What Will Mike McCarthy’s Offense Look Like in 2013?

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rodgers_mccarthy“We’ll be better; I promise you. You can write that down.”

That’s what Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy decreed in regards to the running game during a press conference on Tuesday. Whether the offense is successful in carrying out this objective is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, the commitment is being made, and it’s clear the Packers offense will have a different identity than it did in 2012.

We’ve seen a number of major changes occur so far in this offseason. First and foremost, the wide receiver corps will look significantly different with Greg Jennings out of the line-up. Fans can say what they will about his injury history, but his performance history speaks volumes. Not having him on the field isn’t insurmountable – they’ve handled things without him already – but it will change the nature of the offense. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones will now be the primary nucleus of the wide receivers.

Next, the Packers have two new ground weapons courtesy of Ted Thompson and the 2013 NFL Draft. Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin were a couple of big value picks and should add some much-needed “oomph” to the running game. Additionally, DuJuan Harris will be riding some of his rookie momentum while Alex Green looks to get healthy. (James Starks is still in the wings, but it’s hard to put much stock into him at this point.)

To accommodate this influx of talent and to help fix the problems on the offensive line, McCarthy flipped his guards and tackles. His goal was to not only put his best pass blockers on Aaron Rodgers’ blindside, but also to get his best run blockers on the strong side of the formation. It’s a bold move, but one that was much less risky to make at the start of offseason training, rather than later.

Finally, we look towards the tight ends. These players haven’t received much attention lately, yet they might have some of the biggest question marks above their heads. Jermichael Finley is in a “contract” year and has bulked up a bit, according to reports. Meanwhile, Andrew Quarless seems to finally be back at 100% after severely injuring his knee a year and a half ago.

“I have all the confidence in the world he’s ready,” McCarthy said after an OTA practice in May, “and when you watch him play he’s probably moving better than before the injury.”

Then there’s the signing of Matthew Mulligan that seems to have slipped out of sight. The former St. Louis Ram is a big-bodied tight end whose greatest asset is his blocking. We also can’t forget Ryan Taylor, D.J. Williams, or Brandon Bostick. These three will definitely be competitors for playing time.

Many of these changes speak to a more balanced offense from Mike McCarthy. While it would be foolish to severely decrease the amount of times their best player has a chance to make a pass, the better balance could make Aaron Rodgers that much more effective. They’ll still want to take their deep shots to Jordy Nelson down the sideline, but they might now be able to pull those safeties forward enough to create those opportunities.

Could it mean less 11 personnel (1 RB–1 TE–3 WR) and more 12 or 21 personnel (only 2 WR)? With Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and a strong running presence, can they be more creative out of a single back set with two tight ends? They’d have the ability to really stretch the opposing defense by attacking multiple levels and sides of the field. In addition to that, they could have a strong package of personnel for their “no huddle” offense, further wearing down the defense.

A lot of this depends on how things play out in training camp. How well will the plays be executed with the pads on, and which players will actually rise to the top? Everything is speculation at this point, but the one fact in all of this is that the Packers offense will have a different identity from last year.


Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski


13 thoughts on “What Will Mike McCarthy’s Offense Look Like in 2013?

  1. The thing that no one is talking about is: are we still going to run the Zone Blocking Scheme? I know that this scheme has been successful for other teams, but hasn’t worked that well for us. I’d love to see more traps, wham plays, pulls, etc. in our run game.

    1. The Packers don’t have the linemen to execute a man scheme. You need guys who can move guys off the line for that, we have athletic linemen who can move their feet and shield run lanes.

  2. People will be tired of hearing this from me, but if Quarless is really 100% I’d love to see more of a NE approach: 2 TE, 2 WR, single back, with Quarless playing the Gronk role and Finley playing the Hernandez role. I think this would really play well on early downs, help the run game, and potentially ease the transition to the new OL alignment.

    The negative is that it means one of Cobb/Jones/Nelson sees diminished snaps, and it really makes sense to keep those guys on the field. In all, I just want to see fewer empty backfields. I’m hoping these young backs will help accomplish that.

    1. I completely agree, Dobber. I think it could be a very effective package.

      “The negative is that it means one of Cobb/Jones/Nelson sees diminished snaps, and it really makes sense to keep those guys on the field.”

      On the flip side, these guys can’t be on the field all of the time, and 2-WR sets would allow them to rotate and stay fresher.

      1. With both Driver and Jennings gone, will Cobb/Jones/Nelson actually see fewer snaps in that set up?

    2. Cobb can be used out of the backfield, and Finley has the ability to line up wide.

      What that means is this:

      -You can trot out a personnel grouping of two TE’s, and Three WRs, with one WR being Cobb, and one TE being Finley.

      -From this personnel grouping, you can roll out a no-huddle offense that can line up as:

      2 WR / 2 TE inline with Cobb lined up as a RB

      -2 WR, 1 TE inline, Cobb at RB and one TE lines up in a h-back/FB position

      3 WR, 2 SE for a 5-wide look

      3 WR look with Finley occupying the slot position, 1 TE inline, Cobb as the singleback

      Etc, etc.

      I’ve been a proponent of this since Cobb got on board. The versatility that a Cobb/Finley/Quarless package could bring.. A huge part of no-huddle advantage comes from catching a defense with mismatched personnel on the field and running no-huddle so they can’t change personnel w/o burning a TO.

      Having the ability to trot out a personnel grouping on offense that has the ability to completely change looks from run to pass and everything inbetween could give the Packers opponent DC’s nightmares. Do you put out nickle personnel? Dime? base? Are the Packers going to run it right up the gut from an I form? go 5 wide?

      Once the defense picks it poison, MM/AR could simply change the formation they line up in and find itself running no huddle with a massive advantage.

      1. I think Mulligan will be the #1 TE for the run. He and Quarless together would be good for the run too. I can’t see Newhouse run blocking like a RT. I think we will see a surprise there. Maybe Datko. The question will be who plays in 2 WR sets. Hard to take Cobb off the field. But he he as dangerous on the outside? Will Nelson & Jones flip-flop? Jennings value to Pack was lower knowing they would be going to more running formations. Nelson/Jones better downfield blockers too. Packer fans may be surprised to see a real shift to run game, say 50-50. What to do with Finley when running the ball? Sit him?

        1. The Packers run/pass ratio for the 2012 season was 43.7%/56.3%.

          Pretty hard to believe, isn’t it?

        2. My prediction is Quarless will emerge this year as the most well-rounded TE on the roster and together with Mulligan’s blocking prowess, will make this Finley’s last season in green bay.

          1. Problem is, None of the other TE’s on the roster pose any real threat that will make teams spend time worrying about. Even at his worst Finley was someone teams had to game plan for. I think Finley has a strong season and gets another contract.

            Its not that easy to replace a player that other teams have to game plan against. Thompson and McCarthy know if he’s truly expendable or not and I’m guessing he stays.

  3. This is seriously the most excited I’ve been about this offense in years. The line juggling, the 2 young stud backs, a healthy Quarless paired with Finley, Cobb and Rodgers after another offseason prepping together, Mike’s apparent commitment to run the ball… Effectively. Should be fun to see it play out. Woot!

  4. Relax the pack will be a well balanced offense this season. The def. will also be a lot better. This team knows what it has to do to get back to the big game. The running game will help the defense,and the
    defense will give the offense more opportunities. This team could go 14-2. Have faith. GO PACK. I love the moves you have made. Try to keep Bishop, if healthy.

  5. I don’t think we will see any more then the ratio of run pass we saw in 2012. The difference should be a more effective run game at that 44 to 45% of the plays.
    IF you go back and watch the games after Saturday was replaced the running game ran inside zone, outside stretch and yes even some pull and trap.
    All were more effective with EDS at Center.

    Here are examples of each type. You watch the first 4 plays you see inside zone, outside stretch and a pull trap.
    Very effective IMO because of EDS. His combo blocks, his pulling and his ability to drive people off the line made those plays effective.
    ANY of the RB’s would have had good runs with that blocking.


    Now you add the competition at RB for this season, with the moves on the OLine and those 45% of plays being run plays should be a LOT more effective.

    Someone said they did not think Newhouse would be very good at run blocking at RT.
    With the move of Bulaga and Sitton and the fact that the Packers ran more to the left then to the right last year, Newhouse fits the RT spot for run blocking for those cut blocks on the back side DE or LB. And if you watch the plays in the video Newhouse does a pretty good job in run blocking, sealing off his man, He has good quick feet he can get in front of his man and get to the second level.

    TE’s Quarless and Finley can both be weapons. I know we will see two TE sets.
    The big question right now is who take over the role Crabtree had as a stand up blocker just behind the line, That is where I think you will see Mulligan.

    I actually think that the WR group will be better overall, the fight behind the top 3 will be a good one to watch come July.

    With an effective running game the offense will open up even more, more play action, more screens, with those things working more deep balls.

    There is a lot to be excited about for the 2013 Packers offense.

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