It’s no secret that the Packer have had trouble finishing games this year. They let the Lions coming roaring back in week three, putting up 34 points in the first half but only managing to get a field goal in the second half. This meager second half performance followed what was a stellar first half from Aaron Rodgers and company, and it’s clear from the pattern that’s been developing that this isn’t just about halftime adjustments.
Rodgers, who was considered by many to be the NFL’s best quarterback, has only thrown for nine touchdowns through four games this season. Four of them came in the first half of the week three game against the Lions, which was easily the best iteration of the Packer’s offense that we’ve seen so far this season. Below is a table with the Packers’ scoring distribution by quarter.
Packers vs Jaguars
Packers vs Vikings
Lions vs Packers
Giants vs. Packers
So what’s the problem? Last year people pointed to the loss of Jordy Nelson as the answer to why the Packers were struggling, but he’s back this year and playing pretty well. Lacy is supposedly back in football shape, averaging 5.5 yards a carry, so they’ve got a solid running game again. It’s actually hard to find a huge weakness on this offense aside from a lack of depth at certain positions.
Which leaves Mike McCarthy, who’s been accused of taking his foot off of the proverbial gas pedal when he has a big lead in the second half. This is especially evident in the game against the Lions, which allowed Detroit to come back and make a close game out of what should have been a blowout. He’s less at fault for the lack of second half scoring in the Giants game, as the New York defense managed to scrape together a few key interceptions to keep the game close, but there’s no beating around the bush that this is the Packers’ primary struggle so far in the 2016 season. McCarthy is trying to slow the game down and chew clock in the second half but he doesn’t have the size and power on offense to do it effectively. He’s not playing to his team’s strengths, and it’s giving opposing teams a change to win late in games.
There’s no need to hit the panic button yet, the Packers aren’t the kind of team like the Browns or Chargers that just seem to find ways to lose games. They’ve got enough talent on the roster to keep them playoff relevant, but this isn’t a style of play that can carry them through the playoffs. If the Packers want to win the NFC North they’re going to have to stay aggressive throughout the second half and keep the points coming. Dallas is going to do everything they can to use the running game to dictate the pace of play in an attempt to limit Green Bay’s possessions, and the Packers’ can’t beat them if McCarthy takes his foot off the gas in the second half.