5 biggest takeaways from the Packers' 17-13 loss to the Bears
So, apparently Green Bay's bounce-back game in Minnesota was nothing more than an aberration in an otherwise abysmal month of football for the Packers.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Packers' 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears:
1. Receivers dropping passes, not finishing routes
In the past three games, Davante Adams has been targeted 35 times by Aaron Rodgers. Adams has only 15 receptions and 129 yards to show for it.
The Thanksgiving night loss was the worst performance of Adams' recent stretch, catching two passes in 11 tries. He also dropped at least three balls (depending on the difficulty of grading drops) and cut short a route that led to a Rodgers interception.
Adams was exposed in the loss to Detroit that when he gets roughed up by opposing cornerbacks, he gets flustered. Again in this game, he was begging the officials for penalty flags to be thrown. That could lead – or possibly has already led – to Adams gaining a reputation as a receiver who can't deal well with contact. Defenses will treat him accordingly, and it's possible that officials could, too.
Adams wasn't alone in his struggles. One game after being a key figure in Green Bay's Week 11 victory, James Jones didn't show up. He had a chance for a game-winning touchdown and didn't come up with it. In the first 59 minutes of the game, he barely even open enough for Rodgers to throw his way.
2. Rodgers' prolonged slump
Everything is relative. Rodgers has created expectations for himself that few NFL quarterbacks (past or present) could continue living up to. He's a two-time league Most Valuable Player and already considered a lock to be a Hall of Famer, despite still being in the prime of his career. Two months ago, he was considered the Michael Jordan of football.
Looking exclusively at Rodgers' always-great touchdown-to-interception ratio, one might say that he isn't playing poorly at all. After all, nine touchdown passes and two interceptions during the Packers' 1-4 record in November paints a picture that little blame should lie with him.
But consider the rest of the evidence. Rodgers had a 77-yard passing performance in the loss at Denver. He completed just 52 percent of his passes in Carolina, and most of the positive production came during Green Bay's fourth-quarter frenetic attempted comeback. Rodgers threw the ball 61 times (by far a new career-high for him) in the loss to Detroit, averaging a lowly 5.5 yards per pass attempt in the process. Even in the Packers' win in Minnesota, Rodgers completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. It was only the third time in his career that Green Bay won a game in which Rodgers was below 50 percent passing.
In losing to Chicago, Rodgers was one incompletion away from once again completing just 50 percent of his passes (he finished 22 of 43 in the game). Plus, Rodgers had just 202 total yards passing and managed only 4.7 yards per pass attempt.
Without Jordy Nelson this season, Rodgers just hasn't been the same. There is enough evidence at this point to strongly support the claim that Nelson has been crucial to Rodgers' past success.
3. Fumble aside, Lacy's resurgence continues
Eddie Lacy found himself benched in this game for what head coach Mike McCarthy deemed an inexcusable fumble. Lacy didn't have the ball tucked away, allowing a defender to hit him from behind and jar it loose. It turned into the Bears' first touchdown of the game.
That play aside, though, Lacy's past two games have looked every bit like the Lacy of 2013 and 2014, the running back who earned the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and who entered the conversation as a top-five running back league-wide last season.
Lacy had 17 carries for 105 yards (6.2 average) and a touchdown in this game, a great follow-up performance after his 100-yard output in Minnesota. He's running over and around would-be tacklers.
The confusing aspect of it is why the Packers ran the ball only 24 times against Chicago, especially considering that Lacy and Starks combined for 144 yards on the ground. Lacy, as well as Starks, need the ball a lot more when they're running it like that.
4. A solid defensive effort
Make it three consecutive games by the Packers' defense in which they deserved to win. Unfortunately for the team as a whole, Green Bay only picked up one win in that span.
Think about it. The Packers allowed 18 points to Detroit. Considering the Rodgers-led offense they're teamed with, that should be a low enough point total for Green Bay's offense to surpass. Then, Dom Capers' group manhandled Adrian Peterson and helped get the Packers a win in Minnesota.
In this game, the defense held Chicago to 17 points. Green Bay's offense should be able to score more than 17 points, especially at Lambeau Field against a below-average Bears defense.
No, the Packers didn't have an interception or a forced fumble. And everyone knows how crucial turnovers are to wins and losses in the NFL. Plus, Green Bay only recorded one sack on Jay Cutler, despite having several opportunities to do so and missing tackles on him.
Still, in the big picture, the Packers are built to win games when the defense allows 17 points. But yet again, the offense let the team down.
No matter how devastating a loss this was for the current Green Bay roster, the halftime ceremony cannot be overlooked.
Brett Favre had his No. 4 retired and unveiled on the Lambeau Field facade. He was greeted with loud cheers, just seven years after he returned as a Viking and got booed out of the building.
Then, Bart Starr was carted out to midfield. The 81-year-old legend has had significant health problems in recent years, but it was immediately apparent how much this moment meant to him – and to Favre.
The embrace between Favre and Starr, with Starr's eyes clearly showing the emotion he felt, was enough to bring many grown men to tears.
It was an incredibly special moment for Favre, for Starr and for the franchise. However, it will be overshadowed in some ways due to the on-field performance that followed by the Packers in the second half.
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