Ray Rivard of Lombardi Ave. discusses all things Packers for this week’s installment of Five Questions…
TVA: The defense has to be a concern for everyone in Packerland right now, right? Or do you guys figure you can just outscore everyone the rest of the way?
LA: Well, for anyone who follows that Packers, yes, the defense is a huge concern. How can this team continue to rely so heavily on its offense to score 30-plus points the entire season? It can’t. One of these weeks, the offense is going to throw a stinker and the team will lose because of it.
I don’t know, maybe that’s the best thing for the Packers … maybe the defense needs a wake-up call. All we know is that the right combination hasn’t been dialed up as yet on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, they are an opportune bunch and have week-in, week-out come up with the big play … the fumble recovery, the interception, the stop. But we all know the clock is ticking on this unit and this team.
Does the defense let the team down this week? Or next at Detroit? Or the next at the N.Y. Giants? We don’t know, but it’s bound to happen unless they can return to somewhat of a semblance of what they were last year.
All I know, is that we don’t want that equation to catch up to the Packers in January.
TVA: Obviously Aaron Rodgers has been playing out of his mind this year. If you were the opponent what would you do to try to stop him? Slip him a mickey before the game?
LA: Ahahhahaha! That might be the only answer. Frankly, I’ve never seen a quarterback in this league … in all 50 years that I’ve been a fan … show the kind of knowledge and confidence that Aaron Rodgers has shown this season. He doesn’t get rattled, very rarely throws a bad ball or makes the kind of mistakes us Packers fans were so numb to and accepting from Brett Favre.
Clearly, the only way to stop the Packers offense is to do it in the red zone. If a defense can keep the Packers to field goals instead of touchdowns, they will have a chance. But when the Packers reach the end zone four or five times per game, the chances of them coming out on top are huge.
TVA: Mike McCarthy. Good coach or chubby stooge who got lucky in drafting a great quarterback?
LA: There isn’t a better coach in the NFL who can prepare a football team. Looking back on his tenure, there is only one game that I can think of … the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009 … that a Mike McCarthy-led team has not been ready to play.
McCarthy is not only a great schemer, but he is a great play-caller. He tended toward conservative play-calling early in his career, but has steered away from that now that he’s got all the offensive pieces in place. He doesn’t panic, knows when to go long and how to utilize the run game in a pass-happy offense and league.
And BTW, Mike has lost some weight the past couple of years.
TVA: As a Viking fan I absolutely can’t relate to the whole winning championships thing, but I can sort of relate to what Packer fans must be feeling right now with their team 8-0 and looking pretty much unstoppable. In ’98 when we had our 15-1 season we experienced that sense of utter invincibility, that belief that nothing could stop us from winning the whole thing. And then we got stopped. Obviously as a fan you believe your team is going to whip everyone and win the title again but does any doubt ever creep in? A little voice in your head saying, “It can’t be this easy. Something has to go wrong?”
LA: Great question, Dan.
The answer for me is every week.
It isn’t and hasn’t been easy for this team, though the final scores of games may indicate that.
Watching this team this year has been a roller-coaster. Yes, this team is stacked with talent. Yes, they’ve been scoring at-will. Yes, they are the Super Bowl champions and all seems to be going their way.
But if you dig down into every game, every play … I have to say it … this team has had some luck on its side. Yes, talent and effort turn situations into success, but when you consider some of the plays that have gone the Packers way to turn games in their favor this year you just have to wonder if indeed there is something or someone looking out for them.
Good teams win because of talent and good coaching … but they also win because they get a tipped ball here, a fumble there, a penalty call that leads to a first down over there. That’s been happening a lot for this team.
Don’t get me wrong. This is a juggernaut of a team that is on a roll, a team that is highly confident in its mission, a team made up of individuals that play well together, a team that has great chemistry in the locker room. These are all things that lead to championships. At this point, the only factor that is missing is a top 10 defense.
But to answer your question, yes, I’m on pins and needles every week. Doubt always plays into the back of one’s mind. You have to prepare for the day when they will lose. It will happen at some point. It’s part of that thing we call competition. They are humans, not robots, and we all accept that.
Like I said before … if that loss is going to come, let’s be sure it happens before January.
TVA: You all are going to let the Brett Favre thing go eventually, right?
Thanks Ray for offering your takes on the Packers. For my half of the Q&A, hit up Lombardi Ave.