Hard to Love the Packers When Pride Conquers All

Nick Shook at nfl.com has eight observations from training camps around the league. He says that Jordan Love is eager to get started as he replaces Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the Packers.

“I’m the man now and it’s going to be fun,” Love said. “It’s going to be on display all year with the team, and it’s just bringing everybody along, have fun with the guys and make the most fun of this opportunity we got.”

The offense might look a little different without No. 12 behind center, but as Love explained Saturday, it’s still going to be Matt LaFleur’s system dictated by the coach’s decisions. Considering [head coach Matt] LaFleur‘s past success, that’s a good thing. But with Rodgers gone, expectations have admittedly changed.

Whether it’s a good thing or not is debatable.

The seven deadly sins were first formulated by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. They include wrath, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, and sloth. But pride is considered to be the gravest and the root of the other six.

I’d say football coaches are particularly prone to it.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of what Rodgers was doing with the Packers over the last few years. Rodgers became too much of a see it, throw it quarterback and relied upon his athletic ability to make plays when he was not absolutely sure that a guy would be open. He didn’t do too much anticipation because that leads to turnovers if the receiver is in the wrong spot. And turnovers are bad for individual statistics. They can lead to bad plays on Sports Center even when the team wins.

In any case, as the article implies, he wasn’t really running LaFleur‘s offense as LaFleur would like to see it run.

But there’s no doubt that Rodgers is a great quarterback and he raised the level of the performance of that team. To his credit, LaFleur has been suppressing his feelings and he’s compromised to allow Rodgers to do it his way.

But in the end, LaFleur’s no different than most. Coaches tend to have big egos and I have no doubt LaFleur thinks that if he gets a quarterback that will run his system, the Packers will do better than they did with Rodgers. And undoubtedly he’s been raring for the opportunity to show it.

He might want to be prepared for a bit of a let down.

Time after time when we’ve seen teams in this position fall once a great quarterback leaves. Tom Brady leaving the Patriots is a prime example. Despite the fact that they have Bill Belichick, the Patriots have never been the same since Brady left.

And LaFleur is not the greatest football coach of all time.

It’s likely that the Packers will struggle in Love’s first year almost regardless. Even Rodgers’ first season as a starter after taking over from Brett Favre was less than stellar (the Packers went 6-10). But even that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t count on the Packers being as good without Rogers as they were with him.

The Packers have been on a wonderful streak for 25 years. But pride goeth before the fall. This could be the beginning.

Gordon Should Have Been a One Position Player All Along

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune talks about Kyler Gordon‘s performance in camp. The Bears have Gordon working strictly in the nickel slot this year.

“I do believe that just with everything, less is more,” [defensive coordinator Alan] Williams said. “So when you reduce the amount of things that he has to do in terms of technique assignments, they can’t help but get better. He works at it unbelievably. He is smart. He is instinctive. I don’t know if you remember last year, but he didn’t get into that spot (nickel) until this time last year. We didn’t rep him there in OTAs. So he’s got all those reps banked from the season underneath his belt on top of a little bit less on his plate in terms of being outside, so I would say yes, it has helped him on top of one more year in the system.

“But if you’re just talking about Kyler from what his skill set is, gosh, man, the guy’s have nicknamed him Spider-Man because he is so quick. He’s so agile. He is instinctive. He’s got spidey senses. When he makes a play and you go, ‘Wow, how did he make that?’ Ding, ding, ding, the spidey senses are going off. The quickness, the instincts, they’ve been showing up in a big way. Usually that happens Year 2. I’ve seen guys come in and Year 1, they’re getting their feet up underneath them. Year 2, they feel more comfortable, they know how to get lined up. They’re not just going through memorization. Now they’re starting to play football. That’s what you’re seeing out there.”

I’ll never understand why they had Gordon playing two positions last year, particularly when became evident that they weren’t going to be competitive within the division. Gordon needed to settle in as a rookie and having him play both inside and outside simply put too much on his plate. Williams’ quote Confirms that.

I’m glad that they haven’t compounded the mistake and have played him at only one position this year. Hopefully it will lead to a better performance on the field.

Fields Needs to Do a Better Job of Taking What the Defense Gives Him

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune addresses the performance of Bears quarterback Justin Fields at training camp on Friday.

Without a lot of full-speed action, there wasn’t an abundance of plays to sift through and overanalyze. Fields threaded a nice pass to DJ Moore on an intermediate dig route in tight coverage against [Jaylon] Johnson in one-on-one drills. His best throw, also in one-on-ones, might have been a corner route to tight end Robert Tonyan against safety Elijah Hicks. The majority of throws in 7-on-7 action were checkdowns, so much so that it could have been by design.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if those checkdowns were by design.

Fields had a bad habit of holding the ball in order to try to gain all of the needed yardage at once rather than taking what the defense gave him last year. That was particularly in two minute situations against defenses that were specifically designed to prevent the big play. It causes repeated failures in close games that the Bears might have otherwise won.

It would behoove him to do a little bit more of this and have confidence that the Bears can still move the ball in these situations. Even a cursory watch of other top quarterbacks in the league could show how much taking yardage in 5-10 yard chunks can quickly add up to put a team in scoring position.