GREEN BAY – We have a week to think about it. What’s wrong? Those will be the two most oft-spoken words in Packernation this week.
They refer to a passing game we have largely considered unstoppable for the past several years. In recent weeks, however, it has stopped itself. In Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Chargers, for example, the Packers offense went three-and-out four times in a five-possession span.
That’s not Packers offense.
The Packers scored touchdowns in each of their first two possessions, and had a 17-3 lead and the ball, with a chance to put some serious air between themselves and a Chargers team depleted by injury and nursing a damaged spirit.
“We need to be more consistent. We just haven’t been able to put it together. The big sequence is when it was 17-3. We go three and out there,” Aaron Rodgers said.
That’s what’s wrong.
Rodgers and his coach, Mike McCarthy, almost certainly know what’s wrong, but it’s not the kind of thing you announce to the world. What’s wrong? The Packers have lost too many receivers to injury. That’s what’s wrong.
Jordy Nelson’s replacement, Davante Adams, missed another game, and Adams’ replacement, Ty Montgomery, sustained an ankle injury on Sunday and he was unable to return to action.
So, you might expect the Packers to turn to the running game, and they did on Sunday. James Starks exploded for 25 yards on the Packers’ first play from scrimmage. The next time the Packers had the ball, Starks went 65 yards for a touchdown.
Starks ran for 112 yards, but he only carried the ball 10 times. That’s an 11.2 yards-per-carry average.
“He’s been playing extremely well and Eddie’s been a little banged up,” McCarthy said, referring to the lingering effects of Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury. “I would’ve liked to have seen us run the ball a lot more. James had a huge day.”
Run the ball a lot more. That’s an interesting thought. Of course, the Packers only ran 49 plays. What’s wrong? That’s wrong, for sure.
“Third down isn’t quite what we’d like,” McCarthy said, referring to three of nine conversions.
All of this is contributing to production that’s beneath the Packers’ standards. Rodgers needs a healthy corps of receivers to balance the coverage, and he needs Lacy to get healthy and drag that eighth defender down into the box. Starks did for a while on Sunday.
“We ran the ball good early and we went away from it. We had some chances outside the numbers and didn’t get them,” Rodgers said.
Everybody’s a little off. That’s what’s wrong. It won’t stay that way.
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