GREEN BAY—Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy and Co. are making no bones about the fact the Packers’ no-huddle offense is not producing as intended.
But the offensive leaders aren’t about to make any wholesale changes after three games. The no-huddle will remain a fixture.
“With our quarterback and the way we’re structured, it’s the best use of our players,” McCarthy said after practice on Wednesday.
Rodgers’ pre-snap decision-making at the line of scrimmage lends itself to an up-tempo approach, and the Packers have increasingly used the no-huddle over the last few years.
It represents a philosophical shift for McCarthy, who was renowned for shuttling in different personnel groups play after play during his first few years in Green Bay. With the no-huddle, one personnel group remains on the field throughout a drive, forcing the defense to match up without substituting.
Why one personnel group now rather than several?
“We get our best players on the field, and that’s usually in our three-receiver set,” Rodgers said.
That set simply needs to produce, and the Packers are confident it will. The offense has been held under 260 total yards in their two losses this month and had a total of 108 offensive snaps in those games when the goal, Rodgers said, is 70-plus plays per game.
Slowing down is not the answer to McCarthy and his troops.
“Last week we had 51 plays, so you can really just stop there with your statistical analysis,” he said. “We have to run our offense, do the little things, have the right initial calls, play a little faster, and that will be our approach.”
That approach will include fixing the ground game, which hasn’t gotten going. Eddie Lacy has just 113 rushing yards through three games, far fewer than during any healthy three-game stretch from his rookie season last year.
Lacy said the concussion he absorbed in Week 1 in Seattle is not affecting his game, but it is frustrating to him how 2014 has begun.
“I think it’s surprising to a lot of people,” Lacy said of the running game’s slow start. “No one really expected it to be like that, but you can’t predict how things are going to go. Everybody expected more.
“I can always improve. It’s a long season and I have a long way to go.”
The offense as a whole will look to get back on track against a Chicago defense that continues to thrive on turnovers. The Bears are tied for the league lead with eight takeaways, many courtesy of rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, who looks nothing like a rookie, according to both McCarthy and Rodgers.
A first-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, Fuller has three interceptions and two forced fumbles in Chicago’s last two games, both prime-time road victories. He began the season as the nickel corner but is now full-time after a season-ending injury to Charles “Peanut” Tillman.
Tillman was notorious for stripping the ball from receivers and runners, and Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said it appears Fuller has “already learned the ‘Peanut punch,’ which is not fun for us.”
“It’s the Bears being the Bears,” Nelson said. “They’ve always been able to do it, causing those fumbles, getting picks. He’s a guy out there making plays.”
Heading into Chicago at 1-2, the Packers know the onus is squarely on them to start making their own plays, for the Packers to start being the Packers.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with the way we’ve performed, but we have to stay calm, stay the course and keep working at it,” Nelson said. “We’re very confident.
“Even throughout the game last Sunday, every time we walked out there, we thought it would be the possession we finally got rolling, but we have to make sure we go out and make it happen and not think someone else is going to do it.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 24