Packers offense has room for improvement at bye
The Green Bay Packers (8-2) enter their Week 11 bye on top of the division following a 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Staying there could be a challenge. Green Bay enters its bye week with a one-game lead on the hard-charging Minnesota Vikings, currently 10.5-point favorites to beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears are both 1-4 in their last five, but the Vikings have made significant strides since falling at Lambeau Field back in Week 2.
Minnesota (7-3) has five wins its last six games thanks to impressive offensive performances from quarterback Kirk Cousins and NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook. The Vikings knocked off the Dallas Cowboys in prime time last week.
The Packers’ offense has looked just as explosive, but they’ve struggled to come up with consistent playmakers to pair with star receiver Davante Adams — who missed four games with a toe injury — and running back Aaron Jones.
That could become a more pressing concern down the stretch. The Packers have three imposing defenses left on the schedule. They visit the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, host the Bears in Week 15 and visit the Vikings in Week 16, three teams that rank in the top 10 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The Packers went 4-0 during Adams’ absence, but there were a few close calls. It took a monster four-touchdown game from Jones to power the Packers to a win over the Cowboys in Week 5.
A pair of disputed penalties were the difference against the Lions in Week 6, while Week 7 came down to the wire despite the absence of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
And then there’s that loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Packers’ offense sputtered in Week 9, gaining just 184 yards combined in Adams’ first game back.
Adams leads the Packers by more than 100 receiving yards despite missing four games.
Jones led the Packers with 280 receiving yards in Adams’ absence. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was the only member of the receiving corps with more than 200 yards, posting 203 yards and a touchdown on just six receptions.
Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison, the preseason favorites to assume the No. 2 and No. 3 roles in the Packers’ passing attack, have struggled.
Valdes-Scantling has just one catch for four yards in his last three games, and has now been shut out in back-to-back weeks. Meanwhile, Allison leads the Packers with a drop percentage of 8.1%, well above the team average of 2.5%.
It’s difficult to point the finger at quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s having a typically exceptional season.
He’s up to 2,718 passing yards and 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions with a completion percentage of 64.8% and a 102.7 quarterback rating through 10 games.
Veteran tight end Jimmy Graham is helping to make up the difference. Graham has 310 yards on 27 receptions so far, more than 100 yards off his 10-game pace from a season ago, but has three touchdowns after scoring just twice all of last season.
Graham ranks second on the Packers with 16 first downs, still well behind Adams, who’s up to 28.
Instead, the Packers’ running backs have powered the offense.
Jamaal Williams lead the Packers with five receiving touchdowns, while Jones is tied for second with three.
Jones is in the midst of a career season.
He has 14 rushing and receiving touchdowns on the season, tied with Panthers star Christian McCaffrey for the league lead, and is up to 943 yards from scrimmage (589 rushing, 354 receiving) through 10 games.
Jones has been particularly hard to bring down despite his 5-foot-9 frame. He leads the Packers with nine broken tackles and 314 yards after contact in the passing game, and has 20 broken tackles and 241 yards after contact when running the ball.