“I missed a few shots, sure”

The Packers had a chance to win their second home game in less than a week, four days after upsetting the Cowboys. As good as Green Bay looked against Dallas on Sunday, it was the complete opposite on Thursday night.

After the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers faced a series of pointed questions about the team’s disappointing performance — starting with his own.

“I missed some shots, for sure,” Rodgers told reporters. “I must have missed two shots.”

Indeed he did. It became most evident in the fourth quarter as the Packers tried to cut a 10-point deficit. On one drive, after Rasul Douglas’ interception of Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill kept the score at 27-17, Rodgers badly missed a wide-open Sammy Watkins on third-and-12. On the next drive, Rodgers made a throw over from the outstretched arms of Third and third Allen Lazard.

Both results drew a barrage of boos from the crowd at Lambeau Field. Rodgers was asked how he felt hearing that reaction from Packers fans.

“Interesting,” he said after a long pause. “This is the best I can give you.”

It’s hard to know if Rodgers is truly up to his best on the field, with a thumb injury dating back to their loss to the Giants in London. He said he wouldn’t make excuses based on the lingering issue, but added that he “didn’t have a solid grip” against the Titans and that he “threw a lot of wobblers.”

At one point, he was asked, “Where are you going from here?”

“Home,” he said.

The literal answer had a potentially unintended meaning. At 4-7, they’re on the verge of going home as it relates to their dwindling postseason hopes.

There was still a flicker of optimism from the two-time defending league MVP.

“If we play to the best of our abilities, we can win the next six games,” Rodgers said.

The problem is that they haven’t played to their full potential for most of the year. He said it will take more than he and the rest of the team’s captains to get the message across to the locker room at large about their chances of turning it around.

On Sunday they showed what they can do. But they must do it consistently. They could run the ball against the Cowboys. They couldn’t face it against the Titans.

This is the basic reality for every NFL team. The talent gap between franchises isn’t as wide as it once was. In every game both teams hope to play to their potential. If one does, the other necessarily doesn’t.

Seven of 11 times this year, the Packers haven’t. While it’s not impossible to think they can go six-for-six and make the playoffs, any additional losses at this point will close the door a little more.

At some point, they may have to admit that it’s just not going to happen. Maybe that’s when Rodgers heads to injured reserve, Jordan Love takes some reps in preparation for 2023 and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time sees his career end with a whimper, not a bang.

That possibility remains several games away. With Rodgers at the helm, they are capable of catching fire, putting together a winning streak.

The next opportunity comes in 10 days when they face the Eagles in Philadelphia Sunday night football. After that, the Packers go to Chicago. Then comes a bye, followed by a Monday night game against the Rams, a visit to Miami on Christmas Day and season-ending home games against the Vikings and Lions.

Game seventeen keeps hope alive for a little while longer for each team. Before 2021, the Packers would likely already be done, at 4-7. A loss to Philly in Week 12 would likely mean they would have to go 5-0 and hope for help to reach the playoffs with a 9-8 record.

So basically, the playoffs start for the Packers next Sunday night. If they lose to the Eagles, it could be time to start thinking about turning the page on 2023, which could also mean finally closing the book on the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay.

Again it’s not over. Not by any means. After one of those upcoming games, though, when Rodgers is asked where he goes from here and says “home,” it could have a much greater sense of permanence.

Aaron Rodgers: ‘I missed some shots, sure’ appeared first on Pro Football Talk

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