After Green Bay’s 51-45 wild-card playoff loss at Arizona, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers offered up an interesting detail in explaining his interception on the Packers’ first play of the game. According to Rodgers, tight ends Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley ran the same pattern. “We had a little bit of miscommunication,” Rodgers said. But Rodgers added to the mistake by trying to make something of the play rather than scrapping it and moving on to second down. He bought some time for Finley to clear the area and then threw toward Lee, who Rodgers said he thought was going to come back toward the ball. Instead, linebacker Karlos Dansby tipped the ball into the air and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made the interception. “We were just on different pages,” Rodgers said. “Definitely a poor decision on my part.”
You have to wonder if we’ve seen the last of a Packers offensive line that includes Chad Clifton at left tackle and Mark Tauscher on the right side. Tauscher is 32, Clifton is 33 and both players will be free agents. It was interesting that Rodgers mentioned both players while noting that rosters change from year to year. Rookie T.J. Lang replaced Clifton after he departed Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle, and the Packers sure seem to have groomed him for a starting role -- at either left or right tackle -- in 2010.
I want to take a longer look at this later in the week, but is there any doubt that Finley has -- at the very least -- brought himself up to an equal threat with receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver? Finely caught six passes for 159 yards, the second-highest postseason yardage total in NFL history for a tight end, and was Rodgers most-favored target for the latter half of the season. Finley has changed the Packers offense, and we’ll take a look later this week.
And here is one question I’m still asking:
What is an acceptable amount of production to give up against elite quarterbacks? As we noted Sunday, there is no shame in losing an aerial battle to the likes of Kurt Warner, Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger. But here is what those three quarterbacks combined for in four games against the Packers this season: 99 completions in 138 attempts (71.7. percent) for 1,397 yards, 15 touchdowns and no interceptions. That works out to a passer rating of 140.2. It’s one thing to get beat by top quarterbacks, but it’s another to be gashed as if there is no resistance. I’m not sure where that dividing line is, but I’m pretty sure the Packers were at the wrong end of it this season. In-game adjustments seemed scarce at best. The team’s inability to so much as slow down top-level passing attacks must be a top offseason priority.