The Bad through the Packers first four games
The Packers currently lead the NFL in penalties called with 31. I know they’ve played an extra game as I am writing this, but still, it hasn’t been good. On special teams, specifically, Green Bay has been flagged 10 times. The offense has been penalized a fair amount as well, and this group just does not have the consistency at this time to overcome penalties, putting them in first and second-and-long situations. It’s a young team; this was expected to a degree, but it has to improve.
Rookie miscues on offense
We are seeing this happen most often in the passing game. The Packers’ young pass catchers are either not running routes as precisely as they should be or have ran the wrong route altogether. The pass catchers are also either just dropping passes or struggling to make contested catches. Again, this is what happens when you rely on such an inexperienced group and where the inability to move the ball at times is coming from. The learning curve is steep, and the Packers are trying to navigate it on offense while not having a run game to lean on.
First down offense
The larger issue here is the Green Bay run game – more on that shortly – but their inability to consistently move the ball on first downs has basically doomed this offense anytime that happens, which, unfortunately, has been somewhat regularly. According to Pro Football Reference, the Packers’ average distance to go on second down is 7.86 yards, meaning they are picking up just over two yards per first down play. On third downs, they are averaging 8.04 yards to pick up the first down. For some context, last season, with a struggling offense, that figure was 6.19 yards.
This ineffectiveness on early downs puts the offense in obvious passing situations, making Green Bay predictable and allowing the defensive front to pin its ears back while the defense as a whole is able to get into favorable matchups.
Slow starts and a lack of complimentary football
This issue has been more prevalent in the last two games, but the offense has come out of the gates very slowly, and they’ve been unable to adjust in a timely fashion. Against New Orleans and Detroit, the Packers were outscored 44 to 3 in the first halves of those games. I do think a lot of it has to do with their struggles in the run game and, therefore, issues on early downs, which often has led to short drives and punts. However, even with that being the case, they can’t wait until halftime to make the necessary changes or wait for the break to provide a spark. In most instances, the game is going to already be out of reach at that point.
These slow starts or quiet stretches, as we saw in the fourth quarter against Atlanta, then put the defense in a difficult spot, as they are on the field for extended periods of time with the offense unable to chew up any significant time off the clock. This puts more stress on the defense, which leads to long drives and points for the opponent, and can quickly take away Green Bay’s ability to run the ball, which leads to falling behind the sticks, being in predictable passing situations and punts. The cycle then continues to repeat itself.