Packers hope to peak at right time

Ryan Wood
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Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones (89) makes a leaping catch over Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman (24) in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

He was asked about an offensive line that allowed five sacks Sunday, but Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t singling out on position group.

It’s hard to pull any positives out of the Packers’ past two games. They’ve lost twice in blowout fashion, barely saving face with a frantic, meaningless comeback Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. McCarthy was asked whether the offensive line was “ticked off” at its performance.

The coach went ahead and qualified that description for his entire team.

“To give you some real nuts-and-bolts insight into our locker room and meeting rooms,” McCarthy said, “I would think all of our players and coaches have the red (butt) today. I think that would be accurate.”

With that, McCarthy concluded a 13-minute news conference. He walked away from the podium, leaving the perfect answer for a Packers team not used to getting beat, especially not as bad as they have been.

Look around Lambeau Field on Monday, and it would hard to tell these Packers are 6-2 – tied for the second-best record in the NFC – at the season’s midway point. Any memories of the team’s 6-0 start to the season seem long gone. There was anger and frustration inside the Packers’ locker room.

These Packers are a Super Bowl contender, you might’ve heard. Right now, their offense and defense also ranks among the NFL’s bottom 10 in total yards.

“A lot of guys in this locker room have played a lot of football,” receiver James Jones said. “We know what it’s supposed to look like, and the last two games is not what it’s supposed to look like. We know we’ve got to start playing good football, and you want to start playing good football — and playing your best football — when it’s time for the playoffs.

“None of that matters. We’re 6-2. Ain’t no playoffs guaranteed unless we start winning some games.”

Now would be a good time for the Packers to start winning again. Starting with Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions, they’ll play four games in 19 days. All four come against NFC North opponents, with the most prominent a road trip to the 6-2 Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 22.

Winning divisional games are important. Of course, the Packers have bigger goals in sight. Julius Peppers offered a calm, assuring voice inside the locker room Monday. The Packers aren’t playing their best football right now, Peppers admitted, but right now isn’t the time they need to be playing their best football.

“If I had my preference,” Peppers said, “I would want to be playing my best football later this season. Not at this particular moment. You always want to play well, so obviously we’re disappointed we’re not playing our best football right now, but we’re looking forward to playing much better at a later date.” and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood

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