by Dave DeLano
In a horrible display of football, the Green Bay Packers walked through their game Saturday night with the Minnesota Vikings and were shut out 16-0. It was the second goose-egg performance this year at Lambeau. It was downright embarrassing for Cheeseheads. This game was the first in a long time that a Packer team had no chance of getting a playoff berth, so this game vexed Cheeseheads as to how the squad would respond. The outcome was a resounding scream for change to come.
The Vikings scored first and second and at halftime led 10-0. The Packers’ offense in the first half (and the second) was putrid. Unable to hardly get anything going, the Packer offense struggled and struggled. Brett Hundley threw a horrible pass that was intercepted late in the second quarter and had accumulated only 49 yards of total passing by intermission. The Packer receivers didn’t help the cause by dropping five passes in total. Tight end Lance Kendricks was particularly inept.
In comparison the Packer defense played fairly well, but there were major gaffes defensively as well. The Packers’ injury report was brutal with something like six starters inactive and others would go down during the game. Cornerback Josh Hawkins was forced into starting action and had a rough night. He wasn’t alone as confusion reigned once again with players looking uncertain as to what they were supposed to do. Twice penalties were called for having too many players on the field.
At one point a television camera caught Packer General Manager Ted Thompson with a prolonged, gap-mouthed,foggy stare looking into space seemingly in disbelief. It was a sad picture of an old man reflecting on things gone south during his watch. Certainly there were successes in the past, but the current state of the team is such that Cheeseheads have to find it alarming. It will be interesting if Thompson is contemplating stepping down or perhaps taking a lesser role in the organization. He should.
The second half of this ballgame was similar to the first. Mike McCarthy got desperate as the game sailed out of control and called for Hundley to throw deep balls. The weather conditions prohibited long-ball success and Hundley does not throw particularly good deep balls. Using an Aaron Rodgers’ strategy with a player who doesn’t have an Aaron Rodgers’ arm didn’t make any sense to me. Hundley was picked off a second time late in the game and ended up with a passer rating of 30.5. What a mess!
It is hard to find positives when your team puts a goose egg on the scoreboard. Here are a couple nuggets. The defense did hold the Vikings to 236 total yards and 16 points. Those numbers should compete favorably in the NFL. Kenny Clark had two sacks and continues to impress with his good work on the defensive line. Offensive tackle David Bahktiari threw a complete shutout on Everson Griffen, one of the Vikings’ vaulted pass rushers. Rookie Michael Clark got his first chance at contributing and demonstrated the great potential and rawness that he possesses.
Hang in there Cheeseheads, there is only one more game left in this miserable season and that takes place next week in Detroit versus the Lions. Like this game, I expect McCarthy to use the Lions game as an evaluation tool, another step in determining which coaches and which players he wants back next year when there will be a fresh start. It is a long season and this one seems way longer than most.