The Packers are in the middle of a historic season. Matt LaFleur has become the first rookie head coach in Green Bay history to lead the Packers to the playoffs. The best part about clinching a playoff berth was that it came after beating the Chicago Bears and eliminating them from playoff contention. The Packers have turned their team around big after missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons and there is a lot to be proud of.
However, if the Packers want to make a Super Bowl run, here are 3 fixes they need to make:
3rd Down Efficiency:
The Packers offense was a question mark going into the season. They were under a new head coach for the first time in 13 seasons, and LaFleur was supposed to revitalize an outdated offense. The season started off slow with only scoring 10 points in week one, but since then they have improved almost weekly. One big area of concern though is their 3rd down efficiency. After week 15, the Packers convert only 35.5% of their 3rd downs. They rank 22nd in the NFL. The nine teams behind the Packers have a combined record of 41-84-1.
The Packers have struggled on 3rd down all season, but they are at their lowest when they are on the road. When the Packers are away from Lambeau Field, they are only converted 30.67% of their 3rd downs. They are ranked 29th and only leading the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, and Washington Redskins.
The Packers have an 11-3 record with a 3rd down conversion rate that leaves much to be desired. How much better could they be if they improved on 3rd downs? Hopefully fans will be able to answer that in the playoffs.
Improve 4th Quarter Play:
The Packers have been dominating first quarters this season. The team has scored 15 touchdowns in the first quarter alone and rank 3rd in first quarter points. Their average of 7.5 points only trails the New England Patriots (7.9) and Baltimore Ravens (8.7). Unfortunately for the Packers that success doesn’t seem to be consistent through the rest of the game.
The Packers have scored most of their points in the first quarter with 105 total points and the least in the fourth with 65 points. One example of this is week two against the Vikings. The Packers scored 21 points in the first 20 minutes of the game and were scoreless for the rest. The trend continued week 14 against the Redskins after scoring 14 points in the first quarter and only 6 the rest of the game.
The Packers first quarter success isn’t surprising, but what is surprising is how efficiently they are doing it. The Packers have ran the least amount of plays in the first quarter (180) and the second most in the 4th (230). The Packers have averaged .58 points per play in the 1st quarter and only .28 points per play in the 4th.
Defenses change schemes, players get tired, and urgency fades as a team takes the lead, but the Packers need to finish games strong if they want to bring the Lombardi trophy back home.
Passing Game Needs to Show up:
The Packers have been this successful because of Aaron. . . Jones. The Packers have established a run game that can dominate games. In week five against the Cowboys, the Packers had 120 yards rushing and Aaron Jones piled up four touchdowns alone. He is leading the team with 17 touchdowns which is the most since Ahman Green in 2003. He has changed the Packers offense and has them headed in the right direction, but he needs Aaron Rodgers to do the same. He showed he agreed when he said:
“Offensively, I’ve got to take the lead and get hot in December here, and we’ve got to start finding ways to get the ball to our guys all the time.”
Don’t get me wrong, Rodgers has had memorable games this season like week 7 against the Raiders where he had over 400 yards passing. Unfortunately he has also had games where he has thrown for 81, 166, and 139 yards.
Before I make my next point I need to clarify that the Packers are 100% a better team and offense with Davante Adams on the field. BUT the Packers have not capitalized on their big three (Rodgers, Jones, Adams) much this season. Rodgers averaged 292.25 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns a game when Adams was out, but with Adams has only averaged 184.1 yards and 1.4 touchdowns. Again, the Packers are a better team with Adams on the field, but they need to find a way to get the big 3 rolling to make a playoff run.
The Packers have solidified themselves as true contenders this season. They have improved almost weekly and has the Smith Bros dominating opposing offensive lines. If the Packers can address these offensive problems before the playoffs, teams will have a tough time stopping them from raising the Lombardi Trophy,