Packers at Bye: Midyear Offense

Who is the star player and unsung hero and who must play better? What's the itinerary during the bye week? We have the answers in our midterm report.

About time.

After six consecutive games in which the offense failed to score more than 21 points, Green Bay scored that many points in the second quarter alone against Dallas.

Now, whether that was a sign that the Packers had broken out of their funk or the Cowboys — who gave up 35 against Jacksonville the week before — played like junk remains to be seen, but an accurate and decisive Aaron Rodgers leading an efficient unit at least leaves a good taste heading into the bye week.

Remember, the Packers' offense was staggering along at midseason last year, including a 17-7 victory over Dallas. But in their final seven regular-season games and the playoffs, the Packers averaged 34.3 points per game. Maybe this group is poised for a similar second-half step forward.

By the numbers

The Packers rank 16th in yards (344.7), including 20th in rushing (101.6) and ninth in passing (243.1). They are ninth in scoring at 24.6 points per game. Last year, the Packers ranked sixth in offense (379.1), including 14th in rushing (117.8) and seventh in passing (261.3). They finished third in scoring at 28.8 points per game.

Bye week itinerary

It's highly unlikely that the Packers can match last year's second-half productivity, not with Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley out for the year. But with the way the defense is playing, the Packers don't need to be that explosive. Just move the chains, be efficient, keep the defense out of bad situations and take advantage when the offense puts it in good situations. With Rodgers and Greg Jennings leading the way, that goal is easily attainable.

"We do (self-scouting) on a weekly basis anyway but now we're going to have a chance to sit down and all of us will be together as a total staff and let's kick around normal down-and-distance, third down, short yardage, red zone, everything," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "We'll talk a little bit about everything. Hopefully we come up with – really, you're looking to get one or two ideas in each area. We're not going to reshape the offense. The offense is what it is. Hopefully, we can do a couple things to refine it and get it better."

Star performer

Greg Jennings: Without Finley and with Donald Driver not being as productive this year even before his injured quad, the Packers badly needed Jennings to pick up some of the slack. After a slow start, he's on a four-game roll with 25 catches, 368 yards and three touchdowns.

Unsung hero


Chad Clifton
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Chad Clifton: There was concern that Clifton was done after he got benched for the second half of the Week 2 game against Buffalo. Instead, the 34-year-old Clifton is playing as well as he's played in years. With the Packers' pass-first (and second) mentality, he needs to keep playing at a high level. "Chad, he is a dynamic pass protector," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The run-blocking has always been our emphasis with him. He is doing a better job and he is a big part of the game plan. When you have a left tackle that can go out and block the premier pass rusher, it definitely helps you from a game-planning standpoint. We need him to stay this course."

Need more from

Andrew Quarless/Donald Lee: There's no replacing Finley. You simply can't plug a 22-year-old rookie and a 30-year-old veteran in for a budding superstar. But while Tom Crabtree has proven to be a physical and reliable blocker, Quarless and Lee have done next to nothing as receivers. Finley caught 21 passes in four games; Quarless and Lee have seven apiece through nine games They don't need to be explosive but they need to be a realistic option to gain 5 yards on third-and-4.

Coach-speak

Philbin, on second-half expectations: "I put my faith and confidence in the players and their character and their will to succeed and their passion to get the job done and their urgency. That's really, when things aren't going well, that's what we rely on more than our intelligence as a staff or we're going to out-coach somebody or we have better X's and O's than the opposition. Over the long haul, that's not going to win out. I'm confident that we've got good men and it'll be fun to see what happens. Every week's a new week. I certainly don't assume that we're going to score 35 points a game like we did (during the second half of) last year but I think we're capable of doing some good things."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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