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Packers Are Undergoing a Seismic Adjustment Period

In my last post, I theorized as to what would need to happen for the Packers to remain a top ten passing team in 2019.

Widening the focus, there are a couple other scenarios to think about in looking at the 2019 season. Here’s one: what if the Packers can find success without having the customary strong passing attack?

Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense is expected to rely on a strong run attack as its foundation. If Green Bay turns into a rushing powerhouse in 2019, just being in the top half of the league’s best passing attacks could be sufficient to propel the team back into the playoffs.

We expect LaFleur’s offense to be a carbon copy of what his buddy Sean McVay is doing with the Rams. In McVay’s first year as a head coach in 2017, the Rams finished tenth in offensive yards produced. That compares with being last in the league in 2016 – over 700 yards behind next-to-last San Francisco, and over 2,600 yards behind top-rated New Orleans. Is it any wonder why McVay got Coach of the Year honors?

In 2017 the Rams’ breakdown was a rank of tenth in passing and eighth in the run game.  In 2018, the Rams shot up to second in overall offense, just behind Kansas City. Their passing game ranked fifth and their run game was third-best.

Overall, the Rams went from 4,203 in total offense before McVay to 5,784, and then to 6,738 last year. If LaFleur can do a third as well, the Packers are in for an exciting year.

Another way to look at things: McVay has propelled the Rams to within a few yards from being the league’s top offense despite having a good, but not great, quarterback, Jared Goff. Though Goff has not electrified the league since being the top overall pick in 2016, under McVay’s scheme he turned in the fifth best passer rating in 2017 (100.5) and the eighth best last year (101.1) Those ratings would have disgraced Aaron Rodgers until a few years ago.

McVay of course has the good fortune to have a running back named Todd Gurley. Gurley had the second most rushing yards in the league in 2017 (1,305), and came in third (1,251) last year despite sitting out the final two games.

Aaron Jones at Lambeau Field

Aaron Jones (33) rushes with the football during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’m asking a lot, but I feel that Aaron Jones will rival what Gurley did last year – if he’s finally let loose. Gurley made a lot of those yards by going around the perimeter, and Aaron also excels at that. I won’t be at all surprised if he finishes among the top five rushers this season, and I’m certainly looking forward to him topping 1,000 yards.

Back in 2010, where do you think Rodgers was ranked, and how strong a run attack did the Packers possess?

Aaron was seventh in yardage (3,922) and his passer rating was Goff-like (101.2).

The run game in the Packers’ last Super Bowl year was hardly that of the Rams, however. Brandon Jackson only averaged 3.7 yards in cranking out 703 yards. Rodgers had the next most, 356 yards, and John Kuhn managed 281 yards – though he averaged only 3.3 yards per carry.

How did the Packers win it all that year? A guy who only gained 101 yards during the regular season came out of nowhere to average just over 20 carries in the four post-season games. James Starks gobbled up 315 yards en route to the Pack taking home the Lombardi trophy.

Maybe good running can make up for any deficiencies the Packers might have in their 2019 pass game.

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Rob Born

Someone else said it first but I popularized it: “Athleticism is important in athletic pursuits.” It took three years, but the Packers finally listened. My new mantra: “Trading down is fine, but never trade up.”

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8 Comments

  1. Jason Parker April 30, 2019

    I am a Todd Gurley fanboy and always will be. He is a beast and actually a pretty cool guy.

    Also, I think someone mentioned it in another comment, Packers fans might need to acquaint themselves with the idea of a primarily running offense from the team this season combined with what I think will be a hell of a defense. As a college football fan, I am all about that. Bring on the smashmouth and hope our TEs can block.

    Reply
    1. Andy Peth April 30, 2019

      Sounds good to me. I’m also excited about MVS, ESB, Kumerow, and Sternberger providing Rodgers with dangerous weapons opposite Adams–and hey, let’s not write off J’Mon Moore either.

      If the O-Line additions (Jenkins, Turner) come through, we could see some fireworks.

  2. Zachariah M Mcdonald April 30, 2019

    I think that everyone is overlooking/ underplaying that we have 3 2nd year athletic marvels at wide receiver. 2 had very respectable rookie years. Yes they’re unproven and drops were a little annoying but they WERE rookies and I don’t think our passing game is in as much trouble as everyone is implying. I think at least one of those 2nd year WRs will have a very decent second year. Allison, Adams, and one of those second year guys will be an excellent receiving core. Add in our tide ends and we’ll be a lot closer to the GB offense we’re used to seeing. I agree we will be more run heavy than we have grown accustomed to but I don’t see it being as heavy of a change as this article states.

    Reply
  3. Howard April 30, 2019

    I’m not sure that LaFeur’s offense is going to be a carbon copy of McVay’s offense,but it will be close. If LaFleur’s offensive groupings last year is any indication of what LaFleur will use as personnel groupings this year then I believe LaFleur will use tightends more than the Rams or the Packers used last year.
    You would think that Shannahan (SF) had some influence on LaFleur, but it does not appear that way. However, SF and the Titans may have been limited by the personnel they had to work with? Anyway, a dive into the major personnel groupings put on the field for all plays, run and pass, by each team as follows:
    Rams 11-87%. 12-10%. 21-0%. 22-1%. 13-1%
    Pack 11-78%. 12-16%. 21-1%. 22-0%. 13-2%
    Titan 11-58%. 12-26%. 21- 2%. 22-0%. 13-13%
    SF 11-39%. 12-10%. 21-42%. 22-8%. 13-0%
    One thing you notice when watching the Rams is that they will group the WRs close to the tackles on both sides of the ball. LaFleur did not group his receivers close to the tackles as often as The Rams. LaFleur did group his WRs like the Rams at a higher rate than most teams, but not as often as the Rams. It is unusually to see the Rams line up receivers outside the numbers. LaFleur would set receivers outside the numbers more often than the Rams,but not as often as the Packers.

    Reply
  4. Kato April 30, 2019

    If he indeed wants to base their attack on the run game, I am not sure why they drafted the TE they did. They do not have a single TE that is particularly good at run blocking

    Reply
  5. Deepsky April 30, 2019

    Tyler Dunne claimed that McCarthy called a lot more runs for Aaron Jones than we saw because Rodgers would audible out of runs and into pass plays.

    Gotta wonder if Rodgers is going to do the same thing LaFleur as LaFleur tries to establish a running game. A run called by LaFleur probably isn’t going to be viewed by Rodgers as any different than a run called by McCarthy.

    I agree, this is going to be a huge adjustment and it all depends if Rodgers buys into it.

    Reply
    1. Ferris May 2, 2019

      Yeah 3rd and 8, run up the middle. I’d change that play too.

    2. Cheese May 2, 2019

      Haha, good one Ferris.

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