Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 30, Bengals 34 All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Aaron Rodgers vs. BengalsOverall, lots of bad but a couple of good things showed up in the Packers loss to the Bengals.  On one hand, we haven’t seen a game as messy as this one since maybe the 18 penalty, 2 turnover night against the Bears in 2010.  Aaron Rodgers looked a little lost amongst all the new faces making an appearance due to injuries and the Packers didn’t look as sharp as they normally did, though having to put a wide reciever/returner at running back is probably as desperate as I’ve ever seen the Packers get.  On the bright side, the Packers look like they may have another viable running back in Johnathan Franklin and the defense was for once the strength of the team.  In fact everything was flipped today; the running game was brutally effective while the passing game was wildly inconsistent and the defense was the reason the Packers stayed in the game while the offense basically blew a huge lead late in the game.

Game Balls

Johnathan Franklin: Give credit where credit is due; many fans had written Franklin off as dead after a dismal showing in the preseason and not seeing the field even in a blowout win against the Redskins last week.  Ironically, that paid big dividends as the Bengals were obviously caught with their pants down in coping with the shiftiness and wiggle of Franklin on stretch plays.  I also don’t really fault Franklin for the failed conversion, if it wasn’t for the fact that Kuhn, Starks, Harris and Lacy were all injured, Franklin would never have been called to make the play, he’s simply not that kind of back (you can fault him for fumbling the ball though).  Personally, I think teams now see what the Packers have in Franklin and I doubt the holes will be as open as they were against the Bengals, but what is perhaps more important is that Franklin does possess the physical capability to be a running back in the NFL, something that wasn’t certain coming into the season.  Franklin still has a ton of work to do on pass protection and running between the tackles, and I don’t see him really being a preferred option at running back this year, but will probably be a force to reckoned with next year when things start to click for him.

Sam Shields: Lining up against AJ Green is a tall task (har har), and surprising the 5’11” Shields held up well 6’4″ Green, essentially shutting him out of the first half with little safety help and even snagged an interception of his own.  Even on plays that Green made later in the game, Shields made Green fight for every catch, which can’t be said all the time for the Packers (see Anquan Boldin).  Shields has been by far the best cornerback on the team so far and is making a point to be one of those “guys” that Ted Thompson locks up mid-season (hopefully agent Drew Rosenhaus won’t get too much in the way).  In the future I’d expect to see Shields used much in the way Tramon Williams or Charles Woodson were used in their prime, i.e. pretty much by themselves and against the opponents best receiver, which will let Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House mix and match their assignments based on the opponent and formation.

Turnovers: The Packers defense is predicated on making the big play and they showed it this weekend by almost winning the game by themselves.  Clay Matthews and MD Jennings combined a strip sack and defensive touchdown, Sam Shields picked up a interception, Clay Matthews stripped another ball and Brad Jones joined the party with his own forced fumble leading to 4 turnovers by the Bengals.  More often than not that would have meant a win for the Packers except for the fact that the Packers had 4 turnovers of their own, leading to a messy game for everyone.  For as much malice as the Packers defense has been getting after letting Anquan Boldin run wild in the season opener and the “meltdown” during the 2nd half of the Redskins game (they were killing the clock by letting the Redskins rack up yards, get over it) the defense was definitely holding up the offense for this game.


Lame Calls

Jeremy Ross: Not much you can argue about here; Ross simply has not been very good as a returner in the last three games, with this fumble only accentuating the problem.  In terms of talent alone, Ross still might be the best returner on the Packers roster, he the size that Randal Cobb doesn’t and the speed that Johnathan Franklin or Micah Hyde don’t.  Unfortunately, he just can’t seem to get out of his own way when it comes to catching the ball; the Packers already have put back Cobb on some punting situations that pin the offense back in their own territory in order to mitigate the risk of Ross fumbling but there’s not much excuse for failing field the ball correctly on kickoffs.  On a more optimistic note, I think fans don’t remember that Randall Cobb had his own share of fumbles as a rookie on returns (he has 7 career fumbles on punt and kickoff returns), so it’s not like it’s an uncorrectable issue, the only question is if the Packers are willing to stick with Ross until he gets his better.

Editor’s Note: About 5 minutes after this was published, Mike McCarthy stated in his press conference that the Packers cut Ross today. 

Aaron Rodgers: You’re not going to see him here often, but this time he really deserves to be here as this was one of the worst games in his otherwise stellar career.  Rodgers almost always plays at above a 100 QB rating, and to see Rodgers post a 64.5 QB rating with 244 passing yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions is actually a little baffling.  There were definitely times where Rodgers seemed like his normal self, dissecting defenses and making the right reads and on other occasions, most notably on Randall Cobb pass that resulted in an interception, Rodgers looked decidedly unfocused.  Overall, Rodgers never really got in a rhythm and never looked fully in control of the game; I don’t think I’ve seen so many exacerbated looks from the Packers quarterback in a long time, Rodgers prides himself on his intelligence and preparation and I think he knows he made some questionable decisions on the field.

Offensive consistency: The offense simply looked out of whack the entire game; I have a feeling that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t completely trust Johnathan Franklin and Andrew Quarless like he does John Kuhn and Jermichael Finley and it definitely looked like he was hesitant to get them involved while putting added pressure on himself to make bigger plays than what the defense was giving them.  One instance that particularly stands out is when Rodgers was running the bootleg with Jeremy Ross, and instead of throwing it to Ross and letting him fight for the touchdown, he instead decided to scramble and dive for the pylon, which ultimately didn’t work and put a big hit on his body.  I’d wager if that were Finley, Cobb, Jones or Nelson in on that play, Rodgers would have thrown it without a second thought.  A lot of that has to do with injuries as Rodgers seems fine when throwing to one of his established guys.



Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


52 thoughts on “Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 30, Bengals 34

  1. Jeremy Ross could not catch the ball consistently and was a mediocre WR. He will not be missed, as he was a big part of both losses.

    1. I’m not sure he was a huge reason why the Packers lost against the 49ers this year, supposedly his blockers did a poor job.

      1. Yep. At least one of Ross’s “bad returns” against SF was the result of an utterly inexcusable lack of blocking in front of him. A SF defender ran right across the face of the “wedge” (no more that 1 yard in front of them!) and just drilled Ross at the 10 yard line.

  2. Trust John Kuhn?? Are you kidding? He doesn’t make the 4th and short either. Last time he tried, he fumbled.

    1. I was referring more to Kuhn in terms of pass protection and as a safety valve. I agree Kuhn isn’t much of a runner, especially when defenses see it coming.

  3. A case could be made for the defense collapsing in this game as well. Shields was easily beaten for a TD by AJ Green as was T Williams by a 3rd string TE in the endzone. That’s 14 points.

    Play calling by MM was AWFUL.

    AROD was not himself after taking some hard hits. He may have been suffering from a “minor” concussion.

    AROD showed little faith in the back-ups, as you pointed out. Where was Boykin?

    W/o Jennings, it looks like we need Finley on the field to have a passing game. As much as we all like Cobb, Jordy and Jones, they are very stoppable i.e., they can’t get open much of the time.

    TT needs to get a #1 WR in next draft. We need our own gamebreaker with speed, quickness and size.

    The surprise was the running game. Maybe we have turned the corner there.

    EDS is still AWFUL.

    Nick Perry looks to be a one dimensional player i.e., run stopper only. He should be on the field in base defense only. Another blown #1 pick.

    BJ Raji is a joke.

    AJ Hawk, who is usually terrible actually played OK Sunday. I think he fares better against tiny RBs.

    May be time for the Pack to lead with the run and complement with the pass. Never thought I’d say those words but w/o a #1 WR and w/o a good defense, that would make sense.

    Did I say MM’s play calling was AWFUL? MM is a man of average intelligence at best and it shows. AROD has superior intelligence. If AROD were allowed to call his own game I think fans would like what they see. Will never happen with MM’s ego. Going smash-mouth with an undersized rookie when we can’t go smashmouth with Kuhn and Lacy on the field sort of sez it all. Good play call for a different team with different personnel but not this team.

    1. Woah calm down, the Packers do not need a 1st round wide receiver, they have arguably a top 3 wide receiver core, Nelson has the ability to take off the top of a defense; AJ Green is considered one of the best and he was basically nullified all game by a Packers passing defense that’s at the bottom of the league.

      Also, play calling is the responsibility of both Rodgers and McCarthy, both were equally at fault for the last game. Also if you were to let Rodgers call the entire game, he’s going to give the ball to the running back maybe twice a game (he’s a QB after all).

      1. Packer WRs are #2 and #3 types. You saw that in spades yesterday. There were several occasions when 12 had time to throw and nobody was open. Greg Jennings was an undersized #1. Rogers deserves an AJ Green type to throw to.

        AROD reads the defense and calls the play, run or pass, based on the defense not on the fact that he is a QB that wants to throw the ball all the time. That’s nonsense and does not pay Rodgers his due.

        1. I would argue that the Packers have several #1 types, Kyle Williams is a #2 for SF, and I’d pick Jones, Nelson and Cobb over him any day.
          Aaron Rodgers does read defenses and calls plays, but how many times do you think he’s going to see a 50-50 run/pass defense and call a running play? How many times would you want him to call a run? He’s a quarterback and a good one at that, he’s going to want to throw the ball.

          1. AROD is not going to throw simply for ego’s sake. As with any QB, he reads the BOX and calls his checks as the situation dictates. i.e.: If they load an 8-man box on second and short with a run called, the Packers probably have automatics with hand signals for the wide-outs. Keep in mind though, that this is the first season in his career that the Packers seem to have any semblance of a running game. If the defense gives him a standard look on a run call, he’ll hand it off. They now just need the line to hold the point and not allow penetration in short yardage as they did on Franklin’s fumble. (For more on this subject, see 2004 playoff game at Philly: 4th and 1 foot in regulation! Make it and take a knee! Fourth and 26 should never have happened!!!)

    2. Archie,

      AROD looked out of sorts early in his first series. Rewatch the game if you can.

      I agree on running more and Hawk looked better. Raji is good. Nelson out played AJ Green. All three, Nelson, Jones, and Cobb could likely be a #1. Don’t buy it? check their stats.

      This team is good. The Coaching is good.

  4. Lame Call?

    Where’s the exposure of yet another of Mikey’s incredibly predictable, easily defensed, zero creativity wonders he comes up with on 4th and 1.

    If your going to run on 4th and 1, put in a jumbo or heavy package, Raji as the lead blocker, have all the outside blockers collapse aand have your 1200 lbs. move their 900 lbs. out of the way.

    1. There’s not much unpredictability on 4th and 1, everyone knows what’s going to happen. At that point in the game it’s simply whose better than the other guy.

      1. Not to mention that there would be even less “unpredictability” if MM stupidly decided to put in a bunch of slow fatties as lead blockers.

  5. Good to hear that the Packers cut Ross this should be a message to all offensive players about ball security. As for Rodgers off day(and he had a rare off day) it is at least partially due to poor O- line play. You can’t put the game in AR’s hands when his line does not give him a chance. The Packers run a rythym offense and the Bengals dhd a job of disrupting the rythym. Again the O-line is supposed to prevent that from happening. Sometimes you have to credit the other guys and the Bengal defense stayed in game even after falling 16 points behind. Ultimately they won the game for their team. I don’t like the early bye for the Packers, but right it looks pretty good. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. I’d argue that Rodgers have lived with a poor offensive line which doesn’t give him much of a chance to get a rhythm for the last 2 years and that hadn’t stopped him yet. So Rodgers’ had an off day, it’s not the end of the world.

      1. I agree. When Rodgers threw the back breaking pick in the 4th from the 27 yard line. It was not a hurried throw due to pressure. Just a little off and a great play by Leon Hall. It happens.

        He is still great. The team is still great.

        Rodgers takes a lot of hits because he holds the ball. It is how he can avoid throwing as many picks as other QBs. I hope he stays healthy, and that the line improves over the bye week.

        1. Was not a great play by Leon Hall. It was a very poor pass by AR. One I know once he threw it he knew the outcome. It happens. AR needs to pull the ball down and run a little more he had opportunities instead he throws downfield into tight coverage when 3-5 yds will get the 1st down with an easy run.

      2. Didn’t get to see the game…again!

        I was flying through Cincinnati after the game was over. We picked up several Packer fans after the game. One told me she’d never seen Rodgers look so bad. We had a lot of quiet Green Bay fans on the flight back to Chicago.

    2. Also, while clearly the line could have done much better, there were also numerous snaps where the line gave Rodgers superb protection and ample time, and he simply could not find an open man, through erratic passes (well, for Rodgers at any rate), or made some poor decisions.

      1. Since we don’t have the benefit of the full-field view (which the coaches have), we don’t know if Rodgers’ holding the ball was due to receivers not open or Rodgers missing open receivers. McGinn will tell us later.

        1. Actually, coaches film is now available if you purchase NFL rewind so you can see the same thing that the NFL teams will be reviewing, we’ve done play reviews and so forth on the blog using this option and it’s really useful if you’re interested about the specifics of a play.

          1. That’s a very biased opinion, even the best quarterbacks do not see 100% of the field, and often times QBs don’t see open receivers for a bunch of other issues
            1) he’s running a bootleg to the other side of the field
            2) he’s getting pressured and is scrambling
            3) it’s a designed pick or hot route play and the QB is throwing to one specific receiver based on the pre-snap read
            4) the wide receiver runs the incorrect route but gets open and the QB doesn’t know where he went
            5)the QB see’s the open receiver but chooses to go somewhere else for whatever reason.

            1. 6) a quarterback is at field level and cant look through people. we have the advantage of overhead views of the field.

  6. Sam Shields has become the Packers best CB over the last two years. He even is holding on after completions until help arrives. Only Hayward compares and unfortunately we haven’t seen him this year. It’s going to be real tough to keep Shields next year. We’re going to lose some real good players due to higher cap hits from CM3, Rodgers and Burnett and without the cap going up much. We’re going to have to restock the cubbard again through the draft an FA. Seems like it never ends.

    Was really bummed when Harris got hurt, but it appears Franklin could end up being the same type of change-of-pace back we need. Really impressed with his debut(we won’t mention the fumble). Since nothing good comes without a cost I’m expecting Franklin to be listed with a high-ankle sprain on this weeks injury report.

    1. They’d probably list him with an injury regardless just to throw off other teams, injury reports are almost useless at this point since almost everyone or almost no one is on the injury report at one time.

    2. Agreed, Shields must be re-signed. If that means letting BJ Raji and/or Jerk-michael go, so be it. And/or, maybe T Williams has to go to pay Shields. Look at the difference yesterday between Dunlap, Johnson and Atkins vs Raji. Raji is a bust and TT shouldn’t be in negotiations to pay him $10MM/yr. The guy is not a difference maker.

      1. I’d be willing to wager Tramon Williams gets asked to take a pay cut next year unless he ends up in the pro bowl or something like that; he’s on the wrong side of 30 at this point and the Packers MO is to ask players who have been steady but not spectacular (i.e Hawk) to take a paycut to stay with the team. I’d argue maybe Williams would actually do it after seeing the weak market for cornerbacks this offseason.

      2. I have a higher opinion of Raji, but the jury is still out on him. He is good, but not elite.

        I see Jolly as a player who brings a lot to the team. I think he improves the guys around him. I want him to stick around.

  7. Who we lose in FA, at the end of the season, will help dictate who is drafted, but, if all stood the same as it is now, a Stud Center and Safety are high on the list. More Olineman would help , all though the development of our 2 young tackles, and the status of Bulaga and Sherrard, will play a part in that decision. Another form of a pass rusher would help. But, with all the FAs the Pack has, we will have to fill more holes in the draft

  8. A Nick Collins type S is sorely needed as is more pass rush help. As we saw yesterday, CMIII is our pass rush unless we blitz DBs all game. Need to replace Hawk with an enforcer type. Francois would be an upgrade.

    Offensive side – WR and TE would seem to be top needs. W/o Jennings and w/o Finley, nobody gets open against tight man coverage behind a good 4 man rush.

    OL should be good with everybody coming back and surprising development of Barclay and Bahktiari. Maybe another prospect at C to compete with Tretter. EDS is not the answer and never will be.

    1. Trust me, if TT could find another Nick Collins safety somewhere he’d do it. We’ve heard rumors that losing Nick Collins really kills TT on a personal level and supposedly he hasn’t really gotten over it. As for center, keep your hopes up, but he’s not going to draft one, he’s going to stick with drafting tackles and converting them to guard; interestingly Barrett Jones has been inactive ever game so far, so I guess we were all off on him.

  9. It’s really disappointing to see a perfectionist QB not being able to pull off the win, with exactly the perfect situation.

    1. Packer WRs could not get open in this game, especially on 3rd down. That has been true for the last few years whenever a defense can pressure 12 with 4 or 5 DL and man cover underneath with a single high S. Romeo Crennel showed that to the world a couple of years ago when he employed it at lowly KC to give Pack first and only loss of regular season that year. There are three ways to combat: (1) get WRs like AJ Green; (2) get better OL; and/or (3) develop a dangerous run game. Pack has chosen to pursue option (3). I would pursue option (1) as well. I think they have been trying to build an OL for years now. Started with Land and Sitton, continued with Bulaga, Newhouse and Sherrod. This year it was Bakhtiari and Tretter. Barclay was a bonus. It looks like we have the horses at RB now and will have them at OL next year. The day EDS is replaced will be a day for celebration. But we need to give AROD the killer WR, capable of beating you with speed, quickness and/or size. Jerk-michael is to inconsistent to be that guy. Those guys are hard to come by – they are usually top 10 picks. Of course, TT has passed on a few in last few years e.g., Crabtree (for Raji), Dez Bryant (for Bulaga) and DT (Denver) (same draft for Bulaga).

      The challenge for TT is to keep improving Packer defense while finding our next #1 WR and #1TE. If he can accomplish this, AROD will do the rest and get us to the SB again. If not, rest of AROD’s career will be wasted.

      Paying big bucks to T Williams, BJ Raji, Jerk-michael, AJ Hawk etc. is not the way to get it down. Drafting guys like Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy isn’t either. So there is real question in my mind whether TT can put a championship team together. 2010 was just catching lightning in a bottle. Since then we have lost our leaders on defense: Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Dez Bishop, and Cullen Jenkins. Thank god we still have CMIII. On offense we have lost Scott Wells and Greg Jennings. So we are really trying to rebuild since SB win. You could easily argue none of those guys have been replaced yet by the guy that can take us to the next SB. Is Hayward is the next C Woodson? Is M Burnett the next N Collins? Is T Williams the next T Williams? Is Datone Jones the next C Jenkins? Is JC Tretter the next Scott Wells? Who is the next G Jennings? R Cobb? I really like Cobb but he is no G Jennings. Anyway, I look forward to watching the PAcker saga play out over the rest of AROD’s career just as I have enjoyed watching it play out since 1960.

      1. I fail to see your obsession with AJ Green type players.

        Receiving numbers so far:

        AJ Green: 19 rec, 249 yds, 13.1ypc, 3TD
        Randall Cobb: 21 rec, 290yds, 13.8ypc, 2TD
        Jordy Nelson: 18 rec, 289yds, 16.1ypc, 3TD
        James Jones: 15rec, 215yds, 14.1ypc, 1TD

        I’d argue that Nelson and Cobb have been better so far, but at worst you have to admit all three are comparable. You could argue that Green is better than James Jones, but keep in mind Jones is likely the #3/#4 receiving option for the Packers

        As for paying big bucks for Tramon Williams, BJ Raji, FInley and AJ Hawk, Hawk just took a paycut and isn’t that expensive, Raji is on the last year of his rookie contract and hasn’t been resigned so it’s only Williams, who likely will be asked to take a paycut next year and Finley, who probably has priced himself out of the Packers’ market (which I assume you’d be happy with) Every team has to rebuild, probably more so after a Super Bowl win when all the other teams look to steal from the winning team, look how ravaged the Ravens got this offseason.

        Also yes, “T Williams is the next T Williams” because he’s T Williams.

      2. NY Giants come to mind as a good example to overcome consequences of winning SB. They always blow the season after winning superbowl and always have major injury problems but they always find a way to over come that the following season or 2 by playing to their strength (Dline and Eli rising to the occasion). I think our Dline is also the best of what our defense have to offer this year and Rodgers need to step up. In the end though, it’s on the coach to get these guys to play at the highest level. MM needs to figure out how to maximize utilization of his $110 million weapon.

  10. Franklin had a good day but missed alot of opportunities with wide open holes outside . His vision needs to improve. Batted balls killed us because Rodgers was throwing too many short passes near the end of the game and Bengals DE’s are ridiculously tall. Why can’t we get 6’7″ guys to play on our Dline? Jones is the only one with decent height. Rodgers needed to take shots down the field at the end there. Play calling was bad. We did not play to our strength down the stretch. Tramon Williams has really lost ability to cover. Major liability on defense.

    1. TT prefers hippos to play DL in base defense e.g., Pickett, Raji, and Wilson/Jolly. Tall athletic DL are more suitable to 4-3 types defenses.

      Agree 100% re: T Williams being a major liability on defense. Between missed tackles and how he couldn’t stay with a 3rd string TE in the back of the endzone, it’s time to let House take over. Also agree 100% re: play calling, especially on 3rd down. Trying to find open WRs on the perimeter on 3rd down did not work all day but that is the only thing MM kept calling. Where were the screens and crossing patterns? Where was Brandon Bostick? Q and Taylor can’t carry the mail.

  11. Seems like Rodgers was intercepted on timing routes where he threw to a designated spot before the receiver gets there. Jones broke off his route because he got bumped. Should have fought through that and could have gotten PI called.
    Cobb route was bad route and Rodgers need to wait longer. I think he tried to get the ball out too fast to avoid sacks.

    1. I agree that Jones should not have let the cornerback get in front of him, but the Cobb interception was all Rodgers fault, the cornerback won the battle and Rodgers should have looked elsewhere.

  12. This team could rattle off 7-8 in a row, easily. I really wouldn’t be surprised if we’re 10-3 or 11-2 heading into lil d, with a little good fortune with injuries, I expect to be, this is a good football team.

    Not to make light, but didn’t Finley resemble a newborn Giraffe taking its first steps, after the hit?

    1. I’d definitely say the season is looking like its going to be easier going down the stretch, which is what all teams want but I think a lot has to do with how healthy they are late in the season. Hopefully they’ve gotten most of their injuries out of the way and stats will prevail and give them some injury free weeks later on.

  13. I want whatever this guy is smoking. We will toast weak defenses but we will continue to lose to teams with effective offenses and good defenses. Last I looked, we had quite a few such teams still on our schedule. Look no further than our own division.

    1. Minnesota has neither an effective offense or good defense, even with AD. The Lions have an effective offense, but a suspect defense and I bet at least one defensive player gets suspended this year (I’m guessing Suh). Chicago is probably the best of the bunch, but Chicago-Packers has always been on a whole different level so who knows how they play every year.

  14. When teams look at film to prepare for us the thing that pops out at them is that if they keep throwing it away from Sam Shields they can pick up first down anytime they want. The other DB’s have to not lose track of receivers by staring down the QB. We have to get more creative on short yardage because our Oline is so light. Bootleg, option, shuffle pass. Bunch formation. Our Online is not going to push anybody around.

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