Go to the game with Event USA!
Don’t miss Thursday Night Football at Lambeau vs the Bears. Great seats still available!
» Go to the game
By CHRIS HAVEL
Cowboys’ rookies Prescott, Elliott give Green Bay’s “D” big trouble
Watching the Green Bay Packers stumble around Lambeau Field in their “Browns” throwback uniforms Sunday afternoon was a real eye-opener.
That is if you could bear to pry your eyes open and watch.
The Cowboys’ 30-16 thumping of the Packers was thorough and it left little to the imagination.
It also begged several questions:
- Are the Packers (3-2) in serious trouble?
- Is the quarterback OK?
- Does the head coach need to rethink his offensive approach or risk becoming stale?
The answers are:
1) Yes, the Packers need to make some changes.
Identifying that is the easy piece of the equation. The tough part is to know what to change and how much to change it.
2) Aaron Rodgers will be fine.
The Packers’ two-time MVP quarterback is in a slump. It happens to all players. When it happens to an Aaron Rodgers everyone wants to know what’s wrong. When it happens to a lesser player they get released.
3) Absolutely, McCarthy needs to consider some changes.
First, McCarthy needs to simplify the pre-snap routine. The offense can’t find its rhythm in part because Rodgers surveys the defense while the play clock ticks its way to zero.
Call the play in the huddle, get to the line, identify the best matchup and snap the football. It’s become almost too mechanical, too analytical, for Rodgers. There is little joy in the process, including hearing fans boo.
“Look, we’re upset, they’re upset, it’s part of it,” Rodgers said. “It’s not the first time. Probably won’t be the last time.”
Instead of playing at recess, Rodgers appears to be taking a college calculus exam.
In turn, his receivers seem more apt to play that way – uptight and frustrated. It bears no resemblance to the casual, quiet confidence the Packers’ passing attack used to flash.
Routine brilliance has given way to occasional thrills and considerable concern. Rodgers completed 31 of 42 passes for 294 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His passer rating of 90.8 was ok, but it didn’t compare to his counterpart’s day.
Rookie Dak Prescott hit on 18 of 27 passes for 247 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“You couldn’t ask for more inspiration from a player because everybody on this team knows what a difficult position that is to play,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of Prescott.
Fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott bruised the Packers’ defense while rushing 28 times for 157 yards – a whopping 5.6 average. The Cowboys rushed for 191 yards against a Green Bay defense that had allowed just 171 yards rushing in its first four games.
The Packers’ problem on defense was the attrition in its secondary. It struggled without Sam Shields, Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins in the game. No doubt injuries are an issue.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is dealing with a back injury, and Lacy’s status with the ankle issue isn’t known. What is known is that the Packers’ beat up defensive secondary is going to be tested by whomever the Bears start at quarterback.
On offense, the Packers were their own worst enemy with four turnovers (three lost fumbles and an interception).
“Frankly, the biggest thing on offense … is turning the ball over,” McCarthy told reporters. “It’s not part of our fiber.”
Eddie Lacy was game and ran hard on a bum left ankle. He hurdled his way to 65 yards in 17 carries, an amazing day considering he was limping throughout.
Meantime, the passing game remains out of sync. There were several drops and a handful of passes that Rodgers misfired on, including a sure touchdown to Randall Cobb.
“We’re hard on ourselves, and I’m as hard as anybody on myself,” Rodgers said. “So I’m going to get it fixed … just been a little bit off.”
Packers vs Bears
The Packers have precious little time to figure it out. The Bears are going to be in Green Bay for Thursday night’s game at Lambeau Field.
The last time Chicago was here they ruined the party. On Thursday night, hopefully the Bears don’t ruin the season.
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.