“It’s frustrating… probably less frustrating if you don’t have that good of a team, but we’ve got a really good team… it’s frustrating, but we just have to keep on doing what we do, and finish out games.”
That is not a statement made by Aaron Rodgers or any current Packer. It was a partial quote from Davante Adams after his Las Vegas Raiders blew another chance to win a game. The Raiders and Adams now sit at 1-4, alone in the cellar of the AFC West. Adams started his post game interview with an apology to the stadium camera person who he shoved to the ground after the loss, captured in a now viral video. His explanation, “frustration.”
Adams and the Raiders demonstrate how thin the thread is between winning and losing in the NFL. So many pieces have to work together. All on the same page at the same time. Then, one man has to outperform the man assigned to stop him. The play called by the offense must fool a defender for one second, and then that hesitation must be identified and exploited. On defense, the opposite is true. The play must be anticipated and cut off before the offense’s execution is successful.
Every game hinges on a few critical plays. On Sunday in London, the Packers failed to execute on a few second half offensive plays and it led to no points in the third and fourth quarters. One what seemed like a promising drive on their first possession of the third quarter, the Packers drove to the Giants 36 yard line. On second and eight, the Packers tried a long pass, Rodgers targeting Romeo Doubs near the goal line. Doubs was double covered, and the pass was not close to him. Doubs was the only receiver who faced double coverage on the play.
Aaron Jones was open and The Giants attempted to cover him with a linebacker near the sideline but Rodgers was locked into Doubs, never seeming to look at another receiver. On the next play, the Giants lined up feigning a blitz by a safety between right guard and center. At the snap, the safety fell back and the defensive tackles of the Giants attacked the Packer’s center and right guard-tackle gap. Packer right guard Royce Newman set up to block the potential blitzing safety. By the time he realized it was a fake and he reset to block the defensive tackle, it was too late. On the play center, Josh Meyers blocked the other Giants defensive tackle, giving no help to Newman and Jon Runyan blocked no one. The sack on this play gave the ball back to the Giants and took a potential three points away from the Packers.
On their next offensive drive, the Packers started at their own 25 yard line. The first play was a throw to Allen Lazard that just seemed off target. Film review shows that Lazard was bumped 10+ yards down the field. The contact was a full body on body collision that included a forearm to Lazard’s chest. The contact clearly interfered with his ability to run his route to the ball, and guaranteed the incompletion. On the play, if Rodgers had one more second, Doubs was about to break free and would have been wide open in the middle of the field. With the referees calling four holding calls against the Packers secondary during the game, it is hard not to be frustrated by this non-call.
But the Packers still had another down to play. On the next play, Rodgers threw a middle of the field pass that goes off Cobb’s hands as he desperately tried to leap for the catch. The defensive play on that ball was a good one. Rodgers waited to throw the pass until after Cobb had crossed the middle of the field. A quick slant throw would have given Cobb a chance to catch it with a step on his defender, but by waiting to throw, Rodgers gave the DB time to recover.
On the next offensive series, the Packers again started on their own 25. The first play was a pass attempt that went incomplete. The pass seemed to be thrown away by Rodgers. He had Aaron Jones in the flat with 15 yards between him and the nearest linebacker, but Rodgers did not see him. The second play was a five yard run by Aaron Jones. On third and five Rodgers found Tonyan who leaked out after initially blocking for a nice gain. The Packers then took advantage of the Giants giving up short gains to protect against an explosive play. They even mixed in a few nice running plays. But when Aaron Jones was stopped for a two yard gain, the Packers went to their MVP quarterback, who had two balls batted down to end their chances. The first batted ball was a very low pass, hitting the defender’s face mask. The play took time to develop, allowing the pass rushers to get close to Rodgers. Rodgers also moved toward the left side of the line, which is where the rush penetrated the deepest into the backfield. The second batted ball was a blitz that was coming unblocked. On the first play, Cobb looked like he was about to have a step on his safety. On the last play, it would have been one-on-one for Allen Lazard, a 50-50 ball at best.
The Raiders on Sunday had Davante Adams at wideout as the game wound down and his team needing a touchdown to even the score. The Raiders, like Green Bay, had also let a 10 point halftime advantage evaporate into a game of desperation. On third and six with almost four and a half minutes to play, Derek Carr found Adams for a 48 yard touchdown. The Raiders then failed a two point conversion to be down by one. On their last possession, Adams was determined to have juggled a fourth down catch out of bounds to end the Raiders’ chances. The Raiders are 1-4. The Packers are 3-2. Both teams are frustrated. Both teams need to improve. Adversity is going to find you in the NFL. Will the Packers rise to meet it and overcome? Their receiver core is relying on rookies and old possession receivers. Their WR free agent is on the IR. But they have the best running back combo in the NFL. Last week the Packers threw three passes to Aaron Jones and none to A.J. Dillon. If the Packers can refocus the air attack to include those weapons, and Doubs continues to learn the position, they have a chance. Next week will be a good test. The Jets dominated a Tua-less Dolphin team last week. They put 40 points on the scoreboard. The Packer defense will have to mix it up and the offense will need to produce. Adversity has found the Packers in 2022. The crowd at Lambeau on Sunday awaits their response.