Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin rushes into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Johnathan Franklin: Don’t blame the rookie for this Green Bay Packers loss

Green Bay Packers running back Johnathan Franklin scored a touchdown and ran for 100 yards today. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Much will be written over the next couple of weeks about the woulda, shoulda and couldas when it comes to the Green Bay Packers 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Much of that discussion will center around one play – the fourth and inches play where rookie running back Johnathan Franklin fumbled while diving over the pile – a play that resulted in the fumble being returned by the Bengals for what turned out to be the game-winning score.

We can all point our fingers at Franklin not securing the ball on the play, but we all know that wasn’t the game-turning play that made all the difference.

Yes, it came at crunch time and at a time when the momentum was clearly in Cincinnati’s corner. Yes, Franklin was the one who fumbled the ball away, but lay off the guy. The game wasn’t decided on this play alone and there was plenty of blame to go around in this one. If ever there was one, this was a team loss.

Dropped passes, penalties, interceptions, and the inability to score points when the opportunity presented itself were all involved in today’s loss.

Franklin, who came into the game at the start of the second half, did something only one other player has done in the past 45 games – rush for 100 yards or more.

The rookie was playing because starting running back James Starks went down with a leg injury at the end of the first half.

All Franklin did was rush 13 times for 103 yards, catch three passes for 23 yards and score a touchdown. Maybe Coach Mike McCarthy gave him the ball on that fourth down to try to give him the confidence rookies need. It didn’t turn out that way.

But we’ve got to be pleased with what we’ve seen from the rookie. He had a poor preseason and nobody really knew what he might do if he was thrown into the lineup with the starters.

Today we found out and we also found another back who will only add depth to the team as the season rolls on.

So, if you’re pointing fingers at Franklin, you might reconsider. This was his coming out party and we should be happy with what we saw.

When the Packers get Eddie Lacy back and add in John Kuhn as the fullback, the Packers will be OK for some time to come in the offensive backfield.

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  • Loren Baldwin

    I blame McCarthy for running a dive play on 4th and 1/2 yard. There is absolutely no deception in the GB play calling. You pretty much know what the Packers call on any situation. How about blaming the so called strength coach who supposedly gets players in game shape. I’ve never seen so many hamstring injuries on one team in my life! How about not calling unsportsmanlike penalty on the Bengals player who went after Rodgers’ knees. There is a lot of blame to go around in this horrendous loss! This Packer team will not make it to the playoffs the way they’re playing now. One good thing from today is at least the Vikings are winless!

    • Mike King

      I agree it is time that MM and TT be called on the carpet about all the hamstring injuries. Either we are drafting the wrong people or we have a strength/conditioning/medical management issue.

      Ross cannot be a return guy any longer and needs to be cut from the team. He is a turnover waiting to happen and there is no upside with him. It is not like he gets the ball to the 30, 40 or midfield ever. As for coaching aspect of that, he never should be more than 2 yards deep in the end zone to start with. Anything over his head should never be returned. There is no upside.

      AR had a bad game. I mean a really bad game. It was due to happen some time.

      Shocking Starks is hurt again. Typical.

      Horrible call on 4th 1/2 with Franklin in there. If anything, do a quick pitch and let him use his speed. Or better yet, fake the dive and let AR roll out and run or throw for it.

      How was it not a personal foul for hitting Finley in the head as a defenseless receiver? I mean they call that stupid foul on Perry, but not the one on Finley? That is 2 weeks in a row we lose a key offensive guy to concussion with blows to the head and neither receive a penalty. I thought the NFL was cracking down on this? Or is just every other team?

      A Bengals player punches one of our players in the nuts and we get a 15 yard penalty. I get they did not see it, but how about some communication about it from upstairs. Shortly there after they called that cheap foul on Perry. Officials did not cost us this game, but it is time they get called on the carpet publicly.

      We are going to be ok this year and will be a force come playoff time. However there is things we can do in house and make issues with the NFL to crack down on this. Part of that has to be done by MM and I am tired of him taking the high road. We cannot have guys getting hit in the head and punched in the nuts with the HC acting like it is no big deal.

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  • Taryn Miller

    “Maybe Coach Mike McCarthy gave him the ball on that fourth down to try to give him the confidence rookies need. It didn’t turn out that way”.

    Fumbling the ball is always the carriers fault and in this case is all on Franklin and would appear his ‘confidence’ level may have been his undoing….absolutely no ball protection from the start of the play.

    If a FG attempt was out of realm of thinking based on lack of confidence in Crosby,then making a team go as far as possible is in order and perhaps a pooch kick from Masthay would have been a better option as confidence in him is always high.The defense would have had to rise up to a better level than had been seen the last couple of possessions of Cincy.

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