Green Bay Packers fans, it is not the end of the world. Aaron Rodgers is now projected to be out 4-6 weeks after suffering a fractured collarbone against the Chicago Bears, leaving the job in the hands of Seneca Wallace. How does this team survive without their former MVP?
To begin with, two words: Eddie Lacy.
Let’s look at Lacy’s last three games in particular, including the most recent with Wallace at quarterback. On average, Lacy has put up almost 109 yards per game on the ground. He is touching the ball 24.3 times per game running the ball, versus just three times in the passing game. That last statistic is misleading, because against the Bears, Lacy did not catch one pass nor was he targeted.
That, to me, is interesting. As good as Lacy has been with the ball in his hands, there were no plays called to get Lacy involved in the passing game. For a team that runs the screen pass better than a lot of teams in the league, you’d think the Packers would try getting him a few catches especially because he’s been their best weapon offensively. Without Rodgers now, that holds more true than ever.
Defensively, the Packers need to generate a pass rush — obviously. It’s clear the defensive line has done a phenomenal job against the run, where they rank 5th in the NFL allowing 94.5 yards per game on the ground. But, passing yardage? That’s a different story. Green Bay currently ranks 20th in the league against the pass, giving up 250.5 yards per game. That wouldn’t happen with pressure on the quarterback.
Over their last three games, the Packers have generated just seven sacks — with only one coming against Chicago. It’s clear that this Rodgers injury took them by surprise against the Bears and affected how the rest of the team’s mentality changed and how they played the game. The defense absolutely must get a pass rush, not just because sacks turn into punts — because a pass rush results in turnovers; and turnovers will be the key to taking pressure off of Wallace and the offense.
Once Clay Matthews returns, this pass rush is a completely different monster. He returned to practice this week and has a shot to play in week 10, which would be the best news all week for Green Bay.
So, to sum it up, the Packers have to get the ball to Lacy a minimum of 25 times per game and do it in both aspects of the offense. This will take pressure off of Wallace and allow coach Mike McCarthy to keep a pretty low-key game plan for his backup. Wallace has been around this league for a while and knows his limitations.McCarthy just needs to help him out by calling a good game, playing to his strengths. A solid run game and quick, short passes to the wideouts allowing them to make plays is probably the best route to go right away.
Lastly, again on defense, Green Bay has to execute the pass rush on a more consistent level. If they can do that, they’ll force more turnovers which then typically equal points, whether a field goal or touchdown — at this point, a positive turnover margin just flat out helps.
Green Bay’s season is not done by any means, especially because their next three games are against teams with a combined record of 7-18. If the Packers can get these two aspects of their game going at a high level, both Lacy and the pass rush, they should have no problem staying in the division race.