“Things are looking up,” according to one Aaron Rodgers after the Packers took care of business against the Rams Monday night. The victory ensures their playoff hopes remain alive for at least another week. It was also Green Bay’s most complete performance of the season, granted against a struggling team decimated by injury. Regardless, it keeps momentum going, and possibly laid out a blueprint the Packers can look to emulate for the remainder of the season.
With the sheer amount of turnover on offense, coupled with guys going in and out of the lineup from injury, the Packers lacked an identity for the majority of the season thus far. But Monday night was yet another example of how much better the offense is when it goes through Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon first. Jones has been Green Bay’s most consistent weapon all year, but Dillon has come on strong of late. Dillon has posted 3 of his 4 highest PFF grades in the last 3 contests.
Success on early downs running the ball allows them to sustain drives, and has helped to open up the play-action passing game as well. Rodgers’ YPA is 7.8 on play-action passes, versus just 6.5 on non-play-action throws. Monday also offered a glimpse at the future of the passing attack as well, with both Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson playing significant roles for the first time together. They played only 13 snaps together, but Rodgers was a perfect 7-7 (with one sack) with them both on the field. But it was evident just how complementary they can be, with Watson stretching the field vertically and Doubs able to attack the short/intermediate routes.
Defensively, the Packers were finally able to generate a consistent pass rush with 5 sacks and 9 total QB hits on 21 dropbacks. This seemed to come more from players doing a better job winning their matchups rather than a complete schematic change by Joe Barry. Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, and Jarran Reed have all played better in recent weeks. Preston Smith and Kingsley Enagbare both had sacks off the edge. And this should hopefull be sustainable throughout the last three games. Miami ranks 31st in pass blocking per PFF, and Minnesota and Detroit are just 21st and 24th, respectively.
There’s no doubt about it, the competition gets much stiffer from here on out. But the Packers have to hope that these wins against inferior teams gave them enough time to finally establish the type of team they want to be.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.