The San Francisco 49ers travel to face the Green Bay Packers on Monday, in a matchup that will present a serious challenge to the young 49ers defense. There’s not much left to be said about Aaron Rodgers at this point, but it has been a bit of a struggle for the Packers offense the first five weeks. They rank in the middle of the pack in points scored, and Rodgers has openly expressed frustration about the inconsistency of the group.
I chatted with Acme Packing Company writer Jason Hirschhorn this week in preparation for the game and wanted to get his thoughts on the state of the Packers offense. On Friday, he talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the defense. Today, he gets into the offense.
While Green Bay does indeed rank seventh in offensive efficiency by DVOA entering Week 6, that mark gives a misleading impression. Prior to last week’s tilt in Detroit, the Packers ranked right in the middle of the league (No. 14). That game saw them get behind 24-0 before halftime, at which point the Lions simply played to prevent quick scores and gave up a lot of easy yardage underneath. In a more typical game script, a considerable amount of those easy conversions wouldn’t have transpired, and the Packers’ offensive DVOA ranking wouldn’t have made that leap into the top 10.
And that underscores Aaron Rodgers’ apparent frustrations. The offense does do some things that work, but it doesn’t maximize the talent at its disposal. For example, Aaron Jones leads all qualified players with 5.67 yards per carry since the start of 2017, outpacing Alvin Kamara and Matt Breida for the top mark. And yet, head coach Mike McCarthy gave him fewer snaps this past week than Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery, two players with inferior running ability. Jones doesn’t cure everything wrong with the Packers offense, but he would give the unit a playmaker it needs in the backfield.
Personnel usage doesn’t represent the entire problem. Unlike some of the league’s best offenses, the Packers haven’t adopted enough ways to manufacture easy completions for the quarterback. That hasn’t killed Green Bay given the presence of Rodgers, but it puts considerable strain on him when multiple key members of the receiving corps miss time and the offensive line struggles. Absent meaningful adjustments to the scheme, this could prove the final blow to the McCarthy era in Green Bay.