This photo pretty well sums up not only what the Packers felt like on Thursday, but what Packer fans worldwide felt watching and listening to this game. Despite the Lions handing the Packers four turnovers on the day, the Pack could only convert those into seven points. But that was four points more than the Packers offense could manage for the day in one of its most inept performances in ages: 126 total yards.
The defense, or what might appropriately be called "defense" on this day, gave up 561 yards (or thereabouts...when we're talking these kind of numbers does it really matter???). The "defense" missed 20-plus tackles on the day. Anyone watching saw that CB Davon House was a whiff machine on the day. But he was far from the only one. There was no toughness. No coverage of much account either, with receivers wide open over the middle as they have been repeatedly during this losing streak. Yes, they finally got the takeaways which had been so lacking on the season, but it didn't matter...the offense could do nothing. No running game. No passing game. The former was due to the inability of the offensive line to create any movement at the line, while the latter was largely a result of little time for QB Matt Flynn to throw coupled with his obviously weak arm strength.
A whole lotta hurt
The Packers are in a world of hurt. A few weeks ago, that would have been more a reference to the 12 players on injured reserve, as well as those missing time for other minor injuries. You have to believe the presence on the field of Brian Bulaga, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, Casey Hayward, Johnathan Franklin, Robert Francois and DuJuan Harris -- among others -- would make for a different dynamic and level of performance. Cobb is designated for return but at this point...?
The hurt the Packers are in now seems to be more than just the physical injuries. It's mental. It's emotional. It's spirit. It seems, since QB Aaron Rodgers went down with his fractured collarbone, that all the juice just went out of the team. Yes, he's important. And, truth be told, it's looking more and more like he was able to cover up offensively the deficiencies of the Packers defense.
There is, rightly, a lot of soul searching going on right now at 1265 Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay. Players, coaches and even GM Ted Thompson have to be looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for where this team is right now. Mathematically, the Packers are still alive for the playoffs if they win out...there's a chance. But realistically?
The team is terrible right now. It pains me to say that. But we'd be delusional not to just say how it is. Even if Rodgers is somehow able to get back on the field for the next game on Dec. 8 against the Falcons at Lambeau, is that going to make the difference? And if starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith is out for that game with the knee injury he sustained in Detroit, do you really want to see Rodgers running for his life -- and perhaps, career -- behind that makeshift offensive line, including the human turnstile, Marshall Newhouse?
I, for one, would just as soon see Rodgers sit out the rest of the season and heal without risk of further damage. Put Scott Tolzien back in at quarterback. Yes, Flynn knows the system better, but he has the arm strength of a spaghetti noodle; Tolzien demonstrated he can get the ball downfield. Might still make some rookie-type mistakes; let him learn. Right now, that would be a better option than letting Flynn float wounded ducks 15 yards downfield. By giving Tolzien playing time now you can come into next season with a verified backup to Rodgers, which is something Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy -- for all their brilliance -- failed to have ready going into this season.
It ain't pretty, Packer fans. Ain't pretty at all. A 5-6-1 record with four to go, two home and two away. Ain't pretty.