Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Packers underachieve in loss to Minnesota

Now that we've had a few days to process Sunday night's 17-14 loss to the ViQueens in the new (fill-in-the-blank-name) Minnesota stadium, what do we understand? Probably, not much. We know what we saw, which was a Green Bay Packers team really out-of-sync. With plenty of opportunities to win, an ineffective offense -- including an erratic and fumble-prone Aaron Rodgers -- and a defense that gave up big pass plays throughout the game, the Pack just couldn't get it done.

The Packers made new Minnesota starting QB Sam Bradford look like an MVP. He certainly played better than Rodgers, who has now gone 14 straight games with a passer rating of less than 100. Yes, as Michael Wilbon on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption will remind us, Rodgers has started seasons slowly before. True. But something seems amiss in Mr. Rodgers neighborhood right now, something that goes beyond slow season starts. His mechanics look off. We're not the only ones who think so; check out this article in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel which goes into a good deal of detail on the state of the un-Rodgers-like Rodgers.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers trying to find some rhythm vs. the Vikes.
Photo by Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis

In addition to Rodgers' woes, the formula for the loss was questionable play-calling by head coach Mike McCarthy (including passing up a chip shot field goal in the 3rd quarter to tie the score), questionable wide receiver usage (over-use of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to the exclusion of other receivers), and under-utilization of the running game. Play-calling seemed uncreative in the extreme. Contrast this with some of the calls made by Eagles head coach (and former Packer) Doug Pederson last night vs. Chicago using a rookie quarterback. He was unpredictable...which is not an adjective which could probably be easily applied to the Packers right now.

Defensively, Bradford was given far too much time to stand in the pocket and find his receivers. With RB Adrian Peterson being held in check prior to leaving the game with a leg injury, the Packers defense just couldn't hold Bradford or his receivers in check. If the purple-clad receiver happened to be covered by Damarious Randall -- who had a very good game in the season opener vs. Jacksonville -- he would generally either be open or benefit from a pass interference penalty. Not a good night for Mr. Randall.

The final score was 17-14...close. But yet, it felt both as if the Packers could have won this game and, on the other hand, the Pack was lucky to have the score be that close in the end. It was a very odd game. We had called it 20-17 in favor of the Packers in our preview and prediction post. We figured it would be close. Didn't figure on Bradford having his way with the Pack's defense or the Pack's offense being a study in ineptitude on this particular night.

The Packers have a lot of work to do. Luckily, they now get an extended stretch at home in Lambeau Field to try to get things together. Let's hope they do so beginning this Sunday vs. the Lions. 2-1 going into the early Week #4 bye will feel a lot better than 1-2. A lot better.