Telling Packers statistics

Bill Huber

The movie “Hope Floats” has nothing to do with football. But with their victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers’ playoff hopes were afloat.

Then the Tennessee Titans came to town and produced the sequel.

“Hope Sunk.”

The Packers were booed off the field before halftime and again late in the fourth quarter before the frozen fans headed to the exits. Barring a miracle, the 27-17 loss to the Titans will have been the final torpedo shot into the underachieving Packers.

Headed into Sunday night’s game at the powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles, here are six individual statistical reasons why the Packers have been such underachievers.

Aaron Rodgers: Efficiency

During his MVP seasons of 2020 and 2021, Rodgers was around 69% completions, 4,200 yards, 43 touchdowns, five interceptions and 8 yards per attempt. This year, he’s at 64.6% completions, projections of 3,930 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and 6.8 yards per attempt.

There are a myriad of reasons, starting with the obvious of the offseason trade of Davante Adams. Adams was a great player who got open most of the time. What a luxury. And what a security blanket to know that, whether it’s first-and-10 in the first quarter or third-and-8 in the fourth quarter, that the No. 1 read on any play would get open.

Rodgers has strong connections with Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, but they’re not Adams. The most talented receivers on the roster are rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson, but Doubs has missed most of the last three games with a high-ankle sprain and Watson missed so much time with a hamstring injury, concussion and feared concussion that he didn’t play more than 40 snaps in a game until his breakout performance in week 10 against Dallas.

Combined, the players with the connection aren’t super-talented, and the players who are talented don’t have the connection.

The interceptions number, while still quite good, is noteworthy. He hasn’t thrown more than eight interceptions since tossing 11 in 2010.

“If we play up to our potential, we can win our last six games. I’m confident in that,” Rodgers said after a shaky performance vs. the Titans. “Obviously, I’ve got to play up to my potential. Tonight wasn’t it.”

Allen Lazard: Not No. 1

During training camp, Rodgers called Lazard a No. 1 receiver. It was a ludicrous statement at the time and ludicrous today. Lazard is a quality player and excellent role player. Every team would love to have someone like him. A No. 1 receiver, though? No way.

As a supporting player, Lazard was coming off three consecutive seasons in which he averaged about 36 receptions, 480 yards and five touchdowns. Lazard was never a focal point for defensive coordinators, but he is now.

The raw numbers are there with 38 receptions for 529 yards and five touchdowns. His 13.9-yard average is the best mark of his career. However, after catching 67.8% of his targets in 2021, 73.3% in 2020 and 68.6% in 2019, he’s at 58.5% this season. It’s harder to get open when you’re facing better cornerbacks.

AJ Dillon: Powerless

At about 245 pounds of bulging biceps and thick thighs, Dillon should be a nightmare for defenses. He is, in a way. He’s almost never brought down by just one defender. On the other hand, he’s generally stopped by one defender before being taken down by a host of others.

According to Pro Football Focus, 32 running backs have at least 90 carries entering week 12. Dillon ranks 20th with 117 carries but is just 26th with 17 missed tackles, 28th with eight carries of 10-plus yards, 19th with 2.93 yards per carry after contact and 30th in elusive rating, a metric that attempts to measure the impact of a runner independent of his blocking.

The Packers hoped Aaron Jones and Dillon could carry the load, literally, in the post-Davante Adams offense. Jones has been great, but Dillon has been a bit underwhelming.

Elgton Jenkins: Not at home

As a rookie left guard in 2019, Jenkins didn’t allow a single sack. As a Pro Bowl left guard in 2020, he allowed one sack. Forced out to left tackle to replace David Bakhtiari in 2021, he allowed two sacks in eight games before suffering a torn ACL.

The Packers moved him to right tackle, their weakest spot on the line, with the belief that Jenkins’ talent and proven versatility would be enough to overcome any lingering affects from the knee injury.

In nine games, he’s allowed three sacks — two at right tackle and one since moving back to left guard. Jenkins is a high-quality player. He’ll be much better once the knee injury is fully beyond him. But, headed into the stretch run, he has not been a dominant player.

Kenny Clark: Not much pressure

Clark’s a two-time Pro Bowler and one of the best three-down defensive tackles in the NFL. He’s not Aaron Donald but he’s right in that next tier, which he demonstrated at the start of the season.

In the first three games, Clark recorded two sacks and five quarterback hits, according to the official NFL stats, and three quarterback hits and 13 pressures, according to PFF.

In the last eight games, Clark has only one sack and one quarterback hit (vs. Dallas), according to the league, and one sack, zero quarterback hits and 16 pressures, according to PFF.

He’s on pace for 25 pressures, which would be the fewest of his career.

Eric Stokes: Year 2 disappointment

If not for one poor game at Minnesota last season, the first-round pick might have earned All-Rookie honors. Teams count on quantum leaps forward from players in their second season, so what would Stokes for an encore?

According to PFF, Stokes gave up a 51% catch rate, 6.1 yards per target and a 79.1 passer rating while missing 9.2% of his tackle attempts as a rookie.

This year, he allowed an 84% catch rate, 11 yards per target and a 125.8 passer rating while missing 16.1% of his tackle attempts before suffering a season-ending ankle surgery against Detroit.

With Stokes’ slide and Rasul Douglas going from a 50.8% completion rate in 2021 to 71.8% in 2022 and Jaire Alexander going from 50.7% during his All-Pro season of 2020 to 58.7% in 2022, it’s no wonder why the Packers’ defense has been such a disappointment.