If you saw this past Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, you saw the Packers pitch a shutout against a rookie quarterback in Josh Allen. It was nice to see the defense play a complete game, but the offense looked like a work in progress. The team jumped out to a 13-0 lead with touchdowns by Jimmy Graham and Aaron Jones. After that, there wasn’t a ton of offense to speak of. We have seen this in every game this season. The first half of the Bears game, the second half of the Vikings game, the first half of the Redskins game. Each have seen offensive struggles.
What is causing these struggles? That is a loaded question. You could blame Aaron Rodgers injury. You might place blame on Mike McCarthy’s play calling. Both of those things are factors in how the offense moves. I think there is a bigger factor at play than Rodgers knee injury and play calling. That factor is simply execution. Yes, execution.
It doesn’t matter what offense you are running and who is calling the plays, if you do not execute, your offense will stall. If the Rams were running Sean McVay’s brilliant offense with a significant number of drops and missed throws, they wouldn’t be the dominant offense they are today. You’ve seen Aaron Rodgers miss key throws in every game this season. You’ve seen every receiver with significant targets drop passes this season. Games from Randall Cobb versus the Redskins and Geronimo Allison against the Bills are prime examples.
Aaron Rodgers seemed frustrated in his post game press conference. He called out the play calling and referenced that the team should have had about twice as many points and twice as many yards. I do not disagree, but the play calling can only do so much if it is not executed. The Packers offense will move better if they execute properly, and I will show you why with some film clips.
Above you will see Adams get very open over the middle about 30 yards from the end zone. Adams has plenty of space to catch this ball cleanly and make one of his patented runs after the catch. I would say he is most likely able to continue toward the top of the screen for at least 5 yards, maybe as much as 20 by his standards. That is a big play for Green Bay, a catch and run of 15-30 yards by Adams. The actual result is Adams being over thrown by Rodgers, resulting in an incomplete pass. This was 1st and 10 which was followed by a -1 yard rush, then a hand off to Williams on 3rd and 11 resulting in no gain. Instead of being in field goal range, the Packers punted. They might as well have punted on 3rd down with the play call to Williams. This could have resulted in 3 to 7 more points for Rodgers and company, had the pass been on target.
This time Aaron Rodgers delivers a beautiful throw to Allison, he just doesn’t catch it. I get it, you cannot catch everything. This is a very catchable ball for Allison. On 1st and 10, this would have put them at about the 12 yard line with 18 seconds left in the half, and a good chance at a touchdown. The Packers instead have to settle for a 52 yard Mason Crosby field goal. A swing of as much as 4 points. At the very least, it would have made for a much easier field goal.
2nd & 8 at the Buffalo 18. Graham almost catches this pass from Rodgers over the middle, but goes on to drop it at the last second. This results in a first and goal if completed. Rodgers throws incomplete on 3rd & 8, resulting in a Mason Crosby field goal. If the catch is made, there is no reason why the Packers couldn’t have gotten into the end zone from 5 yards out. Four points are potentially knocked off the board for the Packers.
You may remember this 4th and 3 following a somewhat catchable ball falling incomplete in the end zone intended for Geronimo Allison. Valdes-Scantling is at the bottom of your screen. Rodgers throws him a ball that he very well could have caught if he came back towards it, but he does not and it almost results in a Bills touchdown. Rodgers could have found Adams open on the other side of the field, but looks elsewhere before he comes open. Overall this could have kept the drive alive, but the Packers were lucky to not have given up a touchdown on this play. The continuance of this drive would have likely resulted in at least 3 points, maybe even 7.
Hopefully that gave you a better idea of the lack of execution I referenced earlier. By my estimation 6 to 22 points were potentially knocked off the board by these 4 mistakes by the Packers offense. Plays like these were a key example as to why Rodgers thought the offense should have scored more points and gained more yards. Execution can be fixed, there is no lack of talent on this offense. Things could begin to click with this offense, and you could see a take off much like the one we saw at the end of the 2016 season. This team has a better defense than it has had in a while, and is therefore primed for success if it can begin to execute on offense.
Any other thoughts on why the Packers offense has started slow? Let us know in the comments section or tweet at us @PTTF_Podcast. You can also tweet at me directly @TrackOnPack. Be sure to check out our ads for Sioux City Jerky and try their fantastic product. Thanks for reading and as always, Go Pack Go!