MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA'S SCOUTING REPORT: Green Bay Packers

Posted Nov 2, 2017

Mike O'Hara takes a look at how the Green Bay Packers shape up on offense, defense and special teams.

Head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t pretending that it’s business as usual for the Green Bay Packers without star quarterback Aaron Rodgers available to run the offense.

Rodgers could miss the rest of the season because of a broken right collarbone sustained early in the first quarter of a Game 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers also lost the next game to the New Orleans Saints before going on a bye.

While Rodgers rehabs the injury for a possible late-season return, the Packers have been forced to go with backup Brett Hundley, a fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA in 2015.

Hundley has some physical ability, but his lack of experience has shown in the two games he has played. Before this year Hundley had thrown only 10 passes, completing two.

Hundley has struggled since Rodgers’ departed, completing 31 of 59 passes (52.5 percent) with one touchdown and four interceptions. That’s one more interception than Rodgers had in 193 pass attempts before the injury. 

McCarthy was asked about the obvious decline in production at quarterback as the Packers prepare for Monday night’s home game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.

“I think you’re stating the obvious,” McCarthy said in a conference-call interview Thursday. “Your team is different without Aaron Rodgers.”

For veterans like wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who’s been one of Rodgers’ favorite targets, the changes in the offense, aren’t as dramatic as some might think. Players don’t have to make extreme changes in their routine and preparation.

“There have been some tweaks, but nothing too crazy,” Nelson said Thursday.

“It’s staying true to yourself and not changing anything you do. I don’t like it when people come out and say, ‘Everybody has to do a little bit more.’  If you can do a little bit more now, why weren’t you doing a little bit more earlier.”

With the two losses dropping their won-loss record to 4-3, the Packers are in jeopardy of having their streak of eight straight seasons making the playoffs come to an end.

The 2013 season is the only other time Rodgers has been out for an extended time since succeeding Brett Favre as the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008.

The Packers nearly missed the playoffs that year. Rodgers missed seven full games and all but one possession of an eighth with a broken left collarbone. The Packers went 2-5-1 in those eight games.

Rodgers saved the Packers’ season with a performance that was typical of his flair for the dramatic.

He returned to start a final-game showdown against the Chicago Bears for the NFC North title. Rodgers’ 48-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb on fourth and eight with 38 seconds left won the game.

Here’s how the Packers shape up:

How they got to 4-3: When Rodgers went down the Packers were riding a three-game winning streak, capped by a 35-31 road victory over the Cowboys that had them in first place in the North. The Packers looked like one of the powers of the NFC as they headed into a Game 6 meeting against the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. 

The injury to Rodgers, sustained on a tackle by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, changed everything. The Vikings have taken control of the NFC North with a 6-2 record.

Offense: Rookie Aaron Jones, a fifth-round draft pick from Texas-El Paso, has taken over as the lead back with 346 yards and a 5.6-yard average per carry. Jones rushed for 125 yards against Dallas and added 131 in last week’s loss to the Saints. He broke a 46-yard TD run in that game. 

Against the Lions he’ll be confronted by a run defense that ranks seventh in the league and held Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell to 76 yards in 25 carries in the last game.

The Packers have five receivers with 20 or more catches, led by Davante Adams with 30 and five TDs, Randall Cobb with 28 and one TD and Jordy Nelson with 26 and six TDs.

However, 13 of Green Bay’s TD passes came from Rodgers and only one from Hundley.

Defense: The Packers have 12 sacks, tied with the Raiders for fourth fewest in the league. Whatever pressure they get comes primarily from the outside linebackers in their 3-4 alignment.

Nick Perry on the right side has a team-high 3.5 sacks. Clay Matthews, who’s had double-digit sacks in four of his eight seasons, is next with 2.5 sacks from the left side.

The Packers are aggressive in getting turnovers. They are tied for the league lead with seven fumble recoveries, but rank just 17th with six interceptions.