Green Bay Packers Can’t Find Groove in Red Zone on Either Side of Ball

Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur reacts dung the second half against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur reacts dung the second half against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

As is often the case, there were a number of reasons that this Green Bay Packers offense was tops in the NFL last season. But a big one is that they were incredibly efficient in the red zone.

According to Team Rankings, the Green Bay Packers ended their red zone trips with a touchdown 80 percent of the time, which of course was tops in the NFL. Even in 2019, when this offense certainly wasn’t clicking like it was in 2020, Green Bay still had a red zone success rate of 67.8 percent–second best that season.

However, that has not been the case early on this season. In fact, the Green Bay Packers have really struggled to find the end zone once they reach the opponent’s 20-yard line.

The Packers have been to the red zone 20 times this season, and their per-game average of 4.0 trips is the seventh-best in football. But they repeatedly continue to stall once they get there. Through five weeks, they’ve left with a red zone touchdown on only 55 percent of their red zone trips, which ranks 27th in the NFL.

This inability to find the end zone has been why some games have been closer than what they probably should have been. This past Sunday against Cincinnati, the Packers were just 2/4 on red zone trips, which helped the Bengals hang around. Had they scored touchdowns on those two trips, this game likely wouldn’t have come down to field goals.

Against Pittsburgh, Green Bay won by 10, but it certainly didn’t need to be that close as they were again 2/4 in the red zone. The week before that, which required some last-second heroics from Mason Crosby, Aaron Rodgers, and Davante Adams, the Packers were 3/5 in the red zone while San Francisco was 4/4.

When asked about these issues, as LaFleur often does, he shouldered the blame:

"“I’ve gotta do a much better job of putting our guys in a better position.”"

Overall, this Green Bay Packers offense has not hit their stride as they did early on in 2020. While they are still finding enough success to win games, they also appear to be more disjointed, struggling to find their rhythm, and at times, LaFleur’s play-calling and Rodgers’ decision-making has left us scratching our heads. This is undoubtedly impacting their red zone success as well.

Red zone efficiency is one of those stats that can be a bit more unpredictable and fluctuate year to year. Although expectations shouldn’t have been that Green Bay would score a touchdown on 80 percent of their trips again — that was a ridiculous rate — they have to do better than 55 percent—this is allowing their opponents to hang around.

The Green Bay Packers defense has had their own red zone issues as well.

Unfortunately, these red zone issues aren’t limited to just the offensive side of the ball, but the defense is also having their own problems.

Since Week 1, this defensive unit under Joe Barry has certainly been trending in the right direction. Over the last four games, the Packers are allowing only 21 points per game, which would rank ninth this season if Week 1 could be thrown out.

In DVOA, they’ve gone from being ranked 32nd to 20th over the last few weeks and they are only allowing 2.6 red zone trips per game, which is tied for the fifth-fewest.

But that is where the issues arise. Green Bay’s opponents have had 13 red zone trips this seasons and have left with a touchdown on all 13 possessions. It goes without saying, but you just simply cannot have that.

For some added context, Green Bay’s defense ranked 13th in red zone defense last season, allowing a touchdown 59.6 percent of the time.

At times it looks like this defense becomes conservative inside the 20-yard. Jonathan Vilma, who called last week’s game in Cincinnati, would point that out as well during the broadcast.

However, LaFleur said that he has no problem with the red zone play-calling by Barry, rather it is the execution that is lacking.

"“It really comes down to making sure that everybody is doing their job,” LaFleur said via “I’ve got no issue with what we called down there, but we didn’t execute. You can’t have nine guys doing their job if two guys aren’t doing their job. Then it’s going to be tough to stop anybody.”"

The Green Bay Packers have found ways to win over this last month but for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, improvement in the red zone is a must on both sides of the ball—and odds are we will see that. Fortunately, at this point, they’ve had more red zone trips on offense than what the defense has allowed.

With that said, they simply can’t keep scoring touchdowns 55 percent of the time while allowing touchdowns 100 percent of the time—especially against good teams. Seven points is going to beat three points every time.