Green Bay Packers play-calling in need of an overhaul


The Green Bay Packers are looking for answers on
offense, but have changed surprisingly little in
their search for success.

A man smarter than I once defined insanity as doing the same thing over an over again and expecting different results. By those parameters, the Green Bay Packers have gone insane over the past month.

Now left in the unfamiliar position of looking up at a division leader in the NFC North, the Packers are left with the challenge of closing the game between themselves and the Minnesota Vikings before they meet again in Week 17. The talent has been in place all along, even without the presence of All-Pro calibre receiver Jordy Nelson. It’s the execution that’s been wholly underwhelming.

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Much of this can be pegged directly to individual performances. Wide receiver Davante Adams has been force-fed opportunity after opportunity, but come up empty more times than not. Eddie Lacy hibernated through the early months of the season while Richard Rodgers‘ limited athletic abilities have capped his impact outside of the red zone.

Encompassing all of these problems under one umbrella, however, has been the Green Bay Packers play-calling. It’s been ugly, it’s been repetitive and it’s been completely predictable.

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Granted, play-caller Tom Clements has been limited by the loss of Nelson and some offensive line play that’s been, at times, a threat to the life of Aaron Rodgers. The decision by Mike McCarthy to forfeit his play-calling duties following the NFC Championship Game was initially met with some level of relief by many Packers fans, but now, Coach Mac doesn’t look so bad.

In fact, dating back to the Denver Broncos loss, McCarthy has been spotted with the play sheet on the sidelines multiple times. He’s chalked this up to “making some offensive adjustments”, or something of the sort, but speculation persists that McCarthy could be close to taking up the reins once again.

Shifting Randall Cobb around offensive formations, especially into the slot or backfield, seems to be the only consistent adjustment that the Packers have made when met with adversity in recent weeks. Rodgers has been under fire and, with receivers running isolation routes, has not been afforded the wide-open targets of years past. On Thanksgiving against Chicago, Rodgers completed just 22 of 43 passing attempts for 202 yards. Strangely mortal numbers.

Past Cobb’s six receptions for 74 yards (with a fumble..), the next-leading wide receiver was Adams, who managed just two catches for 14 yards. Of 22 completed passes, those were the only two receivers to record a reception. This shrinks the offense terribly, creating the complete antithesis of the stretched-out Nelson days.

Eddie Lacy’s usage was also mind-numbing late in the Bears game. With 1st & Goal with time running low, although not terribly so, the Packers ran four consecutive plays that were incredibly similar. A first or second down draw play from Lacy could have worked wonders, but he didn’t touch the ball.

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Lacy was rolling on Thursday, ending the day with 17 rushing attempts for 105 yards while contributing a receiving touchdown as he finally appears to be rounding the late-season corner with a full head of steam. Continuing to feed Lacy not only would have resulted in a more effective offense, but it also could have opened up the play action game. At this point, working play action passes off the run game may be the only way to establish a downfield game. I’m looking at you, Jeff Janis.

With Matt Stafford’s recent resurgence under Jim Bob Cooter in Detroit, Thursday Night Football could quickly turn into an offensive battle this week. A battle of passing games can’t be leaving Packers fans as optimistic as they once might have been, but there’s no time like the present for the biggest test of the season. Especially on Green Bay’s play-calling.