The Green Bay Packers traveled to South Beach on a sweltering day and nearly let the game slip through their hands. Instead, Green Bay’s all world quarterback led a drive for the ages and the Packers now sit at 4-2 instead of an even .500 through six games. Here are my Pick Six for week 6.
1. The Last Hurrah – Much will be written this week about the clutch drive to win this game, and I’d like to draw attention to five pieces of the drive that exemplify all the parties that needed to bring their A game to get it done. First, a brilliant call and execution by McCarthy, James Starks and Josh Sitton to jump start the drive with a twelve yard run on the first play. Second, the most heads up play of the game by guard TJ Lang to recover the strip sack fumble and extend the drive. Third, the brilliance in both unspoken communication and execution between Rodgers and Jordy Nelson on the 4th and 10 conversion. Fifth, the creativity of Rodgers combined with the presence of mind of Davante Adams to execute the fake spike, gain 12 yards, and get out of bounds in the same house where Marino did it decades earlier. Lastly, the choice to use veteran and forgotten man Andrew Quarless on the game’s deciding play. All of these things needed to go right over a two minute span of football, and the result is etched in Packer lore for eternity.
2. Coming On Strong – I’ve been keeping a close eye on the play of rookie safety Haha Clinton-Dix over the past weeks, and Sunday proved that he’s arrived as a consistent contributor and trusted starter. He’s attacking the line of scrimmage with confidence and keeps the game in front of him in a way MD Jennings and Jerron McMillan could not before him. His snap count should rise, as should his production, allowing the Packers to use Micah Hyde in his best role as a chess piece in the slot and poor man’s Charles Woodson. As it pertains to Clinton-Dix, with this streak of confident play continuing, expect a turnover play or two to follow over the next two weeks.
3. The Injury Bug – Green Bay was struck with a sudden injuries to three defensive starters – a neck injury to Jamari Lattimore, a, non-contact knee injury to Sam Shields, and an ankle injury to Tramon Williams. Early reports from the beat are that none of the three are serious, but it was evident in the second half (especially at inside linebacker where Brad Jones resumed the starter role) that the quality of play would drop significantly.
4. White Hot QB – It would be tough to get through the Pick Six without mentioning how QB Aaron Rodgers has now thrown 14 TD and 0 INT in his last 5 games. As long as his level of play remains this high, Green Bay has every opportunity to defeat the best the league has to offer.
5. Where Art Thou, Clay? – Outside linebacker Clay Matthews has struggled in his way to just 1 sack over the first six games. Coach McCarthy downplayed the lack of production, noting that Matthews’ grading has been “consistent” and the production will follow, but it’s tough not to wonder if there’s a nagging injury there somewhere. Clay has over pursued on read option plays numerous times this year, allowing long gains to the likes of Russell Wilson all the way to Ryan Tannehill. The elite explosiveness and change of direction we’re used to just aren’t there. I will be interested to see if the Clay we see over the next two weeks differs from the one we’ll see after the bye week’s rest.
6. A Look Ahead – The Packers return to Lambeau Field to take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. After battling early season injury, Newton has rounded to form and is playing like a top 10 QB. Combined with an athletic defense that is underachieving from their performance a year ago, and you have a Carolina team hungry for an underdog victory. This will not be an easy one for Green Bay.
Here’s to another victory leading into one last Sunday night battle at the Superdome prior to the bye week. Go Pack!