Crushing Loss to Vikings Perfectly Captures Packers’ Season

Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers

In all likelihood, the Green Bay Packers’ push for a postseason berth ended on Sunday in Minnesota after suffering a 24-17 loss to the division rival Vikings. Various analytics give the Packers anywhere between a three and six percent chance to make the playoffs, meaning it would take a minor miracle to extend the team’s season.

But at this point, would sneaking into the playoffs as a wild card even matter? Probably not. The Packers haven’t been getting blown out, but they’ve done nothing that reflects an ability to learn from mistakes and improve on a week-to-week basis.

A large part of that has to fall on the coaching staff. The team rarely looks good out of the gate, and has recently been struggling after halftime, an area where the Packers were previously dominant. The offense is stale, lacks innovation, and stagnates far too frequently. The defense, which to its credit has shown marked improvement under Mike Pettine, has been forced to plug UDFAs into key roles due to a plethora of injuries. That was all evident once again against the Vikings.

In fact, the same handful of issues that have plagued Green Bay all season reared their collective head once again in the potentially season-ending loss in Minnesota. Poor third down play calling, bad time management, an ineffective Aaron Rodgers, crushing special teams mistakes, and an inability to win on the road served as a perfect microcosm for the Packers’ 2018 campaign.

Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff should undoubtedly shoulder the bulk of the blame for the team’s struggles. The offensive play calling and execution, particularly on third downs, has been abysmal. Green Bay was just 2/10 on third downs against the Vikings, dropping their season conversion rate to 37%, the 9th-worst mark in football.

While the play calling has been questionable at best, Aaron Rodgers’ propensity to take sacks on that crucial down has been just as problematic. Three of Minnesota’s four sacks on Sunday came on third downs, and a whopping 19 of the 34 sacks Rodgers has taken this year have been on third down plays. It’s impossible for Green Bay to extend drives if Rodgers doesn’t even give his receivers a chance to make a play.

Outside of coaching and play calling, it’s probably Rodgers who is most at fault for the Packers’ issues. It says a lot about Rodgers as a player (and Packer fans’ expectations) that he’s statistically among the top 10 in most categories and is still leaving a lot to be desired. He went yet another game without an interception, but missed badly on a few throws that should have been big plays or touchdowns. The swagger and big play ability from throughout his career have been badly missed in 2018.

The team also continued its season-long trend of time management issues. The offense was called for another delay of game, and has been running the play clock to under five seconds on what seems like every single play. Rodgers and McCarthy have still not figured out how to salvage time outs in close games, a fact made even more frustrating by the terrible 4th and 1 play call the team used after burning a time out in the third quarter on Sunday.

Then there’s the special teams. It seems like every week they commit at least one massive screw up, and that was no different against the Vikings. With the Packers clinging to hope late in the game, Tramon Williams made one of the most boneheaded plays of his career by letting a punt drop only to bounce off of him and straight back to Minnesota. Ron Zook’s unit may have secured its coach’s fate as well with a continued inability to avoid backbreaking gaffes.

Throw in the fact that Green Bay lost on the road again, dropping them to 0-6 away from Lambeau this season, and you’ve got a perfect idea of how the team’s season has gone so far. While the team has not been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, the fact that nearly every game they’ve lost has been a result of repeated miscues inspires no confidence that the team can turn things around. The last few chapters of the Packers’ 2018 story may still need to be written, but it seems like they’ll just say more of the same.

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Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .

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5 thoughts on “Crushing Loss to Vikings Perfectly Captures Packers’ Season

  1. Aaron Rodgers makes his biggest plays outside the pocket, but the older he gets the more trouble he’s going to have getting out of the pocket. Can he transition to a pure pocket passer and be successful? I’m doubtful.

    1. Teams know to collapse the picket on him, he tries to bolt but they come watch and come off their blocks to get him. How to solve the problem? Quick passes to move the chains. Shorter more creative routes schemed, and using Jones the entire game in the tun and pass game. Even us novel fans know to MOVE THE CHAINS! Why the hell is so hard for coaches and Rodgers to see?????? I just don’t get it after this many games blown.

      1. Yeah, but see……Aaron Rodgers is a multi MVP winner, a Super Bowl champion, and has his supporters for GOAT. And what you are saying, whether you realize it or not, is that we’re expecting Aaron Rodgers to change his game.

        No more “Mad Bomber”. No more running out of the pocket and extending plays. No more getting exposed to hard hits outside the pocket. Just stay in the pocket and throw quick darts. That’s how Manning and Brady and Brees got it done in their old age.

        Furthermore, we’re expecting a new coach, perhaps a rookie HC, to effect this change in Rodgers when he has another $80 million guaranteed. If you think you’ve seen this movie before, you did, in 2006, when McCarthy came in and told Favre he had to take better care of the ball and Favre was like “I’m gonna play how I’m gonna play”.and this relationship blew up in two seasons to the point where Favre engineered a fake retirement to get out of Green Bay, and then when he tried to force his way back onto the team McCarthy said ….”No, I don’t want you”.

        Rodgers is not going to get younger, quicker, or more injury resistant. The Number One Priority for Gute and the rest of the people at 1265 has to be transitioning to the post-Rodgers era as well as possible. That’s going to mean getting a new QB in here, probably as a first pick.

        Whatever. Rodgers is our QB and he’s going to play the way he thinks he should and we don’t have any options if he’s hurt or continues to decline. That’s where we are.

  2. Even with a good offense, not great, the Packers should have beaten most of the teams they played this year. Perhaps the lost to the Skins maybe their only one we got whipped badly. Other then that game, a above average game would have beaten our foes. But, not the case. When the fly shit is removed from the pepper it boils down to two things: MM and Rodgers period. Both did NOT perform at the level needed or expected. End of discussion and season.

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