GREEN BAY – The Packers are starting to see it over and over.
Their receivers are being pressed at the line of scrimmage, and they aren’t getting open downfield. It was the primary topic of discussion following Sunday night’s loss in Denver and again on Monday.
“That would be a common approach towards our offense is to just get up and lock the receivers down and make them win,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “But there’s more to offensive football. We have a lot more to offer than drop back and run pass plays versus bump-and-run.”
McCarthy would like to be running the ball better. So would Offensive Coordinator Edgar Bennett. That would be a start, and 19 carries for 59 yards from ball-carriers outside of the quarterback isn’t good enough.
Both coaches also suggested there are X’s and O’s that can be adjusted to help the receivers, but that’s not a cure-all. Getting open on the perimeter begins first and foremost with winning that battle at the line.
“I’m not going to get into how we can defeat it from a scheme standpoint,” Bennett said. “We understand and we know what needs to happen in order to be more successful.
“When you’re accustomed to winning and performing at a high level and have a setback like we did Sunday night, frustration is involved. Let’s learn from the situation and grow and get better and move on.”
The Packers have been saying that for the last few weeks, though. They aren’t used to this on offense.
A dozen three-and-outs over the last four games. A third-down conversion rate of 33 percent or worse in each of those four games. Less than 50 snaps in two straight contests.
Problems that have lingered this long have no easy fix, and third downs (2-for-8, 25 percent) and the snap count (46) hit their lowest points in Denver, as did the total yards (140) by a longshot.
“We haven’t been consistent enough,” Associate Head Coach/Offense and play-caller Tom Clements said. “We play in spurts, do some things well, but we haven’t been doing that as consistently as we need to.”
That’s across the board, but when Aaron Rodgers passes for just 77 yards and the average per reception is just 5.5 yards, it’s natural to focus on the throwing windows. They were obviously small, if existent at all.
“A lot of times there’s a very small area that constitutes being open,” Clements said. “At times, we were, at times, we weren’t.
“When there’s a little bit of separation, you also have to try to throw the guy open. It just hasn’t worked out as well as it can, and we’re working to get better.”
Concentrated improvement is needed, according to the coaches, not a massive overhaul.
“Our players are good enough. Our scheme is good enough,” Bennett said. “We feel like we have everything in place. We’re still 6-1. We’ll continue to improve and we’ll certainly improve from Sunday night’s performance.”