Mike McCarthy and his revamped coaching staff had a week to do some self-scouting and figure out what changes they need to make, what should be abandoned and how they can jump start the offense. As McCarthy has stated numerous times over his tenure here in Green Bay, if they play the way they are suppose to, Packer Football, they can beat anyone. Well, they will be test right out of the gate as they face the undefeated Los Angeles Rams.
The bye week came at probably the right time as they head into presumably the hardest part of their schedule. Not only did it allow the players to not only get healthy, but to escape the game a little bit to rejuvenate and come back eager to get things back on track. It also allowed Aaron Rodgers another week for his knee heal, but for the coaches to self-scout and clean-up their own house.
Not only did McCarthy say on Monday that he is hopeful that Rodgers practices today, which would be the first time since week 2 he would go through a full weeks of practice, but he adjusted the schedule a little bit. The team will fly out to LA on Friday, instead of their normal Saturday travel day, to get adjusted after the long flight. They will hold a light workout on Friday as well.
On Monday McCarthy said during the bye week, he came to the conclusion that the run game needed more attempts. Surprise!!
McCarthy said a major conclusion reached from the #Packers’ “self-scouting” over the bye week was that the run game needs more attempts, much to everyone’s surprise.
— Zachary Jacobson (@ZachAJacobson) October 22, 2018
Let’s take a look at some other conclusions that Coach McCarthy hopefully realized during their self-scouting over the bye week.
Run the ball more
McCarthy stated that he has concluded that the run game needs more attempts. What that means, time will tell. But they don’t just need to run the ball more, they need to run the ball more with Aaron Jones. Plain and simple. Jones is their best playmaker at the running back position. Every time he has touched the ball so far this season, good things happen. He runs downhill, north and south and moves the chains, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
He needs to make Jones the feature back and spell him with Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. McCarthy and offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin also need to get more creative with the running backs. They have become too predictable in the tendencies, as opposing defenses are figuring out what they Packers are trying to do offensively depending on which running back is in the game.
Ty Montgomery should also be employed more in the passing game. Run some screens with him and motion him out wide to open things up more for Rodgers. A stronger run game and utilizing the best talent you have, will lead to great success overall offensively.
Better Offensive Tempo
Aaron Rodgers looks out of sync, which could be related to his injuries. It appears to the outside eye, that he does not have full trust in his receivers and the routes that they will run. There have been glimpses of were you think he trusts one of the rookie receivers but then other times, he over looks the open receiver while hoping for the home run. To get this offense going, one thing that Rodgers could do is take what the defense gives him and keep moving the chains.
As for McCarthy and Philbin, they need to clean-up the communication issues that are present on offensive. Guys running wrong routes, 2 receivers being in the same area when there should only be one 1, and getting to the line of scrimmage before the play clock is under ten seconds just to name a few things that could be cleaned up. The offense has started slowly in every game this season so far. They must start to get the offense in a better flow and putting points on the board on their opening drives. They offense seems to stall out or lose momentum quickly. Against the Bears in Week 1, when the Packers were coming back in the second half, they used a lot of short passes and a faster tempo to keep the defense guessing and the ball moving. Philbin and McCarthy should imploy this strategy to jump start the offense.
Increased Defensive Pressure
Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine was brought in to create a more aggressive defensive and amp up a lousy pass rush. In the season’s first 6 games, the defense has rarely affected a quarterbacks timing or force him to move from his spot. Now, they were able to get plenty of pressure in the Buffalo game but that is the one exception. To the outside fan the defensive pass rush looks fairly similar to the pass rush that Dom Capers led defenses had. Pettine needs to find a way to bring the pressure to force opposing quarterbacks in bad throws and generate sacks.
On the flip side, the defensive adjustments have been superior at half time and the defense has been able to keep the team in the game and allow Rodgers and company to try and make a comeback. Outside of the lack of pass rush, the defense has not played particularly bad. The young cornerbacks are showing signs of promise. The defensive line has been good. Pettine needs to get better production from the linebacker and safety position. Keep the team in the game, create turnovers and generate a pass rush will all lead to improved results as the Packers move forward coming out of their bye week.
McCarthy has a tall task ahead of him and the teams season and his job maybe on the line. He must right the ship against a daunting schedule that includes the Rams, Patriots, Dolphins, and Vikings. We will see if McCarthy what saw in his self-scout what everyone else was witnessing before the bye week.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag