The Green Bay Packers suffered another disappointing defeat on Sunday night, largely due to critical errors that plagued their offense yet again. Facing off against the Denver Broncos, the Packers were unable to find their rhythm and ended up losing 27-13.
One of the most glaring and recurring issues for the Packers this season has been their inability to secure catches. Throughout the game, there were multiple dropped passes and missed opportunities that could have resulted in crucial first downs or even touchdowns. These critical errors not only kill the momentum of the offense but also waste the efforts of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who often makes impressive throws only to see them go to waste.
Another consistent problem for the Packers has been their lack of a solid run game. Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams failed to make a significant impact, averaging just 2.8 and 2.9 yards per carry respectively. Without a strong ground attack, the Packers become predictable and one-dimensional, making it easier for opposing defenses to game plan against them.
In addition to these recurring problems, the Packers also struggled with penalties and mental mistakes. Numerous holding calls and false starts stalled their drives and forced them into unfavorable situations. These errors not only limit the offense’s potential, but they also highlight the lack of focus and discipline within the team.
The Packers’ offensive line also failed to provide adequate protection for Rodgers, allowing him to be sacked three times. This constant pressure disrupted the rhythm of the offense and prevented Rodgers from making accurate and timely throws.
Overall, the critical errors committed by the Packers on offense ultimately led to their downfall against the Broncos. Until these issues are resolved, it will be challenging for the Packers to find success and compete against top-tier teams. Consistency, better execution, and improved discipline will be key areas for the Packers to address in order to revive their struggling offense.
The Green Bay Packers offense has not been able to get out of their way through six games. You always tip your hat to the opposition – they get paid to play too – but this is a unit where the self-inflicted critical mistakes keep piling up.
The Denver Broncos defense is statistically the worst in football this season – and it wasn’t particularly close. Most notably, they entered Week 7 allowing the most points per game, the yards per pass attempt, and the most yards per carry. However, Green Bay’s offense was shut out in the first half and has scored just six first-half points in its last four games.
“I think critical mistakes are made in situations like this,” Jordan Love said after the game. “It’s up to everyone. Don’t rush into the game. By not scoring points quickly, it will eventually come back to bite us. We try to do everything we can to fight and claw and I think everyone does that. The effort is always there. Everyone is fighting. Everyone makes an effort. But like I said, not scoring points in the first half is abhorrent for us.”
Many of the same issues we’ve seen all season still reared their heads in Denver, even as the Packers came off a bye week. Green Bay was called seven penalties, several of which immediately put them behind the sticks and in back-on-track situations, as LaFleur calls them.
Routinely being in second-and-third-and-long situations has essentially doomed the Packers’ offense to failure this season. These are predictable passing downs, which give the defense the advantage, limit what can be schematized, and place far too heavy a burden on an inconsistent passing game. It was also a penalty that left Green Bay in a third-and-20 situation at the end of the game.
“That was critical,” Matt LaFleur said. “Another crucial penalty at the end of the match. It seems like there are a lot of these critical errors that keep popping up, and those are things that are costing you money. We had a lot of penalties in this game and I thought we had done a better job of not conceding any penalties in the previous few games. Unfortunately that was a problem today.”
In addition to the penalties, Green Bay’s receivers were again not as accurate as they needed to be from a route planning standpoint. We also saw the Packers especially in the first half, who really emphasized short area passes to help them stay ahead of the sticks. In theory, given the aforementioned long descent and distance issues, this approach makes sense. However, it is also a difficult way to live.
In third and fifth place, Watson and Reed both run to the same spot.
LaFleur had a few words for Watson when he came off the field, so he was probably in the wrong place.
The growing pains of the attack continue. pic.twitter.com/fwRKe5vpBn
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) October 22, 2023
The defense is not afraid of the Packers’ ability down the field, which leads to them playing closer to the line of scrimmage, and that makes moving the ball over the middle of the field and on shorter throws more challenging because there is less there is room to work indoors. Plus, making your way down the field in five- to seven-yard increments is quite difficult, especially for an offense as error-prone as the Packers. It is unrealistic to expect this group to regularly organize more than 10 points. They need chunk play.
“As a playcaller, I feel 100 percent responsible if it doesn’t work,” LaFleur said. “So obviously very disappointed with the whole process. I thought we got a little more aggressive in the second half with some of the play-action things we did. Hit Christian on the insert high-cross where we got a big piece.
“We managed to get a number of chunk plays and we know that chunk plays lead to points. That’s how this competition works. It’s hard to take those gains of three, four or five yards and march the ball down the field consistently. We know we have to find ways to generate explosives, and early in the game we just didn’t do that.”
Love finished the day completing 21 of his 31 pass attempts, but at two critical moments in the game he couldn’t get through, and his decision-making on those attempts will come under scrutiny. On a third down during a red zone trip to start the second half, Love elected to throw a fade to Romeo Doubs in the end zone. This was the same play where he connected with Doubs late in the New Orleans game. Part of that play, however, was an option for a screen for Aaron Jones, which the Packers’ blockers appeared to be well positioned for.
Love said after the game that two previous screens Green Bay had run didn’t end well, and he felt good about the throw to Doubs. In Love’s defense, the Packers have performed poorly on a number of screens this season.
“On that play,” LaFleur said, “it was basically a screen, and we had Aaron Jones open for that. They did a good job up front, but we gave him an option: yes, no. If he feels like he has the match there, he can handle it. We had some success on that play. It’s the same piece we played at the end of the New Orleans game, and he and Rome connected with it. I don’t blame him for that decision.”
Then, on a third-and-20 on what would ultimately be the Packers’ final offensive play, Love threw a pass to Samori Toure, but it was intercepted as two defenders were in position to make a play on the ball. According to LaFleur, Love had a tight end about 10 yards out. He then had Jayden Reed on an overroute, followed by Toure on the vertical as his third option.
The fourth option was the check-down to AJ Dillon, who looked ready for a good size gain, but Love never got to that point in his progression. The play was tailor-made for Toure given the coverage Denver was in, but the safety on the back end, who never saw Love, made a good play to get into position to make a play on the ball.
“The last play,” Love said, “we ran a play that was made for that coverage, trying to get a shot over the top on Samori, and the back-side safety made a good play, read it out and stayed overnight. the top on him. So I tried to position a ball so that you could make it to the safety’s left side, and the safety on the back end could make a play with that.
“You can look back and say you could have done so many different things,” Love added. “That is part of the process of learning and growing. You control it, you go for it on fourth-and-12, who knows what happens. It’s one of those things: what if?”
One of the few bright spots for Green Bay has been their run game, which has struggled to get going this season. While the passing game had more and more ups and downs, the rushing attack provided the Packers’ offense with some stability and something to lean on. As a team, Green Bay averaged 4.7 yards per carry, their best performance in that regard to date.
Unfortunately, for the Packers, there is no quick fix for what they are experiencing, as very little is going right. To some extent, it’s the coach’s voice when LaFleur says he needs to be a better player and that all 11 players need to perform better and be on the same page, but that’s exactly what needs to happen.
The most concerning aspect of all this is that the issues we saw against Denver have been consistent over the past month. Forget that there is a solution at this point; we have seen no progress. In fact, this offense appears to be on the decline. The longer these problems continue, the more difficult it becomes to reverse the situation.
What started as a snowball on the top of a hill has quickly grown into a boulder with some momentum.
“We all know there are ups and downs, but I think everyone is very frustrated,” Love said. “We have to find a way to win. We have to find a way to win these games. We’ve been put in these positions several times where the offense has to win the game, and we haven’t taken advantage of that.
“We have to find a way, just that margin for error, and we don’t take advantage of these end-of-game situations. And I think the situations are going to keep coming, they’re going to stay there, until we find a way to capitalize and start winning.