Handing out grades following the Green Bay Packers’ 40-10 road loss against the Detroit Lions in Week 13:
Passing Offense: F
It turns out that Matt Flynn wasn’t the answer for the Packers. He may have been a “spark” against Minnesota four days earlier, but Flynn as the starter in this game played like a quarterback who was recently cut by Oakland and Buffalo.
Flynn got little help from the offensive line in pass protection and got no help from the running game, so this certainly isn’t entirely on him. But that doesn’t excuse Flynn’s performance, a game in which he completed 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and one interception (51.9 passer rating).
Green Bay’s offense without Aaron Rodgers has been mostly poor with whichever backup quarterback has been in. But in nearly five full games with Rodgers sidelined, the trio of Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Flynn have combined for a total of just two touchdown passes.
Flynn was sacked seven times. Some of them were coverage sacks when he should have gotten rid of the ball sooner, others were offensive linemen getting beat quickly after the snap and giving Flynn almost no chance.
Had it not been for a meaningless 56-yard completion to James Jones in the closing minutes, the Packers would have finished well below 100 yards as an offense. And, fittingly, even that long completion was followed up by a lost fumble.
Rushing Offense: F
With the Lions not respecting Flynn’s ability to beat them deep, there were a lot of defenders near the line of scrimmage on most plays. This, of course, directly impacted Lacy’s ability to have any room to work.
Lacy only carried the ball 10 times, so there weren’t a lot of opportunities to find out whether this was relatively fatigue-related for him and his blockers. Green Bay’s coaching staff has continually claimed that they aren’t worried about Lacy’s endurance. However, after this game, Lacy has now rushed it more times this season than he ever did in any college season. With the style in which he runs, it would make sense for a rookie to wear down at this point, especially given how much he was on the field a few days ago in the Vikings game.
As the running back, the production ultimately falls on Lacy, but having a quarterback in the game who doesn’t stretch the field limits what can be expected of him. The Packers’ offensive line was also manhandled in the running game by Detroit’s front.
Lacy finished with a career-low 16 rushing yards and a 1.6 per-carry average.
Rushing Defense: D
The only reason that this isn’t another ‘F’ is because of a big play on the Lions’ opening drive. Detroit had the ball inside the 10-yard line on a Reggie Bush running play, but Clay Matthews stuck his hand in and was able to strip the ball out and Green Bay recovered. It was a play that turned out not to matter much by game’s end, but at the time, it was a significant momentum shift.
That was the only bright spot, though. The Packers’ run defense has gone from one of the team’s strengths to a huge weakness. The combination of Bush and Joique Bell rushed for 211 yards on 39 carries (5.4 average). Add in a run by Jeremy Ross (yes, that Jeremy Ross) for 24 yards and one scramble by Matthew Stafford for eight yards, giving the Lions a total of 241 yards on the ground. Green Bay had just given up 232 rushing yards to the Vikings on Sunday, so it’s been a real bad week.
After seven games this season, the Packers were on pace to be the best run-stopping team in franchise history and were ranked third in the NFL. Now, Green Bay has fallen all the way to No. 28 in run defense.
Passing Defense: C
The Packers had three big plays on passing downs. Nick Perry batted the ball out of Stafford’s hand to force a fumble that was recovered by Morgan Burnett and run back a few yards for a touchdown. That gave Green Bay a 10-3 lead and, like Matthews’ forced fumble on Bush, it would typically be a major play in the game. Also, the Packers took advantage of a quarterback who throws into tight spots, picking off two passes from Stafford. Tramon Williams intercepted one in the second quarter and Sam Shields had a very impressive play when he actually outworked a much taller Calvin Johnson in the end zone and pulled the ball down with him. Those two interceptions bring Green Bay out of the NFL’s cellar in that statistical category, but it still only gives the team a total of six on the season.
Perry’s strip was the only real pressure on Stafford that made a difference on any one particular play. There were no other sacks, with Stafford often able to stand in the pocket as he completed 22 of 35 passes for 330 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 98.5.
Johnson was going to get his and was reasonably held in check with six catches for 101 yards. Kris Durham, Bush, Bell and a cast of others made up the rest of Detroit’s production in the passing game.
Special Teams: B-
Perhaps the Packers are feeling some regret over releasing Ross earlier this season. Ross’ issues in the return game were apparent and the move seemed like a good one at the time, but Green Bay has been the worst kick return team in the NFL since then. Ross sure seemed to have revenge on his mind in this game. He scored an offensive touchdown, but he also had a 35-yard punt return. Ross definitely made an impact in this game.
Mason Crosby crushed a 54-yard field goal down the middle to tie the game at 3. With the exception of a couple hiccups, Crosby has continued a career resurgence after being the worst percentage kicker in the league last season.
This was an embarrassing game for the Packers and one that has effectively eliminated them from postseason contention. The evidence over the past month suggests that Rodgers is the team. Green Bay hasn’t won without him and has looked bad in most areas during that span. Even if Rodgers can return 10 days later at home against Atlanta, the best case scenario for the Packers now is a 9-6-1 record, which likely isn’t good enough to win the division — and there probably won’t be a wild-card team coming out of the NFC North.
In front of a national television audience on Thanksgiving, Green Bay was thoroughly dismantled by a division rival. There’s very little going well for the Packers right now.