GREEN BAY—The five sacks and numerous other hits quarterback Aaron Rodgers absorbed on Sunday night weren’t the result of the Packers not being prepared for the Giants’ pass rush.
Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said on Monday the Packers had their usual plan containing various pass-protection schemes, but nothing was executed the way it needs to be, particularly against a dominant front like New York’s that leaves little margin for error.
“Each plan that we have, we have a seven-man protection, a six-man protection, a five-man protection, and we utilized all of those last night at times,” Clements said. “We even used an eight-man protection at one point. We just have to mix it up and see what we can do to shore it up a little bit.”
Rodgers has now been sacked 37 times, most of any quarterback in the league. The only team that has allowed more sacks is Arizona (46), but those have been spread among three QBs.
At times, Rodgers does hold the ball too long and the sacks are more the result of the pass coverage. But regardless of where the fault lies on a given play, the combination of sacks, scrambles, hits and hurries is disrupting the Packers’ timing and rhythm on offense on a weekly basis.
Last week in Detroit, the offense gained just 233 yards through the first 56 minutes before putting together a game-winning TD drive. Sunday night against the Giants, the production totaled 272 yards until a 45-yard drive with backup Graham Harrell at quarterback in the final five minutes.
An offense that topped 375 yards 13 times in 17 games last year has done so just four times in 11 contests this season. The frustration only mounted against the Giants, particularly after getting off to a fast start with a 61-yard TD pass to Jordy Nelson on the fourth snap.
The Packers had 77 yards after four plays, but just 195 more yards on their next 47 plays with Rodgers under center.
“It is frustrating, especially because it was a big game, and I and the other coaches really felt we were going to play well, and we started off playing well,” Clements said. “Then it went downhill after that. It’s not a good feeling when that happens.”
It didn’t feel good to come away empty from a promising second drive, either, but Mason Crosby’s missed 55-yard field goal was well-struck and could actually help Crosby shake his slump, even though it curled barely left at the last moment.
“He hit a good ball,” Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said. “What I was pleased about is his rhythm and tempo was good. He struck the ball properly. The wind kind of blew it out of the uprights. It would have been nice to make the kick.”
The score was tied at 7-7, and Slocum said the decision to try the long field goal – 55 yards was the “max distance” based on pregame warm-ups – was not a function of trying to show confidence or breed confidence in Crosby, who later made a 28-yard field goal but has now missed eight of his last 15 attempts.
“I think it was a situation we looked at as an opportunity to score points,” he said. “In those games like that, scoring points is a premium.
“He’s missed more than we would like from 50 yards this year, but at the same time, we’re going to continue to be aggressive in the way we play the game.”
An otherwise solid night on special teams could have been better, but some opportunities for big plays didn’t materialize. Jarrett Bush just missed recovering a muffed punt at the Giants’ 30-yard line early in the third quarter that could have swung the momentum, and return man Randall Cobb was “real close” to breaking his first punt return, which went for 15 yards in the first quarter.
“The last guy got him and it almost came out,” Slocum said. Additional coverage - Nov. 26