Offense facing uphill battle

Mistakes, turnovers, missed opportunities stem from third-down shortcomings

Packers coach Mike McCarthy broke down his offense's many shortcomings.

"Offensively, we were poor today," McCarthy said after Sunday's 30-21 loss at Tampa Bay. "Didn't run the ball very well. I thought they got after us upfront. The running back and the run blocking unit is not in sync. We need to get that corrected; that's two weeks in a row. We need to do a better job there. Pass protection, as a whole, the down and distance, particularly in the second quarter, we were playing uphill with the field position and the penalties."

He forgot to mention the offense's four turnovers.

"We just made a number of the same mistakes that we've made the first three weeks," McCarthy said.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, superb the first two games, was held in check last week against Dallas and struggled through a 14-of-27, three-interception performance on Sunday. The first interception came on a dropped pass on third-and-18, the second came on a poor throw on second-and-18 and the third came when he made a poor read on a blitz.

"Turnovers, we had too many turnovers today that led directly to points," Rodgers said. "I think they scored off every one of our turnovers. They had 24 points off those turnovers. Our defense did a good job keeping us in the game and gave us great field position in the second half. We didn't execute at all on offense. You got to give the credit, they had a good game plan, but I think it was more about us not executing than them executing. We didn't make any plays."

The only big play made by Green Bay's run game was made by the Buccaneers. Ryan Grant looked like he was on his way to a big game when the Packers took the opening possession for a touchdown, but he was held 3 yards on his final 10 carries and lost 4 yards on two receptions. He fumbled on a third-quarter running play when he was hammered by aging linebacker Derrick Brooks, and Jermaine Phillips raced the other way 38 yards for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 20-7 lead.

"Not very good, plain and simple," Grant said. "I started off pretty good, we started off moving the ball and doing some things, and then we didn't play well. My fumble in the second half is inexcusable, plain and simple. I have to perform at a higher level."

An emphasis at practice last week was third down. The Packers went 4-for-14 against Dallas and followed that with a 4-for-13 conversion rate on Sunday. The Packers converted three of their first four third downs, then didn't convert another until Rodgers hit Greg Jennings with a 48-yard touchdown pass on third-and-16 late in the third quarter.

Stunningly, they failed on three of four third-and-1 chances, and also faced four plays of third-and-14 or longer. Most of those problems can be chalked up to a woeful run game that picked up 28 yards on 18 carries, including six carries for 7 yards in the second half.

"We'll have to watch the film to see what the biggest problem is, but obviously we need to get that phase of our offense going," Rodgers said. "We are not able to put ourselves in a second-and-manageable and third-and-manageable situations than convert on third and one. That's been a big problem here the past couple of years. We've got to keep drives going by converting those third and short situations. I'm not worried about the line or getting the guys going, we just need to execute.

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