Green Bay failed miserably in its effort to get the better of a quality NFC opponent as devout Packers’ supporters witnessed their team getting dominated in just about every aspect in a demoralizing 30-16 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys that offered little to nothing in the way of positives that the organization can build upon.
A common theme so far in the 2016 season has been the poor play of a depleted secondary that has left the Packers vulnerable against some of the top receiving weapons they’ve faced in the early going, but another issue that is becoming painfully more difficult to come to terms with is an utter lack of sharpness and consistency in the offense.
Much of this falls on the shoulders of Mike McCarthy, who is the architect of a flawed passing game in which receivers are repeatedly failing to win their individual matchups and not getting open for a quarterback that has lost his touch—more on him later.
But another alarming development in yesterday’s collapse was that for the first time this year, the Packers’ vaunted front seven was thoroughly outclassed by an impenetrable Cowboys’ offensive line that ran the ball at will into the teeth of the opposition and also shut down any semblance of a pass rush outside of one play in the first half.
However, the green and gold brigade have very little time to reflect on their shortcomings versus a superior Dallas squad with the division-rival Chicago Bears coming to town in a quick turnaround meeting on Thursday night.
Here’s this week’s list of individuals that brought their best to the table in Week 6 along with those who totally fell on their faces. Let’s dig in.
Whose Stock Is Up
Eddie Lacy: Big Eddie was rolling on the first drive that saw him gallop for 25 yards and jump over safety Byron Jones to help set up his team for a 37-yard field goal. He ran hard and ran smart by continually attacking the open cutback lanes. But Lacy’s ankle prevented him from carrying a rudderless offense any further than he did as he went above and beyond what could reasonably be expected of him by carrying the ball 17 times for 65 yards.
Ty Montgomery: The second-year receiver made the most of his opportunities in light of the lack of depth at running back and departure of Davante Adams, who exited the contest following his devastating collision with linebacker Sean Lee.
Montgomery quickly became the most effective weapon in the passing game by continually catching passes on underneath routes and churning out yards after the catch. He was at his best on a nine-yard hook-up where he turned back and scooped up a low delivery right before it hit the ground in the process of converting a 3rd-and-3 play in the second quarter.
On the day, the Stanford product was highly efficient by securing 10 of 12 passes for 98 yards. Look for Montgomery to continue lining up in the backfield Thursday night. His fourth-quarter fumble on a running play was the only blemish on a great performance.
Mason Crosby: The 32-year-old place kicker has been automatic thus far by successfully converting every one of his field goal and extra-point attempts on the season. Crosby made field goals of 34, 37 and 43 yards versus the Cowboys and he’ll probably be counted on more than he should going forward given the state of Green Bay’s floundering offense.
Julius Peppers: After being invisible the week before, the elder statesman of the Packers’ defense made his mark at the end of the first quarter by using his length to get past right tackle Doug Free and forcing Dak Prescott to fumble the ball at the Green Bay 20 yard line. Peppers wasn’t perfect as he was later seen failing to set the edge on a Lucky Whitehead 26-yard end-around, but it was reassuring to see No. 56 use his power and considerable reach to make an impact.
Joe Thomas: The inside linebacker’s stock has been on a steady climb from the start of the regular season due to his ability to find the ball and quickly close in on ball carriers. Week 6 was no different. Thomas alertly collected the aforementioned Prescott fumble along with also putting himself in position to prevent Jason Witten from advancing the ball on a 3rd-and-9 reception in the first quarter that forced Dallas to punt.
Whose Stock Is Down
Aaron Rodgers: How many more times are we going to see Rodgers wait in the pocket, spin around, run to the outside and still be unable to find an open man on pass plays? There were moments in the game where the announcing crew credited the offensive line for the time they afforded their quarterback in the pocket.
But you have to wonder if part of that was happening by design with more and more teams rushing only three or four passers in the hopes of keeping the two-time MVP in the pocket where he’s lacked sharpness. No. 12’s field vision has suffered in recent times as evidenced by his third-quarter interception in which he failed to detect the presence of an undercutting Barry Church on a pass intended for Randall Cobb. Moreover, Rodgers has seemingly lost the ability to be consistently accurate.
He missed both Cobb and Jordy Nelson on plays where both had enough separation to easily come down with receptions. The quarterback’s early fourth-quarter misfire where he badly overthrew a wide-open Cobb in the end zone was especially egregious and costly considering the Packers had to settle for a field goal in a spot where they could have reduced the Dallas lead to one score.
On the bright side, Rodgers still does flash moments of brilliance that we witnessed on a perfectly-placed 25-yard sideline throw to Nelson in between two defenders in the fourth quarter. In addition, the 12th-year pro hasn’t lost a step in his ability to escape the rush. There’s reason to believe that Rodgers can bounce back from his struggles through film work and keeping an open mind on areas of his game that he needs to sharpen. His road to redemption begins in three days.
Richard Rodgers: For the second consecutive week, Rogers failed to reel in yet another catchable ball that hit him in the hands on a 1st-and-10 play in the second quarter. Not only will his targets lessen if this trend continues, but maybe we just may see more Justin Perillo get involved in the offense. In any case, Jared Cook can’t get back in uniform soon enough.
Letroy Guion: The only Packers’ front-line defender who occasionally beat his man was Mike Daniels, who received no help from any of his fellow down linemen, including Guion. The Florida native couldn’t get off his blocks at any point, such as a quick swing pass to Elliot on the third play of the game where Guion was manhandled by center Travis Frederick. The rookie running back steamrolled his way to 157 rushing yards, many of which came between the tackles.
Clay Matthews: Outside of an offsides call on the second play of the game, Matthews was nowhere to be found. Tyron Smith and company had their way with the 30-year-old defender who was credited with two tackles, but never once generated pressure or came close to making the types of plays that typically whip his teammates up into a frenzy. He was uncharacteristically anonymous.
Jake Ryan: A missed tackle on a 2nd-and-8 pass play early in the third quarter and a weak effort to bring down Elliott on a 12-yard gain in the fourth quarter were two examples of how poorly Ryan played. Better tackling form is expected out of a linebacker whose strong suit is defending the run.
Ladarius Gunter: The young corner was helpless on several plays where he was matched up against Dallas receivers on the outside. Take, for instance, a 35-yard completion from Prescott to Whitehead 35 yards in which Gunter couldn’t pick up the speedy pass catcher who went in motion and lined up in the backfield before running a deep out. Gunter was caught flat footed against that kind of explosiveness.
The befuddled defensive back was also responsible for allowing Cole Beasley to catch a late touchdown to put Dallas up 27-9. On the play, the slot receiver ran to a spot, stopped and then broke outside to catch the Prescott pass. Gunter stopped with the deceptive Beasley and never recovered.
The one-time Miami Hurricane should focus more on playing his man instead of peeking into the backfield and losing sight of what’s happening in his immediate area. He was never supposed to be the team’s No. 1 cornerback, but an incredible slew of injuries has made it necessary for Gunter to polish up his technique or risk having his hat handed to him every week.