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Mike Woods column: Suddenly ordinary offense has Packers winning ugly

Sep. 13, 2012
 
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sacked by Henry Melton as Bryan Bulaga, right, watches during Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is sacked by Henry Melton as Bryan Bulaga, right, watches during Thursday night's game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. H. Marc Larson/Press-Gazette

The Green Bay Packers didnít fall into a sink hole, which was the most pleasing reality on Thursday.

But their 23-10 victory Thursday over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau was nowhere near a Picasso. It was more along the lines of the lesser of two evils and, with special thanks to Jay Cutler, the Bears were the uglier group.

Unlike last week, when positives were harder to find than gold, the Packers found an all-important one in the performances of a defense that had been MIA for months.

Which leaves us with the offense, which continued to sputter, which leads to worry and wonder and wringing of hands.

This was the unit that was expected to do the heavy lifting ó again ó this season.

But through two games, the offense has had as much rhythm as a sixth-grade band.

It has lacked the ability to come up with the big play. Its running game has run hot and cold. It canít pick up a third-and-one by land, air or sea.

You can trace some of the troubles to bad execution, some because opposing defenses seem to be catching up. If you want to blame the bumbling substitute zebras for taking too long to place the ball down, thus slowing the effectiveness of the no-huddle offense, go ahead if it makes you feel better.

But itís not the reason.

The main culprit, through his own fault, has been quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Last season he was so exceptional he was named the NFLís MVP. The natural inclination was to believe that, at age 28, he would be at the height of his powers and while his numbers may not improve, they would be nearly as good.

But Rodgers has been just good to very good. Not exceptional to otherwordly, to which we are now accustomed.

The accuracy hasnít been as good. The tendency to hold the ball a bit too long and taking a sack has re-emerged.

Rodgers finished 22-of-32 Thursday for 219 yards, one TD, one pick, a rating of 85.3 and was sacked five times. On third down, the Packers were just four-of-14.

Those are numbers nobody is pleased with, especially Rodgers.

He was only the second-best passer on the field in the first half, supplanted by punter Tim Masthay who, ah, threw a 27-yard pass to tight end Tom Crabtree on a stunning fake field goal play on fourth-and-26. That was the one and only Packersí offensive highlight.

At the same time, Rodgers is not getting the help he needs from his teammates.

Jermichael Finely continues his enigmatic ways, and his inconsistency continues to stymie the offense. Itís not just the dropped passes, of which he had another Thursday, but his complete whiff on a block on a wide receiver screen led to negative yards.

For the second straight week Jordy Nelson could have, but didnít, made a tough catch. This one would have led to a touchdown in the first quarter.

The offensive line continues to struggle with providing Rodgers enough time, and the Packers are fortunate disaster hasnít befallen their meal ticket.

The offense this year could be defined by one good play, two good plays, one dropped pass, one penalty, another missed third-and-one.

The only player to earn a helmet sticker was running back Cedric Benson, who ran it 20 times for a respectable 81 yards. But that was it.

This offense wasnít operating at full throttle during the preseason, but that was easily dismissed. But now that it continues to operate at less than peak efficiency, at a time when it needs to be, you wonder whatís up?

Itís a tough one to figure out. But the easy fix, it would seem, is for everyone to be just a little more accountable and play just a little bit better.

For the Packers offense, hopefully that is not a case of easier said than done.

Mike Woods: 920-993-1000, ext. 232; or mwoods@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @PCMikeW

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