The Main Takeaway: Too Many GiveawaysPosted:Dec 18th, 2017 1:21 pm
Well, Aaron Rodgers told us he wasn't coming back to save the season. He didn't lie.
What a roller coaster ride we took on Sunday. From the first snap, when he fired a laser to Davante Adams, to three unexpected picks and three touchdown passes. The Packers defense forced two three and outs following two of the interceptions, but it was the second pick that was the most devastating. Not because the Panthers scored seven plays later, but because it caused the Davante Adams concussion on the brutal, illegal hit by Thomas Davis, removing the Pack's most talented, explosive receiver from the game.
That play ended Adams' day and put Geronimo Allison on the field, and while he caught five passes (for 33 yards), it was his fumble in the closing minutes, with the Pack poised to force a third straight overtime game, that for all intents and purposes, ended the Packers' season. Green Bay came in at plus seven and the Panthers at minus four in the give-take category, but Carolina flipped the script and the 4-0 margin in this game was too much to overcome.
You can argue that the four turnovers were the difference in this game, but Dom Capers' defense wasn't much better. It was almost as if they didn't expect Christian McCaffery and Greg Olsen to be featured. The Packers had no answer for either player all afternoon, as the duo consistently converted on third down and made one big play after another, combining for more than 250 yards of offense between them.
As we look ahead to next season, Packer fans will come down on one side or the other: either Ted Thompson hasn't brought in good enough players on that side of the ball, or Capers' scheme and game planning hasn't been anywhere near good enough. I take the latter option. I think there is enough defensive talent on the team to win--though additional re-enforcements at CB and OLB will be an offseason priority. Whether Capers returns will be a talker over the next couple of weeks. My guess is he will retire. In my opinion, that unit needs a new voice and a new vision.
As for Rodgers, the combination of rust and a very tough defense made for a difficult afternoon. Yet after all the turnovers, a handful of bad throws and miscommunication with receivers, the Pack was this close to forcing overtime and maybe pulling another rabbit out of its hat. It would have been nice to see a little more commitment to the running game, which showed life when Aaron Jones was given an opportunity (three carries, 47 yards). Yes, they were playing from behind for most of the day, but the Pack needed to give their backs more than 13 chances to carry the ball.
An Atlanta win on Monday night will officially end the Pack's playoff streak at eight and at that point the decision has to be made to start Brett Hundley on Saturday night. As much as I'd like to see Rodgers out there looking to take out the Vikings in prime time at Lambeau, the bigger picture is the return to 100% health for 2018. Aggravating the collarbone injury is the last thing he needs heading into the offseason, if the team has no shot at the playoffs. But should the Bucs upset the Falcons, we can expect to see Rodgers under center Saturday night.