Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Stick a fork in Vikings and Bears: So what did we learn from the Bears’ 27-13 victory? Minnesota is done. The Vikings are an irrecoverable kind of 3-6, too many internal problems and not enough healthy receivers to be much of a bother to anyone for the rest of the season. Of more concern for the Packers is their temporary tie with Chicago. The Bears, however, should be a half-game behind Green Bay at the start of business Sunday. Even if Miami isn’t very good at home, Chicago isn’t consistent enough to win that game or seriously challenge the Packers for the division. And, like the Vikings, the Bears do not have the proper management team in place. The Packers are getting better as a team at the same time some of the injured are getting better. The Packers players are clearly better than what the Bears are fielding. RB Jackson is getting a little better every week behind a line that has found some rhythm with rookie RT Bulaga. If Rodgers can build off his Dallas performance and the Packers are able to play downhill with the lead now that the weather is turning, you could comfortably project them winning five of the last seven.
Wells’ snap decision pays off with Packers: Wells is terrific at making pre-snap adjustments. He’s technically sound and almost always in good position. And Wells has become the poster child for how to perform the extremely difficult “reach block.” “He’s having a great year,” said Packers offensive line coach Campen. “He’s healthy, always a hard worker who analyzes things really well. Just a sound football player. “He doesn’t get in bad positions, he’s strong and plays with good leverage. I just think that he’s so fundamentally sound that he’s rarely in trouble.” That’s always been the scouting report on Wells. Yet at the start of 2009, the Packers named Spitz their starter and wanted Wells to back up inside. It is because injury opened the door, and Wells made it impossible for the Packers to remove him from the lineup. In Week 2 last year, LT Clifton went out and the Packers reshuffled their line with Wells ending up at center. Wells started the next 14 games, played arguably the best football of his career, and silenced the debate over who should play center. Wells has built on that this season. “He’s very sound, does a good job getting the line calls communicated, he’s decisive in there,” offensive line coach Joe Philbin said. “He’s very sharp mentally, does a nice job preparation-wise.”
Christl column–Of all the injuries, only Finley’s hurts: Start with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had as potent a passing attack as any team in the league. But when Finley went down, the domino effect changed everything. Jennings became the No. 1 threat and he probably ranks in the top half of the top 32 receivers, although maybe not top 10. But the rest of the Packers’ injuries haven’t mattered other than the one that knocked Clay Matthews out for a game and a quarter, and resulted in two losses. Bargain-basement fill-ins have been as adequate as the Packers’ previous starters everywhere but at tight end. That’s why they should roll into the playoffs, whether they get healthier or not. Other than Finley, they’re not missing anybody they need. The Packers have replaced one pedestrian running back with another; a solid inside linebacker with one who has improved enough in a month’s time to be almost as good; some big slugs upfront defensively with some different big slugs now that they’ve added Howard Green. And at right tackle and strong safety, the Packers have found more physical and probably better players.
Commentary: After the bye week getting ready for the big “Super Bowl” Vikings game, WR Driver, TE Havner, TE Quarless, and DE Pickett should be ready to go.