It was just one game, but the Green Bay Packers got shockingly little in return from the three players they chose to give big-time contract extensions this past offseason.
Those three are quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett.
When Burnett didn't play at all, Rodgers turned in arguably his worst game in four seasons and Matthews could only play for one half of football, the Packers lost 34-30 on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Sure, they the half they got out of Matthews was a good one that included a sack and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown (his second forced fumble should be credited to Datone Jones). It's just a shame that they didn't get two halves out of Matthews.
The Packers paid for that second half, after all. Just like they've paid Burnett to sit on the sidelines the past three games.
Getting one good half of football out of Clay Matthews is like the Milwaukee Brewers getting a two-run home run from Aramis Ramirez before he exits in the bottom of the fourth with an injury.
If the Brewers don't get enough production from the rest of the lineup and the pitching staff, the homer is all for naught. At least in the win-loss column.
The Packers on Sunday didn't get enough from their supporting cast. It was an up-and-down day for nearly every player on the roster.
Johnathan Franklin's 100-yard game was overshadowed for his fumble that was returned for a go-ahead touchdown.
Sam Shields shut down A.J. Green for a majority of the game, but his biggest mistake ended in a touchdown for the star wide receiver.
The offensive line paved the way for 6.1 yards per carry but was responsible for allowing four sacks and eight quarterback hits.
Jeremy Ross alertly fielded a kickoff out-of-bounds that resulted in Bengals penalty, but that couldn't make up for muff that led to a turnover earlier in game.
James Jones caught a touchdown pass but gave up on a route that ended in an interception.
All this isn't to say the Packers made a poor decision in extending offers to their high-profile trio.
It's just when those three players don't factor into the outcome of the game more than they did against the Bengals, it's going to be difficult for the Packers to win away from home. And that's especially true when the rest of the team isn't picking up the slack.
After all, we're not talking about the performances of Seneca Wallace, Chris Banjo and Rob Francois, all of whom signed one-year contracts this offseason. We're talking about three players expected to play at a high level now and for years to come.
For what it's worth, Rodgers received a seven-year deal worth $130.75 million, Matthews inked a six-year contract worth $66.77 million, and Burnett got a five-year deal worth $26.07 million.
The Packers paid top dollar for those three but only got about two good quarters out of 12 from Rodgers, Matthews and Burnett combined.
It's always difficult to blame the injury, but only in Week 4, the Packers sure could use the opportunity for a little R&R.
In addition to other players on the team, Burnett and Matthews can use the time to allow their hamstrings to heal, while Rodgers can use it to clear his head of the cobwebs after getting knocked around by the Bengals front seven.
Certainly, one game didn't cost the Packers the season. But how the rest of the season plays out will be largely influenced by the performance of their "big three" from this offseason.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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