In anticipation of the game against the Green Bay Packers, I reached out to Brandon at Acme Packing Company to get a little insight into what's going on with the team from Wisconsin. I gave him 5 Questions, he gave me 5 Answers.
Blogging The Boys: Start with the most painful, what happened last week against the Bucs?
Acme Packing Company: First, the Bucs returned a 1st quarter INT down to the 8 yard line which led to a TD. Second, a blocked punt was returned for a TD. Outside of those two plays, the Packers soundly outplayed the Bucs in the first 3 quarters. Rodgers ran for a TD to push the Packers lead to 28-17 with 13 minutes remaining. Then in those final 13 minutes, everything fell apart for the Packers. The Bucs outplayed them in every way and went on a 21-0 run to end the game. All of the team's weaknesses were badly exposed during the game. It was a fluke game in the sense that the Packers have usually played well in the 4th quarter this season.
BTB: Is Aaron Rodgers going to last the season? Is the offensive line as bad as described?
APC: Rodgers has been limping around on two bad feet for a few weeks, but it hasn't effected him so far; he still managed to run for 26 yards and a TD last week. Luckily that is all that's been ailing him after 37 sacks in the first 8 games, and many more QB hits. He has held the ball longer than he should, under the circumstances, but that's only accounted for some of the sacks. Last week, the Bucs strategy was to bull rush 4 tweener DE/DT types and they overpowered the Packers line in the 2nd half for 6 sacks. I point out that it all happened in the 2nd half, because Rodgers wasn't sacked at all in the 1st half, and he actually had good protection.
Last week was the first game back for veteran RT Mark Tauscher who hadn't played since he tore his ACL last December. But near the end of the 1st half, he reinjured that same knee. His replacement RT Allen Barbre (who's probably out next week with a concussion) wasn't responsible for all 6 sacks, but obviously the loss of Tauscher played a factor. Veteran LT Chad Clifton has only played in 4 games this season due to an ankle injury. Once Clifton and Tauscher return, the line should improve, but Tauscher should still be out on Sunday. Expect the Packers to play their 3rd string RT T.J. Lang, so you should still be playing against the same horrible line on Sunday.
BTB: How has the changeover to the 3-4 gone? How much are they using it and how much do they use a traditional 4-3?
APC: You'll see a lot of 3-4 and 4-2-5 when they go to the nickel. Last week, the Packers went to a dime package for the first time all year. I'd expect about a 50/50 split between 3 DTs playing together (a 3-4 look) vs. 2 DTs and 2 OLBs lining up like DEs (a 4-2-5 look).
BTB: I read that your special teams are having a poor season. What areas is the team failing at specifically?
APC: The special teams have been a disaster. Currently Football Outsiders has them ranked dead last by a comfortable margin. Nothing's been good, but the kick and punt coverage units are the worst. They've been getting knocked out of their lane assignments and leaving huge holes for big returns. I'm expecting a monster game from Patrick Crayton. Mike Tanier called them part of the "Lost Numbers", along with all the penalty and sack yards they've given up.
BTB: You guys are sitting dead even at 4-4. How are the fans feeling? Optimistic? Gloomy? Hopeful?
APC: It's hard to be optimistic after two straight losses. And the losses have been hard; a loss to a (previously) 0-7 team and the other to a division rival led by some 40 year old QB who is generally hated by Packer fans. It's unlikely they'll finish the season 0-8, although they almost did it last year, so they'll give us reasons to be optimistic at some point. I just don't expect it will be this week.