What Does It Mean to Simplify the Green Bay Packers Offense?

The Green Bay Packers offense is struggling right now. The team is presently 24th in the league in points scored, averaging just 17.8 points per game. The offense lacks a direction and an identity. They seem to be spinning their wheels.

After a disappointing defeat against the Jets last week where the offense managed just 10 points and was dominated for most of the game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he thought the team needed to “simplify” the offense. Head coach Matt LaFleur responded “I don’t know what that means” as the two people with the most input into calling plays for this team seemed to not be on the same page.

So how should the Packers approach their offense now, six games into the season when there is precious little time left to get things straightened out before the schedule gets much tougher?

First, the team needs to define what their offensive identity is. That is usually a combination of the type of offense the coach likes to run and the available talent he has on the roster. The best coaches adjust their philosophy to the talent to maximize productivity and that is something LaFleur, offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich and Rodgers need to figure out.

The offense also must overcome the obstacles and limitations that the current roster and injury situation are causing. Right now, the team has their two best offensive linemen playing after suffering significant, season-ending knee injuries and they are not yet fully back to form.

They are also dealing with problems at right guard where Royce Newman has continued to struggle, especially at picking up blitzes and stunts, something that gave him problems last year.

As a result of these offensive line issues, the team has struggled to protect Rodgers and he has not had time to work his magic downfield.

The other limitation facing the offense is they lack elite receivers and right now, healthy receivers who can stretch the defense. There are no Pro Bowl players on the roster at wide receiver this year. Their fastest two players are Christian Watson, a rookie who missed nearly all of training camp and several games this season with an assortment of injuries and Sammy Watkins who played two games before getting hurt and missing the last four games himself. Their absence limits the Packers ability to stretch the field.

Even tight end Robert Tonyan, who is the team’s best receiving option at that position, has not regained all his downfield speed after returning from a season-ending knee injury suffered midway through last season.

Randall Cobb will now miss the next 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain which takes away one of the receivers Rodgers is comfortable with and who has experience working with the quarterback when plays break down. Younger receivers like Amari Rodgers, Watson, Samori Toure and to a lesser extent Romeo Doubs, have not yet earned the trust of their quarterback in all situations.

When things aren’t working well, the old adage is you go back to basics and play to your strengths. Right now, the Packers strength on offense is their running game. Besides Rodgers, Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon are the team’s most productive and reliable weapons.

Right now, opposing defenses are essentially playing a defense designed to entice Rodgers to try to throw the ball deep. Rodgers likes to take shots downfield but because of his inexperienced and banged up receiving corps, the struggles on the offensive line and his own injured thumb, he is unable to consistently throw the ball downfield for long gains. Yet he keeps trying and the results are rarely good.

LaFleur and his coaching staff need to sit down with Rodgers and devise a game plan that maximizes the team’s strengths and covers up their weaknesses as best as they can. It may mean running into eight-man boxes sometimes because when this offense doesn’t run the ball, they get off schedule and then struggle when faced with second or third and long situations.

It may mean being more patient on offense, focusing on short passes with quicker releases that neutralize the opposing pass rushers and minimize the options young and inexperienced receivers have on any given play so Rodgers and his pass catchers are on the same page. It means finding what works and basing the offense around it until the other team finds a way to stop it.

Through six games, the Packers offense lacks an identity and has been a major disappointment. It’s time to get back to basics, decide what this offense should be and then become that team.

It’s not too late to save this season, but unless changes are made soon, it will be.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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3 points

Comments (28)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
T7Steve's picture

October 20, 2022 at 11:22 am

It also might help if they could design plays differently, so that even my sister-in-law can't call them out before the snap. I believe in transparency, but not on game day.

Think the Vikings would make a trade for Newman?

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ricky's picture

October 20, 2022 at 11:29 am

It seems that Stenavich was promoted from his best coaching position (OL), and into a job in which he has little/no experience (OC). Since it is natural for someone to want to climb the ranks, and eventually become a head coach, Stenavich is correct to do this. But, as it seems, is the case with Hackett in Denver, sometimes you're not ready for the new responsibilities of your job, or you may not be qualified, or maybe there's just a "learning curve". But in football, where results are expected now, and no one cares what you did in the past, you don't have that luxury. And the Packers, it seems, are going to waste another year with Rodgers, who seems increasingly frustrated and disconnected from his head coach. What is the answer? You have to bite the bullet, because Rodgers' contract is an albatross the team decided to take on to keep him. Maybe the addition of a real number one WR would make a difference. Maybe shaking up the OL and putting a new combination of players on the field would be worth trying. But something needs to be done, now, because the (supposedly) easy part of the schedule is ending, and the offense is anemic, the defense is in disarray, and even the ST's seem to be regressing.

5 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:27 pm

And how many years ACR wasted for Packers? Relationships always goes in at least 2 directions.

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 20, 2022 at 11:46 am

I agree an effective and efficient coach employs "a combination of the type of offense the coach likes to run and the available talent he has on the roster."

Both the glorified OC (LaFleur) and DC Barry do not coach systems or employ specific game day battle plans with this in mind.

Barry especially. His cautious, soft zone, vanilla scheme is playing not to lose. He was a lousy hire. He is performing as expected.

ML promised, when hired, his "Illusion of Complexity" would run plays highlighting player strengths with different plays from similar alignments. It has mostly melted away to an Illusion of Competence mishmash of a couple of handoffs quickly shelved for attempted chunk play hero ball.

AJ, AJD, Deguara, Nijman, Tom, Toure, Alexander, Douglas, Campbell, Q. Walker, are all underutilized or misused in my opinion.

8 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:36 pm

"Rodgers likes to take shots downfield but because of his inexperienced and banged up receiving corps, the struggles on the offensive line and his own injured thumb, he is unable to consistently throw the ball downfield for long gains."

I wasn't aware that ACR played with injured thumb vs Giants. Wait - he injured his thumb at the last moments in that game. Hmmmm.

This "injured thumb" look like another excuse for aging QB. His throws vs Giants was all ovet the place. Even Lazard was pi*sed off by his throws. He was "healthy" or healthy if we neglect his mind.

Stop feeding fans with excuses. If he was not ready to play, he should say that. Well Giants QB has injured ankle. We did not noticed that he is injured, did we? So, stop excuses and do not cover his performance with his thumb. I believe his thumb is injured. Again if that thumb is so bad injured that it affect his game than he should not be on the field.

I was disgusting how he was playing with his thumb, knowing that there will be frames focusing on his injured thumb. Preparing excuses? I believe in that. This suits his public showing he love so much. Poor he...

"LaFleur and his coaching staff need to sit down with Rodgers and devise a game plan that maximizes the team’s strengths and covers up their weaknesses as best as they can."

Wow, I thought ACR is QB. One of the players, not one of the coaches. What is his role or position when team coaches prepares game plans? Who is the player on D side of the ball who sits with MLF and Joe Barry and preparing game plan for D? Is there any? Does ACR contribute in defensive game plan, too?

My God. What a mess Packers are...

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Charvid's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Pe·ter Prin·ci·ple
/ˈpēdər ˈprinsəpəl/
Learn to pronounce
noun
the principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent.

7 points
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Charvid's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Pe·ter Prin·ci·ple
/ˈpēdər ˈprinsəpəl/

the principle that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach the level at which they are no longer competent.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:42 pm

"Peter's principle" I believe! Everybody would be promoted till they reach thair level of incompetency.

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Coldworld's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:40 pm

Remove either Rodgers or LaFleur. A one headed whimper not two. I’d remove the guy who doesn’t do anything.

3 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 20, 2022 at 12:59 pm

“I’d remove the guy who doesn’t do anything.”

That goes against today's 'societal rules' where you dictate when a person is done doing nothing, when he obviously isn't. Proven by the weekly facts that aren't allowed to be used for your thinking or action, but used to allow his continuation of doing nothing.

Ben Franklin agrees with this.

5 points
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Roadrunner23's picture

October 20, 2022 at 02:45 pm

The packers are a like a ship floundering in mediocrity.

Captain LaFluer grab the ships wheel cuz it’s drivin me nuts

Arrrgh 🏴‍☠️

1 points
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GPG1985's picture

October 20, 2022 at 02:45 pm

If you don’t think you have the guys to consistently beat one on one coverage then fire up some more rub routes and crossing patterns. The Pats never had the best WRs in their dynasty, but they always schemed them open. That will give Rodgers the option to get rid of the ball quicker and not take so many drive killing sacks while he’s waiting for someone (or no one) to beat their guy. Maybe Lafleur and Rodgers can play some Madden this week to come up with some new plays.😉

4 points
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pacman's picture

October 20, 2022 at 03:12 pm

Who has often failed to prep the team?
Who has been the coach of this team for the last 3+ years when they rarely have played a full 60 minutes?
Who has kept a coach in his position while everybody knew that it would cost us a playoff game?
Who keeps saying that we have to get AJ the ball more but doesn't make it happen?

3 points
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lkcsmith's picture

October 20, 2022 at 03:20 pm

"That will give Rodgers the option to get rid of the ball quicker and not take so many drive killing sacks "

Actually, if we look at the facts (san pure hatred), Rodgers has been getting rid of the ball very quickly (see below from an article). The problem is the OL not giving him protection long enough, and receivers not getting separation.

"The Packers offensive line has been blitzed on the lowest share of dropbacks in the NFL, yet they’ve surrendered the seventh-highest pressure rate. Green Bay quarterbacks (i.e., mostly Rodgers) have only been sacked the 18th-most frequently — but that’s because they’ve gotten rid of the ball in a lightning-quick average of 2.49 seconds, faster than all but Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

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Coldworld's picture

October 20, 2022 at 06:07 pm

Now we just need to get the ball more than notionally forwards so the line is under less continual pressure and sees less overload stunts and we can get some yardage more consistently. We have a yards per target almost 25% lower than the next worst in the league.

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Swisch's picture

October 20, 2022 at 04:03 pm

Scheme receivers open with bunch formations of two or three in which they go every which way, including across the middle of the field.
Then, Rodgers would have two or three quick reads.
Use the running backs and tight ends as safety valves, perhaps after a second or two of blocking.
Use deeper routes to clear out space for the underneath routes -- although if the deep guy is really open, throw it to him.
Also, throwing deep on third down can be good strategy in the sense that an interception can be like a punt, especially if the other receivers are trailing to make a tackle if it happens.
Have Rodgers rolling out sometimes so he can throw the ball away without a grounding penalty.
Mix in the run game, inside and outside and in between.
Let's try Winfree, Toure, and Amari Rodgers more often, or at least one or two of them. Get as many guys as possible a target early to get their adrenalin going.
Get up to the line and snap the ball rather than waiting until the last second of the play clock.
Be more upbeat in attitude, which will come with being more up tempo, and from spreading the ball around to get everyone involved.
Utilize at least to some extent the West Coast offense, which as I understand it, uses short and sure passes as a variation of the running game.
Take advantage of all the space on the field horizontally as well as vertically.
Find ways to get the ball to Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.
All of this pretty much solves all of our problems on offense, and gives more rest to the defense, don't you think -- or am I missing something?

-1 points
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Tingham's picture

October 20, 2022 at 04:15 pm

What is this middle of the field you speak of? I was not aware the Packers were allowed to throw there. I thought there was a special rule where our competitors can throw in that area and we are not allowed to defend there. I'm not very skilled in football rules but I've watched Packer games for several years and this rule is clearly in effect.

6 points
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Swisch's picture

October 20, 2022 at 04:58 pm

It's time for the Packers receivers to explore some uncharted territory.
Let's create a muddle in the middle of the field to confuse defenses.
Then Rodgers would look, in quick succession, left, middle, right; or right, middle, left; or middle, left, right; or middle, right, left.
Maybe have more than one receiver crossing the middle with spacing, or two receivers crossing each other.
Throw deep once in a while for variety, but don't force it deep. Have a receiver running a route underneath the deep guy, and have a safety valve.
Keep it simple and quick and unpredictable -- even draw it up in the grass during the huddle.

0 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 20, 2022 at 04:15 pm

Swisch, you miss one important ingredient. ACR right to change play at the line of scrimmage...

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Swisch's picture

October 20, 2022 at 05:01 pm

Maybe Rodgers would agree to try a game or two without changing plays at the line of scrimmage -- or give him one audible per half.
Make the best of the play called. See how that works.

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Coldworld's picture

October 20, 2022 at 06:14 pm

I think they both think tinkering can fix this at the moment, but I do think Rodgers is getting closer to the bubble bursting. It could be this week if they go out trying the same O. Washington is a bad team but their D line is good.

2 points
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Tundraboy's picture

October 21, 2022 at 07:08 am

Ok ,just spare us Amari.

1 points
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Since'61's picture

October 20, 2022 at 04:11 pm

How to simplify the Packers offense:

Step 1: Figure out the OL and have them actually block the defenders rather than stand around and watch Rodgers get sacked or Jones and Dillon get tackled in the backfield. someone is going to end up hurt.
Step 2: Get the ball to Aaron Jones and stop just talking about it.
Step 3: In short yardage or Goal line add a 6th OL and give the ball to Dillon.
Step 4: Get the TEs, Lewis and Tonyan involved in the short passing game after chipping a defender to help the OL.
Step 5: Run more crossing and rub routes to enable our WRs to get some separation from their defenders.
Step 6: Run some quick slants especially against 2 high safeties.
Step 7: Take what the defense gives us in the running and passing games.
Step 8: Try a few deep shots with play action after we have established a lead and the defense is trying to take away our ground game.

Full disclosure: All of this assumes that Step 1 actually happens.
These steps should be simple enough for a good High School team never mind an alleged professional football team.

If our coaching staff cannot this figure this out chuck them all and move on. Thanks, Since '61

6 points
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Swisch's picture

October 20, 2022 at 05:05 pm

Good stuff, Since'61.
Between the two of us, we would have the Packers offense getting on a roll.
If we keep defenses guessing, that will help the offensive line for your Step 1.

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Since'61's picture

October 20, 2022 at 09:06 pm

Agree Swisch! The OL need to be assignment sure and play much more physically than they have been playing.
Move Jenkins to LG, Runyon to RG and start either Nijman or Zach Tom at RT and see what happens. This week's opponent is a good time to make some moves on the OL. The way it's going making a few moves can't hurt or be any worse than the last 2 weeks. Thanks, Since '61

0 points
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Fubared's picture

October 20, 2022 at 07:36 pm

Don't want to be insensitive but I think it's Rodgers admitting politely there are a few players on offense that are challenged by the playbook. I think one particular receiver doesn't play much and is the reason Rodgers asked for Cobb. The guy just can learn the playbook and is relegated to kick off returns. Imo there are two on defense who are running around clueless. How can you constantly get duked when your supposed to have size and speed and were a first round pick? There's a lot of this on the team.

1 points
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fangirl's picture

October 21, 2022 at 12:21 am

The Packers are in crisis. I am voting for Rodgers to simplify. Let's simplify & make him comfortable.
Losing Davante has been close to a fatal blow and covered up serious flaws.

I think LaFleur needs to bring in both offensive and defensive 'others', much like Hackett had to do.
Joe Barry is wasting huge sums of $$$ by mismanaging the Defense. He needs to go but in the meanwhile scour the earth for expert help.

3 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 21, 2022 at 01:33 pm

Here is a link to the QB School and his notions of what simplifying might entail. I think this guy is pretty good, for what that's worth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2GI2VQIFLk

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