No Jordy Nelson
No Davante Adams
No continuity on the offensive line.
No problem scoring points.
After leading the NFL in scoring in 2011 and 2014, the Green Bay Packers’ offense has set the bar so high that anything short of excellence seems like mediocrity.
But the Packers’ 27.3 points per game is only about a field goal off of last year’s league-leading pace.
The question is, what is the real Packers’ offense? Is it the team that scored 96 points in the first three games? Or the team that scored 68 points in the last three games?
“The standards are high and that’s a big part of who we are and what we do here,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “Our guys take pride in it. They put a tremendous amount of effort in it on a daily basis and the goal here in Green Bay will always be, how do we get better? How do we improve? I know it sounds like a broken record at times but it starts in the classroom and what we do in the classroom and the practice field and we take it to the game field.”
How do the Packers go from good to great? Here’s the blueprint.
Get healthy: Green Bay’s production against San Diego is pretty impressive considering Nelson was out with a torn ACL, Adams was out with a sprained ankle, Ty Montgomery was lost with an ankle injury and Randall Cobb just isn’t himself due to a shoulder injury. Plus, the offensive line really hasn’t worked together for a full week since right tackle Bryan Bulaga sustained a knee injury before the Week 2 game vs. Seattle.
Third down: The Packers rank 19th in third-down efficiency at 37.7 percent. Since Rodgers took over at quarterback, the Packers never have finished a season worse than ninth or less than 41.2 percent. Only Green Bay and New England have ranked in the top 10 in each of the past seven seasons.
“We just need to be a little bit more consistent in situational football. That’s really the bottom line,” Bennett said. “I think our guys understand that. Obviously, our expectations were not met last night, but we know the areas that we need to improve on and we know how to go about improving. So, when the guys come back, I know we’ll roll up our sleeves and we’ll make the adjustments.”
Rely on the run game: The return of Adams should help but he’s not going to be the savior. Rather, the Packers must rely on their running game. The Packers rank fifth with 127.3 rushing yards per game and fifth with 4.55 yards per carry.
If the offensive line can get healthy and stay healthy and stay intact to work on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as Sundays, and if Eddie Lacy can return to form after the worst game of his career, this is a running game that can help make up for any deficiencies with the passing game and put the offense in better third-down situations.
“It’s something that I think it comes at a good time,” guard T.J. Lang said. “We’ve got a couple guys banged up. That’s always a positive to get that week off and rest your body and come back and get ready for that 10-game sprint to close this season out strong.”
Get Cobb going: Even with a shoulder injury, Cobb caught 20 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns in the first three games. In the last three games, he caught 10 passes for 105 yards and no touchdowns.
“Teams do focus on him, and Randall’s been playing nicked up,” associate head coach Tom Clements said. “That’s had an effect, as well, so this bye week will come at a great time for him. So, it’s a variety of factors. That’s what teams try to do. If they feel a team has an effective receiver, they try to target that receiver or maybe two receivers, try to take them out of the game and make you beat them with your other players.”
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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.