Three problems with the Packers’ offense right now

What is wrong with the Green Bay offense? Aaron Rodgers' sudden drop in accuracy is one of three areas of concern.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Three problems with the Packers’ offense right now

The Green Bay Packers have lost four of their last five games, and outside of the one win during that stretch, against the Vikings, the offense hasn’t looked in sync. In three of their last five games, the Packers were held to 16 or fewer points.

What’s been going wrong? Here are three things that have been problem areas for the Green Bay offense in recent weeks.

1. Aaron Rodgers’ accuracy

There was a time where Rodgers was the most accurate quarterback in the league. In each year from 2011 to 2013, Rodgers led the league in accuracy percentage. In 2014 his accuracy declined slightly to be just the eighth-best quarterback in the league. He also had a strong start to the 2015 season, with a 79.7 percent accuracy rate that was fifth-best at the time.

Since then, however, he has been the sixth-worst quarterback in terms of accuracy percentage at 67.5. At most depths Rodgers saw that initial decline, but it was harder to notice because Rodgers was more accurate on very deep passes, which helped keep his numbers up. However, in recent weeks, his accuracy regressed on those very deep passes, and his accuracy has declined significantly when his depth of pass has been between 5 and 20 yards. You can see the evidence of this in the following chart (numbers listed are his accuracy percentages at each depth):

Depth of pass 2011 to 2013 2014 and 2015 Weeks 1-5 2015 Weeks 6-12
4 or fewer 91.3% 88.1% 92.1%
5 to 10 82.3% 76.5% 50.0%
11 to 20 70.0% 65.4% 53.7%
21 to 35 58.3% 50.9% 50.0%
36 or more 48.1% 60.0% 28.6%

Rodgers hasn’t been inaccurate to the point of making several turnovers like other inaccurate quarterbacks have, but it’s been inaccurate enough to stall drives — and very different from what we’ve come to expect from him over the years.

2. The receivers have a case of the drops

Even when Rodgers is throwing the ball accurately, his receivers aren’t always making the catch. Over the first three games of the season, all of the Packers receivers combined dropped just one pass, which was the best for a team in the league.

Since then? They have dropped 23 passes — most in the league.

The player with the most drops is Randall Cobb, with seven. He had a problem with drops early in his career, but only had nine drops over the previous two seasons combined. The biggest culprits in terms of drop percentage are Davante Adams and James Jones, however. Adams has six drops compared to 23 catches, and Jones four drops to 18 catches. They are both among the worst eight receivers in the league by drop rate since Week 3.

3. The running game has regressed

In 2014 from Week 8 to the end of the season, Eddie Lacy was arguably the best running back in the NFL. He was averaging 3.0 yards after contact per carry, which was second only to Marshawn Lynch, who was by almost any measure the most difficult running back to tackle in the league. Lacy was able to complement that running ability with the best receiving grade by a back over that time. He was averaging 11.8 yards per catch, which led the league at the position, had four receiving touchdowns, which was tied for the best, and only had one dropped pass.

This year Lacy hasn’t been bad, but he’s been average — which is a big downgrade from his play late last year. His yards after contact per carry average has dropped down to 2.5, and yards per catch average is down to 8.8. There were only two games last year where he was held to single-digit receiving yards, whereas this year he was held to single digits in four of his first seven games.

Lacy has started to improve his rushing performances these last two weeks with back-to-back 100 yard games, but he has fumbled in four of his last five games, which has hurt his case.

What’s next?

The Packers defense has been doing a good job of keeping Green Bay in games, so if just one of these issues on offense could get fixed, it would go a long way toward changing these close losses to close victories. However, if the Packers want to compete with the NFC’s best in the playoffs like Carolina or Arizona, all three of these areas need to get back on track.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Pete

    Sounds like a similar problem with the Patriots….but somehow they keep winning…ummm!

    • anon76returns

      Not sure how the Pats’ WRs are doing, but there’s been no decline in Brady’s accuracy. As the article says “improving in one area could change close losses to close wins” for the Pack. The Pats’ have ridden Brady’s passing to single score wins over the Steelers (28-21), Bills twice (40-32 and 20-13), Colts (34-27), Jets (30-23), and especially the Giants (27-26). A little worse passing from Brady and the Patriots could easily be 6-4 or 7-3 right now, just like the Pack.

      • Ferdinand Marcos 2.0

        Biggest difference there is Gronk. Packers have no one.

        • Wyzel

          Cobb is still there and is supposed to be the best slot man in the league, but is playing like a player who got paid, and cannot get open without jordy there to open up the middle of the field.

    • AC

      ok, now lets see them do the same thing with no Gronk or Edelman.

      • Chazzthaviking

        Who is the second receiver that GB has lost? And NE has lost Dion Lewis I say Brady has lost more and is doing better.

    • Kenn Korb

      Definitely similar problems across the two teams, with injuries limiting the effectiveness and availability of those sent out to catch passes.

      Only two main differences:
      – New England has managed to make the little plays necessary to pull out games; Green Bay has not. Four of NE’s last six wins have been by one score; three of Green Bay’s four losses have been by one score, with Green Bay having a chance to win/tie on each of those final drives with under a minute left. If they manage to make one more play in any of those games, they likely win.
      – NE has Gronk (which helps immensely with the first part). Unlike New England, Green Bay doesn’t have that All-Pro-level #1 guy on the field to help the cause for the offense w/o Nelson, so it drastically lessens their margin for error.

      Even with all their legitimate issues, the team has really been just three or four fortuitous plays away from a 10-1 record. They definitely need to work on those areas, but they are a lot closer than it at first appears.

      • Chazzthaviking

        The Patriots receiving Corp has lost more players then GB. Nelson that is one, the Pats have lost Edelman and Dion Lewis. The bottom line is that the Packers aren’t the same team Right Now that they have been and I think they it is showing on the sidelines defensive players pushing and fighting and Rodgers slamming his IPad and I have seen players getting dumb penalties. It isn’t like them to be acting like this I am beginning to wonder if MM has lost that locker room.

  • SeattleSteve

    “Since then? They have dropped 23 passes — most in the league.”

    I knew it was bad, but …man.

  • Aldo Gandia

    Are these dropped passes measured differently from other sites, because and the have the Packers at 15?

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