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Big plays were there to be made on offense

Play-caller Tom Clements appreciates Aaron Rodgers’ vote of confidence


GREEN BAY – The Packers had their chances to get the offense going.

That's what the game film of Sunday's 18-16 loss to the Lions told Head Coach Mike McCarthy and his offensive staff.

"Boy, we left some big-play opportunities on the field," McCarthy said on Monday. "We need to do a better job of hitting those."

Some of the misses were obvious. Randall Cobb dropped a third-down pass in the first quarter with a lot of open field in front of him. Davante Adams dropped a deep sideline ball for a potential touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The coaches suggested there were more potential big gains that didn't materialize because of fundamental breakdowns aside from drops. A missed block, a poor route, an inaccurate throw, a tackle that could have been broken. The film showed several of the nine straight drives that ended with punts had plenty of promise, but the Packers didn't capitalize.

"That play could have been a catapult for us early in that game," Cobb said of his drop. "Everything is going to be magnified when you don't make those plays.

"The story isn't going to change until we change it. It's on us."

Players and coaches alike felt great about last week's practices, and marching 57 yards for a field goal on the opening drive reflected that. The start wasn't sustained, though, and that's where the coaches point to losing too many one-on-one matchups throughout, whether they be up front or on the perimeter.

"I don't think it abandons guys," Offensive Coordinator Edgar Bennett said of the fundamentals. "It's really being more consistent, doing it at that high level every single time. That's what's most important, and that's what we will continue to demand."

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn't playing at his previous MVP level, but Associate Head Coach and play-caller Tom Clements doesn't believe Rodgers is in a "funk." He made too many good throws – such as the two over the middle to tight end Justin Perillo, one to convert third-and-long and the other for the late TD, and the one off his back foot under pressure to Cobb on another third down – to call it that, even if there are plenty of throws he'd like to have back.

McCarthy said Rodgers, if anything, is "trying to do too much" to boost the offense, and the QB is not alone. Rodgers did give a vote of confidence after the game to Clements as the play-caller, saying the offensive operation is fine.

"Aaron is a great pro. It's good to hear," Clements said. "We're in a difficult time. We have to stick together and right the ship."

The Packers' special teams had done little wrong this season until the opening kickoff of Sunday's second half, when Detroit's Ameer Abdullah tore through a big hole for 104 yards, all the way to the Green Bay 1-yard line.

Special Teams Coordinator Ron Zook said the kickoff coverage unit may have grown too accustomed to Mason Crosby booting touchbacks, and players were caught a step slow when Abdullah came out from five yards deep in the end zone. This week's opponent, Minnesota's Cordarelle Patterson, will do the same, and he's coming off a game with a TD return in Oakland.

"We weren't running the way we run," Zook said. "They weren't loafing or anything like that, but there's a difference. They're supposed to be at a certain spot on the field at a certain time.

"We should have been two or three yards closer to it, and it would have solved a lot of problems."

Crosby's final kick would have, too, but the 52-yard field goal try on the last play was way off. Zook and holder Tim Masthay both dismissed the theory making the rounds online that Crosby's kick hit Masthay's non-holding hand, causing the awkward flight path.

"It didn't hit Tim's hand," Zook said. "Mason was a little high on the ball. His toe hit the ground and bounced up a little bit."

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