Monday, November 16, 2015

Packers Lose Third Straight; Embarrassing Loss At Home To 1-7 Lions

The only good news is that the Green Bay Packers have seven more games to figure out what's gone wrong over the past three losses. As bad as it looks now, it wasn't this way four weeks ago. They're certainly capable of making adjustments and getting themselves back on track.

On defense: where's my pass rush? Another week, another zero sack game. They played another shaky offensive line, but they still haven't gotten to the quarterback and it only seems to be getting worse. They've got play makers (Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones) and they have to start making plays.

On offense: it's frustrating because they've scored 28 points combined in their last two fourth quarters but only 10 points combined in the last two first halves. Dropped passes were a problem and QB Aaron Rodgers and his receivers often don't seem to be on the same page. It didn't help that Rodgers's accuracy was off early in the game. But the biggest problems were WR Davante Adams and WR James Jones:
Adams ended the game with 21 targets and 79 yards. That's about as inefficient as it gets. Their best receiver this season has been Jones, and he had zero receptions in this game and has only 3 in their last three games. Throwing the ball 21 times to your worst receiver and only twice to your best receiver is not a successful formula. They knew that Adams would be going up against a back-up cornerback and this might have been their attempt to push him into a big game.

The receiver who did step up against the Lions was TE Justin Perillo. I've thought that the best option would be for the Packers to get as many receivers involved in the passing game as possible, to compensate for the loss of WR Jordy Nelson. Rodgers was a combined 16 of 18 for 134 yards and 2 TDs on passes to Perillo, TE Richard Rodgers and RB James Starks. These three receivers aren't getting separation in the passing game against anyone but they're also big receivers and if anyone's great at throwing a receiver open, it's Aaron Rodgers. These bigger guys have to run their route and fight for the ball when it comes to them in tight coverage.

I don't want to make a big deal out of WR Jared Abbrederis's game. It was great that he got his first NFL reception and caught 4 passes for 57 yards, but he also had a fumble out of bounds and suffered a rib injury. If he's having trouble staying healthy and holding onto the ball, he's not going to be a help. WR Randall Cobb had another inefficient game as he continues to struggle as the No. 1 receiver, but they just have to keep him involved and hope he can improve as the entire offense improves.

Also, for the second consecutive game, the interior of the offensive line struggled. Against Carolina, the pass blocking assignments were missed in the first half, and against the Lions, the run blocking assignments were missed. The Lions's defensive tackles were in on nearly every running play right at the line of scrimmage. The running game has vanished in too many games this season and it's putting more strain on the struggling pass offense.

So the answer on offense should be less of Adams and Cobb and more of everyone else. Aaron Rodgers got into the habit last season of leaning heavily on his top two receivers (for good reason, they both had a great season) but that isn't the case anymore. They also should be more aggressive on 4th down, especially on their opponent's side of the 50 yard line. It would help if WR Ty Montgomery would return since he's been their 2nd most efficient receiver (behind James Jones) this season according to Football Outsiders. This is the third week in a row that they came into a game with a plan, and it didn't work. If the players can't execute the plans that have been drawn up, it's time to find some new plans.

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