Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ 16-0 loss Saturday night to Minnesota:
This claim (as reported by ESPN.com) that the Packers should have to release Aaron Rodgers when he’s healthy because they violated injured-reserve rules when they sat him for the rest of the season is a crock. I’d call it a Hail Mary, but a Hail Mary has a much better chance of succeeding. This is just complaining for the sake of complaining. According to the report, IR rules mandate that if a player goes on IR he has to be medically unable to play for at least six weeks, and if he’s healthy before six weeks then the team has to release him when he’s cleared. That might be the letter of the law, but teams at the end of the season routinely put guys on IR whose injuries will make them miss the rest of the season but wouldn’t sideline them for six weeks. As former Packers front-office executive Andrew Brandt tweeted, “Good luck with that. Players with hang nails are put on IR this time of year.” The league already has signed off on Rodgers going on IR, so it’s a done deal. I guarantee you every team that called the league office to complain – the ESPN report said only that it was multiple teams – has done something similar in the last few years. This is a big nothing.
Kenny Clark has been a first-rate run defender all season, and lately he has become an effective inside pass rusher, too. The defensive tackle probably was the Packers’ best player Saturday night and had his best pass-rushing game to date with two sacks and five tackles. He also had two tackles for a loss. Just three weeks ago the second-year pro got the first sack of his career, and now he has 4 ½.
Brett Hundley had a rough game (30.2 rating) and both his interceptions were bad reads that were fully on him. But he also didn’t get much help from his receiving corps on a cold night when the temperature at kickoff was 10 degrees. Without having a chance to watch the game replay, it looked like the Packers dropped six passes. Tight end Lance Kendricks had two, both on third downs. Rookie receiver Michael Clark, getting his first playing time in an NFL game, also had two on back-shoulder throws, one on a fourth down and one in the end zone late in the game. Jordy Nelson had one drop on a slant, and Geronimo Allison had the other. Also, Hundley overshot several deep balls for incompletions, but on one Trevor Davis looked like he might have at least had a shot at the ball if he laid out for it. He instead ran through and didn’t get a hand on the ball.
The Packers’ defense can thank the home chain crew for helping it get one third-down stop. With just under a minute to go in the first half, the Vikings completed a short pass that left them probably a little less than a yard short of a first down. But the chain crew on the Vikings’ side of the field thought the play was a first down and moved the markers for a new set of downs. So the Vikings thought it was a first down and called a play accordingly. Case Keenum overthrew receiver Laquon Treadwell on about a 10-yard out pattern. That left the Vikings with fourth down. The Vikings’ sideline went ballistic, and rightfully so. But there aren’t do overs in the NFL, and the officials had ruled the play was a third down, so fourth down it was. The Vikings punted.