Packers Lacking Aggressiveness on Both Sides of the Ball

The best and most dominant teams in the NFL play an aggressive style of football. They dictate the style of play of the game and make their opponent adjust and play differently than they want to play. Through five games this season, the Green Bay Packers have not done this consistently on either side of the ball. Too often, the Packers aren’t dictating, they’re reacting and that must change if the Packers want to become a true contending team later this season.

On offense, the Packers seem to lack an identity. Their strength is their running backs with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon and yet too often, the team’s play calling gets away from those strengths.

A second strength would be the short passing game which covers up for an offensive line with two players getting their timing back after returning from significant knee injuries and an inexperienced receiving corps that lacks an elite weapon.

Against the Giants in London last week, the offense got away from its strengths in the second half in a big way. Although the Packers were gaining yards when they ran the ball and they held a lead, they turned away from the running game and attempted longer passes.

The most telling drive came early in the fourth quarter. The Giants had just tied the game after going on a grinding, 15-play, 91-yard drive that took 8:07 off the clock. The Packers got the ball back on their own 25 for what was going to be only their second drive of the second half.

The Giants defense put eight men in the box to take away the run. The Packers defense reacted and threw the ball on all three downs. On first down, Aaron Rodgers looked for Allen Lazard deep down the right side. The pass fell incomplete. On second down, Rodgers again threw downfield and missed Randall Cobb on a medium route over the middle. On third and 10, Rodgers again went deep to Lazard, this time down the left side and that also failed to connect. The three-and-out meant that the Green Bay defense went right back onto the field after just 26 seconds had been taken off the clock. They scored what proved to be the winning touchdown against a tired defense.

The Giants dictated the play calling for the Packers offense. They got away from their strengths on all three plays and had to punt. A confident team would play to their strengths and force the defense to adjust to what they wanted to do. It’s one thing to “take what the defense gives you,” but ultimately to be successful, you also need to play to your own strengths. The Packers didn’t do this and weren’t able to move the ball at all. The Giants dared Rodgers to beat them deep and he and the Packers offense couldn’t.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers are playing a style of defense that is designed to force opponents to go on long, gradual, time consuming drives to score. Joe Barry’s goal is to eliminate large gains as much as possible and to bet that the offense will commit a penalty or make a mistake that will prevent them from scoring.

The defense is more passive in pass coverage than the available talent suggests this team should be. For example, the Packers have not lined up Jaire Alexander, their best cover corner, against opposing team’s top receivers very often.

The defense also plays mostly soft zones which give receivers too much cushion when they start their routes. A combination of this passive coverage and poor execution have resulted in the defense not being able to stop crossing patterns and giving up big gains through the air that have cost the team in key situations.

The new defense with two inside linebackers on the field was designed to make the run defense better while still emphasizing stopping the pass. Unfortunately, the execution is lacking and the team’s run defense has had trouble against the run nearly all season. Rookie Quay Walker has struggled on his reads and angles and De’Vondre Campbell has missed more tackles already this season than he did all last season.

The defense is not playing an aggressive style most of the time that dictates what offense are willing and able to do. The results have been an inconsistent unit that has not yet lived up to the talent level on the field.

The Packers need to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball and to dictate the style of play. If they can do that, the result will be better play and more wins. Thus far, we haven’t seen this on a consistent basis and the results have predictably been inconsistent.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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5 points

Comments (36)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2022 at 11:17 am

Rudderless …

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 15, 2022 at 11:31 am

Inconsistency = ineffective coaching.

Fans believed this was a very talented roster, especially with 7 #1 draft picks on the D. I expect the players agree with the fans. This underachieving has potential to cause problems in the locker room.

ML had a coaching issue with Drayton he refused to address last season. He mostly continued to be the team's OC. He needs to be a Head Coach now, more than ever. This could quickly get away from him.

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gpt999's picture

October 15, 2022 at 06:08 pm

I> think these are great observations LambeauPlain! Better coaching usually improves overall execution and therefore results in the NFL.

Let me add one more implication to these observations. Having seven #1 draft picks on D, one would assume that these are VERY GOOD players and understand the game very well. If they are continually thrown under the bus by a DC that they don't respect, I would suggest that the trouble has already started in the locker room.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 15, 2022 at 12:22 pm

This game is the 'slippery slope' that could see the season sliding down it, even if another ugly win. It's hard to get off the slope once you start going down it, unless you hit a tree to end the slow sliding pain quickly. There's a mess of trees coming over the next few weeks. It may be a comfort to know it might be over sooner than later, or maybe this team can learn to realign its path in time.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 15, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Sounds exactly the way Ernest Hemingway would say it.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2022 at 01:30 pm

“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with that there is.”

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 15, 2022 at 08:49 pm

After sucking down rum all day maybe.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 16, 2022 at 08:43 am

He started his work at dawn, put in his day, then went for the jug.

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Coldworld's picture

October 16, 2022 at 09:47 am

“Churchill drank twice what I did if you could believe the accounts and he had just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I was simply trying to step up my drinking to a reasonable amount when I might win the Prize myself; who knows?”

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gpt999's picture

October 15, 2022 at 12:43 pm

"Slippery slope" is a good analogy here. But it should never excuse an organization from not taking urgent action. That is what I fear happens in GB more often than not. The Mo Drayton fiasco is a perfect example. I also don't believe you should throw the baby out with the bath water - there is my analogy. The offense under MLF can be more aggressive if all parties buy into it - from coaches to players. But the defense? Barry needs to be "forced" into change. That is not a good thing. The longer his reign on this defense, the longer it will waste what little time we have left in the AR12 era.

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PackyCheese500's picture

October 15, 2022 at 02:00 pm

Agreed. Urgent action needs to be taken. Barry needs to be fired and replaced by someone else like Mike Zimmer or Vic Fangio

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gpt999's picture

October 15, 2022 at 01:07 pm

The premise of this article is a lack of aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. I submit to you that this "lack of aggressiveness" is just another symptom of the corporate management structure of GB. They are managed by close to a hundred board of directors who care more about the financials than they do the on-field, won-loss, championship side of football. All other teams are managed by an owner who is beyond wealthy and care about making their team the best - Dan Synder excluded here.

Every once in awhile GB will get "lucky" and win a championship, like in 2010. And with a great QB, they will give the appearance of being a contender year after year. But with no aggressiveness at the top, how can it filter down to the coaches and players?

I know this is not a popular thing to say to fellow, die hard GB fans and stockholders. But bold and decisive is NOT how I would describe GB management. Perfect example - why - when the Packers are making $750Mil per year - would they not pay to get a top tier defensive DC on board and pay an extra $5Mil per year? Penny-wise, pound foolish directors is certainly a possible reason for this behavior. Don't you think?

I realize that this type of ownership change is not possible in the short term. But couldn't this board give us the impression that the team can make urgent and meaningful change? Hope springs eternal for us die hard Packer fans I suppose. GPG!

5 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

October 15, 2022 at 01:54 pm

I agree with you we are lacking the aggressibeness and it starts with the management. Gutey, though, I think is a smart dude. He's a keeper

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gpt999's picture

October 15, 2022 at 06:11 pm

I agree with you Packy. Gutes is one of few keepers.

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PackyCheese500's picture

October 15, 2022 at 01:58 pm

Lack of aggressiveness on defense starts with the DC + coaching. Barry's "prevent" defense only ends up preventing our players from doing the best they can. Removing him and replacing him with a more resolved DC whose schemes play to the strengths of our players (Mike Zimmer) will fix the problem on D.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2022 at 06:03 pm

For me, it starts with the Head Coach.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2022 at 06:03 pm

Duplicate

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Lphill's picture

October 15, 2022 at 03:04 pm

The coaches and players need to grow some balls right now and stop playing around .

3 points
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THESZOTMAN1's picture

October 15, 2022 at 03:56 pm

It seems to me that Sunday comes down to which Packer team shows up.
As an old schoolteacher, this quote from the poet Longfellow sums this team up nicely: "When we are good, we are very, very good, but when we are bad we are horrid."
The Szotman

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jont's picture

October 15, 2022 at 05:01 pm

A variation on a Mae West line, I think. "When I'm good, I'm good. When I'm bad, I'm better."

Not the same context at all, but....

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LeotisHarris's picture

October 15, 2022 at 03:59 pm

You know, maybe it's something hiding in plain sight that's causing this sluggishness. I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said "it's important for men to have at least two large bowel movements every day." What do we know about how the Packers' nutritional needs are being met? What's being offered at the training table? Could the confusion in the secondary be the result of constipation? I don't know, I'm just asking the question.

Oh. I'm sure 12 is getting an organic farm-to-table diet along with his 100% pure toad venom, but what about the rest of the guys? I don't know about you, but I think if left to make their own choices, most of these knuckleheads are going straight for the corndogs and donuts (looking at you Dean Lowry).

I think we need to look into the food service contracts and see how many Board members are in the pocket of Big Junk Food? Aren't there seats held by muckity-mucks from Kwik Trip and Festival Foods? Say. No. More. And, I think if we dig deep enough we'll find Joe Barry has been ignoring the Lake Michigan salmon consumption advisories. You cannot tell me that guy isn't suffering the effects of mercury poisoning.

Maybe it's low testosterone? Something in the water? The answer has to be out there, I know it. It'll take someone with grit and a keen mind to pull it all together. Historically, could there be a link between Mike Sherman's "aw darn" cross-body-air-punch, Mike McCarthy's black stare at the replay board after the same play didn't work again, and Matt LaFluer's sideline jumping jacks? I'm just putting it out there.

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gpt999's picture

October 15, 2022 at 06:16 pm

Good, humorous writing Leotis! While most of us get far too serious about things we can't control, you have found some humor. Seriously, maybe you should be writing for CheeseHeadTV?

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 15, 2022 at 09:16 pm

I'd suggest oatmeal and strong coffee for breakfast. But not on game days.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 15, 2022 at 04:46 pm

I get it. I am frustrated too. And I hope that by “aggressive” you mean that it’s also intelligent. Penalties are to be avoided. And I also hope that the term does not include stubbornness. I also hope that the term does not include wild changes to our scheme where we do something wild just to be aggressive.

But yah, let’s look at some blitz and man coverage.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2022 at 04:46 pm

Well, they just elevated Winfree. I think we can take it as thinking unchanged on O. No ambition.

I hope they run it more, but otherwise I see more of the same as long as LaFleur is head coach. They are living in a dream rapidly souring.

1 points
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stockholder's picture

October 15, 2022 at 04:56 pm

If the packers get a first down with Winfree. It will be a miracle. I expect a deep Bomb to him.

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Coldworld's picture

October 15, 2022 at 06:07 pm

Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point. The contortions to try and avoid the obvious have become that tortured.

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PackfanNY's picture

October 15, 2022 at 08:05 pm

The Packers have played “soft”. Let’s face it, the team has not decided what it is. Are we a pass first team? With a pedestrian group of receivers obviously no. A run first team? We should be. However, plays at the Goal line like last week say otherwise. The 260 pound back with big quads didn’t see the ball. Our offensive line doesn’t bully anyone. Our Dline gives up large chunks on the ground and the secondary plays off receivers. This is on the Coaches. The team doesn’t know what it is.

4 points
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Fubared's picture

October 15, 2022 at 10:52 pm

the Pass D is awful, pass rush and run d is avg. Offense is a mess. Rodgers is afraid to toss picks and throw the ball to newbies

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SinceLombardi's picture

October 15, 2022 at 10:58 pm

Maybe they overachieved in 2021.. maybe they’re just because

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SinceLombardi's picture

October 15, 2022 at 11:03 pm

Maybe they overachieved in 2021.. maybe they are just not that good. They don’t scare anyone at WR, the defense is weak and poorly coached.. but most of all the can’t handle the proverbial punch in the mouth, and never give same.
I was never impressed with Barry and I’m less impressed with ML every game.
Rodgers is getting too old to carry himself let alone the rest of the team.

2 points
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BritPack's picture

October 16, 2022 at 01:23 am

I said at the time of his sacking by Minnesota, if Zimmer is prepared to take a step back to DC we should be all over it. Barry's passive defence is too easy to pick apart, especially on crossing routes

1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 16, 2022 at 07:39 am

The Vikings have Pettine as a type of defensive consultant. Perhaps it’s only fair that we do that with Zimmer.

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freddisch's picture

October 16, 2022 at 07:43 am

I began to question MFL’s judgment and leadership with his failure to address the Special Team’s issues for the past three years. Then my feelings about his judgment were reinforced by his hire of Joe Barry.

2 points
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Booner's picture

October 16, 2022 at 03:07 pm

Grab a tube of Vagasil for these pussys'

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lou's picture

October 17, 2022 at 05:05 pm

The game is still controlled by blocking and tackling and it has been obvious all season that the other teams are bringing the fight to the Packer's, the quickest way to combat that is to sit someone for another player who is more aggressive even if he has somewhat less overall talent - everyone notices that believe me. Draft position and salary levels on this team prevents this from happening in most cases.

-1 points
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