Skip to main content

Behind Enemy Lines: Four Questions About Colts’ Sunday Foe, the Green Bay Packers

The Indianapolis Colts host quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a Green Bay Packers team tied for the NFC’s best record. PackerCentral’s Bill Huber provides inside insight on the G-Men.

INDIANAPOLIS — The conversation when assessing the Green Bay Packers always starts at quarterback with Aaron Rodgers, one of the best to ever play the position.

Bill Huber, publisher/editor for the Sports Illustrated-powered PackerCentral site, was asked four questions about the 7-2 team he covers in advance of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Also, four questions about the Colts were answered on PackerCentral.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads the Green Bay Packers (7-2) against the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) in a Sunday visit to Lucas Oil Stadium.

Aaron Rodgers looks to throw against the Jaguars.

Aaron Rodgers was visibly upset on the sideline on Sunday, his frustration seemingly aimed at wide receivers not named Davante Adams. What have been the issues when trying to rely upon other pass-catchers?

Lack of talent and experience, mostly. Adams is phenomenal. He’s put up strong numbers week after week after week, even though everyone knows the ball’s going to come his way. Allen Lazard, who had emerged as a competent No. 2, has missed the last five games following core-muscle surgery. He was activated from injured reserve on Tuesday and could play Sunday. Marquez Valdes-Scantling runs hot and cold; he was really hot against Jacksonville with four catches for 149 yards and one touchdown with zero drops.

The problem is everyone else. Equanimeous St. Brown has been a disappointment as a sixth-round pick in 2018, though he’s blocked pretty well. Malik Taylor is an undrafted free agent. Juwann Winfree, also undrafted, was a practice squad elevation. Nothing irks Rodgers more than missed assignments. Physical errors, he’s said countless times, will happen. Mental errors are mostly inexcusable. The return of Lazard, an excellent receiver and blocker who has Rodgers’ total trust, will be a huge help.

Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams looks for yards after a catch against Minnesota.

Davante Adams played with an ankle injury Sunday.

How serious is Adams' injury and could this be a huge factor on Sunday? Specifically, who would you expect to step up if he can't play or plays hurt?

Great question. You’d have better luck getting the combination to Fort Knox than to pry any information out of the coaching staff. That Adams finished the game and scored the game-winning touchdown on a splendid jumping catch would be a good sign. But, postgame, Rodgers spoke with total admiration when asked about Adams.

“The touchdown, first I’m going to talk about his toughness,” Rodgers said. “I won’t get into what he was dealing with, but the fact that he’s out and then I’m on the sidelines and I hear, ‘Hey, 17 said he wants to go back in.’ Look, you might think that’s a normal thing in this game and maybe it was 10 years ago. But you just see less and less of that happening. I think there’s more of a, ‘Oh, you know, Doc doesn’t think I can go here. Maybe I should sit out the rest of the game.’ But 17’s built different. He always has been… The dude’s a special player. He’s one-of-a-kind and he never ceases to grow my respect. And it’s just another chapter for him today dealing with what he was dealing with to come back out there and catch a touchdown. That’s what you want from your leaders.”

To me, that seems like a player who played through something more than a minor twist of an ankle. Or, maybe I’m reading between lines that don’t exist.

When Adams missed the Week 3 game at New Orleans with an ankle injury, Lazard had a monster game. He’d presumably be the new “go-to” receiver but that seems like a tall order for someone who hasn’t played since Sept. 27.

In looking at the Packers defense, what's been most disconcerting? The statistics all seem so-so, which begs another question, what are this unit's strengths?

That is well-asked. The Packers finished ninth in points allowed last season but are 15th this season. They don’t stop the run consistently. They’re 27th in opponent passer rating. The pass rush, which was dominant at times last season, is feast or famine. A superior team in producing takeaways for the better part of the past decade-plus, it’s tied for 30th with 0.8 takeaways per game this season.

On a unit filled with disappointments, I’ll start with the Smith Bros. Outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith were game-wreckers last season. Not this season. While Za’Darius Smith is tied for third in the NFL with eight sacks, he’s on pace for 50 pressures this season after leading the NFL with 93 last year. Preston Smith is on pace for 25 pressures after recording 55 last year. Until they dominate, the defense is going to spin its wheels.

The strengths are the cornerbacks. Jaire Alexander is a true No. 1 – a proven lockdown corner. The other starter, Kevin King, has missed the last five games with an injured quad but is a quality No. 2 when healthy – which he might be for Sunday. Chandon Sullivan has been a find for the slot.

The Packers are tied with the Saints for the best NFC record at 7-2, but Drew Brees is hurt and that No. 1 seed sure seems attainable. Looking at the big picture and factoring in the remainder of the Packers schedule, how much importance do you place on this game?

Green Bay’s in good shape. You mentioned the Saints’ troubles. The Buccaneers, who own the tiebreaker over Green Bay, are 6-3 and face the Rams and Chiefs the next two games. The Seahawks are 6-3 and losers of three and four, but they’ve got a bunch of cupcakes on the upcoming schedule.

So, I do think there’s some margin for error. To me, the Packers have to show they can be productive against a top defense. While Green Bay is third in the NFL in scoring, it’s played only one quality defense. That was Tampa Bay in Week 6. In the final three quarters, Rodgers threw two interceptions, including one pick-six, and the offense never crossed midfield. It was a total smackdown. If Green Bay’s offense can’t produce against the Colts, I’d go so far as to say Green Bay is a championship fraud.

(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is