For Once, It’s Not on the Defense

For once it’s the offense that can’t hold up their end of the bargain in Green Bay. For years the scapegoat was a defense that consistently surrendered big leads and lacked creativity. Now Aaron Rodgers can’t seem to get on the same page as his receivers and Mike McCarthy isn’t successfully implementing his three viable running backs. It’s safe to say the Packers have flipped the script in 2018.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is leading the sixth overall defense this season, up 16 spots from last year. And what was the 23rd overall pass defense is now up to number four. The offseason addition of Tramon Williams and rookie corners Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson have been good investments.

The pass rush has also seen a boost as the team is already up to 16 sacks on the year which is good enough for fifth in the league.

Unquestionably, the defense hasn’t been the reason for Green Bay’s struggles as they sit at 2-2-1 through the first five weeks. For two weeks straight, Rodgers has voiced his frustration with his own play as well the offense’s execution as a whole.

“We have to make the plays throughout the game, not just in crunch time, and I’ve got to play better from the start,” Rodgers said following Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions. “And I expect to and I will and we’ve got to give our defense, you know, some more help.”

Rodgers will always be his own biggest critic and it’s not hard to notice even for the average viewer that the two-time MVP looks off. Not only is he missing easy throws, but Rodgers can’t seem to sustain any kind of rhythm. Against Detroit, he operated mostly from a clean pocket, however, holding onto the ball too long resulted into two costly fumbles which led to points.

Rarely has Rodgers benefited from sturdy defensive play, but so far he hasn’t made the most of it. Currently, the Packers offense is ranked 18th in points and 23rd in red zone scoring percentage.

Part of the reason could be his own injuries or injuries to receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. The two sat out week five’s matchup hoping to be available to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. That left Rodgers with Davante Adams and the three rookie receivers against the Lions.

Another variable could be McCarthy’s inability to commit to the run. While many are fermenting about a lack of touches for Aaron Jones, McCarthy appears to be ok with the distribution of carries with no changes on the horizon.

“There’s more to playing the position than just running the football,” he said Monday.

That may be true, but Jones is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and is only getting eight per game. Clearly, not enough for someone who is that effective.

So not only do they have an issue throwing the ball, but McCarthy and company may want to revisit the run game before the offense gets stuck.

The NFC North is still anyone’s division, but the Packers need to put together strong performances over the next month or so. It’s the toughest part of their schedule which includes the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, and Miami Dolphins.

Time is ticking for Rodgers and McCarthy to keep pace with a defense that is already clicking. If the offense can match their production before it’s too late, this team has the potential to be scary and finish strong.


Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.



9 thoughts on “For Once, It’s Not on the Defense

  1. Chi, Wash, Minn, Buff, Det….these offenses when we played them are used to rank the Packers defense #6…Where will they be come week 10 after Rams and NE not to ignore SF this Monday.

    1. Chicago has the league’s 7th ranked scoring offense. Detroit is 13th. Buffalo scored 27 against Minnesota a week before we shut them out. Minnesota has scored 23 or more in 4 of 5 games, including 31 against the Rams…in LA!!.
      The “weak offense” argument here isn’t very solid You can’t choose your opponents, or when you play them.

      1. ” You can’t choose your opponents, or when you play the.”

        True, but you shouldn’t ignore what’s true behind the stats and how those stat create a mirage of what is.

        1. Who is ignoring? This was not a five game stretch against weak offenses, and that’s what was being implied.

  2. The offense/defense narrative persists, but it should be obvious that teams win games and championships. Not Offenses, Not Defenses. Not Special Teams. The TEAM
    Given the salary cap, you simply cannot afford to play Pro Bowlers at every position, You’re going to have guys on the roster who are JAGs (Just A Guy), you’re going to have guys you just signed (Breeland), you’re going to have guys who are hurt and can’t play (Ryan, Wilkerson…..and last week, Cobb, Allison, and Alexander.

    You only have 45 guys active on gameday, three of them are special teams, , and we’re missing 5 of the remaining players., two of them for the rest of the season. Anybody who can do basic math can tell you that your roster is below 90% of full strength.

    And it’s early in a VERY long season. You’re going to need contributions from Everybody.

    We’re 2-2-1. That makes us 5th place in the NFC right now. The Rams and Saints lead, Carolina and the Bears each have only one loss (We gave the Bears theirs : )) We have a very winnable game at home coming up, then a bye week to prepare to take on the unbeaten (but not unbeatable) Rams.

    My biggest issue with the TEAM that I have after 5 games is we look kind of undisciplined/unorganized out there. Our offense is one of the 5 most penalized offenses, whether you’re talking number of penalties or yards. The defense has been better, despite being the victim of some shaky officiating.

    If we want the offense to improve, then I’d suggest that the focus should be on reducing the 82.5 yards offense EACH GAME that we give back because of penalties. That’s about 25-30 yards more EACH GAME than an average team, The Bears are only giving up about half as many penalty yards on offense. That’s 2nd best in the league and it’s part of the reason they’re 3-1 and could easily be 4-0.

    Add in the turnovers. We’ve had 12 fumbles (not all lost, but still, fumbled). That’s 31st in the league. We’ve been sacked 18 times, that’s 30th in the league.

    Is the picture clear? We’re rolling on offense to over 400 yards/game, but then you give back the yards on penalties and sacks. You stop yourself with two fumbles every game. And you drop passes. Only 5 teams….all with losing records…..drop passes at a worse rate than the Packers.

    So. CLEAN THIS SH*****T up. That’s 90% of the problem on offense. Whether it’s Jones or Williams (both good backs, IMO) is part of the remaining 10%.

    1. Nice post. The only thing I’d add is they need a complete overhaul of their training staff & workout program. The number of strains & muscle pulls they experience every year is inexcusable for a professional sports organization.

      1. Some guys never seen to miss time with injuries and other guys do. A J Hawk never did, and people wanted him replaced, and He finally was… a guy who promptly got hurt. Guys who are hurt don’t help you, no matter how talented they are.

  3. Article misleading. It is the defense! Review the point differential as a better picture, and you’ll see we rank near the very bottom. So, it is the defense. And don’t count the Bill’s game at home and against a rookie QB.

    1. No, it’s not. And you have to count all the games, because they all count.

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