Aaron Rodgers does not deserve the blame he is getting for the lack of offensive output this season. Yes, his number have been lackluster but he still is tied for most passing touchdowns in the NFC on the season. The offensive unit as a whole has been tragic, but that falls onto coordinator Adam Stenavich. The Green Bay Packers are calling the wrong plays with the offensive weapons they have. Aaron Jones has been stellar to start the season, but the offense is not leaning on him enough to win games and move the ball efficiently.
Issues with the Play Calling
The backfield consists of a lightning and thunder duo in AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones. Currently, Aaron Jones has 5.5 yards per carry and AJ Dillon has 3.9 yards per carry. Aaron Jones’ YPC is one of the highest averages in the NFL, but the Packers continue to rely on passing the ball rather than running the ball. The common defense in the NFL, and the one we saw the most against the Commanders, was a two deep zone safety coverage. The way to beat that coverage is to run the ball, but Aaron Jones only saw the ball 8 times on the ground.
Against the New York Giants, The Packers only ran the ball a total of 13 times with Aaron Jones for 63 yards and eventually abandoned the run in the second half. When facing the Jets, the ball was only ran for 9 times for 19 yards. Once more, against the Commanders, Jones only ran the ball 8 times for 23 yards. The same goes for AJ Dillon who has combined for 20 carries and 90 yards across the last 3 games.
Aaron Jones is the second best offensive player on the field, only second to Aaron Rodgers. There is no reason not to be running the offense through Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. They both can run the ball downhill and catch the ball when they have to. With an average of 5.5 yards and 4 yards per carry, if the Packers exclusively ran the ball it would be a more effective offense than the one they are currently calling.
Offense Against the Washington Commanders
Against the Washington Commanders, it was a great decision to change up the offensive line. Elgton Jenkins plays better at guard and Yosh Nijman seems to be a great replacement for Billy Turner at tackle. Compared to the Jets game, the offensive line seemed a lot better, even with David Bakhtiari not playing. The configuration allowed Aaron Rodgers more time in the pocket and he was pressured on only 8.6% of his drop backs.
The offense confuses me every week. In the beginning of the game they looked great, moving the ball with ease and scoring an opening touchdown. But, from then, they could not move the ball at all. After their immense offensive halt, they only scored with a touchdown in the 4th quarter, but it was too little too late.
The game against the Commanders also marked the first game since Week 6 of 1999 where the Green Bay Packers didn’t convert a single third down conversion. With an offense this terrible, it is hard to remember a time when a Packers offense struggled this much, as it is usually the defense who struggles.
Defense against the Washington Commanders
Despite having an interception and a touchdown on defense, the Packers defense played subpar to their caliber. In the beginning of the game they seemed dominant, but the more the offense struggled, the longer they were on the field. Even when the Commanders ran a simple run, run, pass offense, Joe Barry couldn’t keep up with the play calling. Since they were on the field for so long, they were gassed and gave up some crucial catches that led to the loss.
Defense is not to blame for this loss. They did everything they could for being on the field an extra 15 minutes compared to the Commanders defense. Joe Barry has also changed up the play calling since the Giants game which has allowed for more opportunities for the defense to play in man coverage.
How to Move Forward
Something needs to change with the play calling. Rather than Matt LaFleur telling the media that there needs to be a change, he needs to actually change something. Run the ball more and let Rodgers get more elusive within the pocket. While changing around the offensive line is a great start, it isn’t the only thing that needs to be done. Our wide receivers need to be schemed better as well. Sometimes they get separation, but other times, it seems like the defenders are on them like glue.
Scheme players open, run the ball more, and show the people that you can turn this ship around. It is both on the shoulders of Matt LaFleur and Adam Stenavich. Change the offense to a run based and short passing game offense. You cannot rely on rookie wide receivers and an aging Aaron Rodgers to carry you to victory once again.