Every Thursday, Patrick Kotnik provides two observations, one question and a prediction regarding the Green Bay Packers.
Rasul Douglas needs an extension ASAP — What more do you need to see?
Douglas added two more picks during the Christmas Day win to bring his total to five on the season — a team-high and tied for the fourth-most in the NFL.
Each of Douglas’ five interceptions this year has served as a game-changer. The first sealed a thrilling win over the Cardinals, the next two he ran back for touchdowns against the Rams and Bears, respectively. The first he snagged against Cleveland led to a Packers touchdown, while the latter one sealed the game.
📺 FOX, NFLN + PRIME pic.twitter.com/zTL2tLFj65
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 25, 2021
I’ve gone on and on about how great of a pickup Douglas has been and how incredible his story is. I’ve also been a consistent advocate for him getting a contract extension in Green Bay.
Regardless, Douglas will be getting paid good money by somebody this offseason. I’ve already predicted that he’ll remain with the Packers. Not that Douglas couldn’t succeed elsewhere, but with how much he’s thrived in Joe Barry’s defense in just games this season, why leave? I know, I know — money can do a lot to sway people from one employer to another, but it seems as if Douglas has found a perfect home in Green Bay.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) December 27, 2021
Douglas’ work ethic, aggressiveness as a defensive back and overall impact are apparent and I don’t see any reason why the Green Bay Packers wouldn’t want him back.
However, the Packers are in salary cap hell heading into next season and there are a lot of questions to be asked and difficult decisions to be made regarding Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, the Smiths and many others.
How much will that affect Douglas’ status with the Packers? We will find out eventually, but for now, Douglas and the Packers are focused on the task at hand — bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown.
Second-half play almost costs the Packers again — We’ll get into this team’s second-half play here soon, but let’s start with some stats. Four of Green Bay’s last five games have been decided by eight points or less.
Coming into Christmas Day, the Packers defense was allowing 30.5 points per game since shutting out Seattle back on November 14. The Packers held the Browns 22 points which are the fewest during this five-game stretch, but it seems they are becoming more vulnerable to the run each week. Had Kevin Stefanski stuck with Nick Chubb and the run game at various points during the game, the Packers lose that game. Period.
Each of the past three games has seen the Packers allow at least 137 rushing yards and 5.5 yards per carry.
#Packers run defense yards allowed heading into the bye:
Cardinals – 74
Chiefs – 77
Seahawks – 75
Rams – 68
Since the bye:
Bears – 137
Ravens – 143
Browns – 219
— Bruce Irons – Packers FTW (@BruceIronsNFL) December 28, 2021
Along with the defensive struggles, Green Bay’s offense mustered just three second-half points against Cleveland and recorded only first down in the three drives after scoring those three points.
This offense has played well in the second half but looks complacent at other times. They were shut out in the fourth quarter against the Rams but outscored the Bears, 24-3, in the second half. This unit also had chances to either extend the lead and/or get first downs and run out the clock the past two games and failed to, giving Baltimore and Cleveland each a final chance at the end.
The Green Bay Packers are still in a good spot and the front-runner to land the No. 1 seed, but they should count their blessings because to put it simply, the second-half performances we saw against the Browns and Ravens will not get the job done in the playoffs.
1 Question: Was this the best special teams performance in weeks?
Special teams have been so BAD that something like tackling a returner at his team’s own 15-yard line on a kickoff gets Packers fans excited.
Truly a Christmas miracle to get the special teams to stop a kickoff return at the 16
— Jimmy Christensen (@Jimmy_C08) December 25, 2021
Granted, seeing the Green Bay Packers struggle offensively in the second half and become a doormat for Chubb probably distracted Packers fans from any small special teams errors that normally would’ve been noticed.
But for what seems like the first time in weeks, special teams didn’t cost the team in a major way against the Browns. Mason Crosby kicked his third straight perfect game while Corey Bojorquez averaged 47 yards per punt (punted five times).
The unit’s coverage throughout the game was also solid with Cleveland’s best starting field position being its own 30-yard line. Perhaps most important? ZERO turnovers.
Was it a perfect day for special teams? Not at all. A welcomed step in the right direction? You bet. We’ll see how long that lasts, though, with Bojorquez, Amari Rodgers and others being added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.
1 Prediction: Josiah Deguara comes through with a big performance this week
I fully expect Josiah Deguara to have a bigger role in the offense this week with Marcedes Lewis on the Reserve-COVID-19 list.
Lewis had a solid two-game stretch in the passing game with a combined seven catches for 91 yards against the Bears and Ravens. Green Bay’s offense will get a boost with Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the lineup, but I have a hunch Deguara is due for a big game, especially with Lewis out of the lineup.
The most catches Deguara has had in an NFL game is three and his career-high in receiving yards is 44. I’d like to see him haul in at least four or five passes and reach 50 receiving yards and his second career touchdown this week.