GREEN BAY—Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said his frustration level is “extremely high” after the Packers had yet another kick blocked in Sunday’s game.
Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal try early in the fourth quarter against the Lions was blocked by an edge rusher who came free around the left side of Green Bay’s line. The Packers were trying to extend their lead to 10 points at the time.
It’s the seventh kick – three field goals, two PATs, two punts – the Packers have had blocked this year, and on Monday, Slocum was clearly bothered by the latest breakdown.
“It’s disappointing,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time, because we’ve had some problems this season in our placement protection. We have devoted necessary time in practice and we were very good in the previous game. We were good inside in that ballgame.
“That was a critical play in the game and our accountability needs to pick up there.”
The blocked kick, plus the failure to properly field Detroit’s free-ball punt after a late safety, were mistakes on special teams that somewhat overshadowed Micah Hyde’s 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
That’s been a recurring theme for the Packers’ special-teams units, wiping out the positives with negatives, particularly during the second half of the season.
Earlier, the protection problems on placekicks were on the interior, in part because offensive linemen T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton were removed from the protection unit while dealing with injuries.
Lang has since returned to help shore up the middle, but the latest leak was on the edge.
“It’s really a focus error, because that protection is uncomplicated by design,” Slocum said. “It’s a zone protection. Everybody’s got an area, and you need to be accountable for your area.”
The Packers have made some personnel changes on special teams, but Slocum suggested they can’t continue to change that on a weekly basis.
“No. You get it right and move forward,” he said.
With the playoffs ahead, there’s no more time to be wrong. Slocum acknowledged, not surprisingly, that opponents are seeing blocked kicks as an Achilles’ heel for the Packers and game-planning accordingly.
“I think so, yeah. When you show something in this league, when you’re not successful with it, you’re going to get attacked there,” he said. “I said this earlier, after our first or second block, that we need to do a better job there, because you’re going to get greater effort from the teams coming after you.
“It’s a matter of fact. It’s something we need to continue to address and be right.”