The Green Bay Packers lost to the Carolina Panthers 37-29 on Sunday. After falling behind 27-7, the Packers made a valiant effort to comeback and tie the game, aided by a boneheaded interception thrown by Cam Newton. However, though Randall Cobb was wide open on fourth and goal for Green Bay, Rodgers did not see him in the flats, scrambled, and threw an interception of his own under pressure. The Packers’ second straight loss thus ended on a sour note. However, it was good to see some fight in the team following six quarters of truly poor football. Here are three take-a-ways from the game.
1. The Good: Davante Adams
Before discussing Adams, I would like to give a quick nod to Aaron Rodgers. It is hard to list him as “the good” following a day with a passer rating under 100, given his history. But in the second half he was instrumental in leading a comeback, loosened up, and played extremely well in the face of a ton of pressure from the Panthers. It was good to see a return to form for the first time in arguably four games.
But on to Adams. Coming into the season, he was slated to play a big role in the Packers offense after wide receiver Jordy Nelson suffered a season ending injury. As any fantasy football player who drafted him can tell you, that has not happened. In part that has been due to injuries, and in part due to inability to get on the same page with Rodgers/open against tough coverage.
On Sunday, Adams had his best game of the season. He caught seven passes for 93 yards, but had been over the century mark before being credited with lost negative 12 yards on the game’s final play (which featured a series of ill-made laterals). Perhaps more important than the numbers, he looked the part of solid NFL receiver, even showing nice awareness and footwork to make the type of sideline catch we are used to seeing from Nelson. It is a welcome sight, and perhaps the most important development coming out of the Packers’ second loss in a row.
2. The Bad: Offensive Line is Offensive
The Packers’ offensive line was one of the jewels of the league in 2014. In 2015, it is awful. Some will note that the Packers have played a series of strong defensive lines in 2015, and that is true. But a truly good line does far better than Green Bay has done over the last 1.5 months. Numbers differ based on source, but Rodgers reportedly took (per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) 5 sacks and another 9 hits on Sunday. Even perennial “smart” media darling and two-time All-Pro Josh Sitton got in on the act, easily getting beat on key downs in the second half in pass protection.
The Packers have reportedly had over half their third-down snaps taken this year while needing over seven yards to move the chains. That is unacceptable and unsustainable, and turning it around starts up front.
3. The Ugly: Sideline Kerfuffles
As if nearly giving up 500 yards for the third game in a row wasn’t bad enough, the Packers defense also fell apart on the Sidelines. Second-year safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had words for future hall of famer Julius Peppers. While it is not known at this time what he said, the reactions of his teammates speak volumes. Peppers, a typically calm presence, became animated, BJ Raji forcefully shoved Clinton-Dix away from Peppers, and Mike Pennel entered the fray yelling at Clinton-Dix as well. He was taken from the area by safety Morgan Burnett, and eventually apologized on Twitter. Mike McCarthy runs a fairly tight ship, and I will be interested to see if he addresses this with the media any further.