Getting the passing game going in Green Bay means paying more attention to the details for the Packers.
The results have been spotty this season. The solution sounds simple from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“You know, we’ve just got to throw it and catch it better. I’ve got to be as accurate as I know I can be, and we’ve got to make sure we’re as detailed as we can be in the routes so we’re on the same page more consistently,” Rodgers said Tuesday.
Maybe the game Thursday night against the NFC North rival Chicago Bears will be the one that gets the Packers’ passing attack clicking consistently again.
Rodgers is completing 60.2 percent of his passes, which ranks an uncharacteristically-low 23rd in the league. It’s also 4.7 points below Rodgers’ career average.
In the loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, Rodgers threw an out-of-character interception on second-and-8 from the Dallas 46 to Barry Church after saying that he never saw the Cowboys safety. Rodgers overthrew open receiver Randall Cobb in the end zone early in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers also fumbled on first-and-goal from the 1. Unwinding after the tough game, the quarterback poured himself a scotch and watched the film.
“The scotch was great. You know, I saw things that we’ve been seeing throughout the year. We’re close. We’ve been making some plays at times, but not good enough consistently,” Rodgers said Tuesday.
And what specifically would Rodgers like to be doing better after reviewing film?
“I just think it’s accuracy. I’ve missed a couple that I’m used to hitting. And you hit those and you take away the throwaways, being able to hit some things on some of those plays instead of extending and throwing the ball away and we’re right where we need to be,” Rodgers said.
Taking better care of the ball was a priority for the team overall after the season-high four turnovers against Dallas. Drops have also been an issue at times for receivers.
The Packers the last couple weeks have started using more personnel packages after relying primarily on a three-wide receiver set. They’ve used jumbo packages with offensive lineman Jason Spriggs lined up an eligible receiver. Last week, they went with five receivers on the field at times.
Conversely, the Cowboys also at times dropped eight defenders in coverage, a scheme that could make it more difficult for receivers to get open.
Coach Mike McCarthy has been honed in on details and sticking with a tried-and-true focus.
“But at the end of the day, it’s about connecting, taking advantage of those opportunities,” McCarthy said. “We’re well aware of it, but you just stay in tune with the fundamentals.
Rodgers remains a master of buying time in the pocket and using his legs when needed. The offensive line has given Rodgers time to throw, but deep shots down the field haven’t been available consistently.
“Well, he’s a pain to get down on the ground,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I think he’s pretty true to form, extending plays. Just looking at tape, I’m not looking forward to watching it live there in Lambeau.”
Injuries to running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) and James Starks (knee) have compounded the problems for the Packers offense, especially with a short week. Starks will miss a couple more games.
General manger Ted Thompson addressed the depth by trading a conditional draft pick to Kansas City for fourth-year back Knile Davis, who was buried on the Chiefs’ depth chart behind Jamaal Charles and two other backups.
Top cornerback Sam Shields was placed on injured reserve to make room on the roster for Davis. Shields has been out since the season opener with a concussion, his second in 10 months. If healthy enough, Shields could possibly return in two months. “I’m making great progress and hope to come back in (eight) week and play this season. I will make a full recovery within that time frame,” Shields posted on Instagram. … Starting CB Damarious Randall (groin) did not practice. … RT Bryan Bulaga, who left the Cowboys game late with a back injury, was limited in practice. … WR Randall Cobb (back) was also limited.