From an offensive standpoint, Sunday was an interesting day for the Green Bay Packers.
Early in the game I saw a couple of things that really made me scratch my head and then later in the game we saw the Packers do the opposite with success.
On the Packers third possession of the game they were driving and had a second and two from their own 46. Aaron Rodgers escaped out of the pocket to his right and had some open field in front of him to easily pick up a first down. Instead of taking the easy first down, he tried a low percentage throw to a closely-covered Jermichael Finley. It was incomplete and brought up third down where Rodgers was sacked and fumbled. Fortunately, the Packers recovered, but was still forced to punt.
What I have been calling for and will continue to preach is that AR and Mike McCarthy both need to get this concept down of keeping drives alive and not always looking for the big plays. I have also pointed previously that Rodgers is not scrambling and running as much as he has done in his career, which is three times a game less.
It has been my point that his rolling out and moving the pocket will slow down the pass rush as they will not always know where he is at. This will only help our offensive line as the pass rushers will not be just pinning the ears back and coming for the spot 5-7 yards behind the center. Also by rolling out he then forces the linebackers, corners and safeties to decide if they come up to help stop him from running or do they stay with their man?
Later on in the game we saw AR scramble several times including in the third quarter on a third and six play to pick up a critical first down.
The very next play is when Jordy Nelson gets behind the Ravens secondary for a 64-yard bomb right in stride.
On the final drive of the game that sealed the win, after only picking up one yard on first down, Rodgers scrambled to pick up six on second to bring up a very manageable third down and three. With the Ravens tired and caught in between, Rodgers hooked up with Finley for a pass that turned into a 52-yard gain. On a side note, Finley showed he was not paying attention to the game situation and ran out-of-bounds which stopped the clock. This caused the Packers to have to pick up one more first down in order to seal the game. It was a very poor play by Finley and one you don’t expect out of a veteran player.
I firmly believe that the combination of Eddie Lacy being a legitimate running force and Rodgers doing some scrambling it will open up the passing game for big plays again. Now I want to be clear that this always means that Rodgers needs to slide at all times and not take hits nor do I want him becoming a rushing quarterback.
But his roll-outs and threat to run will put even more stress on the opposing defenses.
On the last possession of the first quarter once again the Packers had a third and one situation when we saw Johnathan Franklin at running back. Again Franklin lost three yards on the play and Green Bay was forced to punt again. As I continue to preach this, any time the Packers line up with a third or fourth down and less than 2 yards we have to have Lacy in the backfield. I will not mind them throwing out of that set, but having Lacy back there forces a lot more issues for the defense. If they flood the box in order to get ready to try to stop the run, then we can throw. But if they don’t flood the box then we let our big guy averaging 4.4 yards per carry try to pick it up.
Two times in the second half the Packers were faced with such a situation of third and two. Both times Lacy was in the backfield and given the ball and converted both plays for first downs. The second was the play where he went outside left, picked up the first down, and smartly slid before being hit and staying in bounds in order to run out the clock. That’s something that Finley hopefully took note of and will not make that same mistake going forward.
Here is hoping when the Packers watch the film they incorporate these are things going forward.