The Green Bay Packers once again started slow in Week 8, scoring zero points in the first half of a 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers have struggled in the first half of games all season for a variety of reasons, but head coach Matt LaFleur has not been able to find a solution. Is it possible he’s part of the problem?
Let’s start with this; the Packers are young on offense. Jordan Love was making his eighth career start, doing so with two second-year receivers, a rookie tight end and a rookie slot receiver. Aaron Jones continues to be used in an unorthodox way as he recovers from a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 1. A.J. Dillon has been unable to replicate his consistent yardage on touches from a season ago. That’s not something LaFleur can fix in one day.
However, this is now six games in a row the Packers haven’t gotten off to a strong start. Green Bay’s defense has done a good job keeping the team in the contest, but the numbers don’t lie. Here’s a look at Green Bay’s first half scoring totals from Weeks 2-8.
Love’s inability to make decisions quickly is concerning, especially since he’s not a true rookie starter. He’s been groomed by the Packers over the last three offseasons, and he’s presumably the quarterback LaFleur himself signed off on when the team decided to make that selection. Regardless of the personnel around him, Love should not struggle like this. Either the playbook needs to be condensed, or the calls need to be better with respect to the situation. Love has made some execution errors for sure, although the calls haven’t exactly set him up well.
LaFleur’s usage of Jones has also been perplexing. The running back was obviously prematurely cleared to return in Week 4 against the Lions, where he only played limited snaps and had six total touches. He then missed the next game ahead of the team’s bye before returning in Week 7 to get 11 total touches. In what was essentially a must-win game against the Vikings at home in Week 8, Jones got 11 total touches and wasn’t on the field when Green Bay needed key conversions. If he’s good enough to be out there without an injury designation, he’s good enough to have 20+ touches when your season is on the line.
Not everything is completely lost for the Packers with a jumbled NFC wild card picture and two soft opponents in the Rams and Steelers up next. Green Bay, entering Week 8, ranked 26th in total yards, 23rd in pass yards, 25th in rush yards and 21st in points on a per game basis. For a head coach who was brought in due to his offensive acumen, that’s not good enough regardless of the personnel. The players haven’t executed the plays at a high rate but the head coach hasn’t been good either. The Packers either need to adjust the gameplan to better suit their current players or continue practicing the plays and hope to execute better. We’ll see how much more Green Bay fans can endure, and LaFleur is slowly going to be feeling the pressure with two winnable games up next.