Amongst some of the issues that we saw last season from the Green Bay Packers – and there were plenty – they struggled to turn red zone trips into touchdowns. And considering that six of their losses were by a single score, as well as a tie, their failures in the red zone had a huge impact on the season.
According to Team Rankings, the Packers would score a touchdown on 61.7 percent of their red zone trips last year which ranked as the 14th best in football. However, that number was a bit inflated towards the end of the season after games against the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets. For a majority of 2018, they ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in this category.
For a bit of context, in 2017 when the Green Bay Packers were led by Brett Hundley at quarterback for a number of games, their red zone touchdown percentage was 61.9 percent. Yes, it was actually higher.
A big contributor to their lack of success inside the 20 last season – and overall – was that they were a one-dimensional team, relying way too much on the pass. In fact, the Packers led the NFL in passing percentage in 2018, throwing the ball 67.54 percent of the time.
As you enter the red zone, the field becomes much more crowded since there is simply just less space to operate, so passing the ball is already more difficult, let alone when the defense knows what you’re going to do.
But this season was supposed to be different under Matt LaFleur. By relying more on the running game, along with more involvement from the tight ends, he was supposed to make Aaron Rodgers’ job easier and the offense more effective. Well, he certainly has.
That pass percentage that was referenced above, is down to 59.94 percent this season which ranks 15th overall. We’ve seen far more Aaron Jones this year to the delight of every Packer fan on the planet as well as more opportunities for Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, and Robert Tonyan.
A perfect example of how different this year’s Packers team is, happened just last week in Dallas. With no Davante Adams and Rodgers not throwing a single touchdown pass, the offense still put up 34 points and won the game. Under those circumstances, there is no chance that Green Bay wins that game in 2018.
These changes under LaFleur have resulted in a much more effective Green Bay Packers’ offense and a much-improved team in the red zone. Through the first five weeks, the Packers have the fifth-highest red zone touchdown percentage at 68.42 and that includes not getting into the endzone on two separate occasions from the one-yard line.
Now the Green Bay Packers sit at 4-1 on the season which includes a 2-0 record on the road and a 2-0 record within the NFC North. Of course, this isn’t the only thing that has changed, the defense is much improved, and LaFleur has changed the locker room culture, amongst other things. But their ability to turn red zone trips into touchdowns has been a big contributor to this team’s early success.