Friday 19 January 2018 / 12:56 PM


The Green Bay Packers are the most confusing team in football. Injuries mounted on them a year ago, and Aaron Rodgers’ decline in play was attributed to the lack of quality receivers and the talent around them.

Fast forward a season and the Packers, who were supposed to return to prominence to reclaim their division this year, have stagnated. They are struggling to string wins together, and their consistency has been lax. They started hot, upending the Jags before a close loss to the Vikings, and two more wins over the Giants and Lions.

At 3-1, they looked to have figured things out.

And then things took a tumble. The offense struggled heavily in a route from the Cowboys. And in what was supposed to be Rodgers’ rebound game against the awful Bears, he again struggled despite the Packers’ win. Then his nice game against the Falcons was squandered with late-game errors, before returning back to middling against the Colts on Sunday.

Heading into the Atlanta game, Rodgers was worst in the league in completion percentage, and near the bottom in efficiency. The offense around him is struggling mightily, and what made Rodgers so good just a couple of seasons ago is now making him pretty bad.

Rodgers is scrambling on almost every play – and it’s not because his offensive line is bad. Well, it is, but not near bad enough for Rodgers to be rushing out of the pocket on a league-high 38% of drop backs.

That leads the NFL by over 8%. Rodgers is ad-libbing on an extreme number of possessions, and it’s ruining the offense. Against the Colts, Rodgers threw to a receiver that wasn’t looking on five different occasions in a telling sign that the route progression wasn’t over.

And he’s just making bad decisions across the board, to boot.

During one sequence, the former MVP threw an interception that was called back due to a penalty on the defense. On the very next play, Rodgers threw another interception, near the exact same area of the field, on another forced throw. And three different times on third down, Rodgers forced a pass to a receiver in double coverage.

Rodgers just isn’t the same across the board. His throwing motion is odd, his pre-snap reads are different, and he rarely looks past his first or second read. It’s a significant detachment from the guy who won the MVP just a few seasons ago, and the big candidate for the best quarterback in the NFL with Tom Brady. It’s the weirdest disappearance of talent since Space Jam, and Rodgers has been quick to dismiss it.

But it’s not to say the problem lies solely with Rodgers. Sure, he’s playing differently, but there is an argument to be made that the problems the Packers have aren’t related to him. For one, the defense is atrocious, and injured at every level. They can’t stop anyone and it’s becoming harder to overcome.

The running game is nonexistent, as the Packers today were led in rushing by a receiver and Rodgers. But the pressing argument for Rodgers supporters is the absence of a real receiver. Against Indy, the receivers had no separation, and forced Rodgers to press the issue on many drives. The scrambles and throws to double coverage could easily be passed down to those lapses by an aging and slow receiving corps around Rodgers.

But that’s been the issue for a few years now. The Packers are struggling for sure, and there seems to be blame to go around. But the first thing that needs to be fixed is the struggles by Rodgers. And if it is the team around him is bringing him down, then the Packers may just be too far gone.

But when they are this close to leading the division despite their troubles, they have to try something.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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