A lot can happen in a year, and the Packers are a great example. This time in 2018, Green Bay had a record of 4-7-1, and the playoffs were a distant mirage. This year, securing a first-round bye is a real possibility with the team sitting at 9-3 and a favorable remaining schedule. However, some notable numbers don’t suggest a drastic improvement or any improvement for that matter.
Green Bay’s offense in 2018 finished 12th in the NFL through week 13. By the end of the season, they were eighth overall. So, there was a sizeable drop-off over the final stretch of the season. This could be attributed to multiple reasons with Mike McCarthy having one foot out the door and his offense and message to the team growing staler each week.
However, when looking at the current numbers on offense. The Packers aren’t necessarily better even though they appear to have turned over a new leaf. After 13 weeks, Green Bay’s offense is 22nd having produced 487 fewer yards than at this point a season ago.
Even though these numbers are readily available, no one would consider the 2018 offense better than what we’ve under Matt LaFleur. Some of it might be the fact that LaFleur is new, therefore a different scheme looks better than what Packers fans have seen under McCarthy for more than a decade. But to his credit, LaFleur has been far better at understanding his personnel.
For instance, something he has done well that always escaped his predecessor is committing to running the football. Green Bay was dead last in rushing attempts in 2018. Currently, they are 18th, which is not great, but at the very least an improvement. Those opportunities have kept the opposing defense more honest and have resulted in more rushing touchdowns. The Packers already have 13 rushing touchdowns in 2019, already just one shy of last season’s total.
Defensively, upgrades at outside linebacker and in the secondary have completely transformed the capability of this defense. Through 12 games in 2018, this defense produced 12 turnovers, which ranked 24th at the time. After getting just one more the rest of the season, Green Bay finished 29th. This year, the Packers are already at 19 takeaways. Look no further as to why this defense appears to be having more success. It’s not because they are stopping teams consistently, but because they are making big plays at a higher clip.
Is any of this sustainable? Will the offense keeps its balance? Can the defense continue to come up with the big play? Well, no one knows.
The offense sometimes goes stagnant, however, that’s to be expected with a rookie head coach still navigating the NFL. What Aaron Rodgers and company do well is take care of the ball, so that alone gives them more chances to be successful.
The defense sometimes can’t get off the field, but when the game needs a shift in momentum, this defense has come through more times than not.
Another aspect Green Bay has also done an excellent job in is cashing in the red zone, coming in at second overall in red zone offense. In 2018, they were in the middle of the pack. Red zone defense is sixth after finishing 19th last season.
Overall, some stats paint a diminished picture of the 2019 Green Bay Packers. In terms of total offense and defense, they have taken a step back under LaFleur. However, both sides of the ball are far more established on how they want to beat the opposing team. The offense consists of a more dialed-in run game to complement Rodgers. Meanwhile, the defense is a turnover away from changing the outlook of any game.
___________________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 packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.