Cory's Corner: Packers' offense shows a spark

Thursday night’s win over the Bears was arguably one of the most confusing in recent memory.

The Packers whipped Chicago 26-10, but let’s be honest, when triple zeroes showed on the Lambeau Field scoreboard, the Bears resembled a Class AA minor league team.

But let’s also remember that this was a Packers’ team that has been adrift in the offensive wilderness for the better part of a year. Aaron Rodgers is below Case Keenum in completion percentage and the Packers have hovered near the bottom in yards per attempt. This team has looked plain awful at times.

But you have to crawl before you can walk.

The Packers may have played the new-look Detroit Lions, but they did accomplish one thing: they kick-started their short passing game. Green Bay has claimed that it is still operating the West Coast offense, but this season it has looked more like the recess offense with Rodgers taking haphazard freedoms with his mechanics combined with receivers not being able to consistently win one-on-one matchups.

But on Thursday, they looked crisp. Rodgers got the ball out quick, and spread the wealth to seven different receivers. And for the first time in a long time, Rodgers actually looked happy to be on a football field.

Granted, this team isn’t going to be able to beat good teams if it has to keep throwing it 56 times a game. Even if Rodgers gets back to his surgical old self, that is a recipe for disaster. One-dimensional offenses have a limited shelf life in the NFL, so while the Packers did win, it’s also a time for caution.

So for all the great digs, crosses and bubble screens the Packers ran to success against a Bears team that will likely be drafting in the top three next spring, let’s remember that this team still isn’t completely fixed.

Many receivers were rounding off their routes and when Rodgers was able to make it outside the pocket, there were receivers that either stopped or slowed to an idle. And that’s when we see Rodgers getting upset, with many theorizing that he’s being dramatic. But he’s just frustrated that he’s not getting a consistent effort from a seven-person receiver roster.

The Packers brought in Knile Davis to solve a need. They knew that Eddie Lacy had ankle issues and needed surgery. The fact that he was allowed to play vs. Dallas doesn’t make any sense. He likely made things worse and it may have cost him his season.

So just where are the Packers now? In eight days they travel to Atlanta to take on the No. 3 team in the NFC. After losing games to Minnesota and Dallas, which occupy the top two spots in the conference, it doesn’t appear like Green Bay will be able to matchup with the Falcons. Mainly because head coach and playcaller Mike McCarthy did a lot of the same things in terms of player personnel and formations. There weren’t many rub routes, bunch formations, or other plays designed to get guys open.

We saw Davante Adams have a career year by grabbing 13 passes — which was one pass away from tying all-time great Don Hutson for the franchise lead. So is this the Adams we’re going to see in the future or was that just a result of owning inexperienced cornerback De’Vante Bausby?

The Packers still have a ways to go before Rodgers can tell an offensive lineman that the offense is back. But for a night, it was nice to see a spark. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (38)

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NickPerry's picture

October 22, 2016 at 07:02 am

I think the commentators and announcers on the broadcast all said it several times, McCarthy has to do a better job with scheme, creating opportunity's for his WR's. We heard the word "Predictable" several times as well, all things we've all discussed here and read about for about a year. I look at this coaching staff with the HC calling plays, Clements is a Asst. HC Offense, and Edgar Bennett is the OC. So the Packers have 3 coaches at the top and STILL can't seem to come up with anything to become less predictable and more creative.

Thursday night was a start and Cory is right, "They have to crawl before they can walk". They also have to walk before they can run. Who knows, maybe in the next 10 days McCarthy can help them start to run a little bit. Hell, wouldn't it be something if they could learn to "Sprint' before seasons end? It's not impossible, but McCarthy HAS to help.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 22, 2016 at 07:52 am

Crawling is a great way to win football games. It keeps your defense fresh, and the other teams worn out. It makes the other offense impatient when they haven;t touched the ball for 6-8 minutes.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:31 am

If you average 4-6 yards per play, what it does is it keeps giving you first downs. That is a key. Keep moving the chains.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:29 am

This 10 days is huge for them... This is where McCarthy has to take the extra time to redesign the offense. I thought he did a tremendous job against the Bears on 4 days notice. He changed the game plan to the players he had. The game plan worked. Perfect? No... But it was him finally stopping to put round pegs in square holes.

The X factor for the offense moving forward is using Montgomery. Not to over use him. I thought he got wore down late in the game. They have to find another player they can use at RB. Jackson and Davis maybe those guys. Also Starks maybe the guy when he gets back. Maybe this time off for Starks will reset his mind.

Another big thing that will help the offense is getting Cook back. They have no one at TE right now.

The offense took a major step in the right direction Thursday night. Are they fixed? No. Do they have a lot of work to do? Yes... but it was a step in the right direction!

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Horse's picture

October 22, 2016 at 07:39 am

Something that's always puzzled me: The first possession is scripted. It usually gets the Packers down the field. And usually it resembles what MM went to in the second half vs the Bears, if the first run run pass sequence works.

But MM never goes back to it until he's forced to by circumstances. And sometimes not even then.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 22, 2016 at 07:48 am

Maybe Rodgers just can;t help himself for more than a couple drives and starts audibling out of it and/or just hanging onto the football.

Most of these images of "guys not open" I see look a lot like timing routes where the ball is just never thrown.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm

I've never agreed with what you say more. But I am still really worried.

Stuff like "Green Bay has claimed that it is still operating the West Coast offense" makes me think as soon as they have any whiff of excuse they will revert back to the same vertical passing garbage they don't have the personnel for that they've been rolling out there all along. I mean, no sane person would have ever said that about the Packers offense unless the goal was to get laughed out of the room. Yet McCarthy will stand on the podium and feed us this garbage as if we didn't know what the west coast offense was for a long time before he got here.

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dobber's picture

October 22, 2016 at 09:29 am

What the Packers have done in the last few weeks is put a lot of film out there of them playing this short game. I think, in Atlanta, we're going to see the results of this: we're going to see DBs jumping routes and trying to take that away from the Packers.

When the Packers were running Jennings, Driver and Jones on all those quick-hitters and slants a few years ago, they saw the same thing happen...and you're right: it opened things up over the top. #12 used to have very good deep ball accuracy...he hasn't shown that so much recently, but the pump fake/double move over the top stuff should start to be more effective. He's just got to get that deep ball mojo back because the opportunities will be there.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 22, 2016 at 05:03 pm

Dbs jumping routes means zone, and zone is exactly what we want to force them into. Then those deep routes will start working. Rodgers has absolutely destroyed zone over his career.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:39 am

Cow... I agree.. again...
If they ran this offense against the Vikings i think they would have won that game too.

I just said above that McCarthy did a tremendous job of changing his offense in 4 days. This offense that he ran on Thursday to me fits this team the best.

Hopefully McCarthy takes this break and expands on what they did against the Bears.
I would like to see them do is find a way to get Trevor Davis on the field more. He has deep speed and could be the deep threat we are missing.
They have to find a running threat. Between Jackson and Davis they maybe able to provide one.

Definitely a step in the right direction

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Tundraboy's picture

October 22, 2016 at 12:48 pm

All this positivity! Do I know you?

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dobber's picture

October 22, 2016 at 09:07 am

...I think you're right: being able to run a sharp route and get separation early is what will matter, which plays better to him as a technician than to Janis or Davis who, at this point, seem to need to get up to speed. Still, when Janis has been effective in the preseason (and last year against San Diego) has been dragging all the way across the field and allowing #12 to hit him on the run. That could still play here.

Abby was hurt against Dallas and inactive against Chicago, but with the long break between games, could be ready for Atlanta. What they do with him might tell us a lot, but he's still going to be mired behind the top 4.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 22, 2016 at 09:07 am

STOP MAKING SENSE. YOU'RE MESSING WITH MY WORLD! :D

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:51 am

Abbrederis in a 4 WR set would be really good. I would take him against just about any teams 4th CB...

I would like to see Davis get used a bit more. Just for his deep speed. If they line Davis up next to Nelson and have Nelson run a in breaking route in front of the safety's, the safety will go to Nelson. It will leave Davis 1 on 1 with the CB. His speed could be a TD...

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daveh's picture

October 22, 2016 at 08:06 am

My question is , how long will Rodgers stay with a short passing game, he loves throwing the long ball, I guess it helps his stats..or wharever, his ego needs

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Horse's picture

October 22, 2016 at 08:11 am

Most of his "stats" are much better when he dinks and dunks. I'm pretty sure he's noticed that his stats haven't been very good since game 7 last season, even if you haven't.

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Since'61's picture

October 22, 2016 at 09:29 am

If the Packers are going to continue to run this quick pass offense they need to get Jared Cook back. Cook can open up the middle of the field and draw the safeties to cover him. That will open up the slants and crossing routes. If the safeties come up to help with the short routes Cook should be open in the middle . The offense also needs a real RB to at least pose the threat of a running game, that will help to open up some of the passing lanes. Plus, Cobb and Monty can carry a few times to keep the defense honest but they can't be the featured backs. Need our CBs back especially with Julio Jones up next. Thanks, Since '61

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

October 22, 2016 at 09:31 am

Wow Cow. Welcome to the positive side of life. I know you're not here for my enjoyment but it has been a pleasure reading your posts today. Not sure I've ever said that before. I predict with a victory over Atlanta you'll be an absolute Pollyanna.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:43 am

Again I agree with most of everything you said..

One thing though. Joe Thomas and Martinez have been really, really good at stopping RBs out of the backfield. That is one of the biggest differences with our defense this year. We have fast ILBs to run with RBs.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 22, 2016 at 05:04 pm

I didn't recognize Joe Thomas when we went onto the field in the forst preseason game.

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4thand1's picture

October 22, 2016 at 09:49 am

Did MM make adjustments? Has Capers made adjustments? The bears are really bad so the Packers are supposed to win these games. This team needs a TE to keep the safeties honest. The last thing we need now is to lose Monty or Cobb, because they're taking a beating running the ball.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Again. Do I know you? Have you had a mystical transformation? Found God? Or just more comfortable in thought that we may have hit rock bottom and it's all blue skies now.

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wimiller's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:12 am

How many yards did Julio put up against us last time? against shields no less?

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NickPerry's picture

October 23, 2016 at 06:17 am

That was horrible, in Green Bay on a cold night no less. The Packers finally put House on Jones to slow him down. House being bigger and stronger at least slowed him down a bit. Gunter on Jones scares me because Jones is strong as hell and fast as hell. Gunter will literally have to mug him at the LOS and the pass rush has to be there. Freeman and Coleman are bother excellent receivers and the Falcons line them up wide all the time...successfully.

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Donster's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:36 am

Got to be able to run the ball. Especially down inside the ten yard line. Not being able to do that, and having to pass down their makes it such a small field for the defense to cover. Especially when we don't have a tight end that can't get open.

Hope Cook gets back soon. And is able to deliver.

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4thand1's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:54 am

The NFL changes all the time. The league is a passing league yes, but running the ball is just as important as ever. What I've seen over the years is MM and the coaching staff taking too long to solve glaring needs or adjust TT is to blame too. Injuries play a part I know , but we've all seen this before. NE now has 2 TE's that can shred any team, just sayin. We didn't even make a play for Bennett. We see teams attack the middle against us all the time and you would think MM would think, hmmmm what a concept, maybe we should try that.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:55 am

That to me was the biggest take away from the Bears game.. McCarthy changed the offense in 3 days... he designed the offense to best utilize the players he has. That is what i liked most about the game.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Exactly, but at this moment that's an anomaly. Hopefully it becomes the norm.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:55 am

Double post

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gary's picture

October 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm

I am a TT hater. But if the secondary was healty, i think this mostly young defense is not far off from being really good. I hope the offense can put it together. If we get healty our best football is in front of us.

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GoldenRetriever's picture

October 22, 2016 at 01:44 pm

"For the first time in a long time, Rodgers actually looked happy to be on a football field."

Bob McGinn: "Rodgers seemed to be in rather ill humor, gesturing and muttering at teammates and coaches when the offense bogged down and exhibiting little joy in what became a decisive victory."

Two different perspectives, I guess.

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AndrewInAtlanta's picture

October 22, 2016 at 06:48 pm

Best part of A-Rod throwing that many passes was the Pack running almost 80 total plays. That's what we're looking for

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PETER MAIZ's picture

October 22, 2016 at 08:39 pm

Yes, Davante didn't have a professional cover man. This may have been closer had Hoyer's arm not been broken but still, we left 10 points off the board that should have been made.
Without receivers not able to get separation, it's still same all, same all. I truly don't think McCarthy can get more creative as this would place him outside of his "safe zone".
But one thing that would help would be the return of Jarred Cook and I don't see that happening.
And why did they run Lacy with ankle issues, plain stupid.

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Rossonero's picture

October 22, 2016 at 10:00 pm

I'm not going to get too excited after beating a dumpster fire of a team like the Bears. They may go down as being worse than the Browns this season.

Yes, I'm happy to see Rodgers FINALLY getting rid of the ball quickly. But, good defensive coordinators will drop everyone into coverage and dare the Packers to run: something we did to the Giants with those two deep safeties.

What still bothers me the most is the lack of big plays on this team. When's the last time Rodgers competed a bomb to someone? Those hail Maries last year? It's mind boggling what's happened to this offense. There's still a long, long way to go for this team.

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pacman's picture

October 23, 2016 at 12:12 am

I don't understand something - you've got 2 speedsters - Janis and Davis. Complaint on Janis is his route running. What is so complicated about Janis/Davis on one side running a deep straight route. He's not going to draw their fastest defender so he's going to win most of those races. Then you have Jordy or ? on the other side. One of them is going to get open deep OR the middle is going to be pretty open. It seems Janis has been used in short crossing routes. Hasn't Janis proven that he is strong enough to go up and catch a ball?

Regarding a RB - while this OL has been good at protecting AR, it has not been 'great' at opening holes. Having Monty as a short pass option out of the backfield for 3-5 yards works just as well, at least for now. Assuming AR can still make those throws.

AR is still not 'himself' so these short passes might be all he can handle now. Pressure is still on him to throw a proper back shoulder throw. I hope he and his shrink are working overtime.

Major part of Bear game was hitting Cobb in stride on the crossing routes again.

Confidence level that MM can make this work against Atlanta? Not very.

Wishing Jordy a full recovery from whatever the problem is.

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al bundy's picture

October 23, 2016 at 07:16 pm

I got nothing. We beat the second worst team in football and it took 59 passes to do it. Enough sad

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