30

November

Cory’s Corner: Who’s to blame for Packers’ mess?

B.J. Raji has amassed only 13 total tackles and no sacks.

B.J. Raji has amassed only 13 total tackles and no sacks.

The main theme that trickled out of the Packers’ locker room on Thanksgiving was embarrassment.

The Packers didn’t just take a loss, they endured the worst loss in the Mike McCarthy era.

And with four games left, Green Bay must win out or stay home for the playoffs for the first time since the Packers missed the playoffs in 2008 with a miserable 6-10 record.

But how did they get here?

It’s too simple to say that the left collarbone of Aaron Rodgers is the genesis of all that ails the Packers. That isn’t responsible for the 95 defensive missed tackles or the 20 special teams missed tackles.

It also isn’t responsible for B.J. Raji looking like he is on cruise control when the Packers could use his girth and power to shut down the running game. Coincidentally, the Packers are 27th in the NFL by allowing 126 rushing yards a game.

It’s also not the collarbone’s fault that Marshall Newhouse and Co. have suddenly forgotten how to block. The Packers have allowed 32 sacks, which is surprising seeing as how successful Eddie Lacy has been behind a patchwork offensive line.

So where does the blame lie for a stunning 5-6-1 season that could easily end up in the history books as a dumpster fire?

First and foremost it has to lie with the coach. McCarthy has leaned on Rodgers so much that he may have taken him for granted. McCarthy never had to worry about trick or gadget plays because the impeccable precision and undeniable arm strength of Rodgers overcame a lot of the offense’s weaknesses. Let’s also not forget that McCarthy is a quarterback guru and it’s not exactly a feather in his cap to have four quarterbacks start for an NFL team that isn’t even finished with the season.

McCarthy obviously cannot do more than put players in position to succeed. But it’s the players’ job to take it from there. The biggest example of players not doing all they can is Raji. The 27-year-old defensive lineman becomes a free agent in March and has been offered a shocking $8 million a year offer by Green Bay — and what’s even more shocking is that Raji hasn’t accepted it yet. McCarthy can continue to put Raji in positions and places to make plays but if Rajij continues to take plays off and play soft, then the Packers should take that offer off the table immediately. Raji only has 13 total tackles and no sacks for a guy that plays a lot more than 30-year-old Johnny Jolly. Yet Jolly has 16 total tackles and one sack.

29

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Lions 40, Packers 10

Morgan Burnett had a pretty sweet celebration. And the Packers put on a pretty ugly show.

Morgan Burnett had a pretty sweet celebration. And the Packers put on a pretty ugly show.

Aaron Rodgers may have a shot to play next week. And the fact that the Packers may have just played their last game without their quarterback may be the only positive takeaway from the team’s Thanksgiving debacle.

It’s hard to remember, but at one point this season, the Packers were 5-2 with what looked like a favorable upcoming schedule. One fractured collarbone later, and the Packers are 5-6-1 coming off what T.J.Lang called, “Probably the worst (expletive) offensive game in the history of the (expletive) Packers.”

With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers would have had more than seven first downs. They would have possessed the ball for more than 19 minutes. But I’m not sure if Rodgers would have helped tackle, confuse or even provide resistance to the Lions offense.

Still, if No. 12 is back and able to play Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons, they have a chance. It’s hard to believe, but the Lions and Bears are both capable of losing two more games, and the Rodgers-led Packers could win their last four. If that’s the case, the Packers win the division.

After an atrocious showing like Thursday’s, it’s hard to find positives. Without question, the Packers’ postseason hopes are waning and there really weren’t any positives to take away from the Packers’ produce in Detroit.

But if there’ ever been a reason to be optimistic about an improved offense since Rodgers went down, it’s now. Simply because he might be back.

Thursday was ugly. So this is going to be brief.

Game Balls

Morgan Burnett

The Packers’ lone game ball goes to Morgan Burnett, solely because of his Funky Chicken celebration. Burnett didn’t play particularly well, but he had a pair of fumble recoveries and a sick touchdown dance. Way to go, Morgan. Nicely done.

Lame Calls

Offense

The Packers had 126 total yards and scored three points. The writing was on the wall when Matt Flynn looked past a wide open Andrew Quarless and tried to force the ball to Jordy Nelson–needless to say, the pass was incomplete. Detroit continually stacked the box to shut down Eddie Lacy–and they did, to the tune of 16 yards on 10 carries–and Flynn was simply unable to take advantage of it. It was the worst offensive showing I’ve seen in a NFL game a long, long time. But things weren’t all bad for the Packers offense. At least they had seven first downs.

28

November

Reminder: Packers’ season isn’t over if they lose on Thanksgiving

The Lions could win this week, but it wouldn't be time for the Packers to lose their cool.

The Lions could win this week, but it wouldn’t be time for the Packers to lose their cool.

A loss by the Green Bay Packers to the division-leading Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving would not be a fork in the Packers’ season.

With a loss, the Packers would sit at 5-6-1 with the hope that Aaron Rodgers would be healthy and ready to play the final four games. In all likelihood, the Packers would have to win all four games to have a shot at winning the NFC North and making the playoffs, but the Packers will likely be favored in those four games (vs. ATL, at DAL, vs. PIT, at CHI).

So while six of the eight here at ALLGBP picked the Lions to defeat Matt Flynn and the Packers, that doesn’t mean their season is over.

A Green Bay win would requires less “help”(in the form of losses) from the Lions and Bears. But again, a loss wouldn’t be a death blow, considering both teams’ schedules.

After this week, the Lions schedule is at Philadelphia, vs. Baltimore, vs. NY Giants and at Tampa Bay. If they beat the Packers, the Lions would need to lose two of those four to finish 9-7–behind (what could be) the Packers’ 9-6-1 record.

The 6-5 Bears play at Minnesota this week, vs. Dallas, at Cleveland, at Philadelphia and vs. Green Bay.

So, with a loss on Thanksgiving, the Packers would need to win out to make the playoffs–and they could have Aaron Rodgers back. And potentially, Randall Cobb could find his way back on the field.

Maybe Flynn can win it for Walt Jr., but if he doesn’t, the Packers would still have a legitimate shot at winning the NFC North and punching their ticket to the playoffs.

It’s Thanksgiving, and it’s time to be thankful. With a loss, time would be ticking on the Packers’ season clock, but it would still be ticking.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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26

November

Packers News: Rodgers, Shields, Barclay, Jolly back at practice

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers practiced Nov. 26. / Photo by Wes Hodkiewicz via Twitter

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers practiced Nov. 26. / Photo by Wes Hodkiewicz via Twitter

For the first time since suffering a broken collarbone Nov. 4, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was on the field throwing Tuesday at practice.

Per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com via Twitter, Rodgers participated in all the individual drills open to the media before being “kicked out” for the team portion of practice. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy previously said Rodgers’ chances of playing Thursday against the Lions were “slim to none,” but it appears the quarterback has made some sort of progress in his rehab.

It’s worth noting that while Rodgers was able to throw the ball at practice, he was taking snaps from Garth Gerhart and not starter Evan Dietrich-Smith. But as Jason Wilde points out on Twitter, Rodgers and Dietrich-Smith have plenty of reps together.

Along with Rodgers’ return, cornerback Sam Shields, defensive end Johnny Jolly and right tackle Don Barclay were also both practicing. The Packers have struggled to compensate for each player being out the last two weeks.

Marshall Newhouse has been a train wreck filling in for Barclay at right tackle, while the once-deep secondary is now scrambling to fill holes, as they’re without Casey Hayward for the rest of the season and Shields has missed the past two games. The defensive line has been dominated without Jolly in the lineup.

One has to wonder whether Rodgers’ availability will be directly tied to Barclay. Allowing Rodgers to play three weeks after breaking his collarbone would be risky with Newhouse at right tackle against the Detroit Lions’ front four.

More information will follow when McCarthy talks to reporters after practice, as it’s still unclear whether or not Rodgers will be cleared for contact in time for Thursday’s game. However, Rodgers needed to practice today to have even the slightest of chances to play, and he did just that.

(UPDATE: McCarthy said he’s not expecting Rodgers to play this week. Asked if his chances were still “slim to none,” McCarthy said, “Closer to none.” McCarthy also said he expects Sam Shields and Johnny Jolly to play Thursday. The team is still preparing both Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien, although Flynn took the starter reps today.)

But hey, there’s finally some positive injury news on the Packers front. At least for today.

7

October

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 22, Lions 9

Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk helped contain the Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense.

Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk helped contain the Calvin Johnson-less Lions offense.

Kickoff was scheduled for noon in Green Bay, but the game between the Packers and Detroit Lions got underway mid-morning with the surprising news that Calvin Johnson was inactive.

Johnson, regarded as the best receiver in football, may be as important to the Lions offense as any non-quarterback is to his team around the league. And although the Lions added Reggie Bush this offseason to give them a more complete offense, it’s Johnson that makes the wheels go round.

With Johnson out, the Lions were unable to get anything going against the Packers defense.

Coming into the game, Bush—whom the Lions move all over the formation and utilize him in the passing game—looked like a tough matchup for a Packers defense that struggles in the middle of the field, but Detroit’s new offensive weapon managed just 69 total yards on 17 touches.

It’s hard to say what might have been had the Lions’ offense been at full strength, as the high-flying Packers offense only posted 22 points themselves. But in the end, five Mason Crosby field goals and a James Jones touchdown was all the Packers needed to get their second win of the season.

And as things currently stand, the Packers (2-2) trail the Lions and Bears (3-2) by only one game atop the NFC North standings.

Game Balls

Mason Crosby

After a disastrous 2012 season and ugly Family Night Scrimmage, Crosby has brought his A-game so far the regular season. With the offense struggling to punch the ball into the end zone, Crosby scored 16 of the team’s 22 points and left little doubt on his five field-goal attempts. I’m no kicking expert, so I often relate kickers to golfers. And right now, Crosby is hitting the fairways with his short irons and his driver. But of course, Giorgio Tavecchio would’ve been six-for-five with a hole-in-one.

Nick Perry

Welcome to the NFL. Sunday was unquestionably (right?) the best game of Perry’s NFL career, as last year’s first-round pick registered his first multi-sack performance. The Packers were unable to come up with the football after Perry forced a fumble on a sack of Stafford, but Clay Matthews’ book end showed flashes throughout the afternoon of why the team drafted him in the first round of last year’s draft. If the Packers are getting three sacks out of Perry and Matthews, they’re going to be tough to beat.

6

October

Packers vs. Lions – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 22 DET 9

Ndamukong Suh tripping Aaron Rodgers

Ndamukong Suh tripping Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions:  2013 Game 4

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

 

GAME NOTES:

The Packers have have had two weeks to stew and get sick of answering questions about play-calling,  injuries, MM-AR relationship and more. They can take the field today and make all of that go away by playing like the better team.

Some great injury news. Morgan Burnett and Clay Matthews are in, Calvin Johnson is out!

Today’s captains for the Packers: - WR James Jones (offense), DL Ryan Pickett (defense) and LS Brett Goode (special teams).

 

Inactives for today:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
29 CB Casey Hayward
44 RB James Starks
51 LB Nate Palmer
64 G/C Greg Van Roten
86 TE Brandon Bostick
93 DE Josh Boyd
98 DE C.J. Wilson

Detroit Lions
13 WR Nate Burleson
17 QB Kellen Moore
25 RB Mikel Leshoure
36 CB Jonte Green
64 G Leroy Harris
66 T LaAdrian Waddle
81 WR Calvin Johnson

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Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Bye Week: Pretty much everybody that went into the bye week injured came back, with exception of Casey Hayward.   Our best week of practice.

Work during Bye Week: because of the rules, there isn’t much you can do with the players, so for them, it’s more a chance to go back home, spend time with family, etc. Gives us as a chance on the coaching staff to get ahead of the curve,

Burnett: Every unit has a key communicator. Morgan is the guy to make sure the front end is tied to the back end.  Safety position is like playing QB in a multi-scheme defense like ours.

Calvin Johnson: Big loss. He’someone you’re aware of in every formation. Thought they were doing a great job of playing him out of the slot position.

Reggie Bush: He’s a play maker running and catching the football. Perimeter screens, middle screens, they’re doing a great job with him. Stafford and Bush really compliment each other.

Stafford: Look at his numbers. People tend to overlook him a little. Schematically, he challenges defenses as much as anybody. Very well coached.

4

October

Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (Lions)

The bye has come and gone already, which means the Green Bay Packers have to gear up for a brutal 13-game stretch to close out the regular season.

The Packers needed the off week to regroup from the team’s deflating 34-30 loss in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals as well as to get key players healthy.

Eddie Lacy, Clay Matthews, James Starks and Jermichael Finley missed either the entire game or a decent amount of it with an injury.  Matthews is saying he is ready to go and both Lacy and Finley have been cleared to play coming off of concussions.  Starks has already been ruled out.

They’re coming back at the perfect time for the Packers as game one of this marathon finish is Green Bay’s first NFC North opponent of the year, the Detroit Lions.   Last week, the Lions defeated the previously undefeated Chicago Bears 40-32 at Ford Field to move to 3-1 which gives them the tiebreaker (for now) over Chicago for first place in the NFC North.

The last time we met

The Packers defeated the Lions for the 22nd consecutive time at Lambeau Field last December, winning the game 27-20.   The game was tied going into the fourth quarter but the Packers were able to pull away putting the team one win away from an eventual NFC North title.

Aaron Rodgers threw for only 170 yards and his sole touchdown of the game was on the ground (and his career long of 27 yards), but Green Bay got some (literally) big help from its defense after defensive end Mike Daniels scooped up a Matthew Stafford fumble and then ran more than half the length of the field giving the Packers an early 14-0 lead that Detroit never recovered from.

Calvin Johnson chewed up the Green Bay defense for 110 yards but was kept out of the end zone and Matthew Stafford threw for 264 yards. It was a classic “bend but don’t break” game for the Packers defense as they forced the fumble from Stafford as well as an interception.

This week in Detroit

The Packers obviously know Detroit well, but this a much different and arguably much better Lions team than the one Green Bay swept last season.