Time for Packers to bounce back
It just didn't look that way in Sunday's loss at Kansas City.
Tight end Jermichael Finley dropped passes, and he wasn't the only player who struggled to hold onto the ball. Jordy Nelson was relatively quiet after a couple of head-scratching offensive pass interference calls went against him. And when Aaron Rodgers needed to make big plays at the end of the game, nobody was open.
"We have to be on top of our game, and we weren't in Kansas City," Nelson said. "That's all that matters."
Jennings sprained his left knee in the Packers' Dec. 11 victory over Oakland, and is not likely to return until the playoffs. He made a brief appearance in the locker room Thursday and appeared to be walking without difficulty, making a couple of moves to avoid reporters.
The Packers have a chance to wrap up home-field advantage in the NFC with a victory over Chicago on Sunday night, but they'll likely need a better performance from their receivers to beat the Bears.
Rodgers acknowledged the offense was out of rhythm against the Chiefs.
"I think it's us not executing and making the plays we expect to make and them playing good defense," Rodgers said. "So all offenses are aided by a good rhythm, keeping drives going, converting on third downs, being good in the red zone. We just didn't do those things on Sunday and they controlled the football, controlled the clock and the urgency just wasn't there when we were on offense and we didn't make the plays."
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said it's too simplistic to say the Packers' struggles were simply a case of the Chiefs being able to spend more attention covering everybody else with Jennings out.
"When you watch the film, there's more to it than that," Philbin said. "I thought at times, we had guys open that maybe the protection didn't allow us to get to. At times, our protection was very good and we didn't get guys open, so everybody thought, ‘God, the O-line got their (butts) kicked.' Usually in football, it's never that cut and dried."
And while the dropped passes are beginning to mount for Finley this season, Philbin fully expects him to bounce back.
"Obviously there's a couple relatively easy catches that he missed the other day, but we had other guys drop the ball as well," Philbin said. "There's no magic formula. He's got good hands."
Finley said he didn't feel like himself.
"The drops, it's not me, you know?" Finley said. "This year, I've been dropping several passes. It's a thing of football. I have to work a little harder and start going back to the basics and keeping two eyes on the ball and look it in."
Finley said concentration is especially important when playing with a quarterback who throws as hard as Rodgers.
"We don't (have) a guy that's tossing the ball," Finley said. "We have a guy throwing the ball like a baseball, so you have to focus hard."
Nelson, meanwhile, acknowledged that a pair of early interference calls changed the way he played Sunday.
"It affects you because you're out there playing the game the way you've always played," Nelson said. "So when you get two flags, especially as quickly as I did back-to-back like that, you kind of have to change something, because obviously what I was doing was incorrect."
And Nelson isn't buying talk that the Chiefs' defense provided some sort of blueprint for other teams to slow down the Packers' offense.
"What Kansas City did, I think teams have tried," Nelson said. "We were a little undermanned, and we didn't perform the way we needed to perform across the board. ... When you don't play well, a team at this level, especially on the road, is going to take advantage of that."