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Rodgers' take? Offense not 'very effective,' lacking 'clear-cut direction'

OAKLAND, Calif. -- While coach Mike McCarthy may feel like the Green Bay Packers are right where they need to be with two games to play, Aaron Rodgers knows what both he and the Packers’ offense have accomplished during his time as the starting quarterback.

And in the aftermath of the Packers’ playoff-berth-clinching, 30-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at O.co Coliseum, Rodgers wasn’t about to grade on a curve.

Now, he did run some misdirection when asked what happened when he threw an out-of-character, late-fourth-quarter interception to Raiders cornerback David Amerson. (“I was trying to get it to Wood and I underthrew it a little bit,” Rodgers wisecracked, referring to his good friend and former teammate, Raiders safety Charles Woodson, who also got his hands on the ball at the goal line.)

But the two-time NFL MVP was very clear in his assessment of the Packers’ offensive performance: Not. Good. Enough.

Asked if he felt good about what the offense had done after what McCarthy acknowledged as a slow start, Rodgers’ one-word reply was, “No.” Asked why not, Rodgers, whose answers throughout his 6 1/2-minute Q&A session were curt but oddly pleasant, was again concise: “We weren't very effective. We had less than 300 yards and had a terrible first half."

Indeed, while the Packers locked up their franchise-record seventh straight playoff berth Sunday, neither the offense (31 percent third-down conversion rate, 293 net yards, one touchdown in five trips inside Oakland’s 20-yard line) nor Rodgers (22-of-39, 204 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 68.8 passer rating) was up to snuff -- a recurring theme this season. Midway through the second quarter, the Packers had just 12 net yards of offense -- but had a 14-6 lead thanks to Micah Hyde and Damarious Randall intercepting a pair of Derek Carr passes.

The offense did seem to find some semblance of a rhythm early in the second half, using wide receiver Randall Cobb out of the backfield at times and going with four wide receivers (Cobb, James Jones, Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis) and fullback John Kuhn as its primary personnel package. But Rodgers said it was only “a little bit” of an improvement and pointed out that while the offense answered with a Rodgers-to-Jones touchdown after Oakland took its only lead of the game midway through the third quarter, the Packers’ longest drive -- a 19-play, 92-yarder -- ended in an unfulfilling field goal.

“We just don't really have a clear-cut direction,” Rodgers said. "We got into some stuff with John in there and four receivers, but we were too inconsistent."

Added right guard T.J. Lang: “There’s some frustration. We feel like we’re not playing up to our talent level a little bit. Hey, we won the game. We won the game by 10 points. We’re never going to be upset about that. I think we just feel like we just need to be more consistent on offense. I know we put up 30 points. Our defense is really responsible for 14 of those.”

McCarthy, meanwhile, said multiple times after the game that he wasn’t concerned with aesthetics. Mindful of the Packers’ late-season loss at Buffalo a year ago -- McCarthy even broke from his “stats are for losers” mantra during the week to point out how his teams had struggled in such late-season road games against uncommon opponents -- he eventually dismissed repeated questions as nitpicking.

“We won the game,” McCarthy said. “We’re at 10 wins, and that’s what we came out here to do.”

When McCarthy reclaimed play-calling duties from associate head coach Tom Clements in last week’s victory over Dallas, the Packers racked up 230 rushing yards on 44 attempts. Sunday, they managed just 103 yards on 28 carries.

Asked how he felt about the state of the offense after two games back as the playcaller, McCarthy replied, “I feel good about it. I’m not into style points or stats or any of those types of things. It’s fun to go score a bunch of points, put up a bunch of yards but, at the end of the day, everybody’s fighting to get into the playoffs right now.”

The Packers certainly aren’t racking up points or yards this season, McCarthy’s 10th season as head coach and eighth with Rodgers as the starter. Entering their final two games at Arizona next Sunday and at home against Minnesota on Jan. 3, the Packers are on pace for their worst third-down conversion rate of McCarthy’s tenure (35.8 percent), their second-fewest points during Rodgers’ time as the starter (396) and their second-fewest yards of the Rodgers-McCarthy era (4,825).

Rodgers, meanwhile, goes into the final two games having completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,379 yards with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 95.2 -- putting him on pace for the lowest completion percentage and lowest yards per attempt (6.8) of his time as a starter. The NFL’s all-time leader in passer rating, this would be Rodgers’ second-lowest-rated season, better only than his first year as a starter in 2008 (93.8).

While McCarthy became annoyed by what he perceived as too many “negativities,” even Woodson -- always a call-it-like-I-see-it truth-teller during his seven years in Green Bay -- acknowledged this wasn’t the Packers offense he was accustomed to seeing, especially without Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson, whose August knee injury ended his season before it began.

“It’s really predicated on what you could do running the ball,” Woodson said. “Just looking at our game today, we did a great job stopping the run. They didn’t really have that. [And] I thought our defensive backs did a great job covering their receivers. Is it a different offense without Jordy? He is that one guy that can really stretch the field.

“If [they’re] not able to run the ball with the backs they have and you make them be one-dimensional and put pressure on them, yeah, the offense is not going to be what it’s supposed to be.”