Offense in need another playmaker

After watching the Packers' first-team offense fail to get a first down in four series,'s Dylan Tomlinson explains why Green Bay should place a high priority on obtaining a proven play-maker at receiver.

Sure, there were some positives in the Green Bay Packers' 13-9 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday night.

First, the obvious: The Packers won. Secondly, backup Aaron Rodgers looks like a much improved quarterback. Also, the Packers appear to have found their next kicker in rookie Mason Crosby, who booted a 52-yarder in the game.

But after watching how poorly the first-team offense played, it's a little difficult to be overly optimistic about how the Packers are going to score points this season.

Granted, the Steelers have one of the better defenses in the NFL and the Packers typically struggle against a 3-4 defense, but it's hard to come up with enough excuses about the way the offense played. Heck, when Brett Favre can't lead the team to a first down, much less a touchdown, it's not a good thing.

Obviously, rookie running back Brandon Jackson is going to continue to get better even though he looked highly mediocre carrying the ball 16 times for 57 yards, 30 of which came on two carries in the second half when the Pittsburgh starters were all on the sideline.

Jackson played the way you would expect a rookie running back to play and ultimately, the injury to Vernand Morency will be a good thing for Jackson and the Packers because it's hardly a secret that Jackson is expected to be a starter at some point this season. The longer Morency is out, he may have the job for the season opener.

The biggest concerns lie with the receivers and the tight ends. Obviously, Donald Driver is in a class of his own among the receivers and while Greg Jennings is talented and rookie James Jones seems to have a ton of potential, it would almost seem naïve to expect too much out of either player this season. Based on the lack of offensive firepower on the Packers, opposing teams would be wise to blitz Favre as much as possible and double and triple team Driver, something that was seen a few times last season, most notably in humiliating losses to the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. The Packers have a plethora of young promising receivers, but what they really need is one more veteran receiver who can take some of the pressure away from Driver. If you think Robert Ferguson is that guy, then you obviously haven't been playing much attention to the last six seasons, when Ferguson has essentially been nothing but a colossal disappointment.

What was also glaringly apparent in Saturday's game is that Bubba Franks is essentially done as a pass-catching tight end. Bubba may still be a good blocker and worth keeping around for that reason, but after watching him drop a perfect pass from Rodgers in the second quarter Saturday, it's hard to imagine any of the Packer quarterbacks having any confidence throwing him the ball.

I don't know if it's too late for the Packers to pick up another veteran receiver, but it's the biggest move they need to make before the regular season begins. The other offensive positions will work themselves out. Jackson will get better as a running back, the offensive line will continue to improve.

The Packers defense is good enough to have them in position to win a lot of games this year, possibly even more than they did last season. But if Favre isn't given another playmaker on offense, the Packers are going to have a hard time scoring points and winning games this season.

Dylan Tomlinson

Dylan Tomlinson is a frequent contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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