Packers GM Ted Thompson: "We have a (playoff) team"

Four games into the season, Ted Thompson was expecting more from the Green Bay Packers.

In a rare in-season assessment of his team, the general manager made it known he was looking for more than a 2-2 beginning after the Packers have dropped two of their last three games, losing an emotional game Monday night at Minnesota and falling to Cincinnati at Lambeau Field in Week 2.

Every team is going to tell you the bye week comes at a good time for them, but the Packers legitimately need this week to heal some injuries on the offensive line. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was bruised up good in the loss to the Vikings when he took eight sacks, 4 1/2 from Jared Allen. The Packers will have this weekend to reflect and then resume preparations for a meeting with the Detroit Lions next week at Lambeau Field. It’s a far cry from where they were a little more than a month ago when the offense was unstoppable in preseason and the defense looked like it had been playing Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme for years.

“The preseason and the regular season are a whole different kettle of fish, but yeah, I would have thought we would have played a little bit better starting out,” Thompson told Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “But at the same time, we feel like we’re a work in progress, and we’re going to get better.”

Thompson was roundly criticized when he first took over and let guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle go in 2005, and it’s been an evolution since. The Packers believed they had the line set entering this season, but one injury to left tackle Chad Clifton, a rough start by Allen Barbre at right tackle, and things don’t look very settled. Rodgers has been sacked a league-high a league-high 20 times, 14 in the two losses.

“The whole protection issue is a combination of things,” Thompson said. “It’s the blocking, it’s the reads (by Rodgers), it’s the route running, it’s the running game, it’s the whole thing. All those things have to come together. I think we have a very potent offensive, but obviously we’ve stubbed our toe a little bit in terms of getting off to a good start.”

Clifton should return against the Lions and that will allow the rest of the line to fall back into order. It’s early, and no one was expecting Green Bay to look as flawless in the regular season as they did in preseason, but there are some issues to iron out.

“We’ve played a quarter of the season, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Thompson said. “Our team is confident enough, but at the same time we understand that we have the work to do. I think we have the kind of team where if we play well, I do think we have (a playoff) team. I think we have that kind of people on our team.”

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