Packers Recipe of Success on Offense against Bears

The Packers and Bears square off tomorrow night in Green Bay, Wisconsin under the lights in primetime. The matchup between the two rivals will be the 205th game played in the series history, with the Packers sporting an all-time record of 103-95-6 in those games. Tomorrow night will be the 10th primetime game at Lambeau Field in the last 11 years between the Bears and Packers, the only exception being 2019.

With all that said, none of it matters in the 2022 NFL season. The Bears (1-0) look to build on their opening day win against the 49ers and improve to 2-0. The Packers (0-1) look to “get right” at their home stadium after a dud performance in Minnesota to start the year. In that game against the Vikings, the Packers mustered just 7 points while Aaron Rodgers was intercepted once and sacked another 4 times. In order for the Packers to beat the Bears tomorrow night, they’ll need to score more than a single touchdown throughout the game.

Offensive lineman David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan Jr. are all “Questionable” to play tomorrow, per Friday’s official injury report. Additionally, #1 WR Allen Lazard was limited in yesterday’s practice and he too is questionable to play. With question marks surrounding the offense regarding who will suit up, the Packers need to focus hard on the things that they can control. That starts with:

Winning the line of scrimmage

Former Packers offensive lineman Mike Wahle and Packers Reporter Andy Herman do a podcast every Friday together and discuss all things Packers. During yesterday’s conversation, Wahle alluded to the fact that the Packers need to play with more “Controlled Violence”.

In his opinion, the Packers were beat on both the offensive and defensive line on opening day against the Vikings. He cited things like the inability to effectively double-team players from the Packers offensive line and at times, just being physically manhandled. When asked what originally stood out to him after watching the game a few times over, Wahle said “The Vikings played a lot harder than we did. They were first to contact, they brought the wood, they were super aggressive, they out physical’d us up-front. It looked like they were bringing the fight to us”.

That’s not what you want from the Packers offensive line on opening day against a division rival. Talent is one thing, sometimes you just get beat. Effort, Focus and Intensity is another and to be out- maneuvered on that front is flat out unacceptable. The Bears on the other hand, who have question marks of their own all across the field and are largely talent depleted, fought, scratched and clawed all game against a better 49ers team and picked up a win.

Obviously, we know the Packers were competing last Sunday. However, based on what we all saw, it’s clear that the level of effort, focus and intensity wasn’t where it needed to be – as the Vikings had their way all day long. In order for the Packers to be much more effective tomorrow night, it starts up front. As I stated, talent is one thing and sometimes you just get beat. However, as Wahle said, the focus and intensity needs to take a major leap and the hogs up front need to bring a high level of “Controlled Violence”. The next thing thing the Packers must focus on is

Utilizing Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, constantly

Look, let’s be honest. Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb aren’t lighting the football world on fire like they once did. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are both playing in their 2nd career NFL game. Allen Lazard is questionable to play. The Packers desperately need efficiency on offense. It more than likely will not be a sexy Packers performance. The best players on offense right now are 12, 33 and 28, so lean on them.

The Packers running game last week in Minnesota was decent. Aaron Jones had 5 carries for 49 yards and AJ Dillon added 10 carries for 49 yards. In total, the Packers offense rushed 18 times for 111 yards, which averages at 6.2 yards per carry, a phenomenal number. My two takeaways from those stats is they should’ve ran the ball more and their ground game was more feast or famine as opposed to “steadily efficient”.

Tomorrow night, steadily efficient is what we’re hoping for and both Packer running backs look to play a big part in that. What do I mean by steadily efficient? I’m talking about consistently running for a minimum of 3 yards on most carries and avoiding any and all negative plays. The Packers need to dumb it down, simplify and stay on schedule. Both Jones and Dillon can and should be heavily utilized in the passing game as well. AJ Dillon had 5 catches for 46 yards and Jones added 3 for 27 last weekend.

The mindset going into tomorrow from the Packers offense needs to be rooted in real, not paper, football. The Packers may get to a point where they’re dropping 30 a game with relative ease at some point during the season. It’s not right now. Utilizing their two best offensive weapons time and time again in Jones and Dillon is a must and staying on schedule is critically important, which brings me to my last point of

Pick and Choose your Shot Plays

Even if Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Runyan Jr. and Lazard are all miraculously available on Sunday Night, this isn’t the time to be looking for the 30 or 40 yard completion with regularity. I’m talking to you Aaron Rodgers. Tomorrow night, the Packers absolutely cannot be wasting opportunities to move the sticks in favor of the big play. That means being on an “internal clock” to throw the football and keep things positive or at the very worst, neutral.

The Vikings sacked Aaron Rodgers 4 times last week. Let’s look at the details of those 4 plays.

1) First Sack – Vikings 7 Packers 0. The Packers have the ball at Minnesota’s 40 yard line and it’s 3rd and 8. Even if they don’t convert the first down, any sort of positive play gives the Packers a field goal attempt. Rodgers is sacked for a loss of 8 yards and the Packers have to punt.

2) Second Sack – Vikings 17 Packers 0. The Packers desperately need points coming out of halftime. They’ve just ran for 7, 3 and 14 yards on 3 consecutive plays, giving them a first down in the process. 1st and 10 from their own 44. Rodgers moves to his left, hangs on to the ball too long, gets crunched in the process, fumbles and the Vikings recover. Minnesota goes on to kick a field goal and takes a 20-0 lead.

3) Third Sack – Vikings 20 Packers 7. The Packers have cut the deficit and forced a Vikings punt. They pick up a first down and the 3rd quarter ends. On their opening play of the 4th quarter from their own 31 yard line on 1st and 10, Rodgers is sacked for a loss of 9. Fortunately, the Packers picked up 23 yards on 2nd and 19, an outlier in that situation.

4) Fourth Sack – Vikings 20 Packers 7. On that very same drive, this was the nail in the coffin. The Packers had 3rd and 7 at midfield with 13 minutes to play in the 4th quarter. Even if they don’t get the first down, a positive play or neutral play allows them to go for it on the ensuing down. Instead, Rodgers is sacked and the Packers have to punt.

What can we learn from those four plays? 2 of the sacks occurred on 1st and 10 and 2 of them on 3rd down. To start, no more sacks on 1st and 10 please. If you’re going to pass, get rid of the ball quickly OR have a shot play called at the right time. Pick and choose and choose wisely – I’m talking to you, LaFleur. Otherwise, just run the damn ball.

In regards to 3rd down, I have a little more grace. Obviously third down is when the defense has their ears pinned and are chomping to get after the quarterback. With that said, the Packers still have a questionable offensive line to go along with questionable wide receivers. If they find themselves in another 3rd and 8 from the opposing teams 40 yard line, keep it simpler, keep it positive and give yourselves a shot to either kick a field goal or go for it on 4th and manageable. Of course, this all goes without saying that the offensive line simply needs to be better as well.

Bonus Thought

Hey, remember Romeo Doubs, the darling of Packers training camp and preseason? I didn’t watch the “All 22” Film so I really can’t give you a fair grade as to how well he played. I know him and Rodgers weren’t on the same page on an early 3rd and 7 that resulted in an incompletion. I also know he finished the game with 4 catches for 37 yards, none of that coming in garbage time. How about the Packers get number 87 more involved this week? He’s talented, handles himself professionally and is hungry to make plays. If we’re being honest, he’s probably the second best receiver in the offense right now next to Lazard from a production standpoint. I’d like to see a little more Romeo Doubs this week, especially early in the game, get his confidence going.

That’s it for me. Tomorrow night should give us further clarity into who this Packers team is in the 2022 season. With that said, even after the game, we’re only 2/17 of the way there. Enjoy the ride and Go Pack Go.

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Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a diehard Packers fan. Alex\\\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.

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