The Green Bay Packers dropped to 1-1 after losing their week two match-up against divisional foes, the Minnesota Vikings 17-14.
Offensively, the Packers looked stagnant and couldn’t produce drives. Defensively, they continue to struggle in the secondary and had no answer for Stefon Diggs (9 rec, 182 yds, 1 td).
Is it time to panic in Packers News? WDUZ radio host in Green Bay, Marques Eversoll, has all the answers.
Check out what he has to say on the next page …
Q. What would you attribute the Packers’ offensive struggles to?
Eversoll: The Vikings are really good defensively, so there’s that.
Mike Zimmer has given Aaron Rodgers plenty of problems over the years, and Sunday night was no different. From the scheme to the personnel, the current Vikings team is simply a tough matchup for the Packers.
That being said, it wasn’t all about the Vikings. Rodgers missed some easy throws, fumbled three times, and never looked comfortable.
I expected the Vikings to win an “ugly” game, but it was even uglier than expected for the Packers’ offense. I’m puzzled by their reluctance to just roll with Eddie Lacy, and let him try to get into a groove.
Q. Aaron Rodgers‘ streak of games without a 100-pass rating has reached 14, including playoffs. Him and the WR core seem to be out of sync, what does Rodgers need to do better?
Eversoll: Frankly, it doesn’t look a whole lot different than 2015 right now for the Packers, offensively.
Rodgers’ footwork is second to none at the quarterback position, so when a play breaks down, he’s as good as anybody; however, sometimes I wonder if he’s almost gotten too comfortable with that part of his game. When he’s in the pocket, it seems like he’s less patient to let the routes develop, so he escapes the pocket and the play turns into a scramble drill.
I can think of one third down play in particular, where Trevor Davis ran free across the middle, but Rodgers opted to scramble, and was sacked.
Q. How would you evaluate Mike McCarthy’s play calling?
Eversoll: McCarthy is no different than the rest of the offense (and team) right now. The Packers are searching.
It’s hard for fans to know exactly what the Packers are, if the Packers don’t know exactly what they are. To me, the biggest question I have in regards to McCarthy’s play-calling centers on Lacy and the ground game.
I’ve never been an NFL running back before – this just in – but I imagine it’s hard to get in any type of rhythm if I’m standing on the sideline half the time the offense is on the field.
Lacy was one of the better running backs in the league his first two years. Last year, he had a rollercoaster season. The coach called him out, Lacy went to work in the offseason, and now he’s getting 12 carries in a divisional game on the road? Color me puzzled.
I know we heard a lot of bad jokes about Lacy’s weight in the offseason, but let me be very clear: Feed. Eddie. Lacy.
Q. Defensively, Damarious Randall could not cover Stefon Diggs. What adjustments should have been made to try and contain Diggs?
Eversoll: Damarious Randall just has to play better.
The Packers are going to play their scheme, and they trust their corners to cover guys like Diggs.
That being said, the deep ball to Diggs was a gorgeous throw from Bradford and a heck of a catch by Diggs. We’ve seen plenty of this from the Packers over the years; there’s no defense for a perfect pass. I like Randall as a player, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him get beat.
He’s got great ball skills, and he’s a versatile player, but he was toasted by Amari Cooper last season, and Sunday night’s showing against Stefon Diggs didn’t look a whole lot different.
Q. Joe Thomas was very effective recording five tackles against the Vikings. Discuss his development & impact on the defense?
Eversoll: In Wisconsin, when you mention the name “Joe Thomas,” most people think of the former University of Wisconsin offensive tackle who has carved out a potential Hall of Fame career with the Cleveland Browns.
But the Packers linebacker is doing his best to get noticed. He was a stud in Jacksonville to kick off the season, and you noticed No. 48 time and time again Sunday night in Minnesota.
He’s clearly the most fluid athlete amongst the Packers’ inside linebackers.
He’s a perfect fit as the inside guy on passing downs. We’re rolling through the list of the Packers’ inefficiencies, and inside linebacker is not at the top of the list. What world are we living in?
Q. Despite the loss, what are some positives from Sunday night’s game?
Eversoll: Mike Daniels reminded us why the Packers gave him that big contract. He had an entire game’s worth of impact plays in the first quarter, as No. 76 seemingly lived in the Minnesota backfield.
Jake Ryan made a nice play in pass coverage, which is something we haven’t seen much of. And somewhat quietly, wide receiver Jordy Nelson looked like he took a step.
Rodgers looks his way more often, and he came up with a crucial 50-50 ball late in the game. We need to give Nelson a couple more games before we make a decision as to whether or not he’s lost a step.
If anything, I think Nelson took a step Sunday night.
Q. Moving forward, where do the Packers need to improve the most if they want to make a deep run?
Eversoll: They need to find their identity, and put their stamp on the game. I realize that’s probably the most cliché football thing ever, but it’s true.
When the Packers were lighting up the scoreboard and breaking records, the offense established its tempo from the opening kickoff.
Rodgers got the team to the line of scrimmage quickly, and the Packers simply let their weapons beat other teams’ cover men.
Right now, the Packers don’t know if they can play that way. Nelson is still working his way back, and seeing as the Packers often have Lacy on the sideline,
I’m of the impression that the team remains concerned (cautious?) about his conditioning. It’s a long season, and the game in Minnesota was probably the toughest matchup on the entire schedule, so there’s no reason to panic.
But the Packers need to figure out who they are. In the words of Mike McCarthy, it’s all about the “self-scout.”