GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers stood at the podium, waiting for feeling to return in two fingers on his left hand.
“It was a cold night. I lost feeling in my hand for a good part of the third quarter,” Rodgers said.
A helmet to the funny bone on his left elbow caused Rodgers’ hand to go numb. You could also blame the injury to the bad snap from center that caused Rodgers to chase after the ball and to have been struck on the arm as he was being tackled to the ground.
If there was a play that defined the Packers’ 17-13 loss to the Bears on Thursday, that was the play. The bad snap took the Packers out of field goal range, forced a punt and left their quarterback without feeling in his non-throwing hand.
Once upon a time, the Packers moved the ball through the air with ease. They set records for throwing the ball in 2011. Rodgers won two league MVPs for throwing the football. He’s the reigning MVP.
What’s happened to the Packers’ passing game? That’s been the weekly question for the past two months. The answers to that question are starting to come.
Packers receivers dropped several passes on Thursday night. Coach Mike McCarthy was critical of his receivers’ route-running. He said his team didn’t win on the perimeter.
“At the end of the day, you have to beat the guy,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers will take more than his share of the blame. That comes with the position. It’s expected of the team’s leader to shield his teammates.
“He’s a tough son of a gun. He took a couple of shots and played through it,” McCarthy said of Rodgers.
“I’m not sure. We’ll look at the film. We’re very honest in our evaluation. We all have to look in the mirror and play better, myself included,” Rodgers said.
The play caller?
“I like the calls there; all four of them,” Rodgers said of the four plays from the 8-yard line with the game on the line. “I have to throw it better and we have to catch it more often.”
That’s it. That’s the fix, and it apparently involves Rodgers and his receivers doing a better job of coordinating their efforts. Rodgers talked about it after Thursday’s game.
“I’m going to have to make sure my preparation is as high as it’s ever been because we have to get on the same page. We have to make sure there aren’t discrepancies in depth and adjustments,” Rodgers said.
He was referring to the depth of his receivers’ routes. Apparently, what Rodgers is expecting isn’t what Rodgers is getting. In other words, Rodgers is throwing to where they aren’t but should be. “Adjustments” refer to the route changes receivers make according to the coverage they’re confronting.
“Every year is different. We ran it well tonight. We’ve got to be better in the passing game,” he said.
This year is certainly different because it’s the first time since Rodgers became one of the game’s star quarterbacks the Packers’ passing game is the lowest-ranked phase of the team.
“We had a lot of chances for points. This is on us. We had opportunities to win the game,” Rodgers said.
They’ll try again in seven days, this time in the comfort of warm and dry Ford Field.
“We have to go in there and get a win,” Rodgers said.
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