We’re approaching an important one-year anniversary for the Green Bay Packers. Sept. 28, 2015 was the last time they looked like a great offense.
On that night against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers rolled up 448 yards and 38 points. They have scored more than 30 points just once since then — the playoff win over the Washington Redskins. They’ve gained more than 400 yards just twice: 435 in a run-heavy win over the Dallas Cowboys and 402 in a frenetic comeback attempt at the Carolina Panthers.
Two games isn’t a good sample size for anything, but it doesn’t seem like much has changed from last year, when the Packers were surprisingly mediocre on offense. The Packers are averaging 278.5 yards per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills are averaging 276.5 per game and reacted to that by firing their offensive coordinator last week.
Green Bay is averaging just 4.5 yards per play, and only the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are worse. That shouldn’t happen with a future Hall of Famer like Rodgers at quarterback.
Green Bay’s Week 1 win looked pretty good in the moment, a tough victory over what was supposed to be an improved Jacksonville Jaguars team. Then the Jaguars got ripped 38-14 in Week 2, allowing the San Diego Chargers to score at will. A punchless Week 2 loss for the Packers at the Minnesota Vikings isn’t the worst result in a vacuum, but it’s a concerning continuation from last season.
Rodgers has played 15 regular-season games since throwing five touchdowns last season against the Chiefs. He hasn’t averaged 9 yards per attempt in any of them. In Rodgers’ first 106 career starts, he hit 9 yards per attempt 43 times. He has just two 300-yard games in his last 15, and had 48 attempts in one and 61 in the other. He has more than two touchdown passes just once in those 15 games. Rodgers’ last 15 regular-season games: 3,562 yards, 24 touchdowns, nine interceptions. That’s not bad, but it’s way off what we expect from Rodgers.
There are decent excuses for the Packers’ offensive issues from 2015 carrying into this season. Jordy Nelson still doesn’t look like his usual self after missing 2015 with a knee injury. He missed this preseason too. It might take Nelson some time before he’s truly back. The Vikings are going to shut down a lot of offenses this season, so no shame in struggling on Sunday night. The Packers have yet to play at home, where Rodgers (like most quarterbacks) has played much better in his career. And it’s just two games.
But it’s also fair to worry a bit. The Packers still aren’t getting much going downfield, Rodgers is taking too many sacks — like last season, when his sack rate really spiked — and there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the passing game play calls. They’ve looked just like the 2015 Packers, a team that confused us by looking so average on offense. Maybe that changes soon, but it has been a long time since we’ve seen the Packers look like an offensive machine or Rodgers play like an MVP.
Here are the post-Week 2 NFL power rankings:
32. Cleveland Browns (0-2, Last week: 32)
Josh McCown is out this week, and probably longer. The Browns, a bad team even with healthy quarterbacks, have to press third-round rookie quarterback Cody Kessler into a starting role. It seems probable they go wire-to-wire as the No. 32 team in these rankings.
31. Chicago Bears (0-2, LW: 24)
In the fourth quarter Monday night, receiver Alshon Jeffery was running on the field, putting on his helmet after the Bears had already broken the huddle, like he was shocked he had to go in the game. That summed up the Bears’ entire sorry performance. And Jay Cutler suffered a right thumb injury on top of it all.
30. Miami Dolphins (0-2, LW: 23)
Maybe the Dolphins started to figure things out in the second half against the Patriots. Aside from their second-half rally, which ultimately fell short, their offense has been absolutely awful. We should know more after they play the Browns in Week 3.
29. San Francisco 49ers (1-1, LW: 28)
At some point the 49ers just have to admit Blaine Gabbert’s ceiling is not that high and see if Colin Kaepernick — who has played at an elite level, albeit briefly — can recapture that form. It doesn’t sound like a change is coming this week, but it has to happen soon.
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2, LW: 17)
I mentioned this in Winners and Losers yesterday but it’s worth repeating: Among NFL coaches with 50 games, Gus Bradley has the second worst winning percentage ever, at .240. Only Bert Bell was worse, and he last coached in 1941. Yet when’s the last time you heard anything overly critical about Bradley in the NFL’s media circles?
27. New Orleans Saints (0-2, LW: 26)
I’m not sure what to make of linebacker Stephone Anthony, a 2015 first-round pick, having almost no role so far this season. He played four snaps on Sunday. Saints coach Sean Payton said it was because the Saints were in a nickel defense most of the game, but that begs the follow-up, why is Anthony not good enough to be in the Saints’ nickel defense? Seems damning that Anthony can’t get on the field for this defense.
26. San Diego Chargers (1-1, LW: 30)
No Keenan Allen, and now no Danny Woodhead. Even safety Jahleel Addae broke his collarbone. That was an impressive win over Jacksonville, but it’s tough to keep losing big-time playmakers and not feel it.
25. Tennessee Titans (1-1, LW: 29)
Big win by the Titans, coming back on the road to win late at Detroit. And the Titans didn’t play terribly in Week 1, they just had two brutal turnovers that were returned for touchdowns. There’s an interesting matchup at home in Week 3 against the Raiders.
24. Buffalo Bills (0-2, LW: 21)
Firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman after two games doesn’t make much sense. You’ve spent the entire offseason working with that offense. The first two games weren’t pretty, but changing now doesn’t guarantee it’ll get any better.
23. Los Angeles Rams (1-1, LW: 31)
I’ve said it often, but since it keeps happening: If the Jeff Fisher Rams are good enough to beat teams like the Seahawks, why are there so many awful performances like the one against the 49ers?
22. Washington Redskins (0-2, LW: 19)
Kirk Cousins has had a really weird career, hasn’t he? He went from turnover machine to the hottest quarterback in football for a half-season, then maybe back to turnover machine? Being 0-2 with two home losses is a really bad way to start a season, and the anonymous locker room sniping at Cousins is just awful (Charles Robinson has more on that here).
21. Indianapolis Colts (0-2, LW: 22)
It seems very early in the season but being 0-2 puts a team in a huge playoff bind. Of the 75 0-2 teams since 2007 only seven have made the playoffs (9.3 percent), according to OddsShark. The Texans and Seahawks were able to pull it off last season, so there’s hope for the Colts, but they’re in a tough spot already.
20. Atlanta Falcons (1-1, LW: 27)
Matt Ryan, through two games, has 530 yards, five touchdowns and a 121.4 passer rating. It’s just two games, but it’s a great early bounce-back after a tough 2015.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1, LW: 18)
OK, brakes pumped on Jameis Winston being great already. He has to settle into a happy medium between throwing four touchdowns in Week 1 and throwing four interceptions in a bad blowout loss in Week 2.
18. Detroit Lions (1-1, LW: 15)
The Lions had no business losing on Sunday. They got out to a quick lead against a Titans team nobody views as a legit playoff contender, then the offense just stalled. They had one decent second-half drive, and even that ended with just a field goal. I want to believe in the Lions being an improving team, but then they take a loss like that one against the Titans and it’s back to square one.
17. Oakland Raiders (1-1, LW: 12)
The Raiders are allowing 404 passing yards per game and a 131.4 rating, which is unbelievably awful. That’s after signing cornerback Sean Smith and safety Reggie Nelson in free agency, giving cornerback David Amerson a big extension and drafting safety Karl Joseph in the first round (Joseph hasn’t played on defense yet this season, and when you look at the results you have to wonder why not). The Raiders secondary should not be this bad.
16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1, LW: 20)
Ezekiel Elliott is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry despite running behind an incredible line, and he was benched Sunday after his second fumble. Life in the NFL is hard, even when everything seems aligned for a rookie to come in and dominate right away. He’ll be fine, it’s just a good lesson.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0, LW: 25)
I wasn’t a fan of Jim Schwartz as a head coach. But as a defensive coordinator? He’s tremendous. The Eagles defense plays really fast.
14. Baltimore Ravens (2-0, LW: 16)
It’s not exactly ideal that they fell behind to the Browns 20-0 in the first quarter, though they chipped away at the lead as Josh McCown was in extreme pain and eventually won. It’s better than a loss, for sure.
13. New York Jets (1-1, LW: 14)
The Jets’ usage of Matt Forte is kind of strange. He has 59 touches in two games, which is far from ideal for a 30-year-old back. And backup Bilal Powell is a good player. Expect the Jets coaches to cut back on Forte’s touches soon. Or he might not make it to November.
12. New York Giants (2-0, LW: 11)
Odell Beckham has been reasonably quiet: 159 yards, no touchdowns, one catch longer than 17 yards. The fact that the Giants are 2-0 despite that should be a good sign going forward, because Beckham won’t struggle for much longer.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1, LW: 9)
I’m not really worried about the Chiefs, although it’s also true that six of their eight quarters this season have been pretty poor. What has stood out is that cornerback Marcus Peters is already a star. He had two interceptions on Sunday. Peters is only two games into his second season, but he’s already among the NFL’s best cornerbacks.
10. Green Bay Packers (1-1, LW: 5)
In a scheduling quirk, the Packers’ next four games are at home. If they’re still averaging less than 300 yards per game on offense after that, it’ll be the right time to panic.
9. Minnesota Vikings (2-0, LW: 13)
We’ll see where the Sam Bradford era goes, but the first night of it was really good. And it seems obvious that Stefon Diggs is a clear No. 1 target for him to throw to.
8. Denver Broncos (2-0, LW: 10)
First, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Aqib Talib probably won’t face NFL discipline for the incident this summer in which he was shot in Dallas. Then, Talib got a pick-six to help the Broncos win. Pretty big weekend for him.
7. Houston Texans (2-0, LW: 8)
The Texans haven’t allowed a touchdown for six straight quarters. Their defense is nasty. But if they want to be known as more than the best team in a bad division, they have to beat the New England Patriots with Jacoby Brissett starting on Thursday night. A loss there, no matter how good the Patriots are at coaching up whoever is starting for them, would show the Texans are still a ways off from being a contender.
6. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1, LW: 7)
Tyler Boyd didn’t fumble. But still, the Bengals can be blamed for getting A.J. Green just two catches for 38 yards. The Bengals targeted him eight times, but it should have been double that with Andy Dalton throwing 54 times.
5. Seattle Seahawks (1-1, LW: 2)
I wouldn’t freak out. They’re really banged up on offense and the Rams, for some reason, always play them well. Still, the offense has been scary bad through two games.
4. Arizona Cardinals (1-1, LW: 6)
Again, it was funny how many people tried telling me last week that the Cardinals were actually not very good.
3. Carolina Panthers (1-1, LW: 4)
Kelvin Benjamin’s first two games: 13 catches, 199 yards, three touchdowns. Yeah, his return from a torn ACL was a pretty big addition for this team.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0, LW: 3)
Le’Veon Bell is really good, but when he returns from his suspension I’d guess he won’t dominate the snaps. DeAngelo Williams has earned a share of the carries. A pretty big share, too.
1. New England Patriots (2-0, LW: 1)
Spoiler alert: If the Patriots lose either of the next two games with Jacoby Brissett or a banged-up Jimmy Garoppolo, they’re not going to be penalized here. They’ve proven their point. When Tom Brady comes back, they’ll be the best team in football. Again.
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