There wasn’t really anything to like about the Green Bay Packers‘ loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night from the perspective of Green Bay fans. Not a single unit on the team played well, but the offensive line really deserves the brunt of the blame.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times, bringing his season total to a brutal 37, first in the NFL (the Arizona Cardinals have given up 46 sacks, but they like to spread the beatdown around among different quarterbacks). When he wasn’t being driven to the ground, Rodgers was being hit, hurried, and chased out of the pocket seemingly every time he took a snap.
The need for extra blockers for Rodgers absolutely murdered the Packers’ chances in the passing game. Instead of being able to able to spread out the field with receivers and play to their strengths, Green Bay was forced to put extra tight ends on the field to try to stop the Giants’ pass rush. Not that it did much good. The extra men on the line left the New York secondary with fewer threats to cover, giving Rodgers nowhere to throw to, even if he had had time to throw.
I wasn’t a big fan of coach Mike McCarthy’s decision to run the ball as much as the Packers did, but, honestly, what was he supposed to do? Subject Rodgers to more brutal hits? The run-heavy (for Green Bay) offense was as much about protecting the quarterback as it was trying to establish balance.
There’s no real solution here except for the offensive line to play better, particularly left tackle Marshall Newhouse and transplanted right tackle T.J. Lang. Rodgers, the receivers, and the play calling can have some effect on the outcome, but no matter how well Rodgers and the receivers play, or how brilliant the play calling is, none of that matters if the offensive linemen can’t block the guys in front of them.
I have naive, loyal faith in the line because I think they’re all talented enough to play at a much, much higher level than was displayed Sunday night. They were facing one of the league’s best pass rushing defenses, but if Green Bay has long-term playoff aspirations, the individual play by the offensive linemen needs to improve in a hurry.