The Best and the Wurst is a weekly series wherein I highlight just a few of the things that stuck out to me in last week’s game. They are not only or merely the best or wurst players overall, but are merely observations from the game. Sometimes the considerations aren’t even players at all, but play calls, incidents, or various nonsense.
Denver Penalties: The Packers got completely embarrassed on national television. Somehow, the embarrassment would have been even worse had Denver not repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. This game could have ended 36 – 3, and probably should have. The Packers’ best offense and defense were these little gifts.
Special Teams: Mason Crosby and Tim Mathsay looked pretty good last night, so there’s that.
Mike McCarthy/Tom Clements: Mike McCarthy and company have made some pretty great post-bye adjustments in recent years. This year, it looked like the Packers coaching staff took a vacation to the Bahamas and then had to grab an early return flight to Denver when they remembered that they had a game on Sunday. For an offense that had been struggling to get much of anything going for the past few weeks and now facing the best defense in the league, the coaching staff seemingly prescribed to change nothing. And it showed.
As has been the case for the last few weeks, seemingly every third play is either a stretch/off tackle run with Eddie Lacy or a bubble screen to a receiver at the line of scrimmage. The former has almost never worked. The latter has not worked in the last month, but that will not stop Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements from making these plays a staple of every drive.
It’s clear that the wide receivers are not getting open. Perhaps this would be a good time to try something different in an attempt to alleviate the situation?
No, the Packers will not be getting Jordy Nelson back, but McCarthy and Clements get paid big money to create opportunities for their offense based upon the talent that they have, something which they’re just not doing.
I'm with you, QB1… https://t.co/wF1Zw3PT3I
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) November 2, 2015
Wide Receivers and Offensive Line: I know that the exclusion of QB Aaron Rodgers from these sort of lists is an annoyance to many, so let me say straightaway that Rodgers was a total non-factor last night. Not only did Rodgers not look like the MVP, he didn’t even look like an NFL QB. He’s still the best QB in the league, but you’d never have known it from last night. This was Rodgers’ worst ever performance in the NFL.
That being said, it’s hard for me to imagine Rodgers having been able to salvage too much from what he was given last night. He over or underthrew his receivers several times. However, he had absolutely no help for most of the game. Just as the Chargers had done two weeks ago, Denver completely collapsed the pocket, leaving Rodgers little to no room for maneuvering. With whatever little time Rodgers had to look downfield, his receivers appeared to be totally blanketed by the Denver secondary.
If Rodgers had had the time that Peyton Manning had last night, who knows how different things could have been? The fact is that a supposedly underrated offensive line and a deep wide receiver corps have looked completely pedestrian lately.
Defense: I know that I’m throwing up some pretty generic wursts here, but how else does one cover last night’s game? There were a handful of bright moments from the defense last night. Datone Jones and BJ Raji both made a few nice tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. Damarious Randall had a nice interception. There were maybe one or two others. Otherwise, the much-improved Green Bay defense from weeks 1 – 5 appears to have been a mirage.
The sacks that had people buzzing about the Packers’ defense? Gone. I’m not even sure that the Packers’ defensive front ever even saw Peyton last night, much less got close to a sack. For a nearly over-the-hill QB playing behind a busted up offensive line, the Broncos looked like they had put a hex on the Packers’ pass rush.
Injuries didn’t help a secondary that had absolutely no answer for Demaryius Thomas, either. The Broncos could run at will, especially to the outside. The Packers had absolutely no containment. Anything that went near or outside the tackles seemed guaranteed for at least 7 yards, as Ronnie Hillman or CJ Anderson immediately left behind the entire defensive front that looked like it had called time to tie its shoe.
Game Management: McCarthy is essentially making this last twice. In giving up play-calling duties, McCarthy has been able to focus on managing the game. Why, then, the Packers did not use a TO before the half with Denver facing 3rd and very long and the Mile High air soaring Crosby’s kicks, I do not know. Rodgers didn’t seem happy about just packing it in for the 2nd half either. Again, at the end of the game, with about 7 minutes to go and down by 19, McCarthy and Clements chose to just wave the white flag and punt the ball on 4th and medium.
Was the game essentially over at that point? Yes. But what do you say to your team in that situation? “We’re just going to pack this one up here a little early, boys.” Isn’t this the team that has always been criticized for being soft and lacking tenacity? Maybe it’s not just a problem with the players, but with the head coach.
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.