There’s no doubt that Green Bay Packers fans have experienced a rough start to the 2013 season. Among losing games to the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals, the Packers have been without a number of key players due to injuries. But, in spite of this, we’re finally starting to see this team come together and work with efficiency.
It hasn’t been an easy transition, though. We’ve been used to a high-flying offense that made big plays down the field and racked up quick points, and it has taken some getting used to a more balanced offensive attack. Yet this newfound balance has paid major dividends.
Here is a look at some basic statistical categories for the Packers offense this season compared to their overall results from the last two years (from TeamRankings.com):
|Points per Game||30.3||27.1||34.1|
|Yards per Game||438.9||357.2||404.1|
|Points per Play||0.448||0.419||0.547|
|Red Zone Scoring % (TD)||50.00%||68.52%||65.22%|
|Yards per Play||6.5||5.5||6.5|
|First Downs per Game||23.0||21.2||22.2|
|First Down per Play||0.340||0.327||0.357|
|Average Time of Possession||31:57||30:06||30:28|
|Third Down Conversion %||46.39%||41.00%||48.50%|
|Rushing Attempts per Game||29.6||26.7||24.6|
|Rushing Yards per Game||141.4||104.6||100.3|
|Rushing First Downs per Game||7.6||5.1||5.7|
|Yards per Rush Attempt||4.8||3.9||4.1|
|Rushing Play %||43.76%||41.20%||39.43%|
|Rushing First Down %||32.92%||23.88%||25.66%|
|Pass Completion %||67.07%||67.14%||67.34%|
|Passing Yards per Game||297.4||252.6||303.8|
|Yards per Pass Attempt||8.4||7.2||8.7|
|Passing First Downs per Game||13.3||13.4||14.4|
|Passing First Down %||57.76%||63.25%||64.81%|
|Average Team Passer Rating||108.0||107.1||119.4|
|Passing Play %||56.24%||58.80%||60.57%|
|QB Sacked %||6.39%||8.03%||7.01%|
I think it’s interesting to not only look at the overall improvements from last season (which are striking), but also to look at how this offense has changed from the high-scoring juggernaut of 2011. For example, the overall performance indicators for 2013 are generally better than 2012, but not quite as good as 2011. Categories like Points per Game, Yards per Game, and Points per Play clearly show this. However, notice that the Yards per Play statistic is the same in 2013 as 2011, and the number of First Downs per Game is slightly higher than both years.
These numbers just prove what we’ve known all along: the running game has made this a more powerful and balanced offense.
The commitment to the running game has helped the Packers control the pace of the game and wear down defenses. Their Average Time of Possession (31:57) for 2013 is significantly higher than the past two years. And while Aaron Rodgers hasn’t posted crazy passing stats, he is being sacked less, which might be even more important. Furthermore, his Pass Completion Percentage and Average Yards per Pass Attempt is close to what it was in 2011, which indicates a similar level of efficiency despite a drop in quantity.
Now take a moment to notice the rushing statistics. This year beats the previous two in every single category, and in some cases by a vast margin. If you haven’t given Mike McCarthy credit for succeeding in his public promise of an improved running game, then you either (a) haven’t been watching the Packers offense closely or (b) are too stubborn to admit he’s actually done it.
Even though it might have taken them a few games to find their identity, the Packers have finally shown that they can use their balanced offense effectively and efficiently. If they can clean up their red zone struggles – which might be slightly overblown according to Zach Kruse at CheeseheadTV – then this team will be a daunting matchup for opponents. No matter what, though, it’s been fun getting used to this new and efficient offensive attack.——————Follow @ChadToporski