Why did the Green Bay Packers perform so poorly on offense in 2015? The Packers couldn’t make their offense go for a number of reasons.
Green Bay has been using a West Coast Offense going on 25 years with success, but last year the system broke down.
The West Coast favors passing over running, and favors using short horizontal passes to set up the running game and open up the field for longer runs and downfield passes.
The unpredictability of play calls is supposed to prevent defenders from focusing on a likely play.
High pass completion percentage is essential. This puts the offense in favorable down and distance situations, allowing for either run or pass options.
The Packers receivers’ inability to gain separation last year was reflected in the quarterback’s completion percentage. Aaron Rodgers’ completion percentage has actually fallen five years in a row now. Rodgers completed in 68.3 percent of his passes in 2011, followed by 67.2 percent in 2012, 66.6 in 2013, 65.6 in 2014 and a career-low (as a starter) 60.7 in 2015. Likewise, his postseason rate fell to 56.3 percent.
Having no deep-threat receivers on the field lessened the deep pass option. In 2015, the Packers had 55 catches of 20 or more yards; in 2014 they had 59, and in 2013 they had 65.
With defenders crowding the line of scrimmage, along with so many 2nd and 10s and 3rd and longs, the run game suffered, producing 1,850 yards, versus 1,917 in 2014, and 2,136 in 2013.
A final strategy that famed coach Bill Walsh, the founder of the West Coast Offense, adhered to was to pass early and often in hopes of getting a lead, then to control the game with running plays that wear down defenders and use up the clock. But in 2015, the Packers rarely had leads of any size to protect. Their scoring average was 23.0, 23rd in the league. In 2014, they were first in scoring (30.4) and in 2013 they were eighth (26.1).
On all fronts, the offense sputtered. Look to Rodgers’ completion percentage in games this year as a gauge of how well the team’s offense is functioning.