The boss looked amazingly tired, like it was Week 15 of the season, not Week 4. Who knew calling plays could possibly be so taxing for Mike McCarthy?
Then there was quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Many of his responses to queries were barely audible. His eyes constantly glanced downward. If you didn’t know better, you’d have thought he was on the witness stand, not standing behind a podium.
These are your 3-1 Green Bay Packers.
“Don’t feel like it, does it?’’ McCarthy said.
Now that you mention it, no. The Packers again resembled nothing like the Super Bowl contender they’re alleged to be, barely escaping the indignity of losing to the Detroit Lions -- now owners of 23 straight road losses – 28-26 Sunday at Lambeau Field.
With a quarter of the season in the books, we have no idea if this team has been oversold or is still in the process of finding its identity.
Whatever the case, at this stage the eye-test clearly says that top to bottom, they look rather ordinary. While McCarthy and Rodgers had the luxury on Sunday of hiding behind mostly stock answers, their body language was of two men heading for an IRS audit.
The Packers lost this game everywhere but on the scoreboard. You can include coaching as well, as the Lions offense attacked the Packers underneath from the onset, and they could find no answers to stop them all afternoon.
The scoreboard is all that matters. But if the Packers continue to scuffle as they have been, you can be certain they won’t go 3-1 the next four weeks.
You could feel the frustration in the air in Sunday’s aftermath, and Rodgers at least hinted at what’s bugging him.
“Offensively, we’ve got to find our identity again,’’ he said. “I think we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got our best players on the field at all times and find ways to get them the ball.’’
If that sounds like an indictment of the head coach/offensive coordinator concerning the game plan, you’d certainly be in the ballpark, especially since Rodgers revisited his stance a second time when offered the opportunity, saying he didn’t think the Packers spread the Lions' defense out nearly enough to take advantage of mismatches.
The defense was supposed to be suspect and it still is after making Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill look like an All-Pro. The special teams were supposed to be a reason to wring your hands and, after two turnovers by returner Jordy Nelson, still are.
But the offense, this group was supposed to the backbone of the team, the one area in which, in case everything else failed, could be counted upon.
But Sunday they were outperformed by a Lions offense that couldn’t get out of its own way, committing seven penalties, throwing two picks – including one returned for a touchdown – and losing one fumble.
Despite those gaffes, the Lions rolled up 431 yards of offense to the Packers’ 261, were 10-of-17 on third down to the Packers’ 3-of-7, had a near-15-minute advantage in time of possession and ran 78 plays to the Packers’ 40 (12 of those which came on Green Bay’s final drive).
These were the Lions, mind you, a team that is certainly improved but has yet to win a game and was being led by a second-stringer. In the Packers’ world, if things were as they should be, those numbers would be flipped.
Both McCarthy and Rodgers were quizzed as to whether the Packers were simply lucky to get out with a win. Both defiantly said no, so they apparently didn’t see cornerback Charles Woodson climb all over Calvin’s Johnson back prior to the ball arriving on third-and-9 with 6:43 to play in the game.
They were incredibly lucky Woodson wasn’t flagged for pass interference.
Yet, despite the flood of failure the offense was able to perform when it mattered, moving from their 13 to the Lions’ 13 the final 6:32 of the game with a mixture of solid running and two completions by Rodgers.
“To finish the game right there,’’ McCarthy said, “I thought was a real statement for our offense.’’
Well, let’s not overdo it here, for it was the offense’s many malfunctions earlier that led them to this drive of desperation.
Five weeks ago, many of the Packers were seen sporting cowboy hats at a public function as a show of confidence that they, like many expert and random guessers, were headed to Dallas for the Super Bowl.
All we can be certain of today is this: It’s time to put those cowboy hats into storage.
Mike Woods writes for The Post-Crescent of Appleton