National Football League
Postseason gives struggling Packers offense a fresh start
National Football League

Postseason gives struggling Packers offense a fresh start

Published Jan. 4, 2016 8:45 p.m. ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Packers have made an uninspiring run into the playoffs.

They've finished the regular season with two straight losses and agonizingly familiar problems with the ball.

After weeks of searching for answers, maybe the postseason can jump-start Green Bay's once vaunted offense.

''Really, everything you've done leading up to this point, it really doesn't matter,'' offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said Monday night. ''It's about what you do now.''


Really, they don't have much of a choice anymore. The offense has run out of time to mold its identity.

The Packers (10-6) might have to scratch and claw their way to victories to have any shot at advancing as a wild card, starting this weekend on the road against the Washington Redskins.

''If you don't win, you're going home. Simple as that,'' receiver Randall Cobb said when asked about coach Mike McCarthy's message to the team for this week.

The mental reset that might come with the start of postseason play doesn't mean that the Packers forget about their problems.

This is, after all, a team that finished 23rd in the league in total offense, the lowest ranking for the Packers, according to NFL stats that date to 1992.

The Packers were sixth in 2014 and third in 2013, the latter season the one in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed time with a broken collarbone.

Green Bay's issues this season stems in large part from receiver Jordy Nelson, the team's top deep threat, going down with a the season-ending injury in August.

It led to a trickle-down effect with opposing defenses playing more press coverage on the Packers' remaining receivers, who didn't have the kind of big-play ability that Nelson possessed that helped open up the field.

The running game has been inconsistent. The offensive line has been battered by injuries. Rodgers hasn't played up to his high, two-time NFL MVP standards.

''Fresh start? I think it helps everybody, but you have to be realistic with fresh starts. I think you have to have fresh starts for the right reasons,'' McCarthy said.

''The things that we've done wrong are just as important as the things we've done right,'' he added. ''It's what we need to focus on because when you win, you can't just sweep the things you didn't do right until the rug.''

One positive on which the Packers can draw is that they've at least shown the capability to move the ball through the air when needed in late-game, 2-minute situations. But they couldn't capitalize on two trips into Vikings territory in the last 6 minutes of the 20-13 loss Sunday night that gave Minnesota the NFC North title.

Playing ''schoolyard-type'' of football all the time, as Rodgers has described it, may fit in with the quarterback's strengths of creating opportunities on second and third reactions, but it doesn't lend itself to keeping the Packers' franchise player healthy and upright.

And with Rodgers having been sacked 13 times in the last two games, the Packers are having a tough enough time keeping their quarterback's uniform clean as it is.

''I think you have to remember, he's a great player. He wants the ball in his hands and when things break down he's going to make things happen,'' McCarthy said. ''But also the risk and exposure he's put to is unacceptable to myself. And he knows that.''

Yet for all the consternation about the Packers' frustrations heading into playoffs, the team at least has one more shot to get the offense going again at the most important time of the year.

''Everyone is going to speculate on what's going on. At the end of the day, we're in the playoffs right now. We have an opportunity and that's all you can ask for,'' Cobb said. ''You're in the race.''


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