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Game Notes: Not-so-back on track

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Game Notes: Not-so-back on track

Along with the Green Bay Packers falling short to their midway rivals, a Miami Dolphins loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday also eliminated the Packers from playoff contention.

Oh, and the Chicago Bears won the NFC North. In case you needed a reminder.

The Packers tied it up in the third quarter after entering halftime with a 14-6 deficit, but a Jamaal Williams touchdown run and a quick two-point conversion to Davante Adams was essentially the highest point of the day for the visitors. The Bears pulled away again to take a 10-point lead and doom the Packers from any hope of a comeback.

With nothing to play for except draft position, two more games remain on the schedule before the Packers enter what should be the most crucial offseason in a long, long time.

 

The "Bad Man" is bad

Aaron Rodgers hasn't thrown a touchdown at Soldier Field since the 2015 season opener. But that doesn't speak to how remarkably average -- some would say even below average -- he was in the same venue on Sunday.

Rodgers missed two wide open throws to Randall Cobb that he would typically hit in his sleep and another heave to Marquez Valdes-Scantling that the rookie couldn't have run fast enough for. Rodgers did, in his defense, tweak his knee on a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half. He had trouble maneuvering in certain facets in the second half, thus possibly leading to some of the misfires.

Still, this has been an underlying theme for a large part of the regular season. Rodgers hasn't been on the same page with the rookie receivers -- which is expected -- and still hasn't formulated a solid connection with Jimmy Graham, whose hands are the reason Rodgers has two interceptions this season. It's unlikely Rodgers' struggles continue into 2019, which will be his age 36 season, but Cobb and Geronimo Allison are both in contract years. The Packers don't have much receiving experience -- if any -- across the board outside of Davante Adams, and that certainly can't make Rodgers' job any easier.

All-Pro status

Speaking of Davante Adams, it's probably time he's discussed for All-Pro candidacy. He's been Rodgers go-to target for the last two seasons and leads the league in receiving touchdowns since 2016. One of the major knocks against him was that he was yet to record a 1,000-yard season, falling just three yards short (997) in 2016.

But with that out the window and currently sitting at 1,315 with 100 catches on the season, Adams is solidifying himself as one of the league's top receiving threats. With two games left to play, Adams currently sits with the fourth-most receptions in a single season in team history. He trails Robert Brooks (102) and Sterling Sharpe (108, 112), with both records being well within reach.

Adams' 1,315 receiving yards is knocking on the door of team lore as well. He could eclipse Javon Walker (1,382) for the fifth-most in a single season in franchise history. Adams is averaging 93.9 yards per game this season, which, an average game against the Jets next Sunday could leave him just short of Sharpe's 1,423 record, which is also one yard shy of Antonio Freeman's 1,424 record. 

*INHALES* A lot of history to be made in the coming weeks.

Opportunity comes knocking

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky may have turned in his most solid performance of the year, going 20-of-28 for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Packers' defensive backs were flying all over the field.

The pass rush turned on the jets in the second half, making Trubisky uncomfortable and forcing him to extend plays in the pocket with his legs and ultimately make off-balanced throws into tight windows. They didn't end up with an interception, but they were contesting passes for a large part of the game.

Their aggressiveness led to three fumbles, two of which were recovered by the Bears. The third, however, the Packers landed on while the game was tied 14-14. Unfortunately, they went three-and-out on the following possession and made nothing of it.

Overall, I was relatively impressed with how the defense played against an offense that had ground teams down with Jordan Howard and often found a way to incorporate a change-of-pace player like Tarik Cohen to beat teams this year. Not to mention the Packers played as well as they did with their defensive line in ruins sans Kenny Clark.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

If only Davante understood "details" he'd be an All Pro already.

https://twitter.com/sportingnews/status/1066910733286293504?lang=en

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I guess I forgot the sarcasm font. ;)

Razer's picture

Thanks Zach for finding some sunlight on a gloomy Monday. It is hard to muster much enthusiasm for the team and season. Despite these losses and injuries, the defense shows good grit and potential. It is also painfully evident the lack of play-makers and depth on the defensive side of the ball. Years of drafting for defense and this is all we have to show. Thank God for Pettine.

The offense is the true disappointment for this team for this year. In particular, Aaron Rodgers did not play well and never really improved over 14 games. Aside from Adams and Jones there was very little shine here. The fear is that our engine, Rodgers, is broken and next year won't be much better. It still amazes me that this QB and this offense do the same thing week-in, week-out then use the same words to describe the outcome and solution.

Well, year one in retooling is almost done. Year two is just around the corner. If we draft well, add some stud FA's, pick the right coach and get Rodgers back to earth we should be back in contention in 2020. Stock up the woodshed folks.

nostradanus's picture

Obviously Aaron Rodgers is on a different level of intellect than the rest of his Offensive supporting cast.
Or is he just declining before our eyes?

Consider: Tom Brady & Drew Brees have thrived with a mis-mash of rookies and second level receivers for years and they seem to get along just fine.
Me thinks this smacks of a "Rodgers" problem, Mr. Rodgers makes himself look like a Diva when he continually calls out his receivers and coaches for not being on the same page, or they have to gain his trust yada yada yada.
This is not brain surgery or rocket science Mr. Rodgers, you are playing a game of throw and catch!
Rodgers needs to get over himself and just play ball or retire to his acting career and give the Packers their money back.
That is all...

Razer's picture

...Consider: Tom Brady & Drew Brees have thrived with a mis-mash of rookies and second level receivers for years and they seem to get along just fine...

Totally agree. Even the new offenses in this league have got up and running with little lead time. If our WRs, RBs and TEs can't get up to speed in this scheme then shame on the coaches. But missed throws, failure to use the whole field or checkdowns and untimely sacks are a Rodgers problem. If he simply said, I am not playing well, I wouldn't worry. All I hear is an ego when Rodgers recounts the weekend's under-achievement.

Since '61's picture

I actually hope that Rodgers does retire. Then we could watch someone like Hundley or worse play QB for a decade or two and we'll see how much the alleged fans enjoy that. As for me I'm in no hurry to return to the 70's and 80's. Thanks, Since '61

Skip greenBayless's picture

Since 61, No offense but we are pretty much in the 70's and 80's RIGHT NOW and that's with the quarterback you want to keep around for what? another 5 years or more? With Aaron Rodgers as our starter, we have not made the playoffs the past two years. That's the reality Since 61. Now you can say he was hurt but that's also a sign of getting old in many cases. When he has played he's looked average at best compared to how he is being paid. Signing Rodgers to that contract was a death sentence. I predict it will go down as one of the biggest blunders probably in Packers history. Now we are stuck in the mud for two years at least while the Bears now take over the North. There are ways of winning football games without having a hall of fame quarterback. The Bears are your example.

nostradanus's picture

Very true since 61, of course my comments were of the tongue in cheek variety, but listening to Rodgers excuses does get old.

Since '61's picture

Too many excuses from the entire organization for too long. Hopefully that will change with a new HC. Time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

Since ‘61 said: “I actually hope that Rodgers does retire. Then we could watch someone like Hundley or worse play QB for a decade or two and we'll see how much the alleged fans enjoy that.”

Or we could see the Packers draft or acquire a good-to-great QB and have the greatest run of success the franchise has ever known. The doom and gloom act seems strange coming from you, Since ‘61. You always struck me a more even keeled. Anyway, I hope the Packers quickly figure out how to turn things around, no matter what it takes. I’m not calling for the Packers to part ways with Rodgers; however, in my opinion, there are no sacred cows. GoPack Go!

Since '61's picture

JimR - my point is that we have been extremely fortunate to have back to back HOF QBs for the last 26 seasons. LVT or Taryn can probably discuss the odds of us acquiring a 3rd consecutive good to great QB.

In this era the best you are going to get from any QB, HOF or otherwise is maybe 2 SBs and 6-7 playoff appearances over a 10-12 year career. Even Brady has only 2 SBs over the last 13 seasons. Both Mannings have 2 each Peyton with 2 different teams. Rothlisberger 2. Brees one so far. Rodgers one so far.

The last real NFL dynasty was the Cowboys of the early 90s. Since the FA era it's impossible to keep a team together for more than 2-3 seasons. The Pats early SBs were won by their defense not by Brady and they were one play from losing in each game.

The Packers greatest run of success was and will remain the Lombardi era. 5 championships in 7 seasons including 3 in a row. Never done before or since. We won't see it again regardless of who plays QB for the Packers. It's not doom or gloom its just the way it is. And the way the league wants it by the way. Thanks, Since '61

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

We have been fortunate, indeed.

Lare's picture

I know it's hard for younger fans to accept a disappointing season from the Packers as many became fans after the Packers became perennial contenders. All teams go through rebuilding years and hopefully the Packers doesn't last as long as it did in the 70s & 80s.

It's impossible to compare Rodgers stats compared to other QBs. Most fans don't realize that the Packers present scheme is almost impossible for WRs to be successful in their first few years. Everyone looks for the rookies to have the same success as Adams, but they don't remember that it took Adams three years to be successful in this offense.

Hopefully the next HC & OC install an offensive scheme that is easier for new WRs (both veteran & rookies) to learn and be productive in. In this day and age it's rare to keep veteran WRs due to the salary cap and injuries.

fastmoving's picture

Its not easy to find a great QB and we got really lucky with Favre and Rodgers. Thats for sure.
But at the moment a ton of guys are better than the AR 2017/2018 (you can even argue that since 2015 only the second half of 2016 season was really GOATish and that gives me some worries)

Bearmeat's picture

Yep.

Bearmeat's picture

ARod has been mediocre this year. He was mediocre in 2015 and mediocre before "Run the Table" in 2016. He started 2017 well, but then the injury.

Basically, since 2014, we've gotten by my count 12 games of all-world QB play. This team's salary cap structure is not designed to pay the defense and the running game. We are built to outscore people.

Job number 1 of the new head coach - which is NOT the best job in the NFL this offseason btw - is to get ARod to buy in. He's got to get ARod to understand that playing team ball is the only way to win it all.

Job number 2 is for the personnel staff to provide better players at: RT, RG, TE, OLB1, OLB2, FS and SS. Then, of course depth is needed.

Job number 3 is for the coaching staff to bring GBs offensive playbook up to modern standards.

I have long thought that 2019 would be when GB would be a threat again. I think that may have been a tad ambitious with how bad TT and MM were from 2015-2017.

2020 may be when we get back to the dance, if we get back at all under ARod...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I think this i a pretty accurate assessment. I wonder what's going to go through a coaching candidates mind when pondering the task of making AR a team player again. I think it's going to take a special person to pull that off. Someone who probably has no history with AR.

RCPackerFan's picture

My gut feeling is that Rodgers will buy in. But it will be almost like Charles Woodson early with GB. It will take him half the season or so to make it click. Then when it clicks we will say where has this Rodgers been.

I honestly think they will be right back in it next year, but it depends on the coach/scheme they bring in and the players they bring in.

They have to add help to the OL, DL, and Safety positions. Pass rush is a huge need. While they are tied for 6th in the league in sacks, they don't get enough pressure without blitzing. Then they also need to figure out TE, and depth.

They have enough core key players that this team should be very competitive next year. Hell most of the games this year they could have won had they made a few very make able plays throughout the games.

I have faith in Gutekunst that he will give us some good players.

Lare's picture

Good points. Many people are judging Rodgers and others on their performance in this scheme this year. Let's remember that McCarthy was fired because this scheme was stale & ineffective and Philbin will also most likely lose his job because of it also.

I'm sure there are many well qualified coaching candidates that have schemes that can be effective while being adapted to the players they have to work with. That is the name of the game these days with the high rates of attrition due to injuries. Look no farther than a coach like Pettine as an example of that.

RCPackerFan's picture

Rodgers has missed a number of throws this year. Some of it is due to young WR's not being where they are supposed to be. Graham not being on the same page as him. Some are probably results of his injury(ies?) and lack of practice time throughout the year.

But overall the biggest issue is that they haven't added talent since Adams to the position. The lack of talent brought in to develop hurt building a rapport with Rodgers.

I'm hoping the new coach with a new scheme will provide more looks. More motion and moving guys around a lot more. Creating looks to get guys open. We watch the Patriots and other teams and see guys running wide open. Its not due to guys being that much better, a lot of it is scheme.

Samson's picture

RC
Normally your unending optimism makes me want to stick my finger down my throat. --- However, you have the same plan for the Pack as I do. -- AR (and a new coaching staff) will lead the Pack back to the playoffs in season 2019. --- Gute has a clue & fans will realize that next season. -- No need to wait until 2020.

Bearmeat's picture

Don't blame RC for his optimism. Mr. Sparkle Pony Man is just who he is. ;)

RCPackerFan's picture

This is true. And I can't change who I am.

But you can take off the aluminum foil hat. ;)

RCPackerFan's picture

Samson,

This maybe the nicest thing you have ever said to me.

I have faith in Gutekunst. His first year really was impressive to be honest.

Moves he made in his first year...

Signed Wilkerson, Graham, Williams, Bell, Lewis. Then in season he went and got Breeland, Campbell, Pleasant who were guys that had experience. Under Thompson those guys would have been undrafted free agents. (I probably missed some moves, but this was going off the top of my head)

He essentially traded down 4 spots in the draft. Drafted Alexander and got a 1st round pick this year. He also took Jackson, MVS, EQ, Scott, Bradley who all have shown they can play. Burks and Moore have ability and might contribute more in year 2 then year 1. They have brought up Looney and Donnerson, who hopefully will get some action these last 2 games to see what they can do and get some experience. The only draft pick that we simply have no clue about is Cole Madison. Does he come back or is he done?

He also traded Randall for Kizer. Lenzy Pipkins for Antonio Morrison. Brett Hundley to the Seahawks for a 6th round pick this year. Clinton-Dix to the Redskins for a 4th round pick. Montgomery for a pick next year.

Simply put he has made a LOT of moves this offseason. I would expect to see a lot of the same this coming year.

I wouldn't be surprised to see him going after more free agents. He was involved in a lot of moves made. He was close to getting 3 players that went to the Bears. Robinson, Fuller and Mack.

Also having potentially 3 picks in the top 50, should give us some much needed top end talent. I would not be surprised to see him trade those picks around though.

This is going to be an interesting offseason for sure! Hopefully its one that we need!

marpag1's picture

"Job number 2 is for the personnel staff to provide better players at: RT, RG, TE, OLB1, OLB2, FS and SS. Then, of course depth is needed."

I would say that you probably should have included WRs 2-5 as well, since Cobb's contract is expiring and Allison is a restricted free agent, and neither of them have been especially productive and reliable anyway. And we can't count on MVS or ESB or Moore or Kumerow or Davis to be anything more than depth.

HankScorpio's picture

"ARod has been mediocre this year. He was mediocre in 2015 and mediocre before "Run the Table" in 2016."

It's hard to find a significant stretch of mediocrity in a 2016 season that finished with 4400 yrds and 40 TDs. On the year, he had 9 games with passer rating above 100 and another 3 above 90. 2016 was about a defense that hit rock bottom with LaDarius Gunter filling the role of CB1 on the year. And oh, BTW, that team made the NFC CG primarily because of Rodgers.

Take the 0-4 stretch that left them at 4-6 and necessitated them running the table. They scored 32, 26, 25 and 24 in those games. They gave up 33, 31, 47 & 42. Rodgers averaged 316 with 12 TDs and 101.9 QB rating in those losses. Those are hardly mediocre numbers from Rodgers even if he didn't look like Superman carrying a bad defense through its worst stretch.

Once upon a time, saying that Rodgers can't carry an awful defense was used to defend him. Criticizing his 2016 performance is using that to attack him. Seems like revising history to me.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Jim Delgazio
Scott Hunter
Jerry Tagge
John Hadl
Jack Concannon

and many other agree its time to move on from AROD

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