On Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Landover, MD to take on our beloved Washington Redskins. I exchanged a few questions with Jason Hirschhorn, Editor at Acme Packing Co. Here’s what he had to say:
Just this week the Packers claimed RB Christine Michael after he was dumped by Seattle. What are the expectations for Michael and how quickly can he fill the rather large void the team currently has at RB?
Given the perilous fall the Packers’ ground attack has taken since Eddie Lacy landed on injured reserve, the arrival of a running back with any modicum of talent makes for a potentially significant addition. Michael doesn’t have the skillset of an offensive centerpiece by any means, but he has shown the ability to run the ball efficiently at a reasonable volume. For the Packers, that could make a sizeable difference to how well their offense operates.
At the same time, Michael just arrived in Green Bay this week and may not even suit for for Sunday’s game. Most players in his position require a few weeks to get up to speed, and with the recent return of James Starks the Packers don’t have to rush Michael onto the field.
Give us one player on each side of the ball that Redskins fans might not know about that you think will play a big role in this week’s game.
If David Bakhtiari cannot suit up, Washington should get its first look at left tackle Jason Spriggs. A second-round pick in this past April’s draft, Spriggs possesses phenomenal athleticism and size but struggles with power rushers due to his lack of strength. How well he holds up could well determine if the Packers’ offense can find any rhythm on Sunday.
As for defense, second-year corner LaDarius Gunter has become a de facto starter with Sam Shields and Damarious Randall missing time with injuries and Quinten Rollins struggling. Gunter doesn’t have anything close to great speed, but his length makes him a tough draw for receivers along the boundary.
Mike McCarthy was hired as the Packers’ head coach a decade ago now. It seems that for a vast majority of that time, fans have been happy to have him. However it seems that lately there are rumblings about his time having run its course and perhaps his message gone stale. How do you think McCarthy’s done this season?
From any reasonable perspective, Mike McCarthy has underwhelmed as the head coach and offensive play caller this season. Even with personnel that compares somewhat unfavorably to his best teams from 2010-’14, the Packers should have a top-10 offense as long as Aaron Rodgers starts under center. Instead, they struggle to efficiently move the ball through the air.
It remains too early to say whether McCarthy’s run in Green Bay has reached its conclusion. The team stands only one game out of the division and could still qualify for the postseason. However, with the Packers regressing each of the last two years during what should be Rodgers’ prime, the team could decide to make a change even if it reaches the playoffs.
The Packers have lost three straight after starting the season 4-2. Why the drastic change?
Injuries play the biggest role in the Packers’ recent slide. Clay Matthews did not play in any of those matchups despite not missing a game the previous two seasons. Similarly, the defense lacked either of its top-2 cornerbacks throughout that span. The combined effect of those losses has made a mediocre pass defense much worse and put added pressure on an already overburdened front-seven.
On offense, the absence of Lacy looms large. The Packers have found limited success using wideout Ty Montgomery as a tailback. Otherwise, they have mostly abandoned the run in favor of a quick-hitting spread approach. That can work in spurts, but over the course of an entire game it usually does not hold up.
Who do you think wins and why?
I have gone back and forth on this question. Earlier in the week I leaned towards Washington, but I do not believe in Jay Gruden’s ability to put together an effective game plan nor do I hold Kirk Cousins in high regard. If the Packers have Bakhtiari starting at left tackle rather than the rookie Spriggs and Matthews returns to the fold on defense, I think they win. Otherwise, I pick Washington.
Thanks to Jason for taking the time to answer our questions about the Packers.