The second half of the season gets underway this week for the Green Bay Packers. The second-half schedule is considerably easier than the first half was. Only three of the remaining eight games are on the road (Minnesota, Buffalo and Tampa Bay). Four games are against winning teams (Philadelphia, New England, Buffalo and Detroit).
Who the hell knew Buffalo had a winning football team? Probably no one outside of Buffalo. But let us all pause and admire the wizardry of Neck Beard…
Okay, as you’ve probably deducted, three of the four games against winning teams are at home. So the Packers certainly should be making a playoff push in the second half, with 11-5 or 10-6 seeming like a very realistic final record.
The NFC North may very well come down to the final game of the season, when Detroit comes to town. That is, providing the Lions don’t realize they’re the Lions and shit the bed down the stretch.
Now that we’ve painted that picture, let’s paint this one. We all know the Green Bay Packers have some problems. They’re problems the Packers aren’t going to correct during the season. Namely, stopping the run.
You can either stop the run or you can’t and the Packers can’t. Guys who can play the run effectively aren’t just going to sprout from the ground, so the Packers will have to go get some in the offseason. Or not… as is their M.O.
That being said, here’s how the Packers can win enough games to punch a ticket to the playoffs and earn the right to get bounced by the San Francisco 49ers for the 18th consecutive season.
1. Commit to the run
The Green Bay Packers have a couple guys who can run the football pretty effectively. Their names are Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Lacy is averaging 4.1 yards per carry this season. Starks is averaging 4.4.
Of course, Buffoon is unaware that these guys are on his roster. Lacy is on pace for 210 carries. That would be 74 fewer carries than he had as a rookie in 2013. Starks is on almost exactly the same pace as he was last season. So it isn’t as if Lacy is getting fewer carries because Starks is getting more.
The result is the Packers are 25th in the NFL in rushing, with 97.5 yards per game. In 2013, they were seventh, with 133.5 yards per game. What are we getting at, other than the Packers aren’t running the ball as much this season?
It all goes back to the shitty run defense. When your defense sucks, you want to keep it the hell off the field. One way to do that is to run the football and control time of possession. The Packers have the horses to do just that. They need to utilize them.
2. Put the pressure on the secondary
When it comes to the Packers defense, the secondary is clearly the strength.
For multiple reasons, including that one, the Packers play a lot of nickel. When they do so, they’re giving the opposition an invitation to run the football. The Packers nickel package is simply not good against the run. That package is filled with guys who like to miss tackles and that results in big rushing plays.
The Packers are much better against the run when they play their base defense. Of course, that puts the pressure on the secondary, as teams are more likely to pass against four defensive backs. Well, so what?
It’s clear the Packers can’t stop the run when they’re playing nickel all the time. They’re somewhat more competent when they’re in base. So play base more often and ask the strength of the defense — the secondary — to step up.
This means more one-on-one coverage. It might result in some big pass plays from time to time. It should also result in fewer missed tackles and career days for shitbirds like Mark Ingram.
More base equals better run defense and worse pass defense, but the Packers worse pass defense should still be better than 80 percent of the rest of the league. Their run defense can’t get any worse and this secondary can cover one-on-one.
3. Bring back the 4-3
Remember when the Packers were going to adjust the scheme to their personnel instead of the other way around?
They started the season playing a good deal of 4-3 in addition to their usual 3-4. The Packers have personnel better suited to the 4-3. At first, they were understandably awful in the 4-3. A few games in, the defense looked like it was finding its groove in the 4-3. Then that package pretty much disappeared.
Probably because Buffoon and his buddy Dom are a couple of hard-headed assholes. It’s not the scheme that’s the problem, it’s pad level. We’ve just got to get our pad level right and everything will fall into place!
If the Packers are forced to play more base, which they certainly should be, then we know they’re going to generate a better pass rush with their 4-3 (which adds Mike Neal as a down lineman), than they will in their 3-4.
Ultimately, that’s the Packers’ best recipe for shoring up their run defense AND being able to disrupt the opposition’s passing game at the same time.
And that’s what a defense is supposed to do, isn’t it?
Of course, we have our doubts that any of these tactics will be employed. This is Green Bay, where we do things the same! Always, the same! We’ll just rely on Aaron Rodgers being really, really good and that’s all we need!
So get ready for more 3-4, nickel and less running game. That should allow the Packers to scrape into the playoffs just fine and then get bounced in the first round like usual.