Packers' struggles without Rodgers go beyond offense
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 08, 2017 12:56 PM
Green Bay Packers' Brett Hundley walks off the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Green Bay, Wis. The Lions won 30-17. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy still believes in backup quarterback Brett Hundley, but he wants to see everyone on his roster — including Hundley — elevate their games.
"We all need to do better," McCarthy said Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after his team's 30-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. "We had an injury to Aaron Rodgers, and nobody has stepped up."
Rodgers was knocked out Oct. 15 with a broken right collarbone. He underwent surgery four days later and was placed on injured reserve, with the hope of the bone healing quickly enough for him to return this season.
Since the injury, the Packers' offense hasn't been the same with Hundley under center, the defense hasn't generated enough stops or turnovers, the special teams haven't created a single momentum-shifting play and the Packers (4-4) have lost three games — to the Vikings, the New Orleans Saints and the Lions
"No group has stepped up yet," McCarthy said. "We've had two games that have been very similar in nature — New Orleans and Detroit. ... We need to get more production out of this new path. And it hasn't happened yet."
Although McCarthy insisted after Monday night's loss that Hundley was not to blame, the third-year quarterback has not played well. Against the Lions, his numbers — 26 of 38 for 245 yards with no interceptions for a passer rating of 86.0 — looked better because of a late touchdown drive after the Lions had the game in hand.
An offense that was one of the league's best on third-down conversions and red-zone production with Rodgers at the helm has managed just 44 points in the past three games. Before Rodgers' injury, the Packers were averaging 27.4 points per game.
Hundley acknowledged after the game that the improvement he showed against the Lions was insufficient.
"Everybody wants to score five touchdowns and have a perfect quarterback rating and win," Hundley said. "This game was a step in the right direction. I think I did some good things. Obviously, it wasn't enough. But the first start (against the Saints) for sure wasn't."
Green Bay's defense hasn't put together a strong performance since a 35-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 28. The teams meet again Sunday in Chicago, and the Packers enter that game ranked 22nd in scoring defense, 25th in yards allowed per game, 20th in pass defense and 23rd in run defense.
Only one NFL team has fewer sacks than the Packers' 13 through eight games, and defensive leaders Mike Daniels, Nick Perry, Clay Matthews and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix haven't been the difference-makers they need to be.
"We've got to do a better job of applying the plan, make sure that we're executing it," McCarthy said. "We've got to play to who we are. We're halfway through the season. So we're not going to change our pass-rush techniques and so forth. If anything, less volume, more creativity."
McCarthy announced Tuesday night that the knee injury suffered by veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga is season-ending — the third time in the past six years he's had a season-ending injury. Bulaga hurt his ankle in August and missed the first two weeks of the regular season. He re-injured the ankle in Week 3 and missed more time, and he also suffered a concussion at Minnesota on Oct. 15.
"It's very unfortunate," McCarthy said. "He's had a stretch of bad luck this year. ... I feel bad for him. I thought he had clearly come off his best season last year. Tough news."
McCarthy also said veteran safety Morgan Burnett, who returned Monday night after a two-game absence because of a hamstring injury, will not play against the Bears because of the groin injury he sustained against the Lions.