2 Offensive Ideas to Help the Packers Defense in 2018
Across the past two seasons when Aaron Rodgers started at quarterback, the Packers are a paltry 2-8 when facing an opposing team with an offense ranked in the top fifteen.
Green Bay’s defense plays the largest part in containing opposing offenses, and new coordinator Mike Pettine has said all the right things.
The schedule next year includes a number of high-powered attacks – the Vikings, Falcons, Rams, Patriots and perhaps even the upstart 49ers. If the Packers wish to win their division and play at home in the postseason, they must find a way to defeat good offenses.
Much can and has been written about the defensive side of the ball. However, there’s plenty on the offensive side that can be done to help the team. Here are two ideas.
Idea 1: Increase the tempo and run more plays
Since the team’s ascent into an offensive juggernaut in the 2009 NFC playoffs, the book on how to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers has been straight-forward. Keep the offense off of the field for as long as possible.
One way to measure how successful a team is at limiting another team’s opportunities to score is by measuring the amount of plays ran on offense. The Packers’ magic number last season appeared to be 70. In eight of the team’s nine losses in 2017, the offense failed to run more than 70 plays.
In addition, the Packers were able to control the ball longer than their opponent in three of the four games where they ran 70 or more offensive plays. There’s a lot going right for the Packers when they can run plenty of plays and control the ball longer than their opponent.
Playing at a faster tempo has been something head coach Mike McCarthy has believed in since arriving in Green Bay. Early in his first training camp in 2006, beat writer Bob McGinn noted that “Holmgren, Ray Rhodes and Sherman all strove to achieve [tempo] in practice, and McCarthy certainly is no exception.”
Idea 2: Throw the ball to the running backs
On first and second downs last season, Packers quarterbacks had the most success targeting two players. The first, Davante Adams, is no surprise. But it’s likely you didn’t expect the other to be running back Jamaal Williams.
Williams caught 59 percent of passes thrown his way on early downs, and quarterbacks posted a passer rating over 107 when targeting the rookie back.
Consider the memorable screen pass he caught for a touchdown against the Steelers late in the season. Williams showed grace in finding an opening in traffic to secure the ball and the vision to elude tacklers and stay behind his blockers.
Williams’ counterpart Aaron Jones did not have the same success in the passing game. During the lead up to the draft, Jones’ receiving prowess was highlighted by scouts as a positive.
Against the Lions on Monday Night Football, Jones found himself on the receiving end of this pass from Brett Hundley. While Hundley made the right decision to not force the ball into traffic, Jones was stuck shortly after the catch for a loss on the play. Perhaps Hundley would have been wise to throw this one away.
Plays like this happened more often than usual last season, and the numbers may be telling us a story about Aaron Jones that doesn’t match his skills.