There’s not much to say after a performance like Thursday’s debacle at Ford Field. The Packers had a must-win game against an NFC North foe to keep their playoff hopes alive, and they did not appear ready or willing for the challenge.
As hard as it was to watch the game, the numbers afterwards were just as hard to look at.
Total Yardage: Lions 561, Packers 126
Time of Possession: Lions 40:26, Packers 19:34
Total Plays: Lions 83, Packers 43
First Downs: Lions 30, Packers 7
Take away a few poor decisions by Matt Stafford, and this game could have been one of the worst beat downs in NFL history.
The defense couldn’t tackle, the offensive line couldn’t block, and Matt Flynn held onto the ball too long in many cases. It was a perfect storm of terrible, and a national television audience witnessed it.
These grades have been rated APC-MA, and is intended for mature audiences only.
Many were expecting another record performance from Flynn against a mediocre Lions secondary, but the unit was barely tested on Thursday as Flynn spent most of his Thanksgiving on the Ford Field turf.
Flynn didn’t have much time to operate behind a makeshift offensive line that had T.J. Lang under center at one point, but Flynn didn’t help his situation by holding on to the ball too long. To counter a blitz-happy team, you have to use screens, quick slants, or other various three-stop drop type plays, and I didn’t feel like the Packers were even interested in that idea.
Flynn finished 10 for 20 for 139 yards and one interception. He could have easily thrown two more if the Lions hadn’t dropped them. The offensive line was terrible, but Flynn wasn’t much better.
Running Back: D
Eddie Lacy finished with 16 yards on 10 carries, while James Starks and John Kuhn each added two yards.
There weren’t many running lanes, and Lacy was often hit before he even got to the line of scrimmage, so it’s hard to blame him for his lack of production. It was never a question of effort, as Lacy continued to churn his legs after initial contact and tried to pick up yards on his own. The numbers make it hard to give him a passing grade, but I feel like Lacy would have had a solid performance behind the usual offensive line.
Wide Receivers: C
I honestly feel bad about this grade, because this unit had a distinct advantage over its opposition, but wasn’t able to take advantage due to the general ineptitude of the rest of the supporting cast.
James Jones recorded 3 receptions for 79 yards, while Jordy Nelson added 2 for 14.
Tight Ends: F
Andrew Quarless’ run blocking continues to disappoint, and Ryan Taylor didn’t offer much resistance either. It was pretty telling that Jake Stoneburner didn’t even log a snap while Brandon Bostick was inactive with a concussion. I was expecting to see him in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach, but maybe the coaching staff doesn’t trust his run blocking yet. I find it hard to believe that his blocking could be much worse than the rest of the unit’s.
Quarless caught one pass for 7 yards, while Taylor added one for 8 yards.
Offensive Line: F-
The Lions defensive front is one of the better ones in the NFL, and the Packers offensive line barely even got in its way on Thursday. The Lions recorded 7 sacks, 9 QB Hits, and over 12 hurries.
Josh Sitton did a solid job on Nick Fairley, who only recorded one tackle, but the rest of the unit had a forgettable performance. I’m not sure I want Aaron Rodgers to rush back from his collarbone injury if this is the type of protection he’s going to get.
Besides Clay Matthews fighting off double teams and still forcing fumbles, this unit was pretty pathetic. A.J. Hawk’s helmet was flying all over the place, the defensive line didn’t close any gaps, and the linebackers were making tackles 5 yards down the field. Throw in 14 missed tackles, 10 of which were made by the secondary in open space, and you’re going to give up a lot of points.
I don’t think we’ll ever see the same run-stuffing defense we saw for the first 8 weeks of the season, and I think B.J. Raji is already halfway out of the door. Sam Shields did the best he could against Calvin Johnson, deflecting away one jumpball and intercepting another. Tramon Williams might have lost his cool during the game, but he did shutdown Nate Burleson, who only had one target on the day.
Mason Crosby connected from 54 yards out, and it probably had room for 60. Crosby was also much more consistent on his kickoffs, logging an average of 70 yards, and 3.61 hang time.
Tim Masthay recorded six punts for an average of 47.8 yards, pinning two inside the 20-yard line. The long return by Jeremy Ross can be directly blamed on poor tackling.
At 5-6-1, the Packers are all but eliminated from playoff contention. I think it’s time to think long term on what this team and organization needs to do to safe guard this type of midseason implosion from happening again.
Aaron Rodgers has been a pretty good band-aid for this team’s weaknesses over the years, and now that the band-aid has been ripped off, it’s time to heal the wound. This team needs to make changes on defense. A safety to play opposite of Morgan Burnett should a top priority in the draft, and finding a replacement for B.J. Raji might also be in the cards.
On offense, a tight end, who can run block while being a reliable pass catcher, should be a top priority. A true center would also do wonders for this offensive line in 2014.
The Packers move on to face the equally snake-bitten Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at home. We’ll see if #12 takes the field, but I would be strongly against it.
Josh VanDyke covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He is also currently a sports writer for MLive.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JVanDyke24