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3 Biggest Questions Facing the Packers on Offense

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3 Biggest Questions Facing the Packers on Offense

For years, the Green Bay Packers have won games because of their offense. To put it more simply, they won a lot of games because of Aaron Rodders.

That's not to diminish what others have done. Davante Adams has turned into a star. We all know what Jordy Nelson did over the years, as well as how much it meant to have one of the best pass-blocking offensive lines in football.

Really, throughout Rodgers time as starting quarterback, he has been flush with weapons. At times, his offensive line hasn't been great, but following the additions of Billy Turner in free agency and Elgton Jenkins of Mississippi State in the draft, things should be fine, as long as David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga can battle their way through another season.

While it's easy to feel good about the offensive line, the truth is that the unit did contribute to allowing 53 sacks last season, 49 of those coming with Rodgers at quarterback.

Of course, things were a mess and sacks allowed wasn't the only category where the Packers stunk it up.

In terms of points scored, the Packers ranked 14th last season and also finished 12th in yards. When it comes to touchdown passes, the 25 thrown by Rodgers ranked 20th.

The only categories that Green Bay ranked among the top five were fewest giveaways, yards per rush attempt and passing attempts. 

Despite the struggles, the Packers did little to address the offense in the offseason, opting just to sign Turner and also deciding to keep Jimmy Graham at tight end.

If new head coach Matt LaFleur can get everything working together, this has the potential to be a good offensive football team. 

However, there are still questions that remain and here are three of the biggest facing the Packers on the offensive side of the ball:

Can the running game finally meet expectations?

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Packers last season was the lack of commitment when it came to running the football. When the season was over, Green Bay was second in yards per rushing attempt but 32nd in overall rushing attempts. That about sums up the 2018 season.

For two years, Aaron Jones flashed elite potential and last season, in 12 games, he ran for 728 yards and eight touchdowns on just 133 attempts, which equates to 5.5 yards per carry. It seems likely that if Jones even got 200 carries, which is less than 13 per game, he could get to 1,000 yards rushing. He was also criminally underused in the passing game and caught just 26 passes for 209 yards, although some of that could be blamed on Rodgers for not checking it down.

The Titans last season were ninth in attempts and Derrick Henry had a breakout season. If LaFleur brings that same emphasis to Green Bay and if the Packers can establsih a top-15 running game, it could make a huge difference. 

Outside of Rodgers, Adams, Bakhtiari and maybe Bulaga, Jones is as important and talented as anyone on the Packers offense and it's time for the team to stop wasting his talent as it has the past two seasons.

Are there enough weapons?

When it comes to offensive weapons, the Packers stood pat. The team did draft tight end Jace Sternberger in the third round of the NFL draft but he seems like someone that will be more ready to contribute significantly in 2020, not 2019.

Graham is back in the fold following a disappointing season that saw him catch 55 passes for 636 yards and two touchdowns. He has clearly lost a step but it's possible that he and Rodgers can find a rapport, especially in the red zone. 

More importantly, Marquez Valdes-Scatling, Jake Kumerow, Equanimeous St-Brown and Geronimo Allison will all need to step up. Adams is the clear No. 1 and is one of the top wideouts in the NFL. But he's going to need help and Rodgers will need all those guys to mature in 2019. MVS could be a legit deep threat and St. Brown also has immense talent, while Allison was off to a tremendous start in 2018 before injuries derailed his season.

If everything goes as planned, the Packers could be just fine at wide receiver and tight end, but much of it will depend on Rodgers and his ability to elevate the play of those around him.

Can Rodgers get back to being an MVP-level QB?

I've said it many times, Rodgers wasn't bad in 2018, he just wasn't good enough for Green Bay. 

After a decent start, that Rodgers helped enigeer the incredible come-from-behind win against the Bears, then the Packers just eroded. They didn't have enough talent and it was clear that Rodgers wasn't himself.

Statisically, Rodgers played fine, throwing for more than 4,000 yards, tossing 25 touchdowns and throwing just two interceptions. Yet, in part because injuries limited him, he wasn't Superman.

Too many times, he took sacks instead of taking checkdowns or other easy completeions. It seemed like he didn't trust his young wide receivers and the rift with McCarthy was plain as day.

Rodgers didn't seem to enjoy playing football last season and hopefully, LaFleur can change that.  

Green Bay is relying on many of the same pieces it had last season to revive an offense that was mediocre at best. 

But if Rodgers is back to his MVP self and some of these young guys, namely, Aaron Jones live up to their potential, the offense should be plenty good to make the playoffs.

Then we will have to see if the defense can hold up its end of the deal. 

 

__________________________

Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (48) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tarynfor12's picture

Better run game
Better receiver contributions,especially TE
Rodgers be MVP like

Got it....Is this a new theory?

dblbogey's picture

Having your period again?

Qoojo's picture

Well I thought the sarcasm was funny.

Since '61's picture

Where I have I heard that we are committed to the running game before?
Oh wait. Thanks, Since '61

stockholder's picture

Rodgers should have been the first question. MVP Level might be asking to much. The threats of the running game? No Threat there. I don't believe any of the RBs can hold up. (Wake up! The NFL is Pass first. ) And if LeFleur tries to change that. He'll end up with a losing record. Are there enough weapons. No! The biggest question after Rodgers, is Defense. It's been bad for 8 years. It's time to realize that if the defense can't get the ball back. No super - Bowl appearance will happen.

sam1's picture

Find a hole and cover it up after you climbed down!

stockholder's picture

The Annual meeting of Shareholders is July 24,2019. 11:00 AM at Lambeau.

John Galt's picture

Very true - Defense has been mediocre.

Biggest question is who backs up Rodgers when he breaks another bone.

Since '61's picture

The first question should be will the OL be improved to make the running game go and to protect Aaron Rodgers. No O without the OL. Thanks, Since '61

jannes bjornson's picture

Unfortunately, for the fourth year in a row the question mark will be Spriggs.
Can this guy be a Pro player and backup the tackle spots or will he be cut loose
after camp? It would help the cause to bring in a power back if one frees up in a trade or waiver wire. Can a 5th rounder and free agent work as WR depth? Yes, the queens proved it with Diggs and Theilen. Just fire it up, Rodgers, contrary to the opinion of the bimbos in the third row at happy hour, is the premier QB in this league. He will get it done if the other players hold uptheir end of the deal.

PeteK's picture

Very true, can't run the ball consistently when losing . Five new faces on D should change that.

jannes bjornson's picture

You run to impose your will. You cannot go into panic mode in the first quarter and abandon the foundation of football. They were pass happy to a fault with the Guru. Back to basics.

Lare's picture

Tough to evaluate the offense at this point as we don't know what Lafleur is going to do. Run the ball more, use the TEs more, use the slot receiver more, use the WR's more? Depending on what he does we'll know more after a few games how our offensive personnel stacks up.

At least we know that the defense will be improved over what it was last year.

Gort's picture

The most important question is what do the Packers do if QB1 goes down? I have low expectations for Kizer to throw to the correct color jersey and Boyle is a complete unknown.

t-wrecks's picture

Yeah if QB1 goes down it won't be good. But coach has done pretty well with less than stellar talent at qb.

Coldworld's picture

Most teams will struggle without a top flight starter. That said, MM seldom seemed to have a plan in the event that happened other than to cut down the play book. There should be plays designed to play to the strengths of the number 2 QB. Of course, more varied sets and play action also help, another thing MM was averse to. Use of RBs in the passing game should help too.

flackcatcher's picture

Well, with Rodgers being part of game planning on offense, that must be a real chore for McCarthy to come up with backup plans in case QB1 went down. We all saw how 'touchy' Rodgers got even if there was a change in game calling. Combine that with Murphy's overreaching, things must have pretty awful for the coaching staff last season. What a back story....

dobber's picture

^^THIS^^

I think it was the Tampa game when Hundley was suddenly improvising, rolling out, using his legs and playing on the move. He looked much better. Did MM go back to that? Nope. Admittedly, QBs who are not a real threat to throw the ball--especially deep--eventually get beat up and gun-shy, but it never felt MM ever put his backups in a position to succeed.

Gort's picture

Lots of problems at backup QB. Coaching and prep are part of that, but the GM needs to ensure that talent (Taysom Hill) doesn't get away. Current talent is bad and unknown. Gute needs to channel Ron Wolf and have a better plan for backup QB. Coach LaFleur needs to prep all the guys and be ready to use what he has to their own skill set.

Nick Perry's picture

Considering how athletic Taysom Hill is I highly doubt Gute would have cut him. BUT...With that said does New Orleans ever use Hill as a QB or just a gimmick/ST player?

Don't get me wrong, I like what the Saints have done with Hill and ask myself every time WTF were you thinking Ted? But I'm never asking myself as he lines up as a QB.

Coldworld's picture

Taysom Hill is a great athlete but not one well suited to any position in the NFL. The Saints have contrived to find uses for him. I agree that we failed to try that kind of innovation, and I do criticize us for that. Nevertheless, apart from a few plays it has not really made a concrete difference for the Saints overall. I am not sure it ever will. At best he is a luxury. He is not their QB2.

dobber's picture

Not more Taysom Hill (lights stick of dynamite, throws it in room, closes door).

If we're going to beat ourselves over the head like this, we can bring up Jeff Janis, next.

Gort's picture

They recognize his strengths and use them effectively.

jannes bjornson's picture

Get better talent.

Handsback's picture

The defense will make a difference this year. The offense will be much better, healthy oline and more experience at WR. If Rodgers stays vertical... playoffs baby!

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

QB1 go down you can expect more running plays, more check downs, more screens, etc.

Since '61's picture

And more losses. Season over. Thanks, Since '61

arthurl's picture

To me biggest question is the guard play. It was below average last season and offense sputtered to large degree because of poor play at both guard positions. I don't know if Lane Taylor just had a bad year, or did he over-achieve in 2017? Between Turner, Jenkins and maybe Madison; there appears better talent, but until they line up against the likes of Mack and others, who the hell knows? If they don't get better performance from their guards, Rodgers feels the heat early up the middle, and the run game is inconsistent.

Spock's picture

Of all the question marks for this season Guard play is the one position I'm LEAST worried about! The Packers have lots of interior OL player options going into training camp. If you'd have said the Tackle position I'd be with you.

Lphill's picture

Article said not much was addressed on offense in the off season , well adding some o lineman and drafting an exciting young tight end might be all that was needed , the young receivers have a full season under their belts as well . By addressing the defense which will help the offense we should all be excited for the upcoming season and the Super Bowl , Packers , Colts.

Tundraboy's picture

Rodders? Who's that?

blacke00's picture

The real question is...Has the "O" line improved? That's the most critical need at this point. If there are no hole made, if Rodgers can't stay upright the above 3 questions won't be answered.

dobber's picture

I think that several have hinted at (by pointing to #12) what you're pointing toward here, which I might argue is the biggest question: can the Packers avoid a significant injury to Adams, Bakhtiari, or Rodgers? Those are the three most important players on this offensive unit, and--at this point--none of them have a backup that can come close to replacing them. A season-ending injury to any of them could be catastrophic.

JohnnyLogan's picture

There are a hundred questions but only one can doom the team entirely and that's who is your backup QB? Don't understand how you invest all that money into improving the team and neglect the one position that if Rodgers goes down it makes all the other moves meaningless. The two current backups are probably two of the worst in the league. Gute must realize that and buy some insurance. Hopefully, after training camp cuts he makes a move.

Since '61's picture

Gute may make a move after TC but the reality remains that if AR goes down the season is over. We've seen this team play with Rodgers out of action in 2017 and we've seen this team play while Rodgers tried to play through injuries in 2018. Both seasons were ugly.

I don't know who would be available after TC but I seriously doubt that it will be anyone who could save our season. Maybe some one who gets us through a game or 2 if the defense steps up. But if AR goes down for several games or more it's over. Thanks, Since '61

Nick Perry's picture

I also think Gute is waiting to see how Kiser might look while working with MLF. LaFleur was on the ND coaching staff when Kiser was at Notre Dame. I think it's something to keep our eyes on when evaluating Kiser this year. Considering how much Geoff improved when LaFluer was his QB coach and Matt Ryan turned into an MVP while being coached by MLF...Well, maybe good things are ahead when talking about Kiser. It certainly couldn't go any worse that's for sure.

Mark Gaedtke's picture

While I agree with you regarding Kizer, I'd also check the pre-season QB cut list from LA Rams and SF 49ers. Both teams run a very similar offense to ours and no doubt enjoy superior depth at QB. Beathard from SF has been on my radar. . .

Coldworld's picture

Kiser is 23. He is younger than Trubisky. He has enough potential to let LaFleur have at him and see. I think LaFleur’s approach will be easier for all QBs to grasp, not just Rodgers.

IceBowl's picture

Kiser says he envisions himself as a Super Bowl winning QB, not ARods backup.

Good to have high expectations.

jannes bjornson's picture

The queens signed Mannion in the off season.

Tundraboy's picture

I think you nailed it NP.

jannes bjornson's picture

Thee queens moved on Siemian last year and this year pounced on Mannion. Spielman always trys to find a somewhat capable veteran to manage a few games. Gutekunst made the deal for Kizer and so far is
in the negative column of the ledger book. Probably should have trade Mccarthy to Dorsey and called it good with DaMarious as the Free safety.
Water under the bridge. Can a light go on in Kiser's psyche to get the mojo working or will he be another roster washout? Gutekunst owns that deal, he will give him time to prove something.

Since '61's picture

The first question should be has the OL improved enough to protect Rodgers and to make the run game go. Without the OL the O goes nowhere. We saw plenty of that last season especially from the interior of the OL.

Second questions about enough weapons is a good one. Adams is the only proven NFL weapon that we have based on 2018. The other WRs, the TE group and the RBs are all question marks at this point.

Can the running game meet expectations is dependent on the OL as much as the RBs. Assuming that the OL is effective the running should be effective as well. Jones has ability for sure but will he make it through the season?

As for Rodgers if the rest of the players play their positions as well as Rodgers plays QB we'll be undefeated SB champions.

For the first time in several seasons I have hope for the defense based on the five off season additions which have added speed and talent at the OLB and Safety position groups. However until we see the defense play during the regular season all we have is hope.

Actually maybe the first question should have been can the team stay healthy? Questions and hope until September when reality arrives. Will reality align with our expectations, time will tell. Thanks, Since '61

jannes bjornson's picture

What are the expectations for the Fans?

Tundraboy's picture

Agree Since 61. The combination of the awful guard play and Rodgers restricted mobilty, along with all of the other offensive dysfunction was the kiss of death last year. Improvements there ,the D in general,along with ST improvements will make a world of difference. Fingers crossed for health. Last year was a really bad year.

jannes bjornson's picture

If this is a true motion offense then Taylor has to be moved or sent in as an expensive backup. It is No coincidence the Packers have lacked a screen game and trap game w/out Sitton and Lang. Let nobody make believe these guys were replaced by UDFA and scrubs and everything flowed iwith the O line. 2017-18 were evidence of the decline.

dobber's picture

"While it's easy to feel good about the offensive line, the truth is that the unit did contribute to allowing 53 sacks last season, 49 of those coming with Rodgers at quarterback."

Sacks allowed by Packers by season since #12 became starting QB:
2008--34
2009--51
2010--38
2011--41
2012--51
2013--45
2014--30
2015--47
2016--35
2017--51
2018--53

That's a whole lotta big numbers...except for 2010, 2014, and 2016 (SB, R-E-L-A-X, and "run the table").

shamokin's picture

We still need a great back-up. Every time rogers goes down hard, we will be thinking "the season is over". Kizer. Please go and buy a back-up who has played and won in the NFL before. The Eagles did it, why can't we.

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