Timing is everything

Bye week should help McCarthy revive struggling offense

The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Green Bay Packers and their struggling offense. The Packers get next weekend off, and in between now and Green Bay's Monday night game at Denver on Oct. 29 you can bet the mortgage that the Packers will figure out how to be more productive at scoring points.

Turnovers, penalties and lack of execution have hindered the unit, especially in the last two games. Take away a little from each of the forementioned categories and the Packers probably would be undefeated, but the reality is that they're fortunate to be 5-1, thanks to a stingy defense.

Thus far, the Packers' offense has had its ups and downs. Green Bay started off great against the Washington Redskins, just like it did a week earlier against the Chicago Bears. The Packers took leads in both games only to shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers, penalties and lack of execution.

After DeShawn Wynn rambled three yards for a touchdown, one play after Brett Favre's 60-yard completion to tight end Donald Lee, the offense appeared to be poised to have a big game. But, as has been the case this season, the running game went south and Favre forced some throws. Favre finished with two interceptions, but Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor who snared two of Favre's passes, could have had a few more if he had better hands.

There were moments during the game that Green Bay's offense showed a glimmer of hope rushing the ball. And that's a good sign for the remaining 10 regular season games. For example, the Packers gained a first down on three straight running plays late in the game before Favre's deep pass intended for Greg Jennings was picked off by Taylor.

At that point in the game, all the Packers could hope for was a sustained, clock-killing drive after the defense stopped the Redskins on fourth-and-2 at Green Bay's 33. The Packers, led by the running game, appeared up to that challenge, only to have it thwarted by a deep pass that was way off the mark.

Just when the Packers get a little rhythm going with the running game, poof, it is disrupted.

If all goes well for the Packers, they should have all five starters on the offensive line ready to go by the time they play Denver, and maybe Favre will again realize that it's better to throw short-to-intermediate passes than deep, jump balls that often land in the hands of the other team.

"We feel good about being 5-1 but we're a team that needs to clean our house," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "I feel like I stood here last week and said the same things. I still feel that. I feel like we're a football team that's just getting started. We have a number of areas that we need to continue to improve on. We'll work towards that as we go through the bye week and get ready for Denver."

The inconsistent offense has got to be gnawing away at McCarthy, a former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The coach is limited with a young backfield, but he is making the best of it. DeShawn Wynn has emerged as the No. 1 back ahead of Vernand Morency and Brandon Jackson, but there won't be many defensive coordinators losing sleep over that trio. And it doesn't appear that the Packers will deal for a veteran running back prior to Tuesday's trading deadline.

There are a lot of 'ifs' with the offense at this point, but if Wynn can get in better shape and get comfortable with the line in front of him, he can be more productive. If Favre takes fewer chances downfield, he will be more successful, and if the Packers can avoid drive-killing penalties, like in the last two weeks, the offense will prosper.

In the next two weeks, the Packers have a chance to iron out the ifs on offense, which may be all the time they need to improve the unit as it heads into the second half of the season.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

Packer Report Top Stories