Where even to start?
I’m thinking defense, because that’s what has me most bothered after watching the debacle at Lambeau. There are no excuses for Dom Capers and his staff after this one. With a mostly healthy unit and 15 days to prepare for a Lions offense that’s as one dimensional as any in the league, the Packers played as if they had ten men on the field most of the night.
As has been the case all season, the pass rush was a rumor, allowing Matthew Stafford to pick apart the secondary at will. Forced to blitz more than they would like, the defense barely hit Stafford all night–the only sack coming on an ill-conceived flea flicker play call. The lack of production from Matthews and Perry would be the overriding story of the ’17 season, if not for Rodgers’ injury. I mean, the Lions were down to their third left tackle and the Pack still couldn’t get to Stafford.
The Pack’s night could be crystalized in a five minute span, when new long snapper Derek Hart bounced a snap that caused a missed field goal, following the Pack’s impressive opening drive. Three plays later, the defense forced a three and out, but bailed out the Lions when Mike Daniels made good on his threat of ‘delivering some blows’ and head butted an offensive lineman for no reason. That gave the drive new life and Stafford made Daniels pay with a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones.
There is plenty of talent on this defense; it’s not elite by any stretch, but Capers and his staff looks overmatched. If it doesn’t improve, I’d be surprised to see him back in 2018.
Now, on to the offense. I admit, I expected Brett Hundley to be much more productive than he’s been in his first two starts. With a healthy offensive line (at least, to start the game) and two weeks to prepare, I thought we’d see the Packers take advantage of an average defense and move the ball consistently through the air. And while the Lions are decent against the run, I figured Aaron Jones would continue to impress, making Hundley’s job easier. None of that happened.
Most of Hundley’s passes in the first half were within five yards of the line of scrimmage, channeling Sam Bradford in 2016. I don’t want to rip the kid too much, but his first two starts don’t provide a lot of confidence that the offense will find its stride and make up for a struggling defense.
After two straight losses at home, the reality is that this team doesn’t look equipped to hang around in the NFC North race until Rodgers is deemed healthy enough to return. Bryan Bulaga’s apparently serious knee injury won’t help matters either.
Barring a surprising turn of events, it appears the Pack’s streak of eight straight playoff appearances will end. Sure, the Pack could surprise and beat a hungry Bears team that smells blood. But heading on the road on a short week after this flat performance doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
It was about one year ago that I wrote an obituary for the Packers season, following embarrassing losses to the Colts and Titans. There will be no such eulegy this time around. It appears the Pack’s season was buried three weeks ago, into the turf at US Bank Stadium.