From Robert McGinn, JSonline
~Green Bay — Twice in the span of 12 days the Green Bay Packers couldn’t defeat a losing team from the NFC North Division at Lambeau Field.
That was the sorry state of the Packers’ affairs late Thursday night after they failed to score a point in the second half and went down hard to the Chicago Bears, 17-13, in the 192nd rendition of the NFL’s oldest rivalry.
First, it was the cellar-dwelling Detroit Lions who ended the Packers’ 13-game winning streak at home on Nov. 15. They hadn’t won in Wisconsin since 1991.
The Thanksgiving night crowd then got to sit in rain and cold as the Bears handed the Packers a devastating setback in Green Bay’s bid to win the division for the fifth straight season.
Green Bay slipped to 7-4, one-half game behind a Minnesota Vikings team that the Packers polished off with a promising performance four days earlier in Minneapolis.
Chicago is next at 5-6 followed by onrushing Detroit (4-7), which will meet the Packers next Thursday at Ford Field. The division records for the four teams are 3-1 for the Vikings, 2-2 for the Packers and Lions, and 1-3 for the Bears.
“You need to win your home games,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s a game we expected to win, but we didn’t play well enough to get it done. Disappointing loss.”
McCarthy owned a 14-6 record against the Bears and a 44-14-1 record in his decade of domination against the division. The Packers had won 10 of their last 11 against the Bears, and with another victory, as a nine-point favorite, they would have tied the series (93-93-6) for the first time in 82 years.
The Bears, however, proved to be the better and stronger team as the game dragged on, especially at quarterback.
Jay Cutler, who had a nightmarish career record of 1-11 against the Packers and defensive coordinator Dom Capers, outplayed Aaron Rodgers in his most resolute and efficient performance ever against Green Bay.
For the fifth game in a row, Rodgers’ passer rating (62.7) was worse than the opposing quarterback. It’s an astonishing statistic for the NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating.
Cutler finished with a rating of 90.7 in winning for the first time in five starts at Lambeau Field. His rating in 12 previous starts had been 63.2.
The Bears clearly were the better team on offense. They mixed bubble screens, flat passes to the tight ends, sideline throws to Alshon Jeffery and a steady ground game.
Even without tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs), Cutler after a slow start threw with a calm decisiveness and tremendous velocity. His poise, after so many pratfalls against Green Bay, was both telling and remarkable.
On the other hand, the Packers had little other than screen passes in a flat passing game that is nearing rock bottom.
McCarthy attributed the defeat largely to an excessive number of dropped passes. Davante Adams struggled catching the ball throughout the rainy night, and James Jones had a great chance to make the grab for an 8-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left that would have won the game.
“We do more damn ball drills here than anyone in the history of football,” said McCarthy. “It didn’t show up tonight.
“There’s nothing broke here. If we make plays on the ball tonight the outcome is different.”
It was the Packers’ first home game on Thanksgiving since 1923.
The story of the first half for the Packers was their continued failures in short-yardage situations.
McCarthy elected to go for it on fourth and 2 at the Chicago 48, running Eddie Lacy off right tackle. When center JC Tretter, subbing for injured Corey Linsley (ankle), got blown up, the Bears stopped Lacy for no gain.
Early in the second quarter, Lacy tried to burrow behind left guard Josh Sitton on third and 1. This time, there was no movement at the point of attack, giving Pernell McPhee, the backside outside linebacker, time to flatten inside and make the tackle for no gain.
Sunday in Minnesota, the Packers converted just 2 of 5 third-and-1 situations, including just 1 of 4 rushing.
The Packers had to punt on their second possession when Adams dropped a third-and-11 pass in the clear at the Chicago 32.
“Didn’t have a very good day today,” McCarthy said, referring to Adams. “The consistency in certain areas needs to pick up.”
The first score came on the Packers’ third series. Starting from the Bears 49, the Packers gained two first downs before Lacy charged 25 yards on what has become the team’s best play of late, a screen pass, for the touchdown.
Chicago’s first five possessions resulted in one first down and 52 yards against an active, aggressive defense. Terrible field position was hurting the Bears.
Then Lacy turned the right side for a gain of 15 before he was hit from behind by strong safety Chris Prosinski, who was subbing for injured Antrel Rolle (knee).
The ball came free and was recovered by linebacker Lamarr Houston, who won a scramble with John Kuhn.
It took the Bears nine plays to go the 34 yards for a touchdown. The drive might have ended on third and 4 at the 28, but cornerback Damarious Randall blew a sack of Cutler, who then passed 10 yards to Marc Mariani.
Tight end Zach Miller came across the formation and was wide open in the left corner for a 3-yard scoring pass on third and goal.
Mason Crosby followed with a 22-yard field goal after Jeff Janis ran over two tacklers and roared for 64 on the kickoff return. The Packers would have had third and goal at the 1, but James Jones was penalized for an illegal pick, negating a 4-yard pass to Randall Cobb.
Deonte Thompson’s 37-yard gain on the ensuing kickoff allowed the Bears to start from their 42. They needed seven plays to go the distance, with Jeremy Langford piling in from the 1 for a 14-10 lead.
Beginning to heat up, Cutler completed 3 of 4 passes in the drive for 39 yards. The key play was a 19-yard sideline pass to Marquess Wilson, who beat Randall.
Green Bay trimmed its halftime deficit to 14-13 on Crosby’s 50-yard field goal as time expired.
The Packers drove from the 22 to the Bears 21 early in the third quarter, and Rodgers actually scrambled for a first down at the 10. However, the gain was brought back when Sitton was called for holding defensive end Ziggy Hood as Rodgers ran by him.
On third and 15, Tretter’s shotgun snap rolled underneath Rodgers, who was swarmed under for a loss of 14 yards that knocked the Packers out of field-goal position.
Attacking primarily through the air despite the worsening conditions, the Bears marched 83 yards in 15 plays for a 21-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to increase their lead to 17-13. With the Bears perched at the 1 on second down, Matt Forte was thrown down at the 3 and then Cutler missed Jeffery in the right corner against tight coverage by Sam Shields.
Green Bay picked up two first downs but Rodgers was sacked on third down by Willie Young, who beat Bryan Bulaga off the edge. Bulaga left with an ankle injury.
Rodgers scrambled twice for 28 yards as the Packers reached midfield. But Adams got hung up by Prosinski as he attempted to run a slant against Tracy Porter. Rodgers’ pass already was airborne and went right to Porter for an interception.
On second and 5 at the 50, center Hroniss Grasu was called for holding and the Bears, instead of having a chance to increase their lead, ended up having to punt.
Starting from their 20 with 2 minutes 45 seconds left and no timeouts, Rodgers marshaled the team to first and goal at the 8.
On first down, Rodgers held the ball and then was drilled by linebacker Shea McClellin as he fired incomplete.
On second down, Rodgers had all day before throwing incomplete to Richard Rodgers.
On third down, Jones evaded Porter in the right corner but wasn’t able to secure a contested ball against close coverage.
On fourth down, Rodgers again had time before extending left and unloading for Adams. The pass appeared to be slightly behind him and fell incomplete.
“They played coverage,” McCarthy said of the fourth-down play. “Aaron didn’t have anywhere to throw the football.”
Original story here
From Demovsky at ESPN.com
~GREEN BAY, Wis. — Four shots from the 8-yard line. Fifty-one seconds to play. Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
What percent of the time do the Green Bay Packers find the end zone in that situation?
“A hundred,” veteran guard T.J. Lang said.
Not this year.
When Rodgers can’t win a game with four plays from the Chicago Bears’ 8-yard line against a team he’s owned over the years, there’s little reason to think his club is going anywhere this season. Those four plays, the Packers’ final snaps in Thursday’s stunning 17-13 loss at Lambeau Field, encapsulated all that has gone wrong with the Packers offense in 2015.
On first and second down, Rodgers couldn’t find anyone open and threw it away. On third down, James Jones broke free near the right corner of the end zone but couldn’t handle the pass.
“I dropped it. Period,” said Jones, who has been held without a catch in two of the last three games. “It sucks, man. You let your team down. We had an opportunity to win the game, and I dropped the ball.”
With one more chance on fourth down, Rodgers tried to throw to Randall Cobb running across the back of the end zone, and Davante Adams thought it was for him. And of course, it bounced off his hands — again.
In the first quarter, Adams dropped what likely would’ve been a 47-yard touchdown. Instead, the Packers, who dropped to 7-4 and out of first place in the NFC North, punted.
“It’s just the same things that have been hindering us all year,” Lang said. “We’re not going to go anywhere where we want to be if we keep making the same mistakes. We got to get it corrected.”
At least the Packers can run the ball now. Eddie Lacy, with 105 yards on 17 carries, posted his second straight 100-yard game.
In fact, maybe they should have run the ball more — even in the last-minute, goal-to-go situation without any timeouts.
“Possibly,” Rodgers said when asked whether a run was an option in that situation. “We had a couple good calls. The first two plays, they covered them pretty well. Third down and fourth down were scramble opportunities. Frustrating. I like the calls there; all four of them. We probably could have ran it there on one of them, but I like the calls.”
If not at that time, then perhaps earlier. Rodgers dropped back to throw 49 times (43 throws, four scrambles, two sacks), and the Packers ran with Lacy and James Starks on just 24 plays.
“I don’t know the final numbers, but we would’ve probably liked to have a few more [rushing] attempts,” Lang said.
Considering all the problems they’ve had in the passing game, maybe that would’ve been a better option, either earlier in the game or at the end.
“They played coverage,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the final four plays. “We didn’t win on the perimeter, and we didn’t have anywhere to go with the football is what I saw.”
At this point, it’s worth wondering whether this offense is simply mistake-prone, as Lang put it, on just incurably inept. They have the NFL’s 23rd-ranked passing game, and they’ve been in that neighborhood all season. They were 20th after Weeks 1, 5 and 6, and that’s the high-water mark for the year.
Everyone knew the loss of Jordy Nelson would hinder what had been a top-10 offense eight of the last nine years under McCarthy, but who knew it would be this bad?
“It’s a different year, different personnel,” Rodgers said. “You know, it’s frustrating because we shouldn’t have some of those issues 11 games in. But we’re having those.”
Rodgers put the onus on himself to try to fix it.
“I’m obviously going to have to make sure that my preparation is as high as it’s ever been because we’ve got to get on the same page in the passing game,” Rodgers said. The run game has been better the last couple of weeks. Obviously, Eddie being healthy has helped. We’re just on different pages.
“When you miss throws, when I’m throwing at a certain depth and the receiver’s running a certain depth, obviously we’re on different pages, so we need to have some better communication and make sure there’s not those discrepancies in the depths and the adjustments.”
It’s an admirable stance on the part of the two-time NFL MVP, but it may not matter.
Original story here
From Cheesehead TV’s Jason Perone
~The Green Bay Packers emerged from a night in which they saw one legendary quarterback in Bart Starr on the field and another, Brett Favre, having his name added to the team’s ring of honor with another poor and lackluster performance. It resulted in a loss to the Chicago Bears and gave the Packers their second-straight loss at home and another divisional loss. We can effectively end any discussion about the Packers getting at top seed in the postseason and honestly, we should probably curtail any discussion about the postseason, for now.
This year’s Packers team has not answered the bell. Sure, they won at Minnesota last week and there are still five more games left, but this team has lost its way. They aren’t consistent, unless you’re talking about their failure to step up big when the chips are down. The “they miss Jordy Nelson” talk is old. This team has real issues, my friends. Who will step and lead this team out of the weeds? Head coach Mike McCarthy? Aaron Rodgers? Anyone?
On with the game balls and lame calls.
The man, the myth, the legend. To see him on the field honoring Favre with a smile on his face and in this tough weather in his state of health was the best performance by a Packers player, past or present tonight.
What a blessing that Rollins avoided serious injury to his neck and is back in action. After his two-interception performance against the St. Louis Rams earlier this season, Rollins put together another good night with a pass break up and the only sack the Packers defense had on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Rollins just plays the game and doesn’t get too caught up in the moment. He is going to develop into a very good part of this defense sooner than later. He was just a tick slow in securing a fumble recovery on a ball that Cutler lost control of.
Matthews had six tackles and a quarterback hit. He was flying around the field once again and saving plays from going for extra yardage. Inside or outside, Matthews has been one of the defense’s most consistent guys this year.
Starks didn’t light it up on the stat sheet, but he adds a nice change of pace to what Eddie Lacy brings. Starks had four catches for 41 yards in addition to his 39 yards rushing. He puts his head down and finishes his runs well this season. Most importantly, he’s staying healthy. With Eddie Lacy hot and cold this season, this team is going to need Starks every week.
Adams was targeted a team-high 11 times and had just two catches. He had several drops, which are becoming a commonplace for the second-year receiver. For a guy that Rodgers said had “Pro Bowl” talent earlier this season, Adams has been anything but. He had one drop that may have gone the distance had he hung on. By now, this Packers team has to be past the sting of having lost Nelson and on to doing what they can to make up for it. Adams was supposed to be a big part of that. He has not been and tonight was his worst showing of the season.
I should give the coaching staff this lame call for putting Palmer out there week after week. He makes average players look so far above average. He’s nothing special and never will be. Why Jake Ryan isn’t out there in Palmer’s place by now is one of many mysteries on this Packers team.
Zero catches in six targets. Some of that is scheme and Chicago’s improved secondary play, but when Jones disappears in games, he really disappears. The third down drop in the end zone at the end of the game was a tough catch to make with a defender all over him, but it was a ball Jones should have had. On a night when that one play was what this team needed and should have been able to muster up, given the gravity of it all, Jones was a big zero.
Someone had to be the fourth guy here. I’m going with Tretter because his horrible snap not only cost the Packers a chance to at least kick a field goal, but it nearly got Rodgers seriously hurt. As good as Tretter was last week in relief of Corey Linsley, this play was the reason why I have been warning everyone who was getting high on Tretter to temper their enthusiasm. Overall, his blocking was OK but this was a game where one play would have made a difference. Had Rodgers been hurt worse, that difference would have been on the wrong side of the equation and monumental.
Others to mention
Eddie Lacy had another 100 yard performance, but he made two boneheaded plays that nearly got him on the lame call list despite his output. The first was flipping the ball shortly after crossing the goal line, which prompted replay officials to see if he actually crossed the line with the ball before letting it leave his hands. He was awarded the score, correctly, but it was a bit too close for comfort. Then came the fumble, which gave the Bears possession and, of course, they went down and scored a touchdown to tie the game. Even when he’s good, he’s bad Eddie this season.
Play calling was not stellar tonight. The bubble screen doesn’t work, Tom/Edgar/Mike/Aaron or whoever you are calling the plays. Stick with what you’re good at, which lately is up for debate.
Jeff Janis with another big return tonight. Someone please explain to me why he can’t get a single target on offense? (It has to be something personal between Rodgers and Janis. Nobody will talk, but obviously there’s something there. Janis has speed, which this team needs more than any other team, plus he has good size, just like Jordy Nelson. He certainly can’t drop more passes than Adams does, so what else is the problem with throwing his way?)
Original story here
From NBC Pro Football Talk
~To say Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t looked like his old self recently would be accurate, but with one major caveat: The decline in Rodgers’s production has come mostly on passes to wide receiver Davante Adams.
Over the last three weeks, when Rodgers throws to Adams, he’s 15-for-35 for 129 yards with 0 touchdowns and one interception. That’s a completion percentage of 42.9 percent, an average of 3.7 yards per pass, and a passer rating of 41.2.
Over the last three weeks, when Rodgers throws to anyone other than Adams, he’s 58-for-103 for 618 yards with five touchdowns and 0 interceptions. That’s a completion percentage of 56.3 percent, an average of 6.0 yards per pass, and a passer rating of 90.2.
In last night’s loss to the Bears, Adams had a couple of big drops. Rodgers didn’t throw Adams under the bus after the game, but Rodgers did say they need to get on the same page. Packers coach Mike McCarthy was a little more direct about the problems Adams is causing in the offense.
“Didn’t have a very good day today,” McCarthy said when asked about Adams. “The consistency we’re getting in certain areas needs to pick up.”
Asked about the interception Rodgers threw, McCarthy suggested that Adams was to blame.
“It’s a basic route. It didn’t look like it was a very good route,” McCarthy said.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was at a loss of words after his team dropped the fourth of five games after losing to the Bears on Thursday night.
“I’m obviously going to have to make sure my preparation is as high as it’s ever been because we need to get on the same page, the passing game,” Rodgers said, via Packers News.
“We’re just on different pages. When you miss throws, when I’m throwing at a certain depth, when receivers are running at certain depth — we’re obviously on different pages.”
As a second-round draft pick last year, Adams didn’t have a huge role in the offense, but the Packers’ passing game was so efficient that they didn’t need him to do much. This year, with Jordy Nelson injured, the Packers are throwing to Adams more frequently, and Adams isn’t producing. And that’s the biggest difference between last year’s Packers and this year’s Packers.
Original story here
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~Remember when the Packers were unbeatable at Lambeau?
Yeah, me too. I also remember when Jordy Nelson was the Packers’ top receiver and Davante Adams would get just on occasional pass thrown his way. Now he gets 11, 21 in a single game, with no impact at all aside from big drops and no separation from defensive backs, even when not being grabbed and held by defensive backs.
On a night of celebration at halftime with Brett Favre and Bart Starr together, along with former Packer Super Bowl winners Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, William Henderson and others, the Packers gave up first place in the NFC North just a week after winning big in Minnesota.
That surprising win over the first place Vikings is the Packers only win since October 18th, when the Packers barely hung on to beat a bottom-3 team in San Diego.
This team has lost 4 of their past 5 games, and face it, they’re not very good.
The defense plays well at times. Sometimes they look great. But they don’t know how to cover simple crossing patters, rubs. How many times do we see an opposing wide receiver on one side just run straight across the field within 10 yards, running a Packer defensive back into some traffic and then trying to chase and catch up? More times than I can count. We’ve seen it from Micah Hyde, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Demarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Dimitri Goodson.
How many times have the Packers blown a coverage and allowed a guy to be wide open in the end zone for a touchdown, like last night to Bears’ tight end Zach Miller?
Contrast that to the Packers’ final four plays last night from the 8-yard line. Cobb double covered, everyone else blanketed like velcro.
Rodgers has thrown some uncharacteristically bad passes, as well as made some bad decisions (like throwing 21 passes to Adams while freezing out Jeff Janis, or ignoring throwing to Cobb on the final goal line play at Carolina when the play went as designed and Cobb got wide open right away.
But Rodgers’ also has been victimized by terrible route-running (yes we’re looking at you again Davante), dropped passes (all of them), and slow routes (all the tight ends, Adams, Jones especially), and he’s also had leaks all across and around his offensive line.
By Matt Vensel, Star Tribune
~Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers aren’t quite ready to give up control of the NFC North. The young Vikings weren’t poised enough to take it from them either.
In a showdown between the top two teams in the division, Rodgers threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns Sunday as the Packers beat the uncharacteristically undisciplined Vikings 30-13 at TCF Bank Stadium. The outcome put the longtime rivals in a first-place tie with identical 7-3 records, but the win gave the Packers the tiebreaker.
Rodgers and the Packers pulled away early in the fourth quarter when Rodgers rolled to his right and whizzed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Packers wide receiver James Jones at the edge of the end zone. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman had tight coverage on the play, but Rodgers completed a pass that few quarterbacks could.
That touchdown put the Packers up 27-13 and they were able to hang on for the win thanks to a fumble by running back Adrian Peterson inside Packers territory and a deep ball that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a half step ahead of wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had sped behind the Packers secondary.
Eventually, with Packers fans loudly chanting “Go Pack Go!”, running back Eddie Lacy, who topped 100 rushing yards for the first time this season, and the Packers ran out the clock.
The Packers scored first with an early field goal by their kicker, Mason Crosby. The Vikings answered with a 47-yard touchdown reception by tight end Kyle Rudolph, the longest touchdown of his career. But kicker Blair Walsh missed the extra-point try, and Crosby kicked another field goal to tie it 6-6 late in the first quarter.
Bridgewater was briefly knocked out of the game with a left shoulder injury in the second quarter when Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers sacked him and Packers defensive end Mike Neal landed on his non-throwing shoulder. Bridgewater would head to the locker room, replaced by Shaun Hill for the rest of the half.
It looked as if the Packers would be taking a 9-6 lead into halftime, but Newman was called for a 50-yard defensive pass interference penalty while defending Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis down the right sideline. Rodgers capitalized with a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb with six seconds left in the half.
The Vikings, who were one of the league’s least-penalized teams entering Sunday, were flagged for eight penalties for 110 yards, their highest total of the season.
The Packers kicked another field goal early in the second half to make it 19-6.
The Vikings offense finally got something going again midway through the third quarter when Bridgewater completed a 17-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs and then a 33-yard strike to Rudolph. Peterson capped off the four-play drive with a six-yard touchdown run to pull the Vikings back within one score, at 19-13.
Bridgewater, who was sacked six times, completed 25 of his 37 attempts for 296 yards. He also scrambled for a career-high 43 rushing yards on four carries.
Peterson passed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, but had only 45 yards on 13 carries. Rudolph caught six passes for 106 yards, his first career 100-yard day.
Crosby had field goals of 42, 47, 40, 42 and 52 yards for the Packers. Jones had six catches for 109 yards.
Original story HERE
From Brian Murphy, Pioneer Planet
Mason Crosby kicked five field goals, and Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes, including the backbreaker on the first play of the fourth quarter, as the Packers rolled Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.
Kyle Rudolph caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater — a career long for both — as the Vikings took a brief 6-3 first-quarter lead.
Adrian Peterson scored on a 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to slice the deficit to 19-13. However, Rodgers delivered a clutch third-down, 27-yard touchdown pass to James Jones early in the fourth to seal the win.
Crosby kicked field goals of 52, 42, 40, 47 and 47 yards. Rodgers also connected with Randall Cobb on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The surging Vikings (7-3) squandered an opportunity to open a two-game division lead on the reeling Packers (7-3), who snapped a three-game losing skid and snuffed Minnesota’s five-game winning streak to forge a tie atop the NFC North.
The Vikings were uncharacteristically undisciplined and sloppy in losing at home for the first time this season. Eight penalties for 110 yards, including four called on its overmatched offensive line, as the Packers sacked Bridgewater six times and kept him under duress. Peterson fumbled as he approached the red zone early in the fourth quarter.
Bridgewater had gaudier stats (24 of 36, 296 yards) but Rodgers (16 of 34, 212 yards) outplayed his young counterpart.
Bridgewater was briefly knocked out of the game late in the second quarter with a left shoulder injury.
Peterson finished with a pedestrian 45 yards on 13 carries but still eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in a season for the seventh time.
Blair Walsh missed his fourth extra point attempt of 2015 after Rudolph’s touchdown.
Rodgers and Randall Cobb were not on the same page most of the game.
The speedster WR Jeff Janis was a factor both as a return guy and a receiver.
Original story here
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~All off-season, we heard about the big jump that the team expected from second year receiver Davante Adams.
From ESPN to FoxSports and NFL.com, Davante Adams was going to break out.
Then in training camp, even coach Mike McCarthy proclaimed that if there was an Off-season MVP, it was Adams.
“Davante, if you wanted me to pick an MVP or an all-star [of the offseason] he would definitely be atop the list,” McCarthy said after a minicamp practice.
“If you want a clear illustration and example of a first-year player taking a jump in his second year, you just saw it here the last four weeks,” McCarthy said. “I think he’s been tremendous throughout the OTAs, and he’s got more in front of him, too, so I think that’s what’s exciting. I think Davante has done a great job in the strength and conditioning. He’s been really, really good in practice throughout this deal.”
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw around compliments loosely so when he said this Spring that Adams has a “humongous upside and he’s starting to reach that upside,” people took notice.
“It means a lot,” Adams said. “It means that my work and my approach to practice and meetings and everything is not being ignored. They’re taking note of everything I’m doing, which means a lot to me. I want it to be more than that. That’s the first step. Now, I want to be the MVP of the minicamp and training camp and then go out there and do some damage.”
At the end of preseason, when Jordy Nelson was lost for the year with the fluke torn ACL, Adams was proclaimed to become a star.
He was a top-10 or top-15 draft pick around the Fantasy League stratosphere.
Today, he was targeted an unbelievable 21 times. He responded by dropping a few big passes, and catching only 10 for a pitiful 79 yards total and no touchdowns.
He doesn’t run by people like Jordy did, and like Janis does when given the chance. When Adams does get one step on guys, which is rare, it’s either a poor pass, or a drop. Today, late in the game against the Lions, he dropped this (below) perfect pass up the left sideline.
Luckily, the next play Jared Abbrederis got a step on the right sideline and he made the catch, only to take a wicked hit that knocked him out of the game. Still, Abbrederis made the catch, unlike Adams.
Without Nelson, the Packers need someone who hits some deep passes. They need a guy who defenses have to respect deep. In Adams, as well as Randall Cobb and James Jones, and all the tight ends, the Packers do not have any of those guys. Well, in Janis, they actually do have one of those guys, but Rodgers or McCarthy, for some reason, refuse to utilize him.
But what about Adams?
He doesn’t beat people deep, run past safeties. He’s never had a deep touchdown over the top of the defense as we’ve seen three or four from Janis in his very limited time in preseason and the regular season.
Remember how many 70+yard touchdowns Nelson had? It was more than anyone in the NFL over the past four seasons. That’s what the Packers need at least occasionally, and that’s the potential that Janis has. Not Adams. At least he’s not shown it yet, which is what needs to happen to loosen up defenses, as well as put points on the scoreboard for the Packers, something they aren’t doing much of anymore.
Adams also showed today how he’s able to take a lot of screen passes and turn them into two or three yard gains. He’s had two nice games in his career on big stages. One was last year vs New England, and the other was the playoff win against Dallas.
But even then, in New England, he dropped the biggest pass of the game, which would have been a huge game-clinching touchdown on a 3rd and goal, which was a perfect pass.
There are a lot of second-year wide receivers putting up big numbers around the National Football League.
From Odell Beckham Jr. in New York, to Jarvis Landry in Miami, Brandin Cooks in New Orleans, Jordan Matthews in Philly, Mike Evans in Tampa Bay, Sammy Watkins in Buffalo, Martavis Bryant in Pittsburgh, Kevlin Benjamin last year as a rookie, we’ve seen plenty of big playmaking from the 2014 NFL Draft Class.
Adams was supposed to take that leap this year, especially when Nelson was lost for the year.
If the Packers are to ever get back on track, this year, someone is going to have to do it. Cobb is not that guy. Neither is old man Jones. It also isn’t Abbrederis.
Janis could and perhaps should be the guy, but it seems that the Packers want Davante Adams to be a star. With 21 passes thrown to him today, it’s clear they want to hitch their wagon to second-year Adams and not second-year Janis.
So if the 2015 Packers are going to go anywhere, and if Rodgers and this passing attack are going to start to resemble their former selves more than a typical Browns, Rams, or Chiefs passing attack, then Davante Adams is going to have to start producing.
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~In today’s NFL, good teams win a few games every year that they almost steal. Games that they didn’t really deserve to win, but pulled out somehow. A win’s a win, they say.
Well last week in Carolina, the Packers had a chance for one of those over the Panthers, but Rodgers failed to throw to the wide open Randall Cobb in the end zone right side, instead desperately lofting a pass to the middle that was intercepted by Carolina.
Today, the offense was atrocious until the last half of the final quarter, and the Packers were in position to steal a win with a defensive stop with the Packers down 12-10 and the Lions facing a third-and-nine deep in their own territory with plenty of time left for the Packers.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers did not sit back in coverage and only send three pass-rushers this time. He blitzed a few, including defensive back Casey Hayward. Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford saw his primary receiver covered and he felt pressure all around him. He basically gave up, covering the ball so it wasn’t stripped out. But then Hayward flung himself to the ground as Stafford sidestepped to the left, and found Calvin Johnson open for 13 yards and a deflating first down.
A handful of plays later, the Packers had the Lions at third-and-goal, with a chance to hold them to a field goal and a 15-10 Lions lead. But Casey Hayward allowed journeyman Lance Moore to get wide open inside for a game-sealing touchdown with under two minutes to go.
However, instead of a PAT giving the Lions a 19-10, two-score in-surmounting lead, kicker Matt Prater missed his second extra point, so the Packers took over down just 18-10 and a chance to score a touchdown and get a 2-point conversion to tie it, forcing overtime.
Aaron Rodgers was clutch, and led the Packers down the field and hit third string tight end Justin Perillo for the potential tying score.
The 2-point conversion was another “just miss” as Rodgers threw to Davante Adams for the 21st time in the game, as Rodgers was getting hit by the blitzing pass rush of the Lions. Defensive back Crezdon Butler knocked the ball away from Adams, who was unable to outmuscle Butler for the ball. Seemed like the game was over, as Fox broadcaster Joe Buck prematurely said.
However, the Packers got their “Brandon Bostick miracle back”. The onside kick attempt clanged off the hands and right shoulder of receiver Calvin Johnson, one of the most sure-handed players in the NFL, and rookie Damarious Randall made the recovery.
Trailing 18-16, the Packers needed just a field goal to win. They had 36 seconds to do it. They moved into position for about a 57-yard attempt with eight second left and no timeouts. Most expected the attempt then as the Packers could not afford another play unless getting out of bounds. McCarthy decided to try one more, and got it to Adams for about five additional yards, setting up a 52-yard attempt by Mason Crosby.
The kick came off Crosby’s foot low and and it appeared it was tipped by someone, perhaps Haloti Ngata. But replays showed it was not touched. It never came close, falling way short, like 15 yards short. In golf, a game that Crosby plays a lot and loves, that’s called a shank, or a duff, and when it comes with the game or match on the line, that’s called a choke. Choke, as in Scott Hoch, see 1989 Masters. Now it’s possible that the hold was bad. If so, Tim Masthay is the guy to blame. In addition to that, he hit some horrible punts, which brought some boo’s from the home crowd.
So instead of stealing a crucial divisional win and going to 7-2, the Packers dropped their third straight and are now looking up at the Minnesota Vikings, with a 6-3 record and questions everywhere.
From quarterback to running back, wide receiver to tight end, and all over the offensive line, the Packer offense is sputtering. Play-calling also is very questionable as for some reason the Packers can’t seem to call plays to get wide receivers open in space.
How often have we seen opposing offenses run rubs, crossing patterns where someone is picked off and the opposing wide receiver is wide open? Quite a few times. Why aren’t the Packers able to do this?
Randall Cobb, the $40 million dollar man, can’t get open? I realize that the officials swallowed their whistles and allowed the Lions defensive backs, especially #24, to grab, accost, molest, hold Davante Adams repeatedly. But there are other times they are not being held, and there are patterns and formations to run that will give the receivers chances to get into open space.
Even putting Cobb in the backfield isn’t fooling anyone anymore as they’ve seen it on film already.
McCarthy and Clements need to get smarter and freshen up the offense. Rodgers threw 61 passes today. Sixty-one. Had he thrown 61 any other year with Jordy Nelson in the game, he probably would have gained at least 500 yards. But today, 333 yards or just 5.5 per pass. He used to regularily average over eight yards a pass. Now, so many short little passes, many 1, 2, 3 yard gains where the receiver or tight end is hammered right away for no or little gain.
These tight ends and wide receivers are slow. Where is Jeff Janis? Rodgers or McCarthy seem to dismiss him as being worthy by saying he and Rodgers aren’t on the same page, that there are trust issues with Aaron. Well you know what, I see errant throws to Cobb every game where Rodgers throws it one way and Cobb goes the other way. Remember one of Rodgers interceptions in the NFC Championship game that was right to a Seahawk defensive back after the Packers had just gotten into field goal range on a pass to Nelson? Cobb went one way and Rodgers threw it the other way.
Why are they not utilizing Janis with his speed? Defenses either have to respect his speed and leave a safety back deeper or give Janis more cushion by the cornerback. Either way, it has to help the Packers. Quick scores deep, or loosening the defense, either will help the short passing game and the running game.
The backup quarterbacks seem to have no problems hitting Janis deep in the preseason. Why can’t Rodgers do that?
I have heard speculation that the final kick by Crosby may not have been all his fault. Some say the hold by Masthay was sloppy and his finger may have been what the problem was. I find that easier to believe than a kick like that, which we’ve never seen before. Also, sadly and ironically, 3 1/2 hours later, we saw the Patriots’ Tom Brady get his team into field goal range late in the game, and his kicker, last play of the game, made his 50+ yarder to give the Patriots the win. Where would Brady be if he had Crosby and Scott Norwood all his career on clutch kicks instead of Adam Vinitieri and Steven Gostkowski? Less wins, and less rings.
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~Nobody wins em all. And the best team does not, in fact, always win each game that’s played.
Sometimes, luck is involved, whether it’s the bounce of a ball, terrible officiating, injuries, tipped passes falling into open space or into the waiting arms of a safety, etc.
In 2010, the Packers were not the best team in the NFL. Rodgers didn’t even make the Pro Bowl that year, and Brandon Jackson was the starting running back. Jermichael Finley was injured during the year, and he was the Packers dangerous mismatch.
But the Packers were the last men standing, and won Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers lost back-to-back close games to Miami and Washington in the 2010 season. They also lost four other games that year, and got lucky to win the Wildcard game at Philadelphia as the Pro Bowl kicker David Akers uncharacteristically hooked not one, but two field goals.
In 2011, the Packers were 13-0, finished the regular season 15-1, and were clearly the best team from start to finish, except that one day in Kansas City week 15. But the Packers not only did not win that Super Bowl, they didn’t even win a single playoff game despite having the #1 seed and home-field advantage throughout.
Last year, 2014, the Packers were the best team in football. They had a good and improving defense. They had Rodgers at an MVP level, with an effective Eddie Lacy and James Starks, as well as a healthy Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and healthy, talented offensive line.
They marched through the Patriots late in the season, and into the playoffs, with a gimpy Rodgers’ leg, and made their way to Seattle for the NFC Title game.
The Packers, for 56 minutes, were clearly the better team. It took luck for the Seahawks to escape with that game. Anytime you need a desperate fake field goal to work for a touchdown, there’s an element of luck. Anytime you need a prayer of a two-point conversion hail-mary to work, there’s an element of luck. Anytime you need to recover an onside kick, there’s an element of luck. Seattle needed all three of those lucky plays, and they got them all. That’s miracle luck, and we Packer fans still have scars on our hearts.
The point is, that 2014 Packers team was better than the 2010 Packers team, and better than the 2014 Patriots or Seahawks, but the Packers, again, did not win the Super Bowl. As they didn’t in 2011 when they were 15-1 and being touted nationally as a dynasty-in-the-making and a possible Best Ever team.
But they did win the Super Bowl in 2010 with a 10-6 record and close to 20 players on IR.
This year, the Packers started 6-0 and were rated by most as the best team in the NFC and were a co-favorite, along with New England, for the Super Bowl.
Then Denver happened. Then Carolina happened. Now, two losses in a row, and a tie with the Minnesota Vikings for the division lead, and a game in Minnesota looming after this week’s game, there’s panic in Cheeseland. True, there are multiple things wrong with this team, both on offense and defense. Significant problems.
Jordy Nelson was as good as any WR in the NFL, from Dez to Julio, Calvin to Antonio, He was just as important to the Packers as those guys to their teams. Jordy’s stats the past three years were off the charts. He was the deep threat that loosened up the opposing defenses. He was more than a “threat”. He also hit the deep passes more than anyone in the NFL. He both hurt opposing defenses with quick, long touchdowns, and he opened things up for Cobb and the other receivers short and in the middle, and he kept safeties further back, de-clogging the running lanes for Lacy and Starks.
You cannot replace that. Not with anyone. Not with Cobb, James Jones, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis, or Jared Abbrederis.
True, Janis does have similar speed and size as Nelson did. But Nelson is more than just pure speed. His route running is sensational. His recognition of opposing defenses and his adjustments being on the same page as Rodgers is unique and cannot be replaced.
That being said, this team is capable of beating anyone.
They are capable of running the table at home once again, going 8-0 at home. The Packers will be favored by at least a touchdown in each home game remaining (Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Minnesota). The remaining road games are at Minnesota, Detroit, Oakland, and Arizona. Those are some tough road games and I can see the Packers losing a few of them, even two or three more (Minnesota, Arizona the most likely. Oakland a possibility as well).
Let’s say the Packers lose two of those road games. The Arizona and Minnesota games are pivotal as they are divisional games and conference games. If the Packers lose at Arizona, that gives them a game, and a game with the tiebreaker. Arizona currently also has two losses.
The Cards’ remaining games include, in addition to the Packers game, Seattle two times, at San Francisco, Cincinnati, Minnesota, at St Louis, and at Philadelphia. That’s a touch schedule. I like the Packers chances to finish ahead of them and gain the #2 seed. Winning at Arizona on December 27th almost would make that a certainty. But even losing it, the Packers may finish a game ahead of Arizona.
That being said, the road might look like this: Packers get a bye, as does Carolina. Week two of the playoffs would have the Packers and Carolina host, perhaps, Arizona, or the Giants, Atlanta, Minnesota, or Seattle. Maybe Philly.
Most likely, it would be Arizona. I would expect the Packers to be able to beat Arizona in Green Bay, especially in mid-January. Then a rematch at Carolina? Or if one of those teams upsets Carolina, the Packers would host them. You see, there’s still a legitimate chance.
The Packers played terribly last week in Carolina for 2/3rd of the game, and still almost tied the game at the end, but Rodgers somehow didn’t throw it to the wide open Cobb. And the Packers were playing without half of their cornerbacks and without their speed WR, Montgomery.
The path to the Super Bowl, thru the NFC, is doable for the Packers, and perhaps that path still will run through Lambeau Field if Carolina is upset. Even if not, winning in Charlotte in the NFC Championship game would be quite possible.
Once you get there, anything can happen.
Whether it’s Tom Brady and the Patriots, or Peyton Manning and the Broncos, or Yankee Doodle Andy (Dalton) and the Bengals, the Packers are certainly capable of beating any of them. Yes even Denver, who embarrassed the Packers last week, in Denver.
Remember, until Pete Carroll threw that Super Bowl away for Seattle last year, Brady had lost his past two Super Bowls to inferior teams (Giants, who coincidentally also beat the Packers each of those playoffs).
The Packers, as with other teams, will change significantly between now, as we finish up week 9, and playoff time.
Injuries will hurt some teams, some more than others. Someone could be wiped out with an injury to a player such as a Jordy, Gronk, Carson Palmer, Tony Romo, Le’Veon Bell, Roethlisberger, etc.
It always happens. It ended Arizona’s dreams last year. They were clearly better than Seattle last year when Palmer was there. When he was lost, they free-fell and weren’t legit contenders anymore.
Dallas and Pittsburgh have been doomed this year by injuries. You cannot replace Romos and Bryants.
New England was doomed in 2008 when Brady’s ACL was busted on the cheap hit by safety Bernard Pollard.
New England was also doomed in 2013 when Gronk’s ACL was busted on a cheap shot by safety T.J. Ward.
The Packers also might see a lot of change at ILB if rookie Jake Ryan steps up as many hope. Other teams have rookies step up at linebacker and inject life and playmaking to the position. Why not Jake? Where is Carl Bradford at? This guy has the physical ability to be good to great. He has passion too. Why he can’t “get it” both perplexes me and disappoints me tremendously. But maybe he will catch on. It took Desmond Bishop until 2010 to hit his stride, and he was a 2007 draft pick.
Remember fans, it’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. The NFL doesn’t award trophies in early November. It’s also not a beauty contest, as the Packers 2010 regular season proved.
It’s last man standing in February, and as long as Aaron Rodgers plays well, and the other key guys (Clay Matthews, Cobb) stay healthy, this team can repeat the accomplishments of the team five years ago.
Brian E. Murphy obtained his undergraduate in Minnesota, and grew up there as a life-long Packer fan, living thru the miserable 70’s and 80’s, before finally being rewarded in the early to mid-90’s when Favre and Reggie took the Packers to Super Bowl XXXI.
His decades in enemy GrapeApeland makes the Vikings his arch-enemy, and his last decade working in Dallas has put the Cowboys in the crosshairs. Fortunately, the Packers have owned Dallas since he’s been there, unlike the mid 90’s when the Cowboys crushed Packer Nation’s dreams three straight years.
Reggie, Robert Brooks and Nick Collins remain his favorite all-time Packers, with Chuck Cecil, Rodgers, Matthews, Donald Driver, James Jones, Charles Woodson, Sterling Sharpe, and Ryan Pickett right there.
His career highlight was being at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas in 2011, as a Dallas resident. He also was at this year’s Super Bowl (2015) which should have been the Packers beating the Patriots. You think you had your heart broken by that miracle by the Seahawks? Try having a ticket to that Super Bowl.
His message to current Packer fans: Aaron Rodgers is not God. He’s human. But Packer fans need to take a deep breath and realize that this guy is the best QB the NFL has seen, perhaps ever. As long as he’s healthy, and has a decent supporting cast, the Packers have a chance to beat anyone, although he does struggle on the road against good teams and good defenses. After Rodgers is gone, the chances are the next 10-20 years will result in a cast of QB’s that more resemble what the Bears or Vikings or Chiefs, 49ers, Rams, Eagles, Bucs, have had recently. So cherish and appreciate this, him, now. Stop taking him for granted, and also stop expecting perfection.