GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers insists he isn’t injured, so scratch that off your list of things that might be wrong with the reigning NFL MVP.
As for what is out of whack with the Green Bay Packers quarterback, good luck finding an answer for that one after a third straight loss – the first time the Packers have lost three in a row with Rodgers as the starter since 2008.
Something, however, appears amiss.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers is getting hit “way too much.”
The receivers, or at least James Jones, the one who was willing to speak to reporters, took the blame.
Outspoken left guard Josh Sitton used the “look-in-the-mirror” approach, which perhaps could help jump-start an inadequate running game that managed just 47 yards.
As for Rodgers, who three times said he “missed some throws,” the only thing he could say definitively was that he is not hurt.
“Well, I’m a little sore right now,” Rodgers said. “But I’ll be good to go in a couple of days.”
Rodgers took a shot to his left knee – “a little low,” he said – from Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah in the fourth quarter, but he and the offense were out of sorts well before that.
The Lions blitzed Rodgers 23 times, the most they’ve ever come after him, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Normally, Rodgers destroys the blitz. But this isn’t a normal Rodgers season. He completed just 9-of-21 passes against Detroit’s blitzes for his most incompletions against the blitz in his career. Both his touchdown passes came against standard, four-man pressures.
Rodgers threw for 333 yards but needed 61 – a franchise record-tying 61 – attempts to do so, which explains why his passer rating (83.6) was no better than average.
Perhaps the biggest problem is Rodgers has so few options that he was forced to throw Davante Adams’ way 21 times – the most targets for a Packers receiver in the past 15 years – and Adams’ impact was minimal. Although he caught a career-high 10 passes, those catches gained only 79 yards, and none of them came on throws of more than 10 yards downfield.
The Jones experiment, which produced six touchdowns in the first six games, might ultimately be deemed a failure. He hasn’t caught more than two passes in a game since Week 4 and was shut out on both of his targets, which likely will be graded as drops by the coaches.
“It’s the wideouts’ fault. We’ve got to make plays,” Jones said. “Too many dropped passes, man. Look in the mirror. It’s the wideouts. We’ve got to do better. We’re the playmakers on this ballclub. We’ve got to make plays.”
Late in the game, when another stretch of so-called “schoolyard ball," which Rodgers noted was about the only thing that worked against Carolina, the likes of Jared Abbrederis and Justin Perillo were the biggest playmakers.
“I think it’s about getting your best guys on the field and trying to find a way to get them the ball,” Rodgers said. “Jared has earned some opportunities. He did a nice job for us. Justin did a nice job for us as well, made some plays. Just get those guys in good positions and try to be effective. If teams are going to continue to load the box up and dare us to throw the ball with some one-high press [coverage], we’ve got to convert.”
McCarthy, who insisted again that he is not going to reclaim play-calling duties, wouldn’t get into the specifics of Rodgers’ play.
“Aaron's been hit way too much three weeks in a row,” McCarthy said. “I don't feel good about it. No one feels good about it. I'm sure he doesn't feel very good.”