Regardless of what happens against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, this Packers team is built for the future. No one expected the Green Bay Packers to make the playoffs this year. To some extent, I don’t even think the Packers expected it. This was evident when Rasul Douglass was traded at the trade deadline. However, the Packers did make the playoffs and are in the wildcard.
The main goal of this season was to evaluate Jordan Love and this young offense. Well, that evaluation is complete. This offense is young and talented. Jordan Love has proven that he can be the franchise quarter back. This team making the playoffs is just icing on the cake. It will also be valuable experience heading into future seasons. That’s what everyone is saying.
But I guarantee you that these coaches and players aren’t saying, “What a great experience for our young team,” and “I’m just happy to be here.”
No, these guys want to win. They see an opportunity.
So my question is this: what does this team need to do to go on a playoff run?
Run The Ball
The past three weeks, the Packers have been running the ball very well. Aaron Jones has had over 100 rushing yards in each of his last three games played. If the Packers want to make some noise in the wildcard round and beyond, then they are going to need to continue that success. The Cowboys have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL and to win, the Packers will need to own the time of possession. This won’t change going through the rest of the playoffs.
Explosive Plays Will Be The Difference In The Wildcard
Running the ball well will bring the defenders down into the box, which will open up the Packers deep ball game. While doing this very thing, the Packers offense really started to turn it around the moment Jordan Love and his young receivers started to hit on the deep throws. This has been especially true coming off of the play action and the only way this can be successful is by setting up the run.
I believe that explosive plays will be the difference in the wildcard round. The Packers and Cowboys both have explosive offenses. The Packers, with their young receivers, will need to attack and attack often. With the Cowboys defensive backs playing so aggressively, they tend to gamble a lot. This has led to many explosive plays against them.
Under Joe Barry, the Packers defense has played the opposite of how the Cowboys defense plays. Green Bay’s defense plays mostly zone coverage in order to limit big plays. This has been quite frustrating and has led to some lesser-known offenses putting up big numbers against the Packers. The Packers defense is one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
That being said, in the past couple of weeks the Packers defense has been playing much better, holding the Vikings to ten points (really just three) and the Bears to just nine points. They aren’t going to be able to hold the Cowboys to those numbers, or – let’s be honest – anyone else in the playoffs. If the Packers want to win, they are going to have to continue to play more aggressively on defense and get some turnovers.
Special Teams Doesn’t Have To Be Special
The special teams doesn’t have to be special at all. Matter of fact, they just need to avoid making the defense’s job any harder than it already is. The Packers special teams gave the ball to the Vikings inside their own ten yard line, handing over an instant redzone opportunity upon which the Vikings were able to capitalize. The special teams just can’t have that happen.
Jordan Love Needs To Be Great
If the Packers want to win this weekend and beyond, Jordan Love is going to need to be great. Honestly, more than great. He has shown that he has every capability of carrying this team on his back. For Love to continue to carry this team, he is going to need to be laser accurate. He can’t find himself reverting back to how he was when the Packers lost four games in a row in the regular season.
Anything Is Possible Even When Starting In the Wildcard
The Packers have a long, hard road ahead of them if they want to shock the world. Even if they find a way to upset the Cowboys, they would then have to play the 49ers in the divisional round. It can be done, but it won’t be easy. Because of this, the Pack will have to play almost perfectly and have a little luck.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited the Packers made the playoffs and it will benefit them heading into future years. But this year is now. I will always root for my team to win. I don’t want this season to end yet. And if the Packers can do these things, it won’t end just yet. We’ll get to watch more Packers football this season.
Go Pack Go!——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.