The Green Bay Packers had one of their worst and most embarrassing performances of the Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers era yesterday in their 19-7 loss to Detroit.
The offense only scored seven points and gave up nine to a Detroit defense that was missing nearly their entire secondary and lost Stephen Tulloch during the game. There’s really no sugarcoating it– the performance was an abomination. Green Bay’s defense held up better than anybody could have possibly hoped against Detroit on a fast track, and it should have been an easy win if the offense performed up to standards. The positive thing is if the defense continues to play like it has the last six quarters you have to figure the Packers will break out of their offensive slump at some point.
The obvious question is how can this possibly happen to a Green Bay offense that has perennially been one of the best in the NFL. Even last year with Aaron Rodgers missing a big chunk of the season they finished third in the NFL in yards per game and eighth in points per game.
There are no certainly no shortage of opinions among Packers nation. Among the most commonly pointed out problems are Mike McCarthy’s stale play calling, Rodgers holding onto the ball too long and being a little off on some throws, the offensive line and the talent at the skill positions.
The real answer is all of the above. They’re all issues and that’s a long list. How much to criticize Rodgers was a big topic on Twitter yesterday. He certainly hasn’t played at the MVP level we’re accustomed to. He has taken too many sacks and has missed on throws. The huge sack that knocked them out of field goal range in the second quarter and the big miss to Jordy Nelson on fourth down to essentially end the game stick out the most. Rodgers needs to elevate his game back to the level that made him the highest paid player in the NFL at the time of his contract.
However, their problems go far beyond Rodgers. That’s not trying to protect him from criticism, but it’s just reality. McCarthy’s stale play calling is a huge issue. There is no imagination or creativity anymore. It’s just the same old recycled plays he has been running for years. Defenses have clearly caught up to it. How you go through that whole game without calling a single designed screen to a running back is beyond me. Coaching is so much bigger in the NFL than most people realize, and McCarthy has been getting out-coached far too often lately.
The Packers’ problem of not having open receivers has been a problem going back years now and not just this one. It’s a combination of scheme and now a lack of talent at the skill positions. Even when you see the Packers make a big play it’s usually Rodgers fitting the ball into a tight window. You rarely see receivers running free.
Going from Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley to Nelson, Cobb, Davante Adams, Jarrett Boykin and Andrew Quarless is a huge downgrade. Cobb has not been the same electric player he was since before he broke his leg. McCarthy is not putting him in a lot of creative packages to get the most out of him, but it seems like he has lost some of athleticism that he could not afford to lose.
Adams will be a solid receiver eventually, but it is so tough for rookie wide receivers to produce right away. Boykin never gets any separation and now forgot how to hold onto the ball. It’s clear Adams should be playing over Boykin and why not give Jeff Janis a shot over him too? He’s the more talented player on an offense that needs it. Quarless made some plays yesterday, but did not come up with the big one on third down with the game on the line.
The Packers miss Finley the most and this is why I always defended him in his toughest times. He pressured defenses down the middle even when he wasn’t making plays. Finley was a big time security blanket for Rodgers that he just does not have right now on third downs other than Nelson. YAC used to be a big time threat for the Packers and Finley was a load to bring down. Very few of these skill position players are doing that now.
Tight ends are a huge factor in today’s NFL and the Packers cannot continue to get nothing out of the position? Where has Brandon Bostick been? Is he still hurt? How has Richard Rodgers been nearly nonexistent after turning heads in training camp. The only time you saw him yesterday was his egregious blocking effort that resulted in a Detroit safety.
The offensive line clearly hasn’t played up to its abilities either. This was supposed to be the best line of Rodgers’ career. He has been under too much pressure and the run blocking has been poor. T.J. Lang had an awful day yesterday, Corey Linsley looked like a rookie for the first time and Bryan Bulaga looked slow.
Eddie Lacy has bounced too many runs outside like the one when he lost four on second-and-1 with the Packers driving to get back in the game. His vision and ability to set up blocks needs to come back from last year. However, he has been hit way too many times in the backfield before he had a chance.
The whole operation is off on offense right now. It’s not just one unit, player or coach. Wasting a defense performance like the Packers got yesterday is like losing 1-0 in baseball when your pitcher throws a complete game and only allows one run. They need to get better quickly and should start against a below average defense next week in Chicago.