One week after pitching a shutout at home against Buffalo, Green Bay dug themselves into an early hole on the road in Detroit. Special teams mistakes, penalties, and miscommunications made this team look like a squad in the running for an early draft pick in 2019, not a perennial Super Bowl contender with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback.
While Green Bay still has a chance sitting at 2-2-1, this is a team that, now six weeks into the season, lacks a true identity. Aside from the aforementioned victory over the Buffalo Bills, this is a team that failed to pull off a victory at home against Minnesota (despite multiple chances to put it away) and needed a Herculean effort from Rodgers to barely beat the Bears. One has to think that McCarthy’s seat is getting quite hot as head coach of a team that is as physically talented as any other, but way out of sync and prone to making mental mistakes.
RB Aaron Jones
With 40 yards on only seven carries, Jones didn’t play a huge part in yesterday’s 31-23 loss to Detroit, but he continues to prove week after week that he is the real deal at running back. The Packers dug themselves into a hole quickly due to a pair of turnovers in the first quarter, causing Green Bay to abandon the run before halftime. Therefore, Jones didn’t get a lot of work, but he made the most of the few scraps he received. The light workload that the second-year back receives is hopefully just an investment into the future, allowing him to be fresh and ready to set the world on fire.
And that’s really it, this team played an absolutely terrible 60 minutes of football on Sunday. Granted, David Bakhtiari continues to play at a high level and may very well be the best left tackle in football, but he didn’t do anything to stand out in this loss to Detroit.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Yes, he played well enough in the second half to keep this game interesting right up until the end, but he’s just as much of the reason this team was in so big of a hole to start this game as the next two guys on this list. Rodgers has clearly been hobbled all season since his knee injury, and while he seems to be feeling well enough to scramble again, his accuracy might be the worst that anyone has seen since his first season as a starter. In addition to missing routine passes, No. 12 looks way out of sync with both the trio of rookie receivers and TE Jimmy Graham. There was a number of plays yesterday where Rodgers overthrew his receivers or anticipated the wrong route, causing missed opportunities as well as frustration among Packer Nation. Finally, Rodgers needs to do a better job of taking care of the football. While he did not throw a pick all game, he fumbled twice, leading to 10 of Detroit’s 31 points.
CB Kevin King
Prior to leaving the game due to what appeared to be a cut chin, the second-year corner was having one of his sloppiest games as a professional. King’s poor outing started on the Lions’ first punt of the night, when the ball bounced off of his back, allowing the Detroit coverage team to scoop the ball up inside the five-yard line and score on the very next play. While the call was potentially a bit controversial, return man Tramon Williams waved the punt away, which also serves a warning to make sure the return team stays away from the ball to avoid scenarios exactly like this.
His second, and much less costly, penalty was a roughing the kicker foul on a Detroit extra-point attempt near the end of the first quarter. While not a game-breaker by any means, the Green Bay special teams units already have their hands full with issues to correct after this game without needing to worry about mistakes like this.
Lastly, King was the corner responsible for covering Detroit WR Kenny Golladay, putting forth a lousy effort on the touchdown pass that sealed the Lions win with 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
K Mason Crosby
As Green Bay’s all-time leading scorer and generally one of the more reliable kickers across the league, no one saw Crosby’s performance yesterday coming. Having missed his first five kicks of the afternoon (four field goals, one extra point), Crosby was responsible for the Packers missing out on 13 points in a matchup where Green Bay lost by eight.
Many Packers fans will remember Crosby’s 2012 season, where he converted on only 63.6% of his field goals, and call for him to be released. However, it’s important to remember Crosby’s clutch game-winning field goals in games like the 2016 NFC Divisional Round against Dallas and last year’s overtime victory against Cincinnati when assessing his value with Green Bay. With McCarthy being an extremely loyal coach, perhaps to a fault, and the fact that Crosby is in his 12th season with the team, his job is likely safe heading into next week’s meeting with the 49ers.