The Packers had little to be thankful for Thursday when they were manhandled on both sides of the ball by the Lions. When it was over, Detroit cruised to a 40-10 win that included 37 unanswered points and 561 yards of offense. Green Bay is now 5-6-1 and 10th in the NFC, four spots out of the final wild-card spot.
Getting Aaron Rodgers back will certainly help the Packers, but the defense also needs to play much better.
Exactly how much better? Defensive end Mike Daniels explains.
“We need to get tougher,” he told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “We need to choke people, punch them in their throat. I mean, that guy (Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy) got a helmet-to-helmet on us, you know what, but he was trying to send a message. Every now and then, you've got to do that. I'm not condoning illegal hits, but we've got to punch somebody in their throat for once.”
In related news: Punching a player in his throat is illegal, though we suspect Daniels was speaking metaphorically. (Either way, Clete Blakeman's crew probably wouldn't throw a flag.)
Daniels conceded that the Lions outplayed the Packers Thursday, but with the Falcons, Cowboys, Steelers and Bears left on the schedule, he reiterated that Green Bay's defense has to get tougher.
“[Detroit] just played a better game than us,” Daniels said. “But, like I said, we need to get more violent. I think we've lost some of that violence. Somewhere down the line, we've just got to get it done.”
For an idea of just how inept this unit has been, opposing offenses have rushed for at least 200 yards in three of the last four games. And Thursday, the Lions converted 75 percent of their third downs and had eight plays of more than 20 yards -- with four coming on third down.
“It's a mixture of everything, really,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “I mean, if we had the answers, we wouldn't be in this situation. But ultimately, you see missed tackles, you see people not in their right gaps or assignments, their technique. You see certain unscouted looks.
“It's a mixture of everything, but ultimately, there really is no excuse, as Coach said. We're pros and should be able to read and react enough to shut down the run or shut down the pass or whatever they ask us to do.”
The hope is that Rodgers can return Dec. 8 when the Packers take on the Falcons. In the meantime, coach Mike McCarthy knows the team must win out to have a shot at the postseason.
"Oh, we're in a hole," he said. "We felt like we were in the hole going into the Detroit game. We've got two division losses and a tie. That's not where you want to be."