What’s up with Packers’ passing game?

Honest to god, I hate Twitter some times. Oh sure, it’s a gas most of the time, but if you went online between Sunday night and Monday morning, you’d think they were Sucking for Luck at this point. But congrats, Packers Nation, you waited for the first seven games of the year to implode and think the team is in absolute tailspin. Typically that happens in the first third of the season. So I guess that’s a new record.

For better or worse, Packers fans are, shall I say, reactionary. If you didn’t know anything about the team’s record this year, this week you’d think the team hasn’t won a game all season, the head coach was a hair’s breadth from being canned and our quarterback was Jay Cutler. Maybe we need to remind each other that the Packers have only lost one game and are only one game out of first place in the NFC.

Let me paraphrase the great philosopher A.C. Rodgers:

Chill the heck out.

Does the team need to self-scout this week and figure out what was their major malfunction this past week? Absolutely. But to think they’re just sitting around the film room wringing their hands is just silly. And to say they didn’t game plan to take on the Denver Broncos is equally silly. What they did simply did not work. Their defense was too stout to overcome whatever plan Mike McCarthy hatched.

But moving forward, certain aspects need to be assessed and readdressed. While none of us are privy to the war room inside 1265 Lombardi, we can all surmise what they are talking about. Perhaps we’re right, perhaps we’re way off.

Come on, Aaron Rodgers is not Jay Cutler. That’s comparing apples to hippopotamuses. No, really, don’t even say that out loud.

I’ve seen everything from his ego is getting in the way to take risks, he’s lost the competitive edge and even he’s a total headcase.

People, chill out. He’s the reigning MVP who had a crap game and has the walking wounded for a receiving corps. That’s it. No more, no less.

And when your deepest threat (Nelson) has been removed for the season, it’s easier to game plan against Rodgers’ aerial game. Every team knows that his two next greatest threats are James Jones outside and Randall Cobb in the slot. And neither of them is currently playing 100% healthy. Neutralize them and Rodgers’ first two options in his progressions are eliminated. That leaves Davante Adams who is still coming back from injury as well as Ty Montgomery has yet to return to play in any form. He has Rodgers’ trust, but he is still not 100% either. With a sore ankle, he still can’t exactly turn on a dime.

That leaves Jeff Janis. While fans think he’s the second coming of Christ, he is far from earning Rodgers’ trust. He may be fast like Bill Schroeder or even Jordy Nelson on a really good day, but it doesn’t mean he’s accurate. His routes are sloppy, and I’m not convinced that pull it out of his rear pass near the goal line in the Chargers game was even to him. Though Rodgers said it was Janis, it sure didn’t look like it on film. Janis was about two steps from cold clocking Richard Rodgers and seemed to come out of nowhere and into Richard Rodgers’ airspace. At times he seems to the be last best chance of moving the film, and a jaded eye may see that Aaron Rodgers would rather hack off a limb than loft one to Janis that may or may not be in the right location at the right time.

So maybe Rodgers is playing too much ball in his head before he releases the football. It’s no secret that he hangs on to the ball too long and is more likely eat the sack and lose yardage than loft one into the air and take a chance it is intercepted. That is exactly why he is white hot in games where this scheme works and why he has a TD to interception ratio of 4:1.

It is why PFF scores him so low, because he is “boring” and doesn’t dazzle with the Wow plays. He is the actuary of the football world who is constantly assessing the risk to benefit ratio of every pass which is a stark contrast to Brett Favre who was willing to thread a needle into double coverage and pray he receivers got the message in the interim.

I doubt it’s ego as some assert. Sure, every successful quarterback has a heaping dose of hubris and an ego that is enormous, but I seriously doubt that is factor. Rodgers doesn’t appear to play for numbers or records. He’s not a paper quarterback. That’s simply not his style.

Perhaps he needs to take his own advice and RELAX.

It’s one thing to err on the side of caution when you have all of your targets healthy and on the depth chart. But that simply isn’t the case. Opposing defenses have figured that out, and a championship caliber defense such as Denver will exploit that knowledge to no end. Couple that with an Eddie Lacy that has yet to his running game off the ground, and that is a recipe for a stymied offense.

Usually critics will repeat how important it is for the running game to get off the ground in order for the passing game to succeed, but oddly this year the opposite is true. The passing game has faltered the past few games and it is imperative that it gets back on track in the second half of the season.

After watching the Monday night game where Carolina sneaked out a victory over Indianapolis, it is obvious the Packers will have their hands full this coming week. But the Panthers’ secondary is not as robust as Denver’s. The defensive scheme will be similar–lock down the receivers and force Rodgers to either improvise or take off running.

That means Rodgers may need to reassess that risk to benefit ratio and air it out a little more with the hope that his receivers can win the 1-on-1 battle with the secondary.

That said, don’t be surprised that Ted Thompson didn’t trade for a veteran receiver. If you don’t think Rodgers trusts Jeff Janis enough, imagine him throwing the ball to some random new guy that he’s never played with before. The Packers aren’t going to make any drastic personnel changes aside from a possible increase in Jared Abbrederis’ playing time. Rodgers has gone on the record that he trusts and admires him. It would be interesting to see what that combination could do on the field (disclaimer: yes, I am an unabashed homer to the alma mater.)

But don’t expect anything huge in changes. Aaron Rodgers is not a West Coast style quarterback. And he doesn’t like to play a backyard version of 500 either. He will continue with his own style of football. There will be a lot of gut-checking this week within the organization. And it will involve quarterbacks as well.

In the meantime, lighten up. The Packers have only lost one game. Remember what it was like the last two years when they were 1-3 and everyone was slitting the wrists.

Just remember, hell hath no fury like an quarterback with a chip on his shoulder the size of Montana that just had his butt handed to him on a platter on national television. Expect Rodgers to come out with a fast start on Sunday. If history tells us anything, the Panthers will never see it coming.




Kelly Hodgson is a writer for PackersTalk.com and you can listen to her as a Co-Host of Out of the Pocket. You can also follow Kelly on Twitter at @ceallaigh_k



One thought on “What’s up with Packers’ passing game?

  1. Oh please, Aaron C Rodgers: “C-H-O-K-E”, that’s what we saw from Rodgers, Clements AND McCarthy vs. Broncos. Mike Holmgren and Favre would’ve sent a deep receiver and thrown it long if nothing else but stretch the field and show they would go long no matter defense. Favre would’ve thrown some quick slants–fearless, he’d throw it in coverage depending on arm strength to prevent DB’s from a pick. Rodgers spent time as if looking at Macy’s dept store window! The worst part about it? They NEVER showed they could adjust to the press coverage. WHY no motioning WR’s, why not more 3 WR sets–add the rollout out by Rodgers to the side of receivers to force DB/LB reaction to QB instead of WR’s, roll him out opposite the 3 receiver stack the next time–ANYTHING different than lining up and running plays Broncos waited on! I’d like some of the so-called writers to realize–it’s NOT the loss that’s so bad–it’s a team that’s touted as 1 or 2, but played as bad as bottom of the barrel–the Vikings and Bridgewater produced better than the reigning MVP and Pack did. McCarthy had NO answers or adjustments to a defensive scheme that beat his undefeated Packers in 2011 when the Chiefs beat’em. The Chargers ran similar pass defense two weeks ago to hang in a game they had an opportunity to tie or win, Sunday nite the Broncos proved to other Packers opponents just how to beat the MVP and Packers, and McCarthy didn’t come up with ONE change that worked. Dom Capers defense? WHAT defense, after the first quarter Green Bay’s defense was more in the way of the Manning offense than it was able to stop it. Take out the Broncos penalties and it would’ve been as bad as the ’62 Thanksgiving Day massacre when the Lions handed Vince Lombardi his only loss that Championship season. THAT’s how bad this McCarthy team played Sunday nite! That’s why the word C-H-O-K-E is so appropriate–McCarthy’s Packers are beginning to look like a ‘Marv Levy Packers’–get to playoffs year after year but can’t make the big dance for giving away their ticket! At least Levy GOT his Buffalo Bills TO the SB four consecutive years, McCarthy needs better play-calling and scheme sets or it could be 5 CONSECUTIVE years of choking in their big game and NOT making the big dance again!

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