The Green Bay Packers led the NFL in scoring last season, with Aaron Rodgers winning MVP honors, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb earning Pro Bowl accolades and Eddie Lacy piling up almost 1,600 total yards.
All of that success started with the offensive line, with that five-man unit’s talents coming together to form a dominant group that started 15 of 16 games together.
Coach Mike McCarthy called it the best line in his tenure. That’s high praise, and the expectations for 2015 are high, as well, with the gang back together.
“I think the offensive line’s going to be better, I really do,” McCarthy said earlier this month. “But that’s why you practice and that’s why you eventually go to training camp and ultimately play the games. But based on what we’ve accomplished, the continuity those guys have in the room and the ability to keep developing the younger players, we’re having a heck of an offseason in the O-line room.”
With left tackle David Bakhtiari, left guard Josh Sitton, center Corey Linsley, right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Bryan Bulaga leading the way, Green Bay scored 486 points — second-most in franchise history.
In the ultimate team sport, it’s impossible to quantify what the line meant to the production put up by Rodgers and Lacy. Nonetheless, STATS offers three sets of stats worth considering for the run game.
First, on third-and-short — plays of third-and-1 and third-and-2 — the Packers moved the chains on 53.7 percent of their rushing attempts. That was the sixth-best success rate in the NFL.
Second, the Packers were stuffed — STATS defines a “stuff” as a running play that was stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage — on 8.7 percent of their rushing attempts. That was the ninth-lowest rate in the NFL.
Third, the Packers weren’t just getting 3 yards and a cloud of dust. Only Seattle (83) had more 10-yard runs than Green Bay’s 67. The Packers were one of only six teams with more than 60.
In the passing game, the Packers yielded 30 sacks. That’s their fewest in the Rodgers era. Because of Rodgers’ play-extending style, the Packers have allowed a lot of sacks — a statistic that, often unfairly, has been dumped at the feet of the line. From 2008 through 2013, Green Bay gave up 43.3 sacks per season, so 30 is a significant improvement. When accounting for the quarterbacks, ProFootballFocus.com scored Green Bay as the second-best pass-protecting line in the league.
If there’s a spot where the Packers need to improve, it’s their goal-line running. On runs from the 1- and 2-yard line, Green Bay scored touchdowns on 58.3 percent of its runs. That ranked 16th in the league — not good enough considering the talent on the line, Lacy’s power and the dual threat presented by Rodgers.
“Our goal is to improve on what we did last year and really just kind of pick up where we started off,” Lang said. “The last eight games of the year, including the playoffs, we felt we were playing our best football up front. We watched a lot of film of last year. We pretty much watched every snap, good and bad. And I think everybody realizes that we still have a lot of work to do if we want to be the best unit in the league. And you can’t stay the same. You’ve got to get better. This period of time, everybody’s just focusing on individual goals, what they can do to better their own techniques and IQ of the game. But we’re a group of guys where everybody works hard, everybody’s reliable and accountable. And that’s our goal as a unit this year is to go out there start fast and finish even faster.”
|3||New Orleans Saints||58.1|
|5||New York Jets||54.5|
|6||Green Bay Packers||53.7|
Runs stopped for 0 or negative yards
|5||New Orleans Saints||8.1|
|7||New York Giants||8.5|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||8.6|
|9||Green Bay Packers||8.7|
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.