During most of the first half of the December 23rd game against the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers looked incompetent in all three phases. The team has struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone, and that showed up on Sunday. Continuing to settle for field goals is not winning football. The special teams and defense had their own issues, but improving the offense must be the first plan of attack. While the Packers pulled out a walk-off win in overtime, the way they played much of the game was disappointing. This team has lost its identity as a high powered offensive machine. Barely beating the Jets will mean big changes are coming for the Packers.
Barely Beating the Jets Will Mean Big Changes for Green Bay Packers
The Season in General
The offense got off to a slow start this season. While showing signs of life, it never seemed to really get going. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers battled a knee injury for much of the season and sustained a groin injury in the December 16th game at the Chicago Bears. Could continuing to perform while less than 100 percent be why Rodgers seems off this year? His 2018 completion percentage is 62.3. In 2016, his last full season, his completion percentage was 65.7. Fewer completions are likely a combination of a few factors.
Due to Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb battling injuries most of the year and Jordy Nelson getting cut, Rodgers had a whole new receiving corp to work with. Many games, he had dependable Davante Adams and three rookies. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have grown to become more and more reliable and have largely contributed to the offense. Unfortunately, this offense has only shown flashes of greatness and could not manage to click constantly.
The Packers’ are averaging 2.7 touchdowns per game in 2018. This team has only broken 30 points four times this season. Based on past years, these stats are rather uncharacteristic, much like barely beating the Jets.
Offensive Line Injuries Hindering Offense
Green Bay placed tackle Byron Bell on injured reserve on December 12th because of a knee injury he suffered the previous week. Bryan Bulaga has battled his own knee injury throughout the season and has missed a few games. David Bakhtiari has faced several knee and ankle injuries, too, but intends to play in the season finale versus the Detriot Lions.
Jason Spriggs and Justin McCray have stepped in as replacements. The offensive line has allowed 96 quarterback hits and 50 sacks this season, and they are ranked 30th overall by the NFL. While this line has had a ton of injuries, that’s no excuse for not giving Rodgers quality protection. The quarterback has taken quite a beating and been under more pressure than usual.
The problem with this team has long been that Rodgers has to play at an incredibly high level. He has to put up superhuman numbers and basically paint a masterpiece, or the team loses. Sure, many times, quarterbacks take the blame or credit, too. However, there are 10 other players on offense, 11 other players on defense, and special teams. Playing winning football requires all men on the field to do their part.
With the new leadership, hopefully, they will be willing to make hard decisions that ultimately benefit the team. From trading or cutting players who aren’t carrying their weight and being more aggressive during free agency to drafting smarter, big changes are coming.
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