Packers: Third downs continue to be a major issue

Green Bay Packers

The 2018 season for this Green Bay Packers’ offense was filled with a myriad of issues. But perhaps one of the most prevalent problems was their inability to sustain long drives by converting third downs.

As a team, the Packers would finish last season converting just 36.76 percent of their third down opportunities, which ranked 22nd in the NFL. That percentage was somehow down from the 2017 season when Brett Hundley started quite a few games. And what’s even more frustrating is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was oftentimes sacked in those situations.

However, with the addition of new head coach Matt LaFleur, those issues are supposed to be less prominent moving forward. From relying more on the running game, to utilizing the tight ends, and focusing on getting the ball out of Rodgers hands quicker, the overall offensive issues – including their third down inefficiencies – should be alleviated.

Yet, in week one against the Chicago Bears that was far from the case. Granted, this was the first time the entire Packers’ offense was on the field together in a real game under coach LaFleur and they were going up against, one of, if not the best defense in football. So some struggles should have been expected. With that said, I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad.

For the game, the Green Bay Packers would finish just 2-12 on third down conversions and of the five total sacks that they allowed, four came on third down. We also have to address the lack of urgency when it came to getting the ball snapped in those situations.

As we saw for much of last season, Rodgers would run the play clock down to just about zero every time. All that does is gives the defensive line and any blitzers a head start since they know when the ball will be snapped. As a result, the offense is at an immediate disadvantage before the play even unfolds.

To add some context, a big contributor to the Packers’ lack of success on third downs is that they are putting themselves in a hole with their inability to execute on first and second downs.

Against Chicago, of Green Bay’s 12 third down attempts, six of them required 10 yards or more to convert the first down. Of those six, four needed 12 yards or more. If those are the situations that they are going to continually put themselves in, then they just have no chance of being successful.

This weekend against the Minnesota Vikings, this Packers’ offense is going to have another difficult defense that they have to face. It will be important to establish the running game this week, which will open up the passing game for Rodgers and they should also focus on some quick passing plays to get the ball out of his hands early to limit the number of sacks.

Once again, it’s another tough opponent and it is only the second week in the new offensive system. But if they hope to win, they must be better on third downs.

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