Preview: Packers vs. Steelers

Here are four questions heading into tonight’s game between Green Bay and Pittsburgh:

1) Should the Packers have signed Colin Kaepernick when Aaron Rodgers went down?

Of course, and this isn’t second-guessing after watching Brett Hundley for the past five games. Here’s what I tweeted a few minutes after Rodgers got hurt in week 6:

A legitimate Super Bowl contending team should never rely on a completely unproven backup quarterback to save its season. Then again, a legitimate Super Bowl contending team should never go into a season with a completely unproven backup quarterback. Sure there’s a lot not to like about Kaepernick as both a person and a football player, but there’s no question the Packers would be in a better place with him under center. So if the goal was to not alienate the fanbase, give Ted Thompson an A for a job well done. But if the goal was to make the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season, give the GM a big fat F.

2) Is it too soon to throw tackle Jason Spriggs in the ever growing bin of recent draft busts?

Yes, but it’s looking more and more like he’ll soon be joining a long list of high picks who failed to produce. Since 2011, Thompson has missed on Derek Sherrod in the first round, Mike Neal and Jerel Worthy in the second and Alex Green and Khyri Thornton in the third. And while it’s too soon to make a definitive call on Spriggs, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and Kyler Fackrell, it’s certainly not looking promising as far as any of them coming close to living up to their draft status. As for Spriggs, he’s regressed from a so-so rookie season, and while that doesn’t mean he can’t bounce back in 2018, it certainly doesn’t fill one with hope.

3) Which position has become a surprise need for next offseason?

After signing Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks in March, the Packers looked to be set at the tight end position for at least the next few seasons. Oh, how things have changed since then. Bennett was cut a few weeks ago and Kendricks has been a disappointment – both on and now off the field. Thompson will have to address this position either in the draft or free agency – and not in a perfunctory way. Tight ends have become incredibly important over the last few years, and just about every top offense has a good one. Maybe Ted can trade one of his 39 draft picks to the Raiders for Jared Cook. I hear he’s pretty decent.

4) Will LeRoy Butler eventually be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

I don’t know, but it was sure nice to see him named as one of 27 semifinalists last week. And while getting inducted likely won’t happen anytime soon, at least the voters have finally acknowledged just how special Butler was as a football player. I’ve been banging this drum for quite some time. No disrespect to fellow nominees John Lynch, Brian Dawkins and Steve Atwater, but none of them played the safety position any better than old No. 36. As for his being selected to “only” three Pro Bowls in 11 seasons, it’s far more important to focus on his being named All-Pro four times and his inclusion on the 1990s’ NFL All-Decade Team.

The pick – With division games and the Patriots lurking in the next three weeks, this could be a trap game for Pittsburgh – even under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately, the Packers just don’t have the horses on either side of the line of scrimmage to make the Steelers pay for potential complacency.

You can be sure coach Mike McCarthy will have the Packers ready to play, but he’ll still be handicapped by his quarterback and his coordinators. Things might stay interesting for a while, but the better team will eventually pull away and there’s little doubt which team is better. PITTSBURGH 31-17 (Season record: 5-5)

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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

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