Packers Downed By Lions, What Happens Next for Green Bay?

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2010

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 12: Matt Flynn #10 of the Green Bay Packers looks to throw a second quarter pass behind Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions on December 12, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It's safe to say that from the moment Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers left Sunday's game with some 1:12 left in the second half, all hell seemed to break loose.

The hopes and dreams of Green Bay's 2010 season have solely relied on the arm of Aaron Rodgers, and with a serious concussion knocking him out of Sunday's game in Detroit, there is much concern yet to be had.

As if the first half of Sunday's game wasn't already frustrating enough, the Rodgers injury topped off one of Green Bay's most disheartening losses in many years.  How Mike McCarthy and the Packers continue their 2010 season will be an interesting ordeal to follow, and a trip to New England next week only makes things that more frustrating.

Replacing Rodgers, Matt Flynn made conscious throws to the Packers' "Big Five" formation.  Allowing the offense to run its basic packages made Flynn's efforts only that much more simple.

Completing numerous pass-and-run combinations to the likes of Andrew Quarless, Jordy Nelson, and Greg Jennings, Flynn managed to run the offense in the way McCarthy originally wanted it to be run: short and sweet.

From what was noticeable, Flynn was accurate, precise, and well-groomed in the first meaningful regular-season game of his career.  It's unfortunate for Flynn—it really is.  Despite his efforts on Sunday, Flynn now becomes the focal point to Green Bay's loss.

But for the time being, the Packers must move on from Sunday's disappointments, and focus in on what needs to be done.

To a point, the Packers probably came into Detroit with a bit too much confidence—and that arrogance eventually ended with Rodgers' concussion.

Karma managed to rear its ugly head at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, giving us yet another example of why looking past any team in the NFL is mass suicide.

Sunday's game looked to be as assuring as ever heading into New England next week.  Instead, it was tarnished by a lack of consistency, and fatal injuries.

What Happened to James Starks?

Maybe we went a tad overboard with the hype.

James Starks' second game as the Packers' star running back was plagued from the get-go.

With just eight yards on six carries total, James Starks' day was a bit of a bust, to say the least.  Give credit to Detroit's defensive line, lead by none other than Ndomukong Suh.  The Lions' defensive unit only granted 31 total rushing yards to the Packers—again bringing down McCarthy's offensive play-calling balance.

The lack of balance continues for Mike McCarthy, and now presents a major cause for concern.  In fact,  of Green Bay's 61 total plays on Sunday, 20 were via the run (33% run, 67% pass).

It's true—James Starks is a great talent.  But when talents are not exercised, you might as well not have them on the football field.  That's just how things are.

Next week against New England's 19th-ranked rush defense, look for McCarthy to be extremely conservative with the run game.  Starks is just too much of a talent to not use.

Third Down Efficiency Turns Out to Be Costly

Not much to talk about here—just the total lack of discipline shown by the Packers offense.

From the very beginnings of the game, the Packers failed to complete their offensive checklist—most notably in their third down efficiency.

Green Bay was an embarrassing 2-for-12 in third-down conversions against the Lions' 21st-ranked defense.

Oddly enough, the Packers came into Sunday's matchup converting 43 percent of their third-down conversions, good enough to be sixth-best in the entire league.

With much work left unfinished, and a star quarterback knocked out of the game, there is certainly cause for panic amongst the Green Bay faithful.  Somewhere, Vince is shaking his head.

Wide Receivers Regressing?

The one thing Green Bay has been able to hang its hat on this season turned out to be the most disappointing component of today's game.  Not a good sign.

Not only was All-Pro wide receiver Greg Jennings a non-factor in Sunday's game, Detroit was able to contain the entire receiving corps of the Packers.  A total of 194 yards through the air was allowed to Green Bay wideouts in the game.

Leading the way with 62 yards on five receptions, tight end Andrew Quarless turned out to be the biggest factor in the Green Bay receiving game.  A great sign for next season's team, but just too little too late for Green Bay's offense.

Some seven or so passes were bluntly dropped today, an uncharacteristic performance from the highly touted receivers of the Packers.

Again, with three games remaining in the season, there is improvement to be attained, and trust to be regained.

What now for the Packers' playoff hopes?

The hopes of Green Bay returning to the playoffs obviously took a "misguided" turn for the worse on Sunday.  But all is not lost for the green and gold.

With three games to play (@ New England, vs. NY Giants, vs. Chicago), the Packers remain one game behind the Chicago Bears.  But with Aaron Rodgers' concussion, questions are beginning to rise, and with the concern level for the Packers now commencing, the playoffs have never seemed so far away.

A concussed quarterback is a recipe for disaster—without question.  

Chicago faces a tough remaining schedule (@ Minnesota, vs. NY Jets, @ Green Bay), as well.  The season may come down to the last game of the season, deciding who in fact wins the NFC North title.

It's safe to say every game from here on out is a "must-win" for the Packers.  With an injured Rodgers, dazed running attack, and a retracting group of wide receivers, there will certainly be an uphill battle towards the playoffs.

Let's see if they'll do it.


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