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Packers First Team Offense in Midseason Form to Begin Preseason

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Packers First Team Offense in Midseason Form to Begin Preseason

The first team offense of the Green Bay Packers is operating in midseason form through two exhibition games, despite the fact that the unit has scored just six points to open the 2013 preseason.

Over four series with quarterback Aaron Rodgers captaining the offense, Green Bay has racked up 251 total yards, or 63 a drive. Also, each series has ended with a legitimate chance to score points (two field goals, turnover on downs at the 1-yard line and missed field goal).

As expected, Rodgers has been the driving force. The Packers quarterback has completed 13 of 17 passes for 196 yards, good for 11.5 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 113.8. In contrast, the three backup quarterbacks are averaging just 4.2 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 63.1.

Facing vanilla defenses and limited pressure schemes, Rodgers has been sharp. The offensive line has also kept him upright (just one sack allowed through 18 drop backs).

However, the Packers have also run the football with effectiveness during first team reps.

Against the Arizona Cardinals, James Starks received six carries and picked up 15 yards. As a result, the Packers didn't face a third down longer than two yards throughout the series. On a third-and-2, Rodgers received man-to-man coverage on a vertical route and found James Jones for a 50-yard hook up along the sidelines.

The Packers got their first taste of rookie running back Eddie Lacy during Saturday's 19-7 win over the St. Louis Rams, and the second-round pick didn't disappoint. Over eight carries spanning three series, Lacy chewed up 40 rushing yards in what has to be labeled as an impressive debut.

Again, the Packers benefited in the passing game from the run.

Four of the first team's five third down opportunities came from inside five yards, while the playaction passing game came to life in a big way.

When using a play fake to a back against the Rams, Rodgers completed six of eight passes for 107 yards (116.7 passer rating). His two incompletions included a fraction of a miss to Jermichael Finley for what could have been a touchdown and a drop from James Jones on a slant in which the Packers receiver had plenty of separation.

Here's how all eight of the playaction fakes ended up:

  • Bootleg to Rodgers' left, dumpoff to Finley for 11 yards.
  • Finley wide open on shallow post for 25 yards.
  • Jarrett Boykin comeback route along the sidelines for 26 yards.
  • Incomplete to Finley down the seam.
  • Jones drop on quick slant.
  • Swing pass to Lacy for 11 yards.
  • Finley wide open over the middle for 33 yards.
  • Jeremy Ross bubble screen for one yard.

Finley was clearly the biggest benefactor of the playaction fakes in St. Louis, catching three passes for 69 yards when Rodgers dummied a handoff.

This second quarter connection between the two might have been the best example of how playaction helped gouge the middle of the Rams defense.

On second and 7, and just one play after Green Bay ran Lacy out of the shotgun for three yards, the Packers show nearly the exact same formation. The Rams counter by bringing Cortland Finnegan on a delayed blitz off the right side of the offense line, but the play fake does its work on the two linebackers. Instead of staying home and dropping into their middle zone, both linebackers attack the line of scrimmage, which opens up a square mile of space for Finley to operate in the middle of the field. He looks for the football immediately as the hot receiver and the Packers get the easiest 33 yards of the preseason.

These kind of plays have been a rarity for the Packers offense in recent seasons, in large part because defenses have had no tangible reason to respect what Green Bay offered up on the ground. Maybe now they do.

While the preseason provides only a brief and inconclusive snapshot of a given unit, head coach Mike McCarthy has to be pleased with the balance and execution of his first team offense. Rodgers has been sharp and productive, the offensive line hasn't made any devastating blunders and the running game is already gaining a sense of respect from opposing defenses.

McCarthy will want a better ending product once the regular season starts, but the Packers first team offense is running smoothly through two exhibition games.

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jake's picture

I get your point, but it's still all about scoring touchdowns. If the offense is truly in midseason form, the Packers will be about 2-6 at midseason.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Remember to though, that the offense has been playing without 3 of its key players. DuJuan Harris, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson.

I love the stuff on the play action though. That could actually become apart of the offense. Something we haven't had in I don't know how long.

Stroh's picture

In '11 the Packers used a lot of play action, rather effectively I might add. Teams figured out before last year that it didn't make sense to respond to the play action and get beat deep. So the safeties didn't honor it, due to the running game not being a threat. With Lacy and to a lesser degree Harris, teams will have to respond to the play action again. Meaning Nelson getting deep regularly again too.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Oh shush.
The offense is humming. Points will come.

packsmack25's picture

Well the starting offense has only scored 6, true, but I don't believe the starting defense has given up ANY points. So, there you go. 8-0.

The TKstinator's picture

Looks like someone has broken into our favorite bovine's supply of poopy flavored lollipops.

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Play action with Lacy in there is going to be a blast to watch this year. The picture is extra awesome because it shows what a quick release Rodgers has. The back has barely received the play fake and the ball is almost out of AR's hand. Is anyone better at this?

Omar's picture

Yeah!, big difference from last year preseason, they scored but looked out of sync. And that went to the regular season too.

hayward4president's picture

Our offense is gonna be ridiculous this year. Just sit back ..and enjoy.

ben's picture

QB: Rodgers, Harrell
RB: Harris, Lacey, Green, Franklin, Kuhn
WR: Cobb, Nelson, Jones, Boykins, walker
TE: Finley, Mulligan, Quarless, bostick, stoneburner
T: Bakhtiari, Barclay, Newhouse, Datko
G: Sitton, Lang, Taylor
C: EDS, Von Roten
S: Burnett, Hyde, McMillian, bush (MD gone)
CB: House, Shields, Heyward, Tramon
OLB: Matthews, Perry, Moses, mulumba
ILB Hawk, Brad, francois, barrington
DL: Datone, Jolly, Neal, Danials, Raji, Pickett, boyd
ST: crosby, goode, masthay, (Kick Returner by trade)

Practice squad: coleman, banjo, palmer, dorsey, johnson, lewis, savage, white, pease

DJ williams & james starks traded for kick return help. w/ steelers or ravens?

Evan's picture

Half of your safeties aren't actually safeties. That might be an issue.

And Williams and Starks aren't bringing back anything in a trade.

ben's picture

What would be an "issue" would be trying to start md Jennings at safety for another year.

FYI: bush has played and been worked in at safety.

& hyde is going to have to play safety if we're going to get our best possible d-backfield in the game. Who do you want on the sideline, shields? tramon? Hayward? Hyde? (or m.d.)

Evan's picture

What you or I want is very much irrelevant.

I thought you were making a prediction, not a fantasy roster.

I'll tell you who I want at safety. Players who play safety.

Tommy G's picture

Agreed, Evan; the bit about safeties who play safety.

Kevin's picture
ben's picture

S: Burnett, Hyde, McMillian, Richardson

pup: sharrod

Evan's picture

Hyde is a CB.

ben's picture

evan, you are short-sighted

Evan's picture

Or I'm realistic. What's the point in making a roster prediction when you're just putting players in positions they don't and haven't played?

A lot of people think Hyde's future might be at safety, and it may be, but he hasn't played a single snap there with the Packers and, in fact, has been running with the starters at CB.

ben's picture

and a team like the ravens who just lost their top 3 tight ends & are decimated at the position wouldn't be willing to give up:
CB David Reed (6-0, 190, fourth season)?Reed led the NFL in kick return average in 2010 when he averaged 29.3 yards, or CB Asa Jackson (5-10, 190, second season)?a fast, shifty returner and showed it off during last year's preseason with a weaving 85-yard touchdown, or
WR Deonte Thompson (6-0, 200, second season)?averaged 25.9 yards per return last year for the ravens.

while having jacoby jones one of the best returners in the league?

Evan's picture

I honestly have no idea - I don't know anything about the Ravens depth chart and where those guys fall. I just don't see why any team would trade anything of substance for a guy who is very likely to be on the street in a week or two.

Evan's picture

Additionally, with Hyde seemingly taking over the PR job, I don't think TT will use a roster space on a KR specialist. If he were to do that, might as well just go with Ross.

ben's picture

So DJ Williams will be on the street within a couple weeks? OK we'll see

Ross has proved his hands cannot be trusted. He chokes.

Evan's picture

I think Williams is very much on the bubble and quickly playing his way off the team. At best I'd say he's 50/50.

I don't trust Ross on punts, at all. But I like him returning kicks.

Bears Love Cheddar Biscuits's picture

Hyde is playing corner. If anything he'll be used in the slot and around the line of scrimmage. He's got good instincts, good hands, and is a willing tackler. Between him and Hayward, we may have patchwork replacement for Woodson's slot ninja act.

Its laughable that you think that a slow, 6'2 245 lb. tight end with some pretty bad hands himself would have ANY trade value. I take that back...I I love the pie-eyed optimism.

hayward4president's picture

If we are pickin our safety....I'd take Elam.

Stroh's picture

I was a Reid guy myself. Not as high as the 9ers reached up to get him tho. End 1st or top 2nd, not mid 1st.

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