CHICAGO — There’s plenty for the Green Bay Packers to be excited about from Sunday’s win at Chicago: Brett Hundley‘s best performance to date, Jamaal Williams‘ grind-it-out running style after two running backs were lost to injury, and Nick Perry‘s three-sack game.
Their special teams should not be included among them.
There were enough miscues and botched plays that could have ruined the Packers’ 23-16 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and will put the onus on special-teams coordinator Ron Zook to fix them before they cost the Packers a game.
Let’s start with the last one: a botched snap and hold on what should have been a gimme 35-yard field goal for Mason Crosby with 1:03 to play. It would have given the Packers a 10-point lead and left nothing to chance. Instead, they had to sweat out one final drive by the Bears.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a few balls on the ground, things that are tough,” Crosby said. “It’s tough to make kicks that way. We have to make sure we keep working on it and get better.”
“I don’t think our snap location was perfect, but I think I should make that catch 100 percent of the time,” Vogel said. “I’ll take the blame for it. If we do 100 snaps like that, I’d catch every one. But in the scenario, the conditions … maybe I should have ‘fired’ it, maybe I shouldn’t, but I just wanted to get down and if Mason felt uncomfortable I thought he could pull up on it and I would know what to do from there. But I knew we were close, even with the mishandle, I think that he can punch that through just because of his experience and his form.”
“Fire” is the call Vogel would make to abort the kick and try to run for it, something that might have been possible on fourth-and-4.
“I can stop,” Crosby said. “But it’s on Justin and stuff, as well. We practice it.”
It has been a difficult season for the field goal unit, not only because Vogel is a rookie holder but because the Packers are on their third long-snapper of the season after Brett Goode and Taybor Pepper were injured. Goode’s injury settlement expires this week and he could be re-signed to snap Sunday against the Ravens if the Packers like.
Earlier in the game, the Packers had a 39-yard punt return by Trevor Davis called back because of an illegal block in the back by linebacker Joe Thomas. The Packers had another penalty during a punt return, this one on cornerback Lenzy Pipkins for an illegal block. Davis had a 34-yard kickoff return and averaged 10.5 yards on four punt returns, but he also misplayed the first punt of the game, catching it a yard deep into the end zone instead of letting it go for a touchback.
“We had some big returns, obviously they were called back, but our return game was good,” Vogel said. “But [the] field goal unit in general, I don’t think any other team has had three different snappers and then two of them being rookies and both of them are playing in either Thursday night games, Monday night games or weather games. We’ll see how it all goes. But my job is to be consistent for the team and consistent for Mason because I’ve been here the whole time. I need to help mediate the process. When it gets to me, it needs to be clean-cut. If I do something questionable, then it puts double the pressure on Mason.”