I couldn’t help but hear the late great Dandy Don Meredith’s voice in my head as time ticked away on another Green Bay Packers loss and perhaps the Packers season: “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”
But what party are we talking about? The 2022 season? The Aaron Rodgers era? We don’t know the answer to that just yet, but it’s quite apparent that this is a team that would have a hard time beating pretty much anybody right now.
It’s a team that needs everything to go just right. Muff a punt and hand the Washington Commanders three free points? There’s your difference in the game. Bump into a receiver and draw an illegal contact penalty negating a defensive touchdown? Let Terry McLaurin nab a sideline catch in the closing moments to move the chains? This is a team with no margin for error of any kind. They’re not dominant anywhere and don’t seem to have the killer instinct to fight off any adversity that comes their way.
The Pack surprisingly came out with a completely retooled offensive line, with center Josh Myers as the only guy in his usual spot. Rookie Zach Tom stepped in at left tackle for the once-again injured David Bakhtiari. Elgton Jenkins returned to the left guard spot, where he was once a Pro Bowler. For the most part, the line did its job — but the now toothless Packers offense couldn’t get cooking.
Through three quarters, the Packers had a grand total of 96 yards of offense. After a first-quarter touchdown drive that was followed by a pick-six by De’Vondre Campbell, the Pack’s next three drives of the half looked like this: three plays for four yards, three plays for minus 15 yards, five plays for minus two yards. No rhythm, no aggressiveness, no bold play calling. Just pass, run, pass, punt. Repeat. They converted as many third downs as the Minnesota Vikings did on Sunday. (Reminder: the Vikings were on their bye).
The Packers can’t (or continue to refuse to) run the ball, with their vaunted two-headed rushing attack of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combining for 12 carries for 38 yards. These guys didn’t forget how to run with the football. But the combination of not committing to the run, plus a newfangled line trying to figure things out on the fly, adds up to a disjointed offense that can’t get out of neutral.
And Rodgers is hardly blameless here. We don’t know how much that thumb is bothering him, but we continue to see too many missed throws, bad decisions, and unseemly body language. He appears to be sick of everybody around him.
Here’s the reality: the Packers have lost to Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson, and Taylor Heinicke (after barely getting past Bailey Zappe). Now they get to face Josh Allen in primetime with a stadium full of liquored up and costumed up Bills Mafia screaming their lungs out. Here comes 3-5, with a date in Detroit to follow, where the Lions always put up a fight.
It’s funny, it was just a month ago that the Pack went down to Tampa Bay and got a big road win to improve to 3-1. That win doesn’t look very impressive anymore, as the Bucs seem to have hit rock bottom before the Packers could land there. All of the preseason NFC heavyweights are floundering, but it hits harder for this team because they pushed all their chips in for one more run at a ring.
The trade deadline is next week, but from what we’ve seen over the last two and a half games, there’s no need to part with any future Day 2 picks. This team is not a Chase Claypool or Brandin Cooks away from getting back into the thick of things in the NFC. You could argue they should be sellers, but there is no chance on this green (and gold) Earth that that’s going to happen. Maybe they make a move and bring in a receiver to show that they haven’t thrown in the towel.
But the reality is that the Packers have fallen. And it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to get up.