Now that the dust has settled on the Monday Night Football fiasco, the Green Bay Packers need to stop complaining about how they were robbed and focus on the real problem.
There's no doubt that this team was screwed royally by the incompetent replacement referees. That's not in question here. What is in question is this: How in the world did the Seattle Seahawks keep this juggernaut of an offense held in check to the tune of just 12 points?
That's what the Packers need to worry about now. There is absolutely no recourse this team can take against the bogus call that ended up dropping them to 1-2, but the players and coaches can take steps to make sure games don't come down to these last-second decisions any more this year.
Here are the steps this team must take.
Protect Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers already has been sacked 16 times in three games to open the 2012 season. I knew the offensive line would be an issue before the season began, but I never dreamed things would get so bad so fast.
The most alarming part of this trend is that the offensive line has gotten progressively worse from week to week, giving up three sacks in Week 1, five in Week 2 and then eight in Week 3.
Mike McCarthy admitted that he was to blame for the atrocity that was the first half of the game against the Seahawks, saying:
The offense didn't do our part in the first half. I should have adjusted plans earlier. I'll take responsibility for that. The one regret I have is not going to that plan earlier. With that, I'll take responsibility. We were wearing that defense down (h/t Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel).
McCarthy is referring to the fact that he abandoned the running game in the first half; a gameplan that got his quarterback in a load of trouble.
Pound the Rock
When the Packers made the decision to bring in Cedric Benson, I thought to myself, "Oh boy, now this offense will be unstoppable."
Rodgers recently has had to do things on his own due to the fact that the Packers haven't had a consistent running back since Ryan Grant in 2009. I figured Benson would be the man to balance things out for the Packers on offense this year.
What's the best pass-to-run ratio for the Packers?
Through two-and-a-half games, Benson has been utilized inconsistently. He only rushed the ball nine times in the opening game against the San Francisco 49ers, and he only carried the ball two times in the entire first half in Seattle in Week 3.
The times that the Packers offense has worked well, Benson has had a major part to play. He ran the ball 20 times against the Chicago Bears in Week 2—the only game the Packers have won so far this year—and carried the ball 15 times in the second half of the game against the Seahawks.
For one-and-a-half games, McCarthy has had the right idea. Unfortunately for him and his team, his inconsistency in this regard has a lot to do with the team's 1-2 start in 2012.
Catch the Ball
Dropped passes were one of the biggest reasons the Packers lost to the New York Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs last year.
Through three games in 2012, the Packers' receivers haven't gotten any better. According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers has had 10 passes dropped so far in 2012; three of which were from the Monday Night Football game in Seattle.
The Packers offense relies on timing and chemistry between Rodgers and his receivers, and these dropped passes absolutely kill the flow.
Yes, the Packers got screwed.
The truth of the matter, though, is that this team should have never been in the situation in the first place. With the amount of talent the Packers have on offense, they should have had the game well in hand before the final whistle.
The players and team must get back to basics. Run the football, block your man and catch the ball. It's not rocket science, and if the Packers get better in these three areas, they'll be a major player in the NFC at the end of the season.
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