Packers Fall Flat on Thanksgiving Loss

2015 Thanksgiving

On an emotional night that was supposed to be the complete union of all things that was great about the Packers, one emotion reigned supreme at the end of the game: disgust. With the exception of one drive and the halftime ceremony, there was no heart, no desire, and no hands among the 53 Packers during the humbling 17-13 loss to the Bears.

 

It all starts with the execution of even the smallest plays, and the lack of precision that the Packer offense used to be known for reared its head on the first drive as an underthrown flat route to Randall Cobb set up a fourth and two from the Bears 48, but Eddie Lacy was stopped cold and the Bears took over. It was a symbol of the rest of game that followed.

 

The Pack ended up getting their lone touchdown the next drive on a screen pass to Lacy, but even that lacked the same laser-minded focus of Packers past. Rumbling to the end zone, Lacy almost went full Desean Jackson, releasing the ball just as he hit the goal line, a play that was reviewed and upheld. That was the brightest spot for an offense that looked stagnant and ineffective for over a month in this game. Much like every game recently, the offense looked relatively sharp for a drive or two in the first quarter, but the lack of trust between each player leads to three quarters of ineffectiveness and an urgent drive late in the game.

 

Meanwhile, the Bears played smart, mistake free football for almost the entire game, taking what the defense gave them and methodically moving the ball through the ground and the air. Using bubble screens and inside runs, the Bears controlled the clock and used the rainy conditions to their advantage. Scoring on a crossing route to Zach Miller and a goal line run by Jeremy Langford, the Bears scoring in the first half was enough to beat the Packers, who struggled mightily except in the final minute of each half.

 

In the second half, all the attention went to Rodgers, who took a hit and lost feeling in his left hand for the rest of the game, but that didn’t matter at all when he couldn’t get a consistent presence from any of his receivers. Drops from Cobb, Richard Rodgers, and especially Davante Adams handicapped the offense completely and there was nothing that Rodgers could do but keep trying. He ended up with 202 yards on 43 attempts and 22 completions, the longest of which was 32 yards late in the game to Cobb.

 

But despite the pitiful passing offense out there, the running game was exceptional. Lacy got off to a great start with a beautiful 29 yard run, breaking multiple tackles, but he only got 16 more carries the rest of the game for a total of 107 yards. James Starks, back to a complimentary role, ended up with 39 yards on 7 carries. The Bears did not show any way they could stop, but with a desperate situation late in the game, they abandoned the run completely and put the game on the right arm of Rodgers and the hands of the receivers.

 

Every possible big play after Lacy’s touchdown went against the Packers, from an offensive pass interference penalty on James Jones that moved the ball back from the 1 to a third down drop in the endzone by Jones that would’ve given the Packers the lead with 36 seconds left. In between were drops, a poor route from Adams that led to an interception, a Lacy fumble, and injuries to Bryan Bulaga and Damarious Randall.

 

The positives in the game were almost entirely in the first quarter and late in each half. As stated earlier, Lacy looked to be back to the guy who was expected to dominate opposing defenses. And Jeff Janis, who rarely got a glimpse offensively, had a spectacular 64 yard kickoff return that set up the Packers at the Chicago 33, but it stalled as the pass interference on Jones cause ended up forcing a 22 yard field goal from Mason Crosby, who hit both of his attempts.

 

Defensively, they held their own. And while the Bears were able to move the ball somewhat, they never hit on the big play and the defensive line came up with big plays whenever needed out of them. Datone Jones and Mike Neal each had some huge run stops late in the game and the corner blitz worked consistently even though it only produced one sack (from Quentin Rollins).

 

But I would be remiss if I didn’t end this recap with the greatest moment of the night, the official retirement of Brett Favre’s number and his emotional return to the field during a regular season game. From the numerous former teammates who were there to give him a hug and his speech, it was all beautiful and the emotions stirred. But it went into overdrive when the greatest champion in NFL history rode out on a cart and got to wave to the Lambeau crowd a final time. Seeing the smile of Bart Starr almost overrode the anger that would later dominate the social media scene. And when Bart and Brett embraced like brothers, the tears flowed and it was captured perfectly by the media all over Lambeau. We all should go to bed thinking of that moment and thinking of Bart Starr, who worked so hard to get to this game. That was perfection, a perfect moment that will stand in Lambeau lore forever.

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Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.

Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.

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8 thoughts on “Packers Fall Flat on Thanksgiving Loss

  1. With so many more teams tougher than Chicago coming up, a wildcard in the playoffs would be a surprise – and the playoffs would be a short trip. Why MM changed a system that worked to one that doesn’t (ie., calling the offensive plays) is a real head-scratcher. The offense is just that – offensive and it had better be fixed quick or this season could well end on game sixteen.

    1. I hate to agree with you but I fear that, unless things get turned around post haste, you may be right.

  2. These guys are paid MILLIONS to play like that? Gee, did they have to play on Thanksgiving day? Awww… They shouldn’t be ashamed, they shouldn’t be paid for such a lousy performance! I’ve been a Packers fan for over 50 years, and the way the team played Chicago yesterday was one of their worst efforts ever!

  3. The REIGNING MVP got outplayed by JAY CUTLER, no less! That’s how pathetic this Packers team is playing right now–that’s McCarthy’s responsibility! Schemes ain’t working, can’t get WR’s open against press cover despite lining up in stack formation–they ran Jeff Janis deep last week vs. Vikings and had FOUR defenders trying to catch’im, WHY didn’t Janis get a long ball again to stretch Bears defense? WHY wasn’t Lacy AND Starks in backfield on goal line stand with time running out–that’s a 100+ yds night for Lacy forcing Bears to defend him, gives Rodgers option with Starks in screen game on goal line, instead Packers throw the ball away FOUR consecutive times–Rodgers’ play made CUTLER look like a MVP instead. This team WILL NOT make playoffs like this and it all falls on Mike McCarthy–his team looks lost and so does he–his media responses after the game were as bad as his team played. P.S.–Our so-called MVP looked worse than some rookies have this season, this is NOT the MVP Aaron Rodgers playing QB right now.

    1. I’m not sure it’s on MM. Forget that final drive, we should never have been in that position against the sodding Bears. The ball was there to be caught on numerous occasions and the receivers just dropped it.

      1. It BEGINS and ENDS with McCarthy–HE is the person Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy ultimately hold responsible and McCarthy’s just NOT getting the job done. Press cover–Pack’s WR’s just can’t get open–WHY doesn’t McCarthy run more 3 stack sets with 3WR’s on one side, two on opposite, WHY not FOUR WR’s on one side, one opposite? At least that forces secondary to react and opens up defense for at least ONE receiver uncovered. Put JANIS in that 3/4 WR set–and just WATCH defense panic trying to cover plus play safety deep for long ball–that’s at least TWO defenders having to focus on Janis—SOMEBODY has to get open. Run blocking—Pack constantly zone blocks on run plays–I actually saw the WHOLE O-line pull to left behind Sitton and Bakhtiari on ONE run play vs. Vikings–they MUST get run production and it’s time to pull guards, use misdirection plays–especially to help out Lang and Bulaga–they’re just NOT getting production behind these two unless RB can get outside. Pack lines up for snaps–most fans know the play that’s coming–it doesn’t help offense when “D” also knows its coming and that’s an adjustment McCarthy must fix. I don’t see McCarthy still in GB after next year, especially IF this team blows chance for playoffs–a ‘potential loss’ to Lions and losses to Cards and Vikings will finish it this year without a playoff, if that happens McCarthy gets one more year and he’s gone unless they drastically improve next year. Packers just can’t sit on competing like some teams do IF they want to keep the fan base behind a coach. We don’t want to be Buffalo Packers–Marv Levy’s team went to FOUR consecutive SB’s with Jim Kelly at QB–didn’t win a single title but at least they QUALIFIED for FOUR consecutive, the Packers have only been able to qualify for playoffs before getting kicked out.

        1. I read all this and it’s well argued and plausible (except I don’t see MM leaving any time soon, regardless of what happens next year) but MM’s scheme put the guys in the right positions on the field last Thursday but they didn’t make the catches. He didn’t drop the ball, fumble the ball or fail to make the interception.

          We just have to think positive: there’s still time to get things right. Maybe the team will get hot in December which is, in fact, way better than peaking in September.

          (Blimey this sounds so optimistic, but what else is there beyond giving up and we’re not doing that until the fat lady is on her last verse.)

  4. For the first time I’m actually glad there’s not a game today. I’m not ready to sit through another frustrating debacle like that. Hopefully I’ll feel differently by Thursday when the Packers will probably be brilliant.

    Doesn’t Aaron usually play very well indoors? (Forever hopeful.)

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