5 Things to Watch in Packers vs Commanders: What Does a 'Simpler' Offense Look Like?

Five things to watch as the Packers look to get back on track against Taylor Heinicke's Commanders.

Matt LaFleur’s Green Bay Packers have lost consecutive regular season games for the first time, and on Sunday face the Washington Commanders looking to right the ship before a tough trip to Buffalo next week.

After the Packers outlasted the Patriots in week four for their third win, few would have expected them to have a 3-3 record just two weeks later.

Green Bay is facing some very real adversity right now, and their matchup with Washington is as close to a ‘must-win’ game as there can be so early in the season.

Here are five things to watch as the Packers face the Commanders this Sunday:

What does a ‘simpler’ Packers offense look like?

Is it 2019 again? The Packers’ disjointed early season offense has resembled that of LaFleur’s first season in Green Bay, featuring stretches of efficient play and stints of ineptitude.

Aaron Rodgers believes Green Bay’s offensive calls need to be simpler, which has been translated by many to mean: “less motion”, of which MLF’s offense uses a significant amount.

The debate will rage over whether Rodgers needs to fully embrace LaFleur’s scheme or if the play caller must adapt. However they go about it, the Packers have to make a change following a disastrous offensive showing against the Jets.

Can the offensive line hold up?

Green Bay can simplify the offense all they want, but if the offensive line performs as poorly as it did a week ago, it won’t matter one bit.

The unit faces some legitimate talent this week on the other side of the line of scrimmage, and now David Bakhtiari has been added to the injury report.

Washington will smell blood in the water after watching the Packers get whipped up front last week, and Green Bay’s offensive minds have to come up with a better plan to keep Rodgers clean and open up holes for Aaron Jones. Speaking of which…

Has LaFleur finally learned his Aaron Jones lesson?

LaFleur has been forced to admit on two separate occasions that his usage of Jones hasn’t been good enough this season, while Rodgers concurred that the Packers have to get him the ball more.

As Tom Silverstein pointed out this week, the Packers are 24-2 when Jones has at least 15 carries, and he averages more yards per carry when he has at least 15 totes.

Jones is Green Bay’s top offensive weapon and LaFleur has to force feed him the ball in both the run and pass game for Jones.

It seems the Packers often get caught up in trying to outsmart their opponent on offense, but it’s time to stop playing chess and simply line up and execute better, whether the defense knows Jones is getting the ball or not.

Is Robert Tonyan back back?

Big Bob’s impressive stat line was a small positive to take from Green Bay’s loss versus New York, with the tight end hauling in 10 catches for 90 yards, his best numbers since October 2020 when he had 6 catches for 98 yards and 3 TDs against the Falcons.

Returning from an ACL tear, Tonyan had been off to a slow start in 2022, but the Packers have to hope he can use last week’s performance as a springboard for greater things.

Is Taylor Heinicke better or worse than Carson Wentz?

With Carson Wentz out, the Packers will face a Washington team led by Taylor Heinicke for the second straight year, and it’s unclear whether that is good for Green Bay or not.

Heinicke is certainly limited as a passer, but he’s a gamer and has the potential to be an annoying presence on Sunday. Wentz might be more talented, but he’s a mistake waiting to happen, and there’s a very real chance the Commanders offense is better with Heinicke under center.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

4 points

Comments (15)

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Coldworld's picture

October 22, 2022 at 03:33 pm

If the O doesn’t do a better job of using the field beyond ten yards from the line of scrimmage, then no OL is going to stand up. Particularly against another good DL. The never ending focus on OL inadequacy is valid, but it’s not the cause. The cause is we give opponents free reign to stunt, blitz, overload from play one. That’s the tinder that lights the fires.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 22, 2022 at 03:49 pm

yo CW, are you saying that the play calling is more at fault than the OLmen getting their asses whipped immediately after the snap?

I do not think any play can work with defense players having free runs at RB on runs and QB on passes. That is what I have been seeing.

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Coldworld's picture

October 22, 2022 at 11:44 pm

I’m saying that even a really good line would struggle when our offense lives in the ten yards from the line of scrimmage and faces continual blitzes or overload fronts. The two don’t stand in isolation

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MainePackFan's picture

October 22, 2022 at 07:53 pm

CW, though we both agree that the Packers need to expand the field beyond 20 yards, I think it's fair to say that calling a deep shot when the o-line gives the QB no time for the play to develop is a much bigger problem than the play call itself.
Chicken or the egg right?

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Coldworld's picture

October 23, 2022 at 09:29 am

Per NFL.com the Packers we’re planning to go Bakh, Jenkins, Myers, Runyon, Nijman this week till Bakh had issues late.

That tells me Nijman has been getting time there (unless we are completely incompetent). I’m guessing Tom would have been getting time at left too. If true that’s a positive.

If Bakh can’t go or can’t guarantee to hold up then I’d still do it If Bakh starts. If he can’t or goes out, move Nijman back and use Walker. Walker has what was probably the best preseason RT performance from a player currently on the roster at RT. Tom would be an alternative, but if he’s focusing on left and maybe C now, we need to be pragmatic. I’m ignoring the new guy, because I don’t see him as as being as good or ready as either Tom or Walker. I’d consider going with just Deguara, Lewis and Tonyan as a true TE and add a 6th OL/TE. The ideal candidate would be Tom though. Maybe Newman could do it.

I would not use Bakh’s status to just go back to the status quo. Sometimes you have to take risks. Inadequate isn’t a cautious option it’s a non option.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 23, 2022 at 09:22 am

And letting the play clock wind down to 1 second is the match!

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Johnblood27's picture

October 22, 2022 at 04:02 pm

my things to watch are there...

OL must NOT have Newman playing. PERIOD. IT IS TIME... for him to be nailed to the bench, preferably he is left inactive. Bakh - Jenkins - Myers - Runyon - Nijman... stop with the cutesy back-up plans, play the 5 best and deal with other situations as they become reality.

Aaron Jones must be the bell cow RB with Dillon strictly as a change of pace or breather for AJones after he has had 20 carries +. OK to mix dillon in earlier, but splitting time and carries just isn't working right now. Be a little more basic in the RB usage plan.

Tonyan and Deguara getting 90% of the TE snaps with a few short yardage snaps for Lewis. Just stop wasting offensive snaps with Davis, he is a total non-factor and is NOT helping in any way.

Force feed Doubs the ball. He has disappeared lately. Make him a focal point of the offense, he needs the challenge.

If RPO calls skew to pass and/or poor decision making in terms of receiver options continues, JUST PLAY JORDAN LOVE and run the goddam Lafluer offense. Im tired of the AR hero shit. THIS IS STILL A TEAM GAME.

Spy Heineke with Quay. Mirror for a beat, then rush. The entire game. No bullshit. Bring the heat and keep the plan simple so the rookie gets it. Just let his athleticism shine through, less thinking, more ass-kicking. Campbell needs to have the same responsibilities as last year to bring his best out. Leave him on his own for the ilb job, he will respond positively.

Send Jaire on McLauren the whole game. Mix and match coverages on the rest of the receivers with the rest of the secondary with man vs zone. Just leave Ja on an island with McLauren. This will simplify the secondary responsibilities and create winnable match-ups.

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aberk's picture

October 23, 2022 at 08:45 am

Maybe you should be the coach.... I think it's great advice and one has to wonder why MLF doesn't change up the OL positions and give Jones the ball more often. Getting so tired of MLF apologizing to us about not using Jones more often. Really?

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Tundraboy's picture

October 23, 2022 at 09:26 am

Now that's a smart PLAN. Will they do this , I fear not .

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canadapacker's picture

October 22, 2022 at 06:28 pm

First off - simplify may mean tightening up the Oline - maybe the motion was causing guys to miss their assignments or maybe they just have the wrong Oline assembled. In any case if you cannot open holes for Dillon in particular and Jones ( he sometimes makes something out of nothing) then it is hard to get him the carries if the O doesnt have the ball. It is easy to say run the ball but if you are always running it on first down and always getting into 2nd and 10 and then 3rd and 8 - hard to convert. But the Oline needs to block and we need to run the ball and get those short passes to convert 3rd downs. I agree that somebody not named Stokes needs to be on Mclauren and Heinieke is better than Wentz - and we need to watch out for him running.

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fangirl's picture

October 22, 2022 at 07:52 pm

Bakhtieri is now questionable

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LeotisHarris's picture

October 22, 2022 at 09:53 pm

That's pretty much true for me, too, from here on out. I'm changing my status from day-to-day, to questionable.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 23, 2022 at 10:35 am

I have been moved to doubtful.

I am now expecting losses and any positive momentum will be blunted at the next possible opportunity.

I officially have LaFleuritis with and inflamed AR joint. My Gutey aches constantly.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 23, 2022 at 07:49 am

Simpler might be referring to routes run. Less adjustments. Get the simple stuff down first then move on from that base call. I have seen some pretty complicated calls (some shown on this site) that requires the receivers to adjust to the perceived coverage. So, in turn, all the opposition has to do is mix up coverage and it mixes up the receivers.

Oh and yes, the offensive line needs to improve too. Yet that’s not what Rodgers was referring to.

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Packfanvic's picture

October 23, 2022 at 02:41 pm

The running game is all Packers have and they go away from it too much too often

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