GREEN BAY – As Joe Philbin fielded numerous questions on Monday related to playing time over the Packers’ last two games with no playoff hopes at stake, the interim head coach stressed that he wants the team to finish the season like the pros they are.
That includes quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is expected to continue playing as long as the minor groin injury he was dealing with Sunday in Chicago does not put him at any undue health risk come next weekend.
“We’ll play the guys that are healthy,” Philbin said. “We plan to take the field Sunday at noon and go to win a football game. That’s the focal point of the Green Bay Packers.”
Philbin also said he does not know the status of Rodgers’ groin injury at the moment, so decisions on him and a number of other banged-up players will be made as the week goes along.
Running back Aaron Jones was the most prominent player who exited the Bears game, leaving in the first quarter due to a knee injury. He didn’t return.
While the snaps beginning with Sunday’s road game against the New York Jets could get spread out amongst more young players here and there, Philbin doesn’t expect to see any healthy players bailing out on their team over these last two weeks.
“In life there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way,” Philbin said. “I think we have a good locker room, good men, and I’m excited to see how they respond.”
As for the 24-17 loss in Chicago, Philbin reiterated what he said after the game about the offense, that there were plays to be made that weren’t made, for a litany of reasons.
He blamed himself for a few play calls he wishes he had back, and he knows there are throws Rodgers would like to have over as well. Other timing plays were thrown off by route or protection issues.
The struggles and missed opportunities were a microcosm of the Packers’ 2018 season away from Lambeau Field, where they are 0-7 with one more road game to go.
In particular, Philbin lamented the end of the first half, when a Jamaal Williams run on third-and-3 came up just short of the first down, forcing the Packers to punt rather than get a fresh set of downs to go into two-minute mode.
Instead, it was the Bears taking advantage and scoring a touchdown just before halftime to go up 14-3.
“That’s what stings about the game,” Philbin said. “There were some plays there we had an opportunity to make.”
The start of the second half went as Philbin had outlined to the team at intermission – get points to make it a one-score game, get a stop on defense, and score again. The Packers did just that to tie the game at 14 heading into the fourth quarter.
But then nothing went right, in all three phases, for the next few possessions. It’s those moments Philbin would like to see the team rectify in these last two games.
“Finishing is important,” he said. “Doing things the right way is important.”