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Packers Need to Get Back to Big Play Ways

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Packers Need to Get Back to Big Play Ways

If there has been one consistent cog in the Packers’ on-field operation over the past decade, it is undoubtedly their passing attack.

Since Aaron Rodgers became the starter in 2008, the Packers have finished in the top 10 in passing in all but two seasons—2015 and 2017. Obviously, 2017 can be thrown out, given Rodgers missed the majority of the year. In 2015, the passing game sputtered without Jordy Nelson. Outside of two seasons in which they were dealing with major injuries, though, the Packers have been among the league’s best when it comes to moving the ball through the air.

There’s a case to be made, however, that the unit’s explosiveness has left something to be desired over the last few seasons.

The most common stat to measure explosive passes is the amount of 20-plus yard plays an offense creates. By that metric, the Packers haven’t really lost much ground. In Rodgers’ tenure as starting quarterback, 2015 and 2017 mark the only times Green Bay finished outside the top 10 in that category.

Even if you look at 40-plus yard passes, or what we’ll refer to as “extreme” explosive passes, the numbers indicate only a slight drop off, if anything. After finishing seventh or better in six of Rodgers’ first seven seasons as the starter, Green Bay has ranked 29th, 10th and 17th over the last three years, with those pesky 2015 and 2017 seasons rearing their heads again.

Despite the consistency with which the Packers have thrown the ball when they’ve been healthy, it’s become clear there is a need for some kind of spark in the passing game. Jordy Nelson, once hailed as one of the top big play targets in the league, doesn’t stretch the field anymore. Davante Adams, as valuable as he will over the next number of years, isn’t a true deep threat. Even Randall Cobb, who is as good as anyone when it comes to creating separation, doesn’t move the meter all that much in the deep passing game.

So, what can the Packers do?

They may be hoping that bringing back offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will produce results similar to what they saw during his first stint from 2007 to 2011. In those five seasons, Green Bay ranked first, first, second, sixth and second in extreme explosive passes. While we’ve already determined Philbin isn’t exactly working with the same level of weaponry he had back then, they may have some scheme-related ideas that can maximize the best of what the current roster has to offer.

Cobb, for instance, has made a living as a slot receiver, a position Philbin featured prominently during his previous run as offensive coordinator. Perhaps he can be utilized more effectively under Philbin’s direction. The idea of Jordy Nelson working out of the slot more often is also gaining more steam. Such a move could serve to help him rebound from an abysmal 2017, though just having Rodgers back could take care of that, too.

Outside of the top three receivers, the Packers will be working with a few unknowns. Geronimo Allison showed flashes in 2016, but has yet to become a reliable threat. Trevor Davis, who has the speed to take the top off defenses, hasn’t gotten many opportunities on offense, which probably says something about what the coaches think of him to this point.

Because of that, the Packers could be inclined to try and find a game breaker in the draft. While they may have other needs, I can’t say it would bother me if they chose to use the 14th pick on, say, someone like Calvin Ridley or Courtland Sutton. It would most likely be analyzed as a reach, but a field-stretching receiver could be just what the doctor ordered to restore a big play threat to an already prolific passing attack.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (60) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Since '61's picture

I'd be fine if the Packers used their first round pick for a game break WR. With so much draft capital lost to the defense the offense has been overlooked. We also need a TE and some OL depth from the middle and later rounds. Thanks, Since '61

4thand1's picture

A prominent TE that can stretch the seam would create nightmare match ups for opposing defenses. Sign J Graham for the seachickens. A burner on the outside would be great, we never used Janis, even as a decoy. If there's a stud edge rusher at 14, we gotta take him.

ShanghaiKid's picture

To get back to that explosive big-play offense, Packers need a difference maker at TE. Someone who can stretch the seam and provide favorable matchups on the perimeter. Despite the numbers I don’t think people fully appreciate what Finley did for the offense. He was a guy who had to be accounted for at all times, that cannot be understated enough.

ShanghaiKid's picture

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cflapackerbacker61's picture

We had a guy, Jared Cook but screwed it up by signing stupid Bennett instead. Too bad. Bad mistake.

Coldworld's picture

Jared Cook was good when he played but not great (one catch aside). I wonder if Byrd(?) who played in the last game of the season might have the speed to stretch the field?

Turophile's picture

Since '61. For me not a first round pick at WR, that goes to a pass rushing OLB. Why ? There is a decent chance a high quality receiver is still there in round two. I'm not sure the same can be said at OLB (or more likely a DE to convert to OLB).

I absolutely agree with the TE need. I'd be tempted to double dip there with two of the round 3, comp 3rd (if the Packers get one) and 4th round picks. Something like Fumagalli and Gesicki would be nice, two very different players.

I'm sure the Packers will get something for the O line, i'm guessing 4th or one of the 5ths, but I have no idea who.

My hope is that at least one position (I'm guessing CB, maybe even OT) will be dealt with in vet FA. That will make the draft easier.

PS Always liked your sign-off btw.

Coldworld's picture

If there is a stud rusher at 14 I think we have to take him. If there is not them maybe, but any Calvin Johnson’s are also likely long gone. TE Might provide best upside although it’s very high for a TE.

stockholder's picture

I don't see any Tall ones in rd. 2. I've seen some of the 40 times already this year. 4.55 . Thats just to slow. Tes= The best TE is diabetic. Sorry but if you know anything about diabetes? The others are not stand outs. No one is going to torch the NFL. You draft defense first. Or Free Agency would be best. The OL s must be taken in the 3rd round. Highly Likely!!! Can we just stay away from Small schools with the OFFENSE. My Advice is to move Monty back to Wr. Monty is exactly what the Wrs are about this year. Just move monty back to WR. And push Davis for the speed end. Save the pick.

Seriously91's picture

One maybe sack is not gonna make that big of a difference next year but a great right tackle would keep the franchise clean and help our new found running game.

Tarynfor12's picture

Even with the hire of new DC Mike Pettine, the defense will still need the offense to carry the weight. Rodgers needs help to continue that, at least for a year, unless the Pettine scheme proves to be equal or more difficult for those who remain,drafted or..ahem..signed via FA than the Capers scheme and/or whether TT still holds weight in FA signings and drafting.

Tundraboy's picture

Need a number 1 WR now. We have been resting on our 2nd round Pick laurels for too long and still need a TE threat. Oh if we could only find another Lofton.

Dzehren's picture

See Davonte Adams

Since '61's picture

Except that Davonte is not the deep threat that Lofton was. Adams is a fine receiver but not a burned or a deep tnreat. We need a real deep threat to take the top off a defense, plus we still need TE to get down the seams. Until we have both of those players we won't be able to open the offense up to its full potential. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

Same page again, ‘61!

Coldworld's picture

Unless there is a rare receiver with size and elite speed, speed can be got in later rounds. I think it unlikely that such a receiver will fall to 14 so we may have to look to FA for that kind of player. That would really spell doom for Nelson and Cobb though.

Tundraboy's picture

Exactly,61 They have waited long enough to make this a priority. With ARod this is what we should do. I don't want to see it take years to realize this, as was the case with S,ILB and TE.

Nick Perry's picture

Mark Andrews of Oklahoma or even Mike Gesicki of Penn State would be excellent picks. If the Packers could manage a trade (Like 2009 for Matthews) in order to MAKE SURE they land Andrews I'd be in favor. They have 12 draft picks this year, lets get as many players who could potentially make an impact NOW instead of guy who MIGHT develop in 3 or 4 years.

Just imagine...A Stud Pass Rusher at pick 14 and a TE like Andrews? NICE!! There's not many WR's in this draft who I'm in love with, at least yet. A guy like Paul Richardson in FA would be a hell of a signing. For one he wouldn't be THAT pricey and secondly he could run under just about anything Rodgers put up and get downfield in a hell of a hurry.

Tundraboy's picture

"Just imagine...A Stud Pass Rusher at pick 14 and a TE like Andrews? NICE!! There's not many WR's in this draft who I'm in love with, at least yet. A guy like Paul Richardson in FA would be a hell of a signing. For one he wouldn't be THAT pricey and secondly he could run under just about anything Rodgers put up and get downfield in a hell of a hurry."

Yes I can. Maybe two pass rushers and a road grading OL as well.

Tundraboy's picture

Am I wrong?

Duke Divine's picture

Jon Brown can fly and is a FA. Carson Palmer and Co. could not get him the ball. I think he would be a nice addition. Martavius Bryant is OK and is a FA. I'm sure the organization is looking for a home grown someone to make a jump as usual... It really hurts if they don't.

Duke Divine's picture

Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a FA but has a history... Seemed to turn things around finally and may be a cheap option with big upside. Here's some TE FAs;
http://walterfootball.com/freeagents2018TE.php

croatpackfan's picture

And Martellus Bennett is not on that list... I'm disapointed. I was hoping Packers will sign him...

zoellner25's picture

I feel bringing back Philbin will help a ton. Offense was great with him. Want Wilde and Tausch to have Jermichael back on to talk about Philbin. A TE who can actually play well would be nice too

stockholder's picture

First off we don't NEED anyone. Not on Offense and Not on Defense. We need players to stay off the DL!! The new OC and DC need nothing. When they get back A-Rod, this offense will move. No rookie coming in is going fill a need. The need is Depth Only. Adams got the bucks, Let him earn them. ($$$ says he's #1.) No Te is going break any speed records. It will take him 2 years if not more like Adams to learn. Same for any WR. Were stuck unless you start signing Veterans. Just stop the draft Hype for offense. Where's D. Lawrence and A. donald? Thats what the packers must look for. It's BPA on Defense! Go spend the draft picks to get him. The only way to help this team is draft defense. We love the NFL for hitting. Kill the QB! This defense needs to be feared. It must get better than any other team. Not just show improvement.

cuervo's picture

The one thing I agree with you on, is drafting a WR high won't do diddly to really help the offense next year. None of the receivers we've ever had have had rookie seasons worth writing home about. I'm all for finding a mid level free agent wr.

Duke Divine's picture

Cobb, Jennings, and Jones all contributed in their rookie seasons. As did Adams but a mid-level FA would require less of a learning curve one would think.

cflapackerbacker61's picture

TT was drafting a lot of defensive players but he didn't hit on many. We need a mix of Veterans and young players so when the injury bug hits, which it always does, we can withstand it and don't have to rely on rookies to step into a complex system and have no clue.
Unfortunately we get another DC that has a complex defensive scheme, hopefully it will be different with MP than it was with Capers

stockholder's picture

Harrel, Yes, Sherod, Yes, Datone Jones yes, A Rogers Rb, Yes, Many Lbs , Yes, But not just defense. My biggest disappoint was Worthy and D jones. Harrel, Back, Worthy Knee, Jones feet, TT played LB. I just don't understand the failure here.

DD's picture

Somewhat disagree. Need a TE, get Graham for Rodgers with his size and spees to stretch the middle of the field and be effective in the red zone. Secondly, edge rusher or two with tacking and motors for four quarters! Third, speed receiver who has size and gets in and out of routes quickly and can be a deep threat! Then draft a linebacker with size and speed, and two corners, but with high football IQ.

nostradanus's picture

They will take one in the Second Round, it’s the Ted Thompson way and Gutekunst will take heed his sage advice as Ted does have a good track record when it comes to WR

Coldworld's picture

We are not picking on the top 5. We need to look to best available player not force it. Who knows who will be available.

4thand1's picture

Ted had a good track record on receivers because of Rodgers.

TXCHEESE's picture

There are potentially 3 or 4 teams ahead of GB that could be considered QB needy, depending on how free agency goes. Even AZ may try to move up to go after one. We can hope that there's an early run on them, so the defensive talent is still there at 14. Hopefully there is a game changer at CB available, but I would be happy to get a dominant DL player. While Clark and Daniels are good, if they can rotate and stay fresh, they would have a better chance at collapsing the pocket. To me, a QB is much more affected by a push in his face vs. the edge rush. Tackles are so good now at pushing the outside rush out past the QB, they can just climb the pocket to buy time.
The run game will definitely help the big play opportunities, creating the play action needed for those to develop. I feel way better about the Pack's run game than I have in 4 or 5 years. We'll keep drafting receivers and OL to keep the pipeline full, since those two positions can take longer to develop than most others.

Pauly's picture

I gave up on TT in 16 when Bronco's cut TE Vernon Davis in mid season and TT never talked to him. He was basically free because his 16 contract was mostly paid for.
He is one of highest TE draft picks (# 6), still blazing fast in his early 30s. He went to Redskins rest of that year and signed a 3 yr extension.
I could only imagine him paired with TE Cook in 16 as tremendous play makers in TE spot.
6' 4", leap 42", bench 250# 34 times, 40 time 4. 39.... Amazing athlete.

4thand1's picture

F him, he said he didn't want to be a Packer when coming out of the draft.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

That is correct. He said he would never play in Green Bay.

Finwiz's picture

There is no way Davis ever ran a 4.39. Maybe when he was a Jr. in college, but at any time in the pro's?
He's overrated and a bad attitude to boot. He's Martellius Bennet 2.0. No thanks.
There's a lot of things to dislike TT for, but Vernon Davis isn't one of them.
If he was so great, he wouldn't be with all those teams over the years - mostly losers.

WKUPackFan's picture

The NFL official Combine statistics list Davis as running a 4.38 40 yard dash.

Davis has played for a total of three teams: 9+ seasons with SF (2006-2015); 9 games with the Broncos (2015); and 2 seasons with the Redskins (2016-2017).

Doug Niemczynski's picture

We have to
1. Renegotiate contracts now.
2. More Evaluate on the remaining coaching
staff.
3. Evaluate all our player's and how they fit
into both the offensive and def. schemes.
4. Who will the packers lose to free agency.
5. Who will be available for free agency.
6. Which free agents do we pursue.
7. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$How much.
8. We still have to lock up Aaron Rodgers for his remaining...yes..remaining 6 years with the Packers and he will be gone/retired. All those wasted years. Hope everyone is happy about that. We will have to draft a

Doug Niemczynski's picture

QB in the next couple of years.
9. Fill thru the draft.
10. Remember these players can take two to three years to develop.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

We are in a rebuilding stage and could take 2_3 years to be back in the thick of things and A.Rogers will be 36_37. Sorry, but these are the hard facts. We are will soon have to move on from C. Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rogers

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga and Morgan Burnett.

Coldworld's picture

Nelson is the player with the biggest risk of being over the hill. I hate to say that but I fear it is true. If so we have no number 2 receiver. Cobb is not that. I’d be open to cutting Cobb and Nelson if we could sign a good FA and using Allison and Monty as 3 and 4. With draft and perhaps Clark/Yancey as back up.

Nick Perry's picture

I'm really torn on cutting both Nelson and Cobb. If Nelson could be renegotiated WAY down with incentives and without adding guaranteed money I'd be for it. Nelson could be just as effective as Driver was in 2010 for example but even better in the red zone than D.D. was. I could also see Nelson renegotiating without a problem.

Cobb has GREAT hands, he just doesn't drop many balls but I don't think he goes for a pay cut. I hope I'm wrong though because I'd like to see the Packers keep him but if there's no pay cut I don't see it. I think a good TE would do WONDERS for Cobb and actually the whole WR group for that matter.

At the end of the day a guy like Paul Richardson would do wonders for this offense with his speed or Allan Robinson who's just so damn good if paired with Adams would IMO instantly make them a top 3 WR Duo in the NFL.

I'm just happy were discussing it with a REAL possibility of something like that happening. We never had that feeling of hope with Thompson...NEVER!!

DD's picture

Veteran backup QB. Release Hundley.

DD's picture

Veteran backup QB. Release Hundley.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

I am so pissed at mike mcarthy and TT for keeping that jack ass Dom Capers ALL these
years. What a pathetic waste of time for a Hall of fame QB. Packers fans should be disgusted with what you did to Brett Favre and Aaron Rogers with your CRAP defenses.

DD's picture

I agree. TT and MM learning curve is lacking. Two decades, two HOF QB's, two rings, and no defenses!! Kept far too long. Not exceptable for loyal fans.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Larry McCarren of nfl.com Green Bay Packers is a jackass 2 with his Puffy Cream rainbow colored glasses never liking any sort of critical comment that would help the Green Bay Packer organization to win a championship all he ever wanted to do was be politically correct to keep his dang job and I don't know why he's still on packers.com if you would be more critical of the Green Bay Packers and take fan suggestions like he should have taken then we wouldn't be in this freaking mess either. They should even have a packers.com website at the Packer organization is not going to take that accept comments I can only help this team they just want all positive nice comments on how good the team is and how the Good coaches are. Well if everything was so good Larry McCarren the why are we revamping our team?

DD's picture

Boy do I agree with you. The rock never tells it like it is. Always sugarcoats it. Get rid of him like Capers. Wayne L. and Jay S. speak truths.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Lastly, i do not really see that many quality free agents coming out and the ones i do see will probably resign or be franchised tagged.

So if the packers jag around in let's say Jarvis Landry or Malcolm butler etc they will be gone like pronto.

Coldworld's picture

Ok. I think you need to take a breath. We’ve got issues but it’s not that bad.

At least I believe we have taken steps that will prove positive.

DD's picture

Some yes, like Capers. But we still have McMike and TT in the wings. My question becomes, can two bad apples sweeten the bushel or spoil the bushel? They say ONE bad apple can spoil the bushel. I'm afraid the shitter hasn't been moved and the area cleaned sufficiently. Gee, I hope I'm so wrong; but I'm nervous with some bacteria still remaining.

Coldworld's picture

In general, big plays were a hallmark of the Philbin era, with Jennings and Nelson usually on the end of them. I think we just resigned the Jennings style player, but we lack a player with the speed and size of Nelson of 2010.

Davies is stick thin and smaller. If Janus is back can Philbin get him ready to play? Neither seem like good bets. A rookie is unlikely to have a major impact. I don’t think we have a burner on the PS. So FA?

The other thing we lack is a field stretching tight end. Again, drafting is likely at least a 2 season project. Byrd did show some speed, but Kendricks did poorly. Clark as a split out end/receiver, but he still looks raw. FA again?

We do have one area much stronger. Running back/dual threat. We can do much more with the Williams Jones Monty spectrum to create confusion with a dual run pass threat.

Overall, I think Philbin will get more out of what we have than we have been getting, but at least two significant holes are necessary to create an offense as threatening as when he was here before.

Against that, creative use of our backs who can catch or receivers who can carry offers a new way to open the field.

I still think we need one Impact FA at least to really have the ability to be explosive consistently.

Tundraboy's picture

 'I think we just resigned the Jennings style player, but we lack a player with the speed and size of Nelson of 2010."

Yup. Still think Jordy has a lot left but need to find his protégé. Why wait any longer?

4thand1's picture

I'm willing to bet Jordy is just as fast as he was a few years ago. Has his 40 speed been tested? People talk like he's going downfield with a walker.

Coldworld's picture

I would be the first to admit that it is hard to tell with one read Hundley who can’t seem to throw accurately past 10 yards in a game situation. However, I think the concern with Nelson is not necessarily his top speed but his suddenness.

We can not afford to go into next season without a true field stretching receiver. Are you willing to gamble that Nelson can do next season what he failed to do this season when Rodgers was playing (pre injury)?

4thand1's picture

I beg to differ Coldwater, he was on pace to lead the league in TD's when AR was throwing him the ball. The Packers were a ball control offense, move the sticks and score. Jordy in the red zone was really good. Hundley had no idea how to utilize Jordy anywhere on the field. Once again we had no TE to take the safties off of the WR's.

Seriously91's picture

Our offense will be fine with RT McGlinchey or Brown from our first round selection....please draft a guy that will play for a long time....sign defense and draft for depth that hopefully will make an impact in the next couple of years....We have a game in 9 months... I am a believer that you can only get so much better in that small of a window!

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