in the conference this season. While the Packers have had their struggles, I don’t think that’s unique among the NFC’s upper echelon. If the Packers get into the playoffs and get a couple of good matchups, another NFC Championship game appearance is hardly impossible, and if Aaron Rodgers puts together a hot playoff run, who knows what could happen?
WCG: We’re all thankful that the State Farm commercials with the dumb agent character have been retired, but what do we think about the new commercials where Rodgers thanks the guy for giving him the “Rodgers Rate”? How would you rate Rodgers as a pitchman but give me the rating in terms of a football score. Example: he can make good decisions with a positive script but he doesn’t hold up in prime time, therefore, he’s the Kirk Cousins of pitchmen.
APC: Man, I love this question. I think Rodgers is very much a game manager as far as your celebrity endorsers go. He’ll get the job done if you put him in the right situation, but I don’t think he elevates the material very much. Among Packers pitchmen, he’s better than the earnest but cringeworthy Jordy Nelson and slightly ahead of the goofy but endearing Mike McCarthy, but he’s far behind my personal favorite, Clay Matthews. Matthews leaned into the dumb jock stereotype with aplomb, knew how to turn up the camp, and even outshined Rodgers in a joint series of State Farm commercials. I miss him!
Thank you to Jon and Acme Packing Company for the info and hope everyone has a safe Thanksgiving.