TEAM IN CRI­SIS

Packers lose third straight game af­ter up­set by Li­ons

Packer Plus - - Front Page - By ROB REIS­CHEL

Green Bay — For so many games and so many years, his ac­cu­racy was that of leg­end.

Curls. Digs. Posts. Fades. Cor­ner routes. Come­backs. Slants.

It didn't mat­ter the throw. It didn't mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion. Aaron Rodgers was money. To­day, that’s clearly not the case. And no one in­side Green Bay’s hi­er­ar­chy can fig­ure out why or how to fix the Packers’ most im­por­tant player.

Rodgers con­tin­ued his trend of sub­par play Sun­day in a stun­ning, 18-16, loss to Detroit. For the sec­ond week in a row, Rodgers and the of­fense couldn't get out of first gear for more than three quar­ters and a late rally went for naught.

The re­sult was Green Bay’s third straight loss — the first time that’s hap­pened with a healthy Rodgers since late in the 2008 sea­son. The Packers also saw their 24game win­ning streak over Detroit on Wis­con­sin soil come to an end.

At the heart of a slump­ing of­fense is a twotime MVP quar­ter­back that clearly isn’t him­self.

“I'm not go­ing to sit here and dis­sect the me­chan­ics of the quar­ter­backs, es­pe­cially our quar­ter­backs,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I don’t cor­rect play­ers in the me­dia. We’re not as ef­fi­cient in our pass­ing game as we’d like to be right now. We'll just need to con­tinue to work.”

Green Bay was an 11-point fa­vorite against a Li­ons team that was 1-7 and fired its pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager in the past two weeks. The last time the Packers were a big­ger fa­vorite — and lost — was Dec. 18, 2011, when they were an 11.5-point fa­vorite in Kansas City.

“We had some op­por­tu­ni­ties, I missed some throws and we missed some op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­vert and put some more points on the board,” Rodgers said. “We needed 19 points to win to­day. You would ex­pect us at home to score 19.”

Points have been tough to come by for Rodgers and the Packers in re­cent weeks.

Green Bay av­er­aged 32.0 points per game the first three weeks of the sea­son. The Packers have av­er­aged 20.5 in the six games since and were held be­low 20 points on three oc­ca­sions.

While fin­gers can be pointed in sev­eral di­rec­tions, ev­ery­thing starts and ends with Rodgers.

The Packers kicked a field goal on their first pos­ses­sion against Detroit. Green Bay then had a re­mark­able nine con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions where it punted and didn’t score for nearly 50 straight min­utes.

Dur­ing that drought, Rodgers played as poorly as any time in re­cent mem­ory, com­plet­ing just 17 of 36 passes for 156 yards, no touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions. His passer rat­ing dur­ing that stretch was 59.5 and he missed sev­eral open re­ceivers.

Rodgers was asked af­ter­ward about his strug­gles and said, “I don't understand the ques­tion.”

When pressed, Rodgers said, “I have to look at the film.”

Be­gin­ning with Green Bay’s 17-3 win in San Francisco on Oct. 4, some­thing has been amiss with Rodgers. That day, Rodgers led Green Bay on just three scor­ing drives in 10 pos­ses­sions.

Rodgers had a sea­son-high two in­ter­cep­tions the fol­low­ing week against St. Louis, then com­pleted just 55.2% of his passes against San Diego in Week 6.

Since the bye in Week 7, though, Rodgers has strug­gled more than any time since tak­ing over as the starter in 2008.

Rodgers was abysmal in a 29-10 loss at Den­ver, throw­ing for a ca­reer-low 77 yards while av­er­ag­ing just 3.5 yards per pass­ing at­tempt.

Rodgers and the Packers trailed Carolina, 37-

“We needed 19 points to win to­day. You would ex­pect us at home to score 19.” Aaron Rodgers

14, with 10 min­utes left. Rodgers threw two late touch­downs against pre­vent de­fenses and had a chance to force a tie in the fi­nal sec­onds. But at the mo­ment of truth, Rodgers was in­ter­cepted by line­backer Thomas Davis, then said af­ter­ward he was “scared.” He also fin­ished that game with a sea­son-worst com­ple­tion per­cent­age of 52.1.

The ul­ti­mate low, though, came Sun­day against Detroit. Rodgers av­er­aged just 5.5 yards per throw. His passer rat­ing of 83.6 marked the third straight game he was un­der 100.0 in that cat­e­gory.

Once again, Rodgers led a late rally. Once again, Green Bay couldn’t fin­ish.

“Yeah, you know it’s dis­ap­point­ing,” Rodgers said. “We had a good week of prac­tice. Felt like we were ready to play and the en­ergy wasn’t great from the start.

“We had a good first drive, three points and then a huge strug­gle from that point. We didn't have a ton of ter­ri­ble drives. We just didn't con­vert enough. We missed some op­por­tu­ni­ties and that’s what hap­pens.”

The Li­ons en­tered the game ranked last in the league in scor­ing de­fense (30.6). Detroit also ranked 26th in to­tal de­fense and 30st in rush­ing de­fense.

But for most of the day, Green Bay made the Li­ons look like the 1985 Chicago Bears.

“I think the en­tire of­fense is off right now,” Packers left guard Josh Sit­ton said. “We’ve got to all look in the mir­ror and fig­ure out what we need to do in­di­vid­u­ally bet­ter to be bet­ter col­lec­tively.” Full­back John Kuhn agreed. “We need to get the of­fense go­ing,” Kuhn said. “We need to put the points up there to win.”

The first step is un­doubt­edly get­ting Rodgers on track. Last week, ESPN an­a­lyst Ron Ja­worski said Rodgers “has slipped. He is making mis­takes, he is be­com­ing fre­netic in the pocket, he’s lost his fo­cus down­field. The term I use is he is see­ing ghosts and not see­ing his re­ceivers and throw­ing on time.”

That didn't change on Sun­day. And un­til it does, Green Bay’s of­fense will re­main stuck in neu­tral.

“This is a tough game,” McCarthy said. “This isn’t easy. And frankly, if we spoiled you in the past, that's great. We’re look­ing for­ward to spoil­ing you again in the fu­ture.”

Right now, the only thing be­ing spoiled is Green Bay’s once-promis­ing sea­son.

Quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers has been held un­der 100 in passer rat­ing in each of the Packers’ games dur­ing their three-week skid.

RICK WOOD / RWOOD@JOUR­NALSEN­TINEL.COM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.