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How Will Defenses Play Aaron Rodgers, Packers in 2016?

It’s a mystery at the moment. How opposing defenses will line up against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in 2016.

There was no question in 2015.

Opposing defenses brought an additional safety up to stop Eddie Lacy and the Packers’ rushing attack, virtually daring Rodgers and the passing offense to beat them.

The San Francisco 49ers were the first team to employ this strategy in week 4, holding the supposedly mighty Packers offense to 17 points. Every team throughout the rest of the season followed suit.

It’s amazing Lacy still managed to average 4.1 yards per carry and the Packers were still able to pile up the 12th best rushing total in the league, although don’t ask Sam Gash about that. They did so with opposing defenses geared to stop the running game first and foremost all season and with coach Mike McCarthy constantly getting on Lacy for one reason or another.

In this instance, the question is why did opposing defenses not play what they traditionally do — the cover 2 — against the Packers in 2015?

Overall, the reason is simple. It’s because the Packers passing attack wasn’t good in 2015.

They finished 25th in the league in total passing, with opposing defenses basically daring them to pass. That’s telling.

If you can’t throw the football against a cover 1, then you just aren’t any good at throwing the football.


Why weren’t the Packers any good at throwing the football?

A lot of people will point to the receivers. Jordy Nelson was out, the Packers couldn’t find (or refused to play) another deep threat, Davante Adams regressed and Randall Cobb underachieved.

Some people will point to the play calling. Tom Clements was a disaster in that department, having play-calling duties stripped from him in December. Clements’ biggest mistake was trying to execute a vertical passing game without a true outside receiver on the field. He simply didn’t adapt to his personnel very well.

As such, you could even say it was a personnel issue. The Packers didn’t have a tight end capable of stretching the middle of the field and they didn’t have an outside receiver Rodgers was comfortable with.

The bottom line is — and this is an unpopular stance — Rodgers should take the lion’s share of the blame.

He wasn’t up to par in 2015.

The Packers offense is built around Aaron Rodgers. When he doesn’t perform up to the standard he set, the one that we all expect, the Packers offense doesn’t work.

We’re not going to get into the myriad of reasons why Rodgers may have been off in 2015. We would just be speculating. The important thing is, if you watch the tape critically, you see that he was off.

That allowed opposing defenses to stack the box to stop the run. They simply weren’t afraid of Aaron Rodgers beating them.

That’s not an opinion either. It’s what happened week after week.

Teams that play Packers at the start of this season are likely going to line up the same way they did for most of 2015. They’ll put an extra safety in the box to stop the run and dare Rodgers to beat them.

There’s simply no reason to do it any differently until Rodgers proves he’s back in top form. Until he proves he needs to be the focal point of the defense.

The offense goes as Rodgers goes.

If he’s really back, opposing defenses will have to go back to playing cover 2. That, not the number of donuts Eddie Lacy eats on a weekly basis, will open up the running game, the middle of the field and the Packers entire offense.

Joseph Bonham

Joseph is a fiction writer when he isn't doing this. In his spare time he likes to do manly things like drink beer and procreate.



  1. Vijay-jay June 14, 2016

    Although it’s a complicated chess match schematically, the game of football is pretty simplistic overall. The teams that excel in all three phases usually end up playing for Championships in the end.

  2. Howard June 14, 2016

    It is so simplistic that as one great Packer said “Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things – blocking and tackling. ” Vince Lombardi

    Having a great quarterback is important. The fact remains your offense doesn’t drive very far or very efficiently without a very good offensive line. Protect the QB from hits, give QB1 time, and open the holes for the backs. Everything else will fall into place for the offense. The offensive line last year did not play well in large part because of injuries. Get the o line healthy and improve the depth and the Offense will improve greatly.

    1. Anti-McCarthy fan June 14, 2016


      1. Packers fan June 14, 2016

        My bad I meant to comment as Packers fan.

  3. Icebowl June 14, 2016

    Good piece….
    I suspect all 2016 opponents will be using niners strategy against GB. It will be interesting to see if they have an answer for back-to-normal QB1 and better O-line resulting in proved passing offense…

    Could be a great year…..

  4. PF4L June 14, 2016

    They’ll be using that strategy for a game, maybe two games. But this season won’t be anything like last season. Defenses doubled Cobb, took that away. D. Adams scared no one. Our only real threat was JJ, and he did what he could, and ended up the Packers #1 receiver. With Jordy back, Cook on board, Cobb freed up. Also, Abbrederis and or Montgomery, Janis playing a larger role. I agree with ice, and as i have said before, this offense has the makings to be close to what the 2011 offense was. And as most knowledgeable fans know, was one of the most prolific offenses in NFl history.

    I cant wait until September!!

    GO PACK GO!!!

    1. Anti-McCarthy fan June 15, 2016


  5. Packers fan June 15, 2016

    This offense will be top 5 if Eddie Lacy performs well. If he is Eddie Lacy from last year we will be ranked 10-12 in total offense. Our passing game should be ranked better than 25th this year and should be back in the top 10. We have a rejuvanted Eddie Lacy, a healthy Jordy Nelson and it will help Cobb, Jeff Janis will play a better role and McCarthy probably will play him this year all year, Jared Cook on deck, Montgomery, and possibly Abbrederis. This offense will be ranked in the top ten. As I said if Lacy performs well it will be a top 5 and if he is the Lacy from last year the offense will be ranked in the 10-12 range. I expect McCarthy to play Janis all year and if he struggles at receiver, keep him on special teams because he is really good as a special team gunner and he is a good TT draft pick. I predict Packers will go 12-4 and Super Bowl if healthy and if not healthy we will go 11-5. We will win the North this year if that happens. I see us struggling against 2 teams that beated us last year, the Bears and Vikings, and I predict we lose to them on the road because these 2 have good defenses. DO NOT, AND I REPEAT, DO NOT SLEEP ON THE VIKINGS. They are challenging the Packers this year and they have built a winning culture. The Packers offense have struggled against good defenses on the road. See 2014 (at Bills, at Lions, at Seahawks week 1) that’s what will happen this year on the road. I see us losing to Redskins (27-28) since they might be looking for revenge, at Vikings (17-34), at Falcons (28-31) since Julio Jones is a nightmare matchup against the Packers (2014), and at Bears (14-24). The Vikings (Zimmer’s) defense will bully Aaron Rodgers in week 2 that’s why I predict we lose 17-34 and the Packers don’t do well on road national television games. Think about it like last year at Denver we got embarrassed 10-29. Its obviously McCarthy doesn’t prepare his team well for these national television road games. The Bears will probably do what the Bills did to the Packers in 2014 in week 15 that’s why I see us losing 14-24. Its really cool the Packers get to face good defenses in Lambeau. We should beat the Vikings in Week 16 23-20! The Texans 24-14 in week 13 if oline can protect Aaron against JJ Watt. The Seahawks 24-21 In week 14 because Seattle does not do well in the cold games, you saw last year against Minnesota in playoffs when they won 10-9 and yes Seattle does have a good defense! We should sweep the Lions since their offense is a question mark and they don’t have Calvin Johnson. In week 3 Packers win 30-13 and week 17 Packers win 30-20! Go Pack Go!