Everyone is going to want to blame the defense today.
And, yeah, it sounds about right.
The defense allowed a 2-8 team to waltz into Lambeau Field and get pushed around by Adrian Peterson who hasn’t been 100 percent for quite some time. Most people can swallow giving up 146 yards on the ground to a future Hall of Famer like Peterson.
But Toby Gerhart’s 91 rushing yards was more of a surprise than finding a 50-dollar bill in the couch cushions.
Yet, despite all that, I’m not blaming the loss, err tie on the defense.
Nope, this coulda-been is on the offense.
Most specifically, the very first overtime drive. Freshly inserted Matt Flynn — whom coach Mike McCarthy admitted he was looking for a spark — led the Packers down the field within scoring distance in eight plays.
The Packers had the ball 1st and goal from the Minnesota 7 and the only thing that was gained from such a great drive was a 20-yard field goal that Mason Crosby could’ve made with his eyes closed.
The play-calling didn’t help either. I didn’t like Eddie Lacy off right tackle on 2nd down and goal from the 3. Lacy got swallowed up for a one-yard gain, which set up the obvious pass on third down.
That of course coupled with the horrific 3-for-16 third down conversion rate and this offense would have had trouble finding water while falling out of a boat. The measure of good offenses down to the game level is how well they move the sticks. As long the chain gang keeps running to set up first downs, the rest will take care of itself.
I realize that it hasn’t exactly been easy for this offense without pass catchers like Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, but the Vikings secondary isn’t scary. That unit has been gutted with injuries this year and McCarthy was too concerned about not losing as opposed to grabbing a much-needed win.
Now we cannot compare any of the last three quarterbacks that have been inserted since Aaron Rodgers went down. But then again, those are the guys entrusted to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. This isn’t the Green Bay Southwest High School JV team where a quarterback is expected to throw at most six passes a game.
The fact that Lacy was able to barrel his way into the Vikings defense is remarkable. They knew he was going to get a lion’s share of the carries and he still tallied 110 rushing yards with a nice 4.4 yards per carry.
The Packers defense looked dreadful. There were tackling issues, assignment problems and an assortment of communication breakdowns.
But Morgan Burnett shouldn’t be criticized for not crossing the goal line when the offense was only seven yards away. If the offense can just go seven yards, the game is over and the Packers are sitting on top of the NFC North instead of a ½ game behind — thanks to early season Christmas gifts from Detroit and Chicago.
But all isn’t lost. The Packers can still win the NFC North — which is the only they’re getting in the playoffs by the way — and it has to start with a win at Detroit on Thanksgiving.
However, in order for that to happen the Packers cannot completely lean on its defense. They don’t have the horses on that side of the ball that Carolina, Seattle and San Francisco does.
The Packers have to score, plain and simple. Expect McCarthy to open up the playbook for Flynn. Just don’t expect a lot of deep balls because of his elbow tendonitis.
Going deep isn’t a necessity. But thinking outside the box from a play-calling standpoint is. Rodgers covered up so many things that sometimes a great throw by him glossed over a bad play call by McCarthy.
Green Bay must keep attacking on offense. Because without Rodgers, the Packers look about as predictable as turn signal.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn