GREEN BAY—All of a sudden, no one’s talking about having three receivers each with a thousand yards.
That’s what injuries to Randall Cobb and James Jones caused. In losing Cobb for an extended period of time, the Packers lost their leading receiver. More than that, they lost the most versatile player in their offense. They lost the player with whom Mike McCarthy can do the most on a grease board.
It’s a huge loss for this team and it’s going to require the Packers to concentrate all of their efforts on one purpose: victory.
The stat boys took a big hit last Sunday, because stats have instantly become meaningless for this team. It’s all about overcoming adversity now. It’s all about finding a way to win on Sunday. This team won’t be judged at season’s end by how many thousand-yard receivers it has, it’ll be judged by how many times it won, and isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Focus just sharpened. That happens when secondary goals are brushed aside, and injury has done that to the Packers. Clay Matthews is not likely to lead the league in sacks. Aaron Rodgers’ stat line likely took a hit last Sunday, too.
The positive in all of this is that every win will be more cause to celebrate. Selflessness is promoted by tough times. So is team unity, resilience, toughness, dedication, singleness of purpose. They are all virtues coaches treasure because they make for great teams.
Just win, baby. Those words never mean more than they do in tough times.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Browns.
1. Win at quarterback—That’s where the Packers are healthiest. That’s where their advantage is most distinct.
2. Eliminate errors—That means turnovers, penalties, mental mistakes, etc. A team depleted by injury has had its margin of error reduced.
3. Deny big plays—The Browns struggle on offense. Make them earn what they get.
4. Stay in the AFC North—The Packers are coming off a rugged game against an AFC North opponent. It was good practice for what the Packers will face this Sunday.
5. Drive the ball—The Browns defense is No. 1 in yards per play. They make you drive it.
6. Convert third down—The Browns defense is No. 29 in third-down conversions.
7. Find new weapons—Someone will need to pick up the slack Cobb’s injury and possibly Jones’ injury have created. The same can be said on defense, where the Packers have lost Matthews and Nick Perry and need to find another pass rusher.
8. Feel the adversity—This is a challenge. Don’t be above being challenged.
9. Look at the scoreboard—Detroit and Chicago play early games. Know what’s at stake.
10. Ride that high—Last Sunday’s win in Baltimore is the high point of the season to date. This is a chance to get on a midseason roll. Additional coverage - Oct. 17