Among many issues, Packers offense can’t get out of its own way

Unfortunately, there is no one thing that we can point to about this Green Bay Packers team as the reason for their poor play. If so, it would be a lot easier to correct.

There is a bevy of issues that this team is dealing with week to week, but perhaps the most impactful errors are the small and self-inflicted ones that the Packers are seemingly plagued by.

The most obvious issues are occurring at the receiver position in the form of dropped passes and wrong routes. Green Bay is currently tied for the fourth-most dropped passes in the NFL this season. Receivers have also frequently not been in the right place.

This was highlighted beautifully by Kurt Warner in his most recent episode of QB Confidential. Against the Detroit Lions alone, there were several examples of the wrong routes being run, but it’s also the little details that are often being missed as well, including improper spacing and a lack of precision in the receivers’ route running, among other issues.

Penalties have also been problematic for the Packers, especially as of late. Over the last three games alone, Green Bay has been flagged 25 times, a number of which have come in crucial situations, either killing their own drives or allowing the opponents to continue. Through nine games, the Packers have the seventh-most penalties this season.

“If I knew, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” said Aaron Rodgers on Wednesday when asked how the Packers can correct these errors. “It’s the same stuff. Some of it is Day 1 teaching. It’s Day 1 installs that we just need to, in the moment, be able to harken back to those things. You almost want that to be robotic in those situations. If you have a seven-step cut, you can’t cut at five; you’re not going to be open. It’s about the details, it’s about the preparation, and I don’t have a great answer for you. We’ve been trying a lot of different things, and to the coach’s credit, they’ve been trying a lot of different ways of teaching and installing and interaction and group discussions. It comes down to we’re in the fire; we got to make the right plays every single time because we’re not good enough right now to have those little tiny mistakes.”

This isn’t to say that Rodgers isn’t at fault either because he certainly is and hasn’t been playing anywhere near an MVP level. There have been missed throws on his part, and the lack of confidence in the players around him has led to hesitancy, an absolute killer for any quarterback, and missed opportunities.

The culmination and effects of these blunders have been magnified in critical situations for the Packers, specifically on third downs and in the red zone, where Green Bay has been particularly poor situationally.

The Packers enter Week 10 ranked 23rd in red zone offense, including an 0-for-4 performance last Sunday against the NFL’s worst defense. Meanwhile, they rank 17th in third down conversion rate. It goes without saying, but it’s tough to put up points if you can’t move the chains or find the end zone when inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

With these ongoing problems, a lot of discussion as of late has centered around the play calling, as the product on the field seemingly continues to drift further away from several of the core Matt LaFleur staples. While motion and play-action usages are relatively the same for the Packers as in past years, as Ben Fennell points out, RPO usage is up a considerable amount, which takes away from the “classic Matt LaFleur under-center run game/play sequencing elements.”

With that said, while some of the play designs and fundamentals appear to be altered from previous seasons, Rodgers is largely staying on script and by the book to make things easier on the rest of this offense. The inability to pair the on-paper scheme with the instinctual nature of the receiver position is just another item on what has become a long list of issues for the Packers.

“I think it has been by the book a bunch,” says Rodgers when asked about deviating from the play calls. “It has been very by the book. The struggle has been how do we make it by the book but not robotic. When it’s robotic, unless you have a perfect scheme paired up with a perfect defense for that scheme, it’s not going to do well. So that’s where the little details come in, where we aren’t trying to be robotic.” Rodgers would later add, “we’re not going outside the offense; we’re a little too robotic at times, I think, and then the details on some of the things aren’t showing up consistently.”

“It’s a fine line between robotic schematics at times, which can scheme people open, and then the ability to leave room for instincts.”

Again, there, unfortunately, isn’t a magic cure-all for the Green Bay Packers offense, as at various moments, everything seems to be going wrong. With that said, perhaps the quickest way to try to find some sort of success begins with doing the little things correctly because if there are going to be dropped passes, penalties, and the wrong routes being run, the play call doesn’t matter much. 

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire