Packers left looking for answers after losing to Lions at home

I’m sorry Packers fans, I truly am. I’m sorry because I don’t have the answers. I don’t have an explanation for why the Packers have decided to channel their inner-Browns over the last several weeks. I truly don’t.

Sunday’s game against the Lions was a new low for the 2015 Packers. After moving the ball pretty effortlessly on the first drive of the game, it felt pretty safe to assume the Packers offense was going to carry over it’s momentum from the fourth quarter of the Panthers game. Now I remember what happens when we assume things.

The Packers scored a field goal on that first drive, then proceeded to score 0 more points for the rest of the half. And then again in the third quarter. Yet again, the Packers offense lay dormant until the fourth quarter. It should become apparent right now that you need to play offense for more than one quarter to win. Even against the Lions, and even at home.

If you watched the game, then the stellar announcing tandem of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman reminded you countless times that the Lions haven’t won in Green Bay since 1991. That means it’s never happened since I’ve been alive. Until today.

It’s hard to know where to start. The Packers did not run the ball well for most of the day, with James Starks only managing 42 yards on fifteen carries. He was again effective in the screen game, but not until the fourth quarter. The Lions entered the day as one of the biggest sieves against the run, and yet our offensive line struggled to win their one-on-one matchups.

One of the biggest themes over the past few weeks has been the lack of success on second down, which has lead to a lot of tough third down situations. That theme continued today, as time and time again Rodgers was faced with third and long. The Packers finished the day 9-19 on third down, but that number is largely skewed by the success in the fourth quarter. There is simply no excuse for playing like this at home, against a team that many agree is the worst in football.

The Packers defense played extremely well, excluding a monster 43-yard catch and run by Golden Tate in which Sam Shields and Morgan Burnett both missed easy tackles.Demarious Randall and Ha Ha both made plays in the secondary and the front seven were great against the run and decent in pressure. I don’t have a lot to say about them right now, but the bottom line is that they played more than well enough for the Packers to win.

They didn’t because they aren’t playing hard on every down and they’re consistently losing one-on-one matchups. The Vikings may very well be leading the division after today, so there is absolutely zero excuse for complacency.

One of the most concerning aspects of this loss is that Jim Caldwell just out-coached Mike McCarthy. Many of us are still unsure how Jim Caldwell is an NFL coach, and yet McCarthy seemed a step behind him throughout the day.

The Packers won the turnover battle, they won the yards from scrimmage battle, and time of possession was almost exactly even. But they couldn’t sustain drives, and they somehow managed to break even on special teams on a day where Matt Prater missed two extra points and Calvin Johnson muffed an onside kick. There is essentially no excuse for us losing. At home. To the Lions.

All of this matters, of course, but the real problem is the one nobody wants to talk about: Aaron Rodgers really has not looked like Aaron Rodgers. The insane, surgical throws we’ve come to take for granted are simply not there. I realize that if you’re reading this you’re probably looking for answers as to why it took Rodgers 61 passes to try and beat the Lions at home.

One of the biggest problems is that Rodgers doesn’t seem to be on the same page with the Packers receivers enough, which has resulted in our inability to sustain drives. We haven’t seen Rodgers make game-changing plays outside the pocket and we’ve seen several miscommunications on routes. But all of that still doesn’t overshadow the fact that Rodgers hasn’t looked like Rodgers.

I’m not going to analyze the xs and os from the game anymore than I have. Not just because it pains me too much to do so, but also because there is too much to breakdown and not enough time. The Packers offense needs to be better at every level of what they do, and that starts with Rodgers, Cobb and McCarthy taking responsibility for this skid.

It seemed unthinkable at the beginning of the season, and even more so at 6-0, but the Packers are second in the NFC North. Not only that, but the Vikings look much hungrier to win the division than we do. You can look at names and numbers on paper, but at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters. Until the Packers want to win more than the other team, they will continue to put together sloppy games, and they will continue to lose.

The Packers’ schedule will not be forgiving down the stretch, with games against Oakland, Arizona, Dallas (with a healthy Romo) and two games against the Vikings. In order to succeed and get hot for the playoffs, it will require the entire organization to take a long look in the mirror, take a deep breath, and figure out what the hell is going wrong. They head to Minnesota next week. And for the first time this season, they may be the underdogs. Hopefully that’s exactly what this team needs to light a spark.

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