Back to basics as Packers try to end three-game skid
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) They're not used to losing in Titletown, not when Aaron Rodgers is the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
After the lowly Detroit Lions handed his team a third straight defeat, coach Mike McCarthy plans to hone in on the basics. The main message on Monday ahead of a practice week to prepare for the Minnesota Vikings is to shore up fundamentals.
''You see the way they play, the way they've battled. That's not an issue,'' McCarthy said Monday.
''It's the efficiency of our fundamentals,'' he added. ''I don't mean to keep going back to that, but that's where the focus of trust of confidence is.''
A once vaunted Packers offense is having issues all over the field, enough so that Green Bay (6-3) has dropped out of first place, a game back of Minnesota.
The running game has stalled. Receivers are having trouble getting open against defensive backs playing press coverage. That has shined a brighter light on drops.
Protection is spotty for Rodgers. And now, the quarterback himself isn't playing to his usual high standards. On Sunday, he wasn't hitting a few throws that he usually makes.
The low point this season came in that 18-16 loss to the Lions at home. This was a Detroit team in disarray, ranked 26th in the league in defense; a team that lost 45-10 to the Kansas Chiefs in its previous game.
''Yeah it's frustration when you're not scoring, for sure, yeah,'' Rodgers said on Sunday.
McCarthy spoke about the need to be in sync. Problems in one area might lead to other issues.
''Everything has to be in sync, starting with the run blocking to the pass protection to the ability to trust the protection and trust the routes,'' McCarthy said. ''Aaron's no different than anybody else. He's just got to stay true to his fundamentals, and if Aaron's really guilty of anything, he's trying to do too much.''
It's the type of attitude that McCarthy said he expects of his leader and quarterback who played so well for so long.
It is what makes the Packers' offensive struggles particularly surprising, even after accounting for the loss of deep threat Jordy Nelson in the preseason to a torn right ACL.
When asked, associate head coach and play-caller Tom Clements said that Rodgers was ''not in a funk.''
''But, he is human, he misses some passes. I'm sure if you ask him there's some throws he'd like to have back,'' Clements said. ''He made some great passes in that game and he missed some.''
The coaches on Monday circled back to focusing on fundamentals. According to McCarthy, breakdowns might occur when a player is trying to do too much.
In run-blocking, that might include where to place hands while blocking and finishing blocks. For receivers that might mean a focus on making defenders miss in 1-on-1 situations to get more yards after a catch.
Rodgers was 35 of 61 on Sunday for 333 yards, but his leading receiver, Davante Adams, had just 79 yards on 10 catches.
After a productive start to the season, James Jones has just three catches during the three-game losing streak and got shut out against Detroit. Randall Cobb had five catches for 53 yards versus the Lions.
''You know we've always viewed ourselves that way, this team goes as we go,'' Cobb said Monday. ''And we haven't been playing to our standard, and we have to be better, and it's on (us) to make those plays.''
Notes: McCarthy indicated that injuries to left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix don't appear to be serious. Clinton-Dix left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. ... Clements assumed play-calling duties this season from McCarthy with the head coach choosing to take more oversight over defense and special teams. Asked if McCarthy should take a bigger role in the offense again, Rodgers said on Sunday that ''the way things are going are just fine.'' Clements appreciated the sentiment on Monday. ''Aaron is a great pro and it's good to hear.''
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