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Game Changing Play of the Week: First Rodgers Fumble Digs Packers Into Deeper Hole

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Game Changing Play of the Week: First Rodgers Fumble Digs Packers Into Deeper Hole

It was a brutal performance by the Green Bay Packers in Detroit on Sunday. While the team did end up racking up a lot of yards, a combination of missed kicks, stupid penalties and costly turnovers put the game out of reach for the Packers very early on.

It’s tremendously frustrating to watch the Packers come out so frequently and get down by multiple scores early on, forcing the team to play catch up for the rest of the game. That speaks to a lack of preparedness that is simply inexcusable.

Yet again this year, the Packers found themselves in a hole before the first quarter was even over. The first of a pair of costly Aaron Rodgers fumbles sealed what may have been the worst quarter of football for the team this season—which is saying something, considering some of the competition from the Packers’ other games this season.

The context

Starting a drive at their own 14 yard line and down by 14 points, the Packers were already in a must-score situation before the first quarter was even over.

The Lions’ first score of the day was a result of yet another questionable (at best) call by the officials that went against the Packers. What the referees ruled to have been a muffed punt by the Packers was actually a ball that was touched by a Lions coverage player. As a result, the Lions got the ball at the Packers’ one yard line for an easy go-ahead touchdown.

Yes, it was a bad call. Yes, that’s seven points that shouldn’t have been on the board. But unlike the Clay Matthews roughing the passer call against the Vikings, that’s not a call that completely decides the game. This is the first drive of the football game, and the Packers have to be able to recover from that adversity.

Instead, the team collapsed.

The play

The Packers line up in a tight shotgun formation that they’ve been using more this year than I can remember them using in the past. The route concept here is relatively simple in that on both the top and the bottom, the outside receivers are running shallow crossing routes while the inside receivers are running deep routes down the numbers. Ty Montgomery then comes out of the backfield as the checkdown.

The Lions only bring their four down linemen for the pass rush, notated with the red lines, so there’s a lot of coverage. But despite this, they get plenty of rush in.

As you can see here, an outside rush and a good push up the middle forces Rodgers up to his right, again, despite there only being four rushers. What really kills this play is what develops with Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery, circled.  See the next image.

This is just flat out embarrassing, and it’s been happening far too often for this Packer team—receivers seeming to not know where they’re supposed to be on the field, and either colliding with each other or being on top of each other’s routes.

Ty and Davante run right into each other, preventing Adams from being able to complete his crossing route to the other side. This simultaneously takes out Rodgers’ checkdown option, as well as the underneath route on the side he’s rolling to. Not good.

With Adams out of the picture, the only route on Rodgers’ side of the field is Jimmy Graham on a deep go route that apparently isn’t going to work out, as Rodgers just keeps holding on to the ball.

Here is where Rodgers’ internal clock has to kick in. If rush from the left side caused him to flush out of the pocket in the first place, he has to sense that he has a limited amount of time to either get the ball out of try to take off for himself.

Instead, he holds the ball, and is surprised from behind, resulting in a strip sack turnover. The Lions get the ball deep in Packer territory and score to go up by three scores, barely a quarter into the game.


It’s just more of the same for the Packers this year. The Packers’ offense and special teams have made life tremendously difficult on the team’s defense this year:

There’s a lot for the Packers to correct before they take on San Francisco at home next Monday night. This team cannot afford to get off to yet another disastrous start, no matter who they’re playing.


Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (42) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

badaxed's picture

ridiculous! receivers running into each other, in the same area. MM is at fault for poor coaching and no accountability.

LeotisHarris's picture

Tim, that route screw up has to be on Montgomery, don't you think?

Tim Backes's picture

Yeah I'd have to say so, based on the symmetry of the routes being taken by the wideouts. Of course, I'm not privy to the actual play design, but I'd be very surprised if Adams was the one at fault there.

Royalty Free GM's picture

Tim - If you try to analyze ‘play of the week’ and you don’t even mention once that Bakhtiari #69 was beaten badly (#95) in this particular play... Rodgers’ blindside.

Tim Backes's picture

I did in fact mention that pressure from the left side forces Rodgers up and out of the pocket.

flackcatcher's picture

Nice breakdown Tim. This was a perfect example of the cluster that the Lions first half became, and with two core players to boot. Even for this season, weird, just plain weird.

dobber's picture

Hold on: Bakhtiari took 95 from the LOS at the 17 and cleared him all the way back to the 5 yard line. He pushed him 12 yards downfield past the QB. I'm sorry, but from an OL perspective, most grade that as a win.

badaxed's picture

McCarthy: ‘We’ve got work to do’ . "We will watch the video". "We will clean this up". "we need a better pad level". "we will grow from this".
"I am a very successful coach."

next week; look for same comments. again and again and again.

Time for MM to go back to bartending.

There are planes, trains, and automobiles leaving Greenbay every day.

"The train is leaving the station" Be on it.

GVPacker's picture

Is it safe to say Mike McCarthy is gone at the end of this season unless the Packers get to the Super Bowl?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Part of me wonders if Murphy making McCarthy report to him was less about protecting Mike than it was about protecting a 1 year GM from having to be solely responsible for firing a 10 year head coach.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

12 years of the same comments...we should have won 2-3 Super bowls.

Samson's picture

I was an MM fan early in his career as GB's HC but soon realized that he was pretty much just an average HC & was simply being carried by a HOF QB.

However, I appreciate him putting out Mason to try another FG late in the game even though it had no effect on the final outcome. --- It was a class move.

Unfortunately, MM is a better person than he is a HC.

Tundraboy's picture


dobber's picture

"However, I appreciate him putting out Mason to try another FG late in the game even though it had no effect on the final outcome. --- It was a class move."

It was the only move he had at that point. Throwing the ball into the endzone on a long-developing play essentially ends the game and gives them no chance to win. Taking the FG leaves a couple seconds on the clock (assuming he makes it) and a shot at an onside kick recovery, giving his Hail Mary proficient QB a chance to tie the game with a long throw and a 2-pt.

The announcers said it was a vote of confidence for Crosby. Sure it was. But based on the clock and the situation it was his only play to keep the game alive.

stockholder's picture

This team has always been about A-Rod. He's the face of the packers. I wrote earlier in the week: No one fears A-Rod anymore. He's a QB ready to go down on every play. After the bears game, A-rod has not played up to his star status. He buries the packers chances from the start. He and he alone has determined if the packers go to the playoffs. The NFL all know he is the packers offense. If he can't play the packers will lose.Stop A-Rod you stop the packers. Well after Sunday I don't think it matters. Are Qbs have been responsible for putting the packers to far in the hole. Congrats to A-Rod for passing the buck the last 4 games.

Since '61's picture

Just bad football. People complain about Cobb but this doesn't happen if Cobb is in the game. I like Monty but he messed up that play.

Losing to your opponent when they beat you is one thing. But beating yourself with bad football, too many penalties and leaving points on the field is unacceptable.
There is no excuse at the professional level for this performance. Coaches and players are both to blame. Poor preparation equals poor results. Bring on the 49ers. Thanks, Since '61

MarkinMadison's picture

Montgomery has been around too long to make that mistake. WTF.

JHitTheB's picture

Stockholder - dude, get a life man. Every article I read I see the same dumb drivel from you hating on AGod. The screenshots above prove how much you don't know football. 2 WRs blanketed in coverage and 2 running into each other. THAT's why he has to hold the ball - WRs are not getting open. Its not some passive aggressive way to defy McCarthy's genius game plan. I'm not saying he plays perfect all the time but he can't do everything his damn self. Don't you get tired of typing the same boring blame Aaron blah blah blah comments every day on every article? We saw very well what the Packers are without Rodgers - bottom of the league. McCarthy's record without Rodgers speaks for itself. He had 3 years to prepare Hundley to play...and he was absolutely unprepared.

Point Packer's picture

Love to get Aaron Nagler's perspective on the all holy Mike McCarthy. Always a Missionary Mike cheerleader, along with all the other lap dogs in the Packer news media stable. Here is my favorite response:

- "If GB dumped MM now, he'd be scooped up by another team in 10 seconds" -

And then they'd go 4-12 and he'd be coaching some D2 college team in three years. The game has moved past him. Years from now as GB fans we will look back at McCarthy's tenure and wonder what in the hell he was doing at the helm for so long. What a waste.

Good work Packers sports media. Keep kissing Mike's ass. You were always good at that.

Fire Mike McCarthy.


fastmoving's picture

thats how it goes today…..politics, sports, media….just everywhere…..the guy with the least knowledge try to make up for that with loud, senseless comments and actions. man, there is something wrong. the age of the brainless….

Nagler is a smart guy, who knows a lot about football and life in general, at least compared to what you can find sometimes else here these days.

But just stay loud and dumb….what else can you do. thats pretty mainstream last couple of years

Barnacle's picture

Fast moving

You and Nagler are wrong. MM is a very incompetent coach.

croatpackfan's picture

Very fast moving... "Be careful what you wish!"

Dave in Texas's picture

Looks to me like JG was the primary. I would guess the 2nd read was to Adams running a deep slant/crossing route into the space that Jimmy cleared outside the hash marks at the 25. Just guessing Adams saw traffic and broke his route underneath. Doing that took him into Monty. Looks like Monty was a decoy freezing the MLB so AR would have a throwing lane to Adams when he broke across the field “behind” the backer. At least that is what the CB covering Adams expected him to do. Because he seemed to just let him go underneath, knowing he wasn’t going to be a threat to make the first down w/o some tough YAC in front of the backer.

Tundraboy's picture

That's impressive analysis. I'm serious.

Rak47's picture

How do you account for line of sight? Adams was running across the field looking back toward Rodgers while Monty was running upfield also looking back at Rodgers. Stands to reason that Adams could see Monty at least peripherally while Monty would not see Adams while looking back for the ball. It seems more likely Monty just lost track of where he was and ran into Adams. At least that's how I saw it.

Dave in Texas's picture

Line of sight isn’t an issue, IMO. Like I stated, I do not think Adams was supposed to be running up the LOS on a 3rd and 7. He broke off his route tree early. Ya, he and Monty collided, but that was not the breakdown. Those two receivers were in no position to get a first down, even if AR attempted to throw the ball back against the grain. Even our INT leader Brett Favre rarely tried that when scrambling to his right.

OTOH, if Adams was running along the 1st down yardage line, the throw would not have to be a cross body throw for negative yardage. And AR rolling right would make sense by giving him a throwing lane outside the backer while providing Adams time to get across to field The more I look at the play, the more I think the CB read the play immediately and broke on Adam’s intended route. AR was looking deep at Jimmy the whole time, probably trying to sell it to the safety. That would have left the area wide open for Adams when AR came back down to him breaking behind the backer. But, I think the CB read the play and Adams basically quit his route and ended up colliding with Montgomery.

If I am correct, this is another example of teams knowing what the Packers ‘predictable’ offense is planning to do. My guess is this play was on a tape the CB reviewed in game preparation. AR should have thrown the ball away.

MarkinMadison's picture

There have been other years where the Packers have gotten off to a slow start and turned it around. This is not one of those years. This will be the first time since his first year starting that a healthy Rodgers misses the playoffs, and it will be as much his fault as anyone else's.

Rebecca's picture

As I recall, Aaron Rodgers injured his right knee earlier this season. Maybe it was minor and now he's back to 100% so I suppose your prediction on him missing the playoffs healthy will come true. It's hard to tell at this stage of the season. I'm not disagreeing with you mainly because the offense is one lineman injury away from total disaster.

If Bulaga, Linsley, or Bahktiari go down for any significant time, Rodgers will be running for his life on each passing play. But of course, the Packers' offensive line is 100% healthy all of the time and McCarthy likes to run the ball 50% of the time, right?

I don't know how anyone can predict what will happen next. This team shut out Buffalo, could have beaten the Vikings, beat the NFC leading Chicago Bears, but in the end, they beat themselves against the Redskins and Lions. Everyone's frustrated by this team, and I don't see that frustration being relieved anytime soon.

flackcatcher's picture

All too true......

croatpackfan's picture

Maybe Aaron is on this idea: "The hardest thing is to win yourself!"

Now, Aaron, when you showed us you can do that, please, return to old yourself and start to play that wonderful football we all love...

Royalty Free GM's picture

Rebecca - 100% healthy knee brace?

DD's picture

Rebeecca: As long as we still have MM and his lack of coaches and player preparation we will see more of this. The inability of the Packers to come out as a dominant offense is on MM, and the lack of a defense is because Packer management has never focused on building a strong defense, only tried to build around the offense and Rodgers. So we lack a complete team, which shines sometimes, not not at all consistent.

fthisJack's picture

get rid of Zook. ST are again bottom of the heap. how many years now have they had horrible special teams play and why is MM holding on to this guy just like he did with Capers and the previous ST guy? if it's broke....FIX IT!

DD's picture

Article says Clay caused loss against vikes. I'm sick of hearing that when Clay laid a perfect tackle on cousins and the officials took the game from us. Rodgers and MM should watch more film on Brees and Brady. That rarely are flushed and hit WIDE open unknown, rookie receivers! So, it boils down to coaches not doing their jobs. And players so dumb they cant remember routes. Yes dumb!

Tim Backes's picture

"Article says Clay caused loss against vikes. "

No, I said the call against Clay caused the loss.

Since '61's picture

Didn't we have a tie with the Vikings? Thanks, Since '61

DD's picture

Lots of comments with the wrong answers. Our problem is MM schemes, playcalling, and not very bright receivers. Other problem is no player pumps up or gives any energy to anyone. Many individuals standing around on mute. Also, MM and Rodgers don't even talk during the game, as is the same with other units on the sideline. They all just sit there and star gaze. No team energy or communication during the game. Just watch!

leaerin4's picture

We need to clean up the stupid mistakes on defense like the rookie corner from Alabama who made a great stop and then gave Detroit a first down by taunting. This was a Nick Saban coached kid. I guess that's why he went undrafted. Where is the running game with Aaron Jones who's a beast with the football. Jimmy Graham has been disappointing and we need him in the Red Zone. Jordy being traded is the reason for Aaron's attitude when things go wrong. He was so reliable and Rodgers looked to him to provide big plays when in trouble. GO PACK GO

egbertsouse's picture

While I agree that MM is a dinosaur and should be put out to pasture with the other successful coaches who could not adapt like Jimmy Johnson, Mike Shanahan, and Joe Gibbs; I am reluctant to let Gutey off the hook for this team. He seems like a chip off the Uncle Ted block to me. Examples, you say? Well, he ignored the edge rush problem and the below-average safety play, preferring to pretend that CM, Perry, HHCD, and Brice were actually good players. He refuses to get adequate OL backups and has decided to just cross his fingers and hope that the starters don’t get injured. He paid big money for a couple of TE’s with waning skills and injury problems. He got a FA D-lineman who hadn’t played well in 2 years and is now on IR. He gets a FA corner with an injury history who immediately gets a hamstring problem. These all sound like classic Teddy moves to me. Maybe the guy needing to get fired is Sled Hill Murphy. Start at the top and clean house.

ILPackerBacker's picture

you should never have posted this.
nobody coming to this site wants facts or rational explanation
don't point any kind of accountability at adams or monty
don't point out the OL is actually not playing at high level

explain it all as Rodgers holding the ball to long and bad play design.


Pierre's picture

Most young QBs in the NFL are playing the QB position better than Rodgers did against the Lions. That first half was a disaster and Rodgers being stripped sack twice to gift the Lions short field touchdowns just cannot happen. And stop throwing the ball out of bounds so much. Put it up to a receiver to make a play on your pass. I see it happening all over the NFL but with the Packers offense rarely because Rodgers holds the ball so long waiting for a wide open receiver.

PatrickGB's picture

Rodgers is not back 100%. Not physically, not mentally. He is not in tune with his receivers. He is not in tune with his coaches. He is older and has taken a dreadful toll on his body. How much worse off would we have been if he had taken off after the queens game? And have let him spend most of the week rehabbing and Saturday with the scout team.
Oh well, just a thought.

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