The Packers are exiting the bye and Mike McCarthy indicated that the coaching staff did some intensive self-scouting. While many fans surely rolled their eyes as that is a McCarthy cliché, they have had some success exiting the bye in years past, and with two tough opponents coming out of the bye, don’t be surprised if we see same meaningful changes. There are obvious ones such as playing Aaron Jones more often and freshening up the playbook, to have it look more like that of this week’s opponent, among other teams. But here are three things that aren’t necessarily top of mind that could go a long way in improving the offense and its consistency. We can talk about the defense needing to improve off the 49ers game, but it is an offensive league. Teams such as the Chiefs and the Patriots don’t have good defenses, and they are leading contenders to win the Super Bowl.
Adams in the Slot
Adams has been in the slot a fair amount lately. But with the return of Randall Cobb, that could be in peril. His success has been obvious. Against the Lions he had a line of 7/90/1, from the slot. A week later, he had three key plays from the slot. The first was his first touchdown. The second was a key 38-yard reception to open the game tying drive. And the third was the illegal contact penalty he drew against Richard Sherman on the game winning drive, after Sherman insisted on covering him.
By lining up in the slot, he can get matched up on safeties and linebackers and he can get the ball quickly in space. Your best weapon should be played in the slot a fair amount, in most cases, regardless of who it is. This is enhanced by Adams incredible footwork and suddenness in his cuts, along with being a strong bodied receiver. He is ideal for the slot.
This is not to say he say shouldn’t play on the outside too. He should as of course he is dominant there as well. Its just he should be lined up everywhere with a good chunk of it being from the slot.
Red Zone Running
Its the middle of the fourth quarter, and the Packers are down by seven vs the 49ers. Jamal Williams just had two carries that combined for 14 yards. On first down, and RPO was called, and Rodgers chose to pass it to J’Mon Moore, which was a 10-yard pickup, and a first down. (Aaron Jones would have had a good gain had Rodgers chosen the toss play). After that, with 1st and 10 from 11, the Packers ran two pass plays, both incomplete. This was an ideal situation to run the ball, as the defense was tiring, and it was for all intents and purposes, four down territory.
The Packers have averaged 3.3 yards per running play in the red zone this year, vs 2.9 yards per passing play. In general, especially near the goal line, running is more efficient in the red zone than other areas of the field, relative to the pass. For the defense the pass is easier to defend in the red zone (than other areas of the field) and the offense can’t get a chunk play that makes passing valuable at other parts of the field.
In general, the Packers offense has been slightly above average. What has held them down, is their red zone efficiency. Running the ball in that area can help
Continue to Play Scantling
Marques Valdes-Scantling has been effective. And he has speed to burn. This is something the Packers offense needs. His speed along must be honored by defenses. He is a rookie, so there have been bumps in the road. The most amusing of which was when Rodgers said to him, early in the 49ers game, “don’t wait (when you see that coverage), just (expletive) go!” This was after Scantling didn’t run immediately to the flat. He made some plays that were as impressive as that play was bad, especially when he came back for the ball to make a contested catch on a Rodgers scramble.
This speed also allows McCarthy to end arounds, or other such type of runs as he did with Jeff Janis, or at least that action for run with the backs. In any case, with the return of Cobb and Allison, his playing time is in jeopardy. But it needs to be continue. Of course, his snaps will go down. The red zone, where his deep speed may not be as much of a factor may be a good time for those snaps to be reduced. But there is a place of him. And it’s needed.
Originally from Glidden Wisconsin, Jason Straetz is a lifelong Packers\' fan, who has lived in Maine for over 30 years. He is a writer for packerstalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @jsnstz