TEAM IN CRISIS
Packers lose third straight game after upset by Lions
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.