Mike McCarthy focused on 2018, not his job status

Following a 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers are very much in danger of missing the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time since 2005-2006. And for that reason, the job status of coach Mike McCarthy is being called into question.

Many believe he got a pass last year thanks to his star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, missing more than half the season with a broken collarbone. But Rodgers has played in all 10 games this year, admittedly not at 100 percent, and yet Green Bay sits at 4-5-1.

Reporters broached the topic of his job security with McCarthy on Friday, and as you’d expect, he kept the attention on his immediate future.

“I”m focused on what’s in front of us,” McCarthy said. “Every individual on the inside [of the franchise], particularly the football team, we have a 2018 commitment and that’s all I’ve ever focused on.”

McCarthy is in his 13th year as Green Bay’s coach, having led the Packers to the playoffs nine times and winning Super Bowl XLV.

Packers lose 27-24 in Seattle

The Green Bay Packers still can’t win in Seattle.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 332 yards and two scores, but was errant in an important moment and made a questionable decision in another in what turned into a 27-24 loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night. It moved Green Bay to 0-5 on the road and just 4-5-1 overall with six games to play.

“Of course there is hope,” Rodgers shot back when asked about the dire situation the team is in. “We still believe in each other. It’s just going to take one galvanizing moment. Whether that’s a speech, or a practice, or something happens in a game, something has to get this going.”

Aaron Jones finished with 103 total yards and two touchdowns, but only six of his 16 touches on the night came after halftime when the Packers struggled to get much going offensively. After running all over Miami last Sunday, Green Bay had just 48 yards on the ground on 13 attempts. The latter number is tied for the second-fewest in coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure.

Two plays in the fourth quarter sealed Green Bay’s fate. With third-and-5 at Seattle’s 12-yard line, Rodgers failed to check the ball down to Jones for what likely would have been a first down. Instead, he got sacked and the Packers were forced to kick a field goal to go up 24-20.

Then, after Seattle had scored to make it 27-24, Green Bay had a third-and-2 at their own 33-yard line. Rodgers had Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a quick out for what should have been a first down, but threw the ball to low and it bounced short of the wide receiver. The Packers punted and never got the ball back.

“The ball just stuck to my hand, went into the dirt,” Rodgers told reporters afterwards. “[It’s] frustrating. I could do that a hundred times and probably not do that again.”

It wasted a big night from wide receiver Davante Adams. He had 10 catches for a career-high 166 yards, while tight end Robert Tonyan caught his first pass on a 54-yard strike from Rodgers off a broken play.

Defensively, Green Bay held its own as much as it could. Already without safety Kentrell Brice, linebacker Nick Perry and cornerback Kevin King, the Packers lost safety Raven Greene, cornerback Bashaud Breeland, and defensive tackle Mike Daniels to game-ending injuries.

One bright spot was Kyler Fackrell, who continued his surprising season with three sacks — his second three-sack game of the year. He leads Green Bay with eight sacks.

Things do not get any easier for the Packers. They finish off a stretch of four road games in five weeks with a trip to Minnesota next Sunday to face the Vikings.

Packers 31, Dolphins 12: 2-minute drill

Aaron Jones scored two touchdowns on the ground and Aaron Rodgers threw for two more as the Green Bay Packers rolled to a 31-12 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Game Balls

Offense: Aaron Jones

It’s pretty simple with Jones. He makes Green Bay’s offense immeasurably better when he’s on the field and getting the ball. The second-year running back accounted for 52 yards on a game-opening touchdown drive. Then, on the second scoring drive of the day, Jones burst up the middle for a 67-yard gain and scored two plays later. After the Dolphins made it a 14-12 game early in the third quarter, Jones was a big part of another offensive drive that he finished with a 10-yard score, giving him his first multi-touchdown game as a pro. He finished the day with a career-high 145 yards rushing, averaging 9.7 yards per carry, while also catching three passes for 27 yards.

Sunday was the breakout performance everyone had been waiting and wanting for Jones to have. That it came a week after a costly fumble in New England, one he took responsibility for and promised to correct, made it even better. The Packers have a star in the making.

Defense: Kenny Clark

The Packers gave up some early rush yards to Miami’s Frank Gore, but otherwise stymied what the Dolphins were trying to do. Clark was a big part of it, collecting six tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. Miami quarterback Brock Osweiler spent a healthy portion of the game on his back, with Clark and the rest of the front seven — and even some of the secondary — causing issues. The third-year pro out of UCLA doesn’t get the credit on league-wide scale that he deserves, but he’s become Green Bay’s best defensive lineman.

Special Teams: Raven Greene

It was not a banner day for the Green Bay special teams, which saw a punt get blocked and also allowed Miami a first down on a fake punt. But the Packers got a measure of revenge, pulling out their own fake punt in the fourth quarter with Greene taking the snap and getting to the outside for a 26-yard gain. The play set up Mason Crosby’s 38-yard field goal.

What they said

In Case You Missed It

— Green Bay suffered a number of injuries, including a couple that looked serious:

* S Kentrell Brice (ankle, did not return)
* LB Nick Perry (knee, did not return)
* CB Jaire Alexander (head, did not return)
* Bashaud Breeland (groin, did not return)

— For a second straight game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not wear a brace on his injured left knee

Inside the Numbers

228 — That’s the number of passes Rodgers has gone without throwing an interception at home

4 — That’s how many straight games the Packers have run for at least 100 yards. It’s their longest streak since opening the 2015 season with four-straight 100-yard games.

31 — That’s the number of sacks the Packers have this year after collecting six on Sunday. They are on pace for 55 this season, which would be a franchise record.

What’s Next

Green Bay (4-4-1) heads to Seattle on Thursday night to face the Seahawks (4-5).

Packers cut Jermaine Whitehead, put Geronimo Allison on injured reserve

The Green Bay Packers played eight defensive backs in their Week 17 loss to Detroit last season. Only one of those is still on the team.

General Manager Brian Gutekunst sent safety Jermaine Whitehead packing on Tuesday, just two days after he was ejected from a game for slapping a New England player in the helmet.

The move came on the same day the team placed wide receiver Geronimo Allison on injured reserve after he hurt in groin in practice last week.

In related moves, the team signed cornerback Will Redmond from the practice squad and signed linebacker Brady Sheldon to the practice squad.

Whitehead had played a part-time role before seeing an increased number of snaps against the Los Angeles Rams.

With Whitehead’s departure, only safety Josh Jones remains from the Green Bay secondary that took the field against the Lions last December.

Patriots 31, Packers 17: 2-minute drill

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Former Wisconsin running back James White ran for two touchdowns and quarterback Tom Brady threw for another as the New England Patriots took care of Green Bay 31-17 to drop the Packers to 3-4-1 on the year.

Game Balls

Offense: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

The rookie wide receiver continued his string of big plays Sunday night, grabbing three balls for 101 yards. His first catch went for 51 on third-and-6 and set up a third-quarter touchdown. Then he made an acrobatic sideline grab to convert another third down and followed that by hauling in a 26-yard strike to set the Packers up deep in New England territory heading to the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, Aaron Jones fumbled on the next play and the Patriots scored 14 unanswered to get the win. Had they not done that, a lot of the talk afterwards would have been about Valdes-Scantling, who you could argue is the second-best wide receiver on the Packers roster right now.

He’s topped the 100-yard mark twice in the last three games and he’s clearly the top deep threat with three 40+ yard catches this season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ confidence in him is growing and that should mean even more opportunities for the fifth-round pick.

Defense: LB Antonio Morrison

No one was great on the Packers defense, but Morrison had a couple of big plays, namely an 11-yard sack of Brady in the second half. He also jumped out physically, taking on blockers with power. The Patriots ended up running for 123 yards, but averaged just 4.0 per carry, and most of it came in the first half. After the break, they ran 16 times for just 42 yards. Morrison ended up with seven tackles — the second-most on the team — as Green Bay’s defense held the Patriots in check until the fourth quarter.

Special Teams: JK Scott

No one was sure if Scott would punt on Sunday, not even the Packers. His wife is due to deliver their first child this month and there was a chance he wouldn’t be available to play if she did. It’s why the Packers had a separate plane set aside for him and why they signed a second punter to the roster. But Scott punted and was solid, averaging 42 yards per kick, forcing four fair catches by returner Julian Edelman and no yards on the one return he did have.

What they said

“[It was a] good defensive play. Looking at it on replay, [he] punched the ball out. That’s my mistake. I’ll correct it and I’m happy to be here.

“We stalled after that. A big part of it was that fumble, which was my fault.”

— RB Aaron Jones on his fourth quarter fumble that turned the momentum in New England’s favor

“We need that game next week. We need it. We’re running out of games to keep saying, ‘we need that game.’ We definitely need it at this point. Guys have to step up. … We need that from everybody, both sides of the ball and special teams.”

— WR Davante Adams on what they need to do to turn around their season at 3-4-1

“We did a lot of really good things. We just have to do them more consistently. That’s kind of been our M.O. all year. We just have to be on top of things better.”

— DE Mike Daniels on where they are as a team eight games into the season

In Case You Missed It

— Quarterback Aaron Rodgers went without a knee brace for the first time since getting injured in Week 1 against Chicago.

Bashaud Breeland was active for the first time since being signed in October. He started at cornerback and served as the kick returner. Breeland finished with a team-high eight tackles.

— With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being traded to Washington last Tuesday, veteran Tramon Williams started at safety for Green Bay. A cornerback for much of his career, Williams credited with six tackles on the night.

—- Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) and safety Kentrell Brice suffered injuries in the first half and did not return.

Linebacker Blake Martinez left the field on a cart after an apparent ankle injury, but later returned to the game.

— Safety Jermaine Whitehead got caught open-hand slapping one of the Patriots’ players in the first half and was ejected.

Inside the Numbers

153 — That’s how many career touches Jones had gone without fumbling until coughing it up on the first play of the fourth quarter in Patriots’ territory.

39.6 — That was Rodgers’ passing rating in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Green Bay had just 22 yards in the final 15 minutes.

What’s Next

Green Bay (3-4-1) will host the Miami Dolphins (5-4) at Lambeau Field on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.

Packers trade S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, RB Ty Montgomery

The Green Bay Packers were active at the trade deadline Tuesday afternoon.

General Manager Brian Gutekunst sent running back Ty Montgomery to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2020 seventh-round pick and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins for a 2019 fourth-round pick.

Both moves were first reported by NFL Network.

The Montgomery move seemed almost inevitable after his decision on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams to take a kickoff out of the end zone after being told not to and fumbling. It cost the Packers a chance to hand the ball to quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense with 2:05 left and only trailing 29-27.

A third-round pick, Montgomery was the last member of the 2015 draft class still on the team’s roster.

Clinton-Dix told the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Wilde earlier this year that he didn’t think he’d be back next year and would have been an unrestricted free agent after the season. He had played every snap this season, but his play had been inconsistent.

Montgomery only play six snaps against the Rams, so his workload won’t be difficult to replace and will likely mean more time for the electric Aaron Jones.

Ty Montgomery, Packers fumble away chance for big victory

Ty Montgomery didn’t lose Green Bay the game on Sunday, but he cost the Packers a chance to hand the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season.

Trailing 29-27 with 2:05 left, the running back took a kickoff out of the end zone and reached the 20-yard line before he was stripped of the football and the Rams recovered. Los Angeles got a first down and ran out the clock to get the win and move to 8-0, while the Packers fell to 3-3-1.

“The plan there is to stay in the end zone,” coach Mike McCarthy said afterward of Montgomery’s decision to bring the ball out. “I don’t know how deep he was, if it was close. But I think we all realize with the management of the clock and where we wanted to be there, we wanted to be north of two minutes with one timeout. We wanted to put the ball in Aaron (Rodgers) hands. But you also trust your players, touch decision, close decisions, and like I said, I think Ty was just trying to make a play.”

Pressed further about whether someone should have just told Montgomery to stay in the end zone no matter what, McCarthy was clear in what he wanted from his return man.

“The plan was to stay in and give the ball to Aaron Rodgers,” McCarthy said.

Instead, Rodgers was left seething on the sideline, unable to take the field and do what he’s done so often in his career — move the ball down the field, kick a game-winning field goal and get on the plane back home leading the NFC North.

“Yeah, very disappointing,” Rodgers said of not getting the ball. “That play didn’t lose the game but it definitely took away an opportunity for us to go down and win it.”

The Packers had their chances throughout the game, one they lost after leading 10-0 deep into the first half. But a safety and a late touchdown made it 10-8 at the break. Green Bay got a 51-yard field goal from Mason Crosby before the Rams scored back-to-back touchdowns to take a 23-13 lead.

“It sucks. We had them on the ropes,” defensive tackle Mike Daniels said. “When you’ve got Mike Tyson on the ropes you have to knock him out. You can’t give him any life. Too many times we gave them life.”

The Packers didn’t stop fighting after giving up the lead, though. Rodgers found wide receiver Davante Adams for a 41-yard completion on third-and-9 and two plays later Green Bay scored on a 33-yard run by Aaron Jones to make it 23-20. Los Angeles got a field goal to go up 26-20, but Rodgers then found Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 40-yard touchdown to take the lead. The Rams were forced to settle for a field goal and took a 29-27 lead, seemingly giving Rodgers the chance to be the hero again, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Montgomery declined to speak with reporters afterwards, leaving his teammates to talk for him.

“Oh, it’s real disappointing,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “You think as a defense you hold them to those three points, we’re only down two. We’re going to go down and win. That’s the confidence we have in [Rodgers] and our offense. It’s really frustrating because of just that. We feel like we battled in that locker room.”

They did and it left some to wonder if an effort like that — against the best team in the NFL — can help propel the team forward in a season that has been, to be kind, a tad inconsistent.

“There’s no momentum gained from a loss, in my opinion,” Rodgers said. “We can play with anybody, but we knew that before this game. It wasn’t like there was some revelation, like ‘Oh, well we can probably play with the Rams.’ No, we can play with anybody.”

The Packers went toe-to-toe with the best the NFL has to offer, but they still have their fewest wins through seven games since 2006 — the first year of McCarthy’s tenure. And things don’t get easier, as a Sunday night game at New England awaits Green Bay next week.

“We’re in a tough stretch right now, playing a bunch of division winners. We’ve got to find a way to win a game on the road,” Rodgers said, noting they are 0-3 on the road. “We’ve got to go to New England and beat a really good football team.”

Last hits: Packers 33, 49ers 30

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Nineteen last hits for Equanimous St. Brown’s 19-yard catch on the Packers’ game-winning drive in the 33-30 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

1. As long as Aaron Rodgers is wearing No. 12 for the Green Bay Packers, they’ll have a chance.

2. In a game where the Packers struggled at times, failing to convert a third down until midway through the second half, and settling for field goals far too often against the NFL’s 28th ranked defense, it just didn’t matter. It didn’t matter because Rodgers had some last-minute magic, as he always seems to.

3. This game easily could’ve been a loss for the Packers. They trailed San Francisco 30-23 with under five minutes remaining as the Niners had the ball. The defense stepped up and got the ball back to Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay’s offense, and from there it seemed as if everyone in the stadium knew how this one was going to end.

4. Rodgers spread the ball around plenty in the victory, too. Three different members of the Packers, Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, all finished with more than 100 yards receiving. Adams also had a pair of scores, his second being the one that tied the game up at 30 with just 1:55 remaining.

5. From there, Green Bay’s defense was put in a tough situation as San Francisco was able to start the next possession at its own 47-yard line thanks to a kick return to the 32-yard line paired with a 15-yard personal foul penalty against defensive back Tony Brown – his second in two weeks – for a late hit out of bounds.

6. After the 49ers entered Green Bay territory they faced a third and three from the Packers’ 46-yard line. It was then that defensive back Kevin King picked a great time to make his first career interception. C.J. Beathard’s pass fell into his arms at Green Bay’s 10-yard line.

7. Ninety yards to the goal line, tie game, no timeouts for Rodgers, and no doubt of what was going to happen.

8. On the first play the Packers handed the ball off to Ty Montgomery as he rushed for 14 yards and most importantly got out of bounds. Rodgers then followed that up with a pair of incomplete passes to bring up a third and 15 from the 19-yard line. On that play he was sacked, but the Packers were bailed out by an illegal contact penalty against San Francisco defensive back Richard Sherman that brought forth a new set of downs.

9. After new life was given to the Green Bay offense, it was nearly perfect. Rodgers ran for 21 yards on the first play, spiked the ball to stop the clock, then found Adams for eight yards on Green Bay’s sideline.

10. The Packers were facing third and two with 19 seconds remaining with a few yards to pick up before entering range of kicker Mason Crosby (more on him later).

11. It was at that point Rodgers turned to a player that few expected to come up big in this situation, Equanimeous St. Brown.

12. St. Brown made the most important catch of his young career for a 19-yard gain that gave the Packers not only the first down, but pushed them into comfortable range for Crosby.

13. To make things better for St. Brown, he was doing interviews in the locker room following the game – normally not a guy that would be sought after by the media – to talk about his catch and recent development. Furthermore, he was answering some questions in German. The Notre Dame product may be one of the more interesting players in Green Bay’s locker room, considering his father, John, is a former Mr. Universe, he speaks French in addition to English and German, and he holds dual citizenship between American and Germany.

14. After the worst week of his career against the Lions the Sunday prior, Crosby had one of his better days against the Niners. He finished 4-for-4 on field goals, including the game-winner from 27 yards away. Crosby also knocked through all three extra points in the win, the last of which he said was his most nerve-wracking kick of the night.

15. The organization stuck by the veteran kicker after he was 1-for-5 in Detroit in the loss to the Lions, and that’s not something they needed to do. Kickers change places in this league more often than almost any other position. It feels as if each and every Tuesday some organizations have a group of kickers in for a try-out. The Packers opted not to do that, even though the performance Crosby put forth in Detroit would have gotten most kickers in the NFL cut.

16. On Monday night it was easy to see that keeping Crosby was the right decision.

17. This game may not have fallen into “must-win” territory for the Packers, but it’s a great one to have. Sure, Green Bay was expected to win this game, and win it by more than just a field goal, but finding a way to claim the victory was big heading into the bye week.

18. After the bye week things will get more difficult than just the San Francisco 49ers without their star quarterback and unimpressive defense. Green Bay will have to travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams and New England for a showdown with the Patriots in the two weeks immediately following the off week. Then 4-2 Miami comes to town before a trip to the Seahawks and Vikings follows.

19. So, yeah, things are going to get tough in terms of who the Packers play moving forward. There’s no doubt that they’re in a better position with a win on Monday night than they would have been with a loss.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix thinks his days are numbered in Green Bay

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama. Since then his career has been up and down. He earned a Pro Bowl appearance in 2016, but hasn’t been the elite secondary player that the Packers hoped he would be.

Clinton-Dix thinks that relationship may be coming to an end sooner than later. The defensive pack is in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. He admitted to Madison.com’s Jason Wilde that this very well could be his last season in Green Bay.

“Right now, I’m playing each and every game like it’s my last. I don’t think I’m going to be here next year,” Clinton-Dix said. “That’s how I look at it. I just [have to] be honest with myself. You’ve got to play it game-by-game. Whether we’re losing by 60 points, you’ve got to go out there and perform. This is my biggest interview of my career. So I’ve got to perform, regardless of what the record says.”

So far this season Clinton-Dix has intercepted three passes while totaling 20 tackles, including one sack. In his career he has yet to miss a game, starting all 16 games in three of his four previous seasons. Clinton-Dix has started each of the five games for the Packers this year.

Packers fall to Lions in Detroit

The Green Bay Packers went to Detroit in search of their second NFC North win of the season, but things didn’t go as planned.

The Detroit Lions jumped out to a 24-0 lead on the Packers before quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense could get anything going. Rodgers finished the game with gaudy numbers, but much of it was too little, too late for the Packers. He totaled 442 yards and three scores through the air on 32-of-52 passing.

The Packers nearly doubled the total yards gained compared to the Lions, 521 to 264, but the Lions were able to take advantage of a couple of golden opportunities the Packers gave them. One of those was a punt that was ruled to hit off of a Packers player before being recovered by the Lions near Green Bay’s goal line. A touchdown for Detroit was scored on the next play.

Davante Adams lead the way for the Packers receivers. The only healthy regular at that position finished with nine catches for 140 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Aaron Jones was the leading rusher with seven carries for 40 yards on the day as well.

Green Bay also wasn’t helped by the performance of kicker Mason Crosby, who missed five of his six kicks on the day. His only make was a 41-yard field goal with :02 remaining in the game.

The Packers will return to action next Monday, October 15, at home against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field.