"This is what Mondays are for," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Win or lose."
Rarely, though, have the Packers spent a Monday poring over the offensive film wondering what went wrong. And plenty went wrong.
Running back Eddie Lacy, who was the NFL offensive rookie of the year last season, had his third straight substandard game, rushing 11 times for 36 yards, with 17 yards coming on one carry. For the season, Lacy has carried 36 times for 113 yards after rushing for 1,178 yards - and registering four 100-yard games — last season. "Disappointing" was the word McCarthy used to describe the minimal production.
"Eddie needs to play better," McCarthy said, refusing to elaborate. "I don't correct individuals in the media."
Asked about his performance after the game, Lacy replied, ""Honestly, I don't know (what's wrong). I'm just as puzzled with the game. We just have to figure out better ways to run the ball. I don't know if I have to be more patient or speed things up, but one way or another I'm responsible for the run game."
As a team, the Packers rushed 22 times for 76 yards despite the Lions essentially daring them to run by playing their two safeties deep with five defensive backs on the field.
"Our running game wasn't nearly what it needed to be. Not even close," McCarthy said. "We had plenty of corrections to go around for everybody."
The coaching staff said it had seen the Lions play with one safety deep for most if their first two games but weren't surprised when Detroit used a Cover-2 defense to protect its injury-ravaged secondary. Not only was the Packers' running game unproductive, but Lacy fumbled on the opening drive of the game, and Lions safety Don Carey returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Later, Lacy was tackled in the end zone for a safety on a play that began at the 1-yard line.
"We missed some holes. There were some holes there, and we need to finish better," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "You can't start the game the way we started off. We fumbled and gave them a touchdown and (then) had a safety, gave them two more points. And in the ensuing drive by the Lions, they got a field goal. So that's 12 points related to the (run game) for the Lions, which isn't good."
But the run game wasn't the only problem. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 16 of 27 passes for 162 yards — the second-fewest passing yards he's ever had in a game in which he didn't get hurt. His career low for a game he started and finished was a 142-yard effort in a Nov. 9, 2008, loss at Minnesota.
Although Rodgers wasn't his usual, accurate self - his biggest miss was on a fourth-and-5 pass in the fourth quarter that he threw behind Jordy Nelson, who was open for what would have been a 20-yard touchdown — McCarthy and Clements counted dropped six passes by Packers receivers.
"We have to catch the football better," McCarthy said.
As an offense, the seven points the Packers scored were the fewest they've ever scored in a game in which Rodgers started and finished. Previously, the Packers' lowest scoring output since Rodgers became the starter in 2008 was in a 9-0 shutout victory over the New York Jets in 2010. The Packers' longest play from scrimmage against the Lions went for 18 yards. It marked the first time since that 2008 loss to Minnesota that they didn't have at least one 20-yard play.
Both after the game and Monday, McCarthy second-guessed whether he should have gone to a more pass-heavy approach once he realized the ground game wasn't working like it should have against the Lions' defensive approach. The Packers ran the ball 15 times in the first half and only seven times in the second half.
"The ability to attack any coverage, particularly with Aaron, the only correction I would make as a play-caller is, 'Do you go to it sooner?'" McCarthy said. "As far as just attacking their coverage, attacking their two-deep. Once again, we have good players. We didn't play very well in the run game and it definitely factored in the game."
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