Monday, September 22, 2014

Great, Now the Packers Stink, Too

Too cheap to buy Sunday Ticket, and too lazy to walk to the nearby (Packer fan-friendly) watering hole, I followed Sunday's Packers-Lions game on the radio and the good ol' internet.

Even that felt like a gigantic waste of time.

No one's seriously considering jumping on another bandwagon here, but there are all sorts of problems with a Packers team that -- while I knew was flawed -- should not be 1-2 for a third straight season.

Not with a schedule that included the putrid Jets and banged-up Lions. This should have been a gimme for Aaron Rodgers and this high-octane offense.

Instead, the Lions' defense outscored the Packers, 9-7.

Green Bay sacked Matthew Stafford twice, strip-sacked him once (hi, Julius Peppers!), and picked him off twice. The Packers were plus-two in take/give.

And lost by 12.

Rodgers just isn't sharp. Now, let's lay this out there. Rodgers not being sharp is still better than 60 percent of the quarterbacks in the NFL.

But he isn't Aaron Rodgers.

The fourth down throw to Jordy Nelson is a good example. Nelson catches a touchdown if it's well-thrown. Instead, he had no chance and the Packers never got the ball back.

Why didn't they get the ball back? Because the defense was gassed. It was too bad, really, because they played their asses off. But Detroit held the ball for over 38 minutes, and the defense couldn't get the two more stops it needed to get because Rodgers was incompetent on this day.

In July, head coach Mike McCarthy spoke of his desire to see the Packers run 75 offensive plays per game.

So far, his cries for pace have fallen way short. Through three games, Green Bay is averaging 59 offensive plays per game, with a high of 68 against the Jets in Week 2. The offense was on the field for 51 plays in Sunday's game, which is only two dozen short of McCarthy's desired number.

To put it all in perspective, the Packers need to average around 80 plays per game over the last 13 games in order to reach a season average of 75 per game.

I'll bet against that.

To make matters worse, McCarthy has appeared dull and unimaginative with his play-calling. Not really any screen passes to the running backs, which seem to be a solid elixir to a pass rush like Detroit's. No formation or route creativity. Remember when they used Randall Cobb as a running back? Where did that go?

(If they're afraid of him getting hurt, it's all the more reason to let him go elsewhere as a free agent.)

And if the quarterback doesn't sharpen up, this could be a rough season for the Packers. I'm not sounding the alarms, but that was a totally winnable game Sunday, and yet Green Bay somehow never led it. Worse, Green Bay never seriously threatened to lead it.

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