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By CHRIS HAVEL
Green Bay’s 17-14 loss begs question: What’s wrong with its attack?
This time Aaron Rodgers didn’t tell anyone to relax. The Packers’ quarterback simply said he isn’t going to overreact.
To Rodgers’ credit, at least he acknowledged there is a problem with the Packers’ once-vaunted offense. Its utter lack of rhythm, execution and big plays was on display in Green Bay’s 17-14 loss to Minnesota at new U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday night.
If anyone has seen the Packers’ offense circa 2014 please return it to 1265 Lombardi Ave. ASAP.
Meantime, the Packers (1-1) looked like a very ordinary NFL team. The offense was non-existent and the defense played just OK considering it was going against a quarterback making his first start after being signed two weeks ago.
Sam Bradford, the oft-injured, underachieving journeyman outplayed Rodgers – often referred to as a “future Hall of Famer” – by a long-shot Sunday night. Bradford completed 22 of 31 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 121.2 quarterback rating.
Rodgers hit just 20 of 36 for 213 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 70.7 rating. Rodgers was sacked five times to Bradford’s four so it wasn’t like the Packers’ quarterback was the only QB under duress.
He was merely the only QB who didn’t respond.
“Well, we’re not going to overreact,” Rodgers said. “It’s been two weeks. We’ve been not quite finding our rhythm yet, but we’ve got some guys working in that haven’t worked together a whole lot. So we’re going to trust the process and believe we can get this thing turned around.”
It’s good that the Packers aren’t going to overreact. They can leave that to their disappointed fans.
Jordy Nelson’s return was supposed to be the cure-all. But after making a touchdown catch in each of the Packers’ first two games the offense continues to spit and sputter. Nelson alone isn’t enough to get this offense on track.
Jared Cook remains an afterthought. It’s time to put the free agent tight end to work. It’s also time to consider a heavier dose of the double-tight end formation. It could jump-start the running game while affording Rodgers protection in the process.
Randall Cobb has been just ok, Jared Abbrederis’ playing time has been limited and Ty Montgomery didn’t get any snaps with the offense.
Also, the offensive line has been merely so-so.
Four fumbles and an interception fairly sum up the Packers’ offensive showing.
Defensively, Dom Capers’ crew played good but not good enough. It allowed Stefon Diggs to repeatedly get open and make plays. Diggs had nine catches for 182 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets.
With Adrian Peterson totally thwarted (12 for 19 yards) before exiting with a knee injury, Capers should’ve done more to take away Diggs and make Bradford find another target.
Instead, Diggs constantly beat Damarious Randall, who could’ve used some help along the way but got none.
Fans may want to criticize head coach Mike McCarthy for his decision to go for a first down on fourth-and-2 at the Minnesota 14 yard line. Frankly, I wasn’t thrilled with the decision to go for it. Not with the way the game was playing out.
I was going to give McCarthy the benefit of doubt until he elected to hand off to James Starks off left guard against the Vikings’ six-man front. Rodgers had single coverage all across the board with his receivers but didn’t change the play call.
If McCarthy’s intention was to forego the field goal attempt in order to score a touchdown he wasn’t going to get a better chance than single coverage against EVERYONE. The concept was solid, but the execution and result were awful.
If you’re going to go for it on the road then go for it. Otherwise, kick the field goal, tie the game and move on.
At any rate, McCarthy’s risky decision was hardly the Packers’ greatest gaffe of the evening. That would be failing to have any rhyme, rhythm or reason to the offensive attack.
I watched the tape of the game Monday morning and I’m still not sure what McCarthy and Rodgers were trying to get done.
If I’m the Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford, I would be excited about the prospect of coming to Green Bay on Sunday. The weather’s supposed to be unseasonably warm. The fall colors are out. And the Packers just might be ripe for the picking, what with Sam Shields perhaps still out and Rodgers playing more like the Bears’ Jay Cutler.
After 2 weeks on the road, at least the Packers will have home field advantage for the next 4 weeks. Win or lose, the first regular season game at Lambeau is always exciting.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com). Havel also hosts Event USA’s MVP Parties the evening before home games. Also check out our new Podcast: Between the Lines for more Packers insights. New episodes every Wednesday.