The abysmal performance of the Green Bay Packers’ offense was not just a travesty. And it means much more than just any postseason aspirations being in grave jeopardy this year. What we are seeing is far more disconcerting. As a trend that has continued more or less unabated for a year now, this malaise is nothing other than an embarrassment of dysfunction and poor on-field performance. A Gordian knot of so many inter-related problems that it is seemingly impossible to rectify in the short term, and possibly the long term as well. Outside of mostly outstanding offensive line play and an improved, resurgent Eddie Lacy, nothing — NOTHING! — else is working well for the Packers’ offense. As such, it is a perfect storm, and a perfect storm that Mike McCarthy, the coaching staff and players had all offseason to address. If anything, the problems afflicting the Packers are getting worse.
A summation of the woes plaguing our once vaunted offensive unit is in order, starting first with factors outside of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, then moving to everything that is wrong with a quickly fading MVP, seemingly on the verge of outright downfall:
- Receivers are dropping balls. Lack of talent? Locker room distractions? Lax coaching that does not instill the requisite focus and discipline in its players? All of the above? Who knows. But as with each and every problem, it shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
- Receivers are not getting open. As has been opined, many of the receivers are slow? Are they slacking off? Lax coaching? Stubborn refusal to tinker with offensive schemes that help less than overwhelming talent actually get open? All of the above? Or is it that receivers are getting open and Rodgers is not going through his progressions, or is reticent to make the throw, either because he does not trust them, or is greedy and pushes too hard for the high-risk, high reward big play?
- Turnovers are happening with far greater frequency, and not just those bad picks thrown by Rodgers (see below). Why are so many players fumbling the ball? Sometimes fumbles are just a result of outstanding defensive play. But so many of these seem to be avoidable…. And if that too is a factor, why is the coaching staff not addressing that problem effectively?
- Davante Adams underperforming. Troy Aikman said that a team’s offense is no better than its third receiver. Just another tell-tale sign that this Packers team is in trouble. On that note, aside from whether this guy will be cut, be replaced or at least demoted, yet another unsolvable mystery is…
- McCarthy refuses to give Jared Abbredaris or Jeff Janis more time, staying with the slow guy who drops passes and rarely gets open. Or is it that Rodgers does not want to work with them?
- All of this is compounded by a propensity not to go for short and medium range passes that get the ball out of Rodgers hands, but going more for the high-risk, high-reward long distance throws. The problem is that, as with dropped and missed passes, this stalls offenses in down and distance situations upon incompletion, in turn creating…
- An overall malaise and lack of rhythm. With a few nice drives glimmering as exceptions in the suffocating doom and gloom, all these problems cause the offense to break down, forcing them to punt. Then, even if the defense stops the opposing offense, they wind up with horrible field position (further compounding their inability to produce points) because…
- The Packers’ punter is horrible. Those who think punters do not matter require only two words in rebuttal: field position.
Then on top of that, a future Hall of Famer seems to be in prolonged, protracted malaise, again for about a year now. Even with an entire offseason to fix this mess, these problems are unquestionably getting worse. On Sunday, Rodgers had one touchdown to go with two fumbles and yet another interception. Last year Rodgers had 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions at this point in the season. Now he has 10 touchdowns with FOUR interceptions, and five fumbles (two lost). And his completion percentage is some 10 points below what it was last year.
But fans and professional observers alike do not need stats to know that Rodgers is just not playing well. Indeed, he is playing so poorly the naked eye sees it on even casual observation. The eye sees it in the formerly uncharacteristic inaccuracy that now seems to define him, with throwing balls wildly behind and over receivers. The eye also sees it in overtly bad body language. Then there is the added problem of poor ball security.
The sharp decline of Aaron Rodgers, much like all the other areas of systemic dysfunction and breakdown plaguing the Packers’ offense, shows no sign of abating anytime soon.
As the notion that his physical abilities have so declined can be dismissed out of hand, it must be psychological. Is it a case of the yips? Is it that Hollywood strumpet is finally taking a toll on his psyche, all the more compounded by infighting among his family? Is it that he and McCarthy are not getting along? As the established Wisconsin and sports media refuse to ask the hard questions, no one knows for sure. Although it should not be surprising if it is, once again, all of the above, and much more besides.
Regardless of what it is, when an athlete starts to have psychological problems like that, it is hard to recover from. And it will be difficult for Rodgers, as it would be for anyone, to get over whatever the number of things eating at him. It will be next to impossible to do so in time to return to form before it is too late this year.
And with the Minnesota Vikings enjoying a two-game division lead, a lead that will be difficult to close with one of the uncommon Packers’ opponents being the red-hot Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, this season may already be over.
Somehow, quite shockingly, before this loss, McCarthy responded to concerns from the media with insolence.
Will this be enough to shake them from their complacency? And with a laundry list like that above, how can they possibly resolve all of these problems in short order when they, once again, failed to rectify the myriad of problems over the offseason, when they had months to do so?
This may not just mean that this season is already stillborn and doomed to failure, which it most probably is. Far worse, it may signal that the dream and promise of multiple Super Bowl champions during the McCarthy/Rodgers era is for naught. Packers fans everywhere should be sounding an alarm, an air-raid siren on a non-stop, continual loop. For our empire is burning. And still the alarms seem to be silent where it matters most: the offices of 1265 Lombardi Avenue.
To that we respond, in a shrill, violent scream: ALARM!