I was surprised when the Packers took Jordan Love in the 1st round, but I understood why they did it.
I was against drafting AJ Dillon (and I will own that) in the 2nd round – I didn’t understand why they did that.
When they took Josh Deguara in the 3rd, I was as shocked as I’d ever been with a Packers draft pick. That was when I really stepped back and re-evaluated what I believed about the Packers offense.
When Matt LaFleur was hired, I expected things to change, I just didn’t think this was how it was going to change.
I’ve tried to piece together what I think they might be doing, but it’s become harder with the Packers new media policy to not allow anyone to report on personnel groupings at practice.
So let’s try to piece it together with what we know:
- Davante Adams is a stud
- Aaron Jones had 40% more pass targets in 16 games last year (49) than in his 24 total career games combined prior to that (35)
- The Packers won with Lazard, MVS, and Kumerow playing big roles last year
- EQ and Sternberger are back from injuries
- The Packers chose not to draft a receiver in a deep, but over-drafted, class
- The Packers took a power halfback in the 2nd round
- The Packers took a hybrid H-back in the 3rd round
- LaFleur has a history of using large receivers and Lazard, MVS, and EQ are all 6’4 or 6’5
- Last year, Rodgers had the second lowest yards per attempt of his career since becoming a starter
- Rodgers is old and his body has always been susceptible to injury
- Right tackle is a huge question mark
- Rodgers noticed “something” about his 2010 film that he re-applied to his game and then he lit up training camp
Putting all of these things together, and thinking of the Packers future instead of their past, I’ve come to some conclusions about what I think the Packers offense will look like in 2020.
We’ve seen the failings of an offense that depends on Rodgers to buy time and wait for the long pass to open up. We also witnessed Rodgers willing to take shorter passes in his first year under Matt LaFleur.
In his second year in the system, I think Rodgers will go even shorter with his passes. He has young, big-bodied receivers that he has gained some comfort with. I believe that instead of depending on elite-level receivers, he will focus on using his amazing accuracy to put the ball where only his tall receivers can reach it on short routes thay hit quick before corners can react.
I believe that his 2010 film reminded him that quick rhythm passing was more productive than going for the big plays. The quick rhythm passing will open the big plays all by itself.
With the right side of the line not established, it will be even more important to get the ball out quicker and I think Matt LaFleur will dial up a lot of underneath routes and pick plays.
Aaron Jones proved how effective he can be in the passing game, as has Jamaal Williams. Add some receiving ends like Sternberger and Deguara to the mix with Big Bob Tonyan, and you get more flexibility and less predictabilty.
When you put all these factors together, it sounds like the kind of passing attack the Patriots have been running for the last couple of decades. Only this offense will have a more talented quarterback.
But I don’t think passing the ball is going to be the staple of the Packers offense anymore. They wouldn’t draft a running back and an H-back with their Day 2 picks if that were the case.
AJ Dillon is a power bruiser, Aaron Jones is an elite zone runner, and Jamaal Williams is a versatile role player. When you add in mobile blockers like Jace Sternberger and Josh Deguara, you get the type of multi-dimensional running game that is going to make for some long nights for defensive coordinators.
Teams had a hard time stopping the quick, slashing zone running attack led by Aaron Jones last year. It requires fast, mobile defenders to cover all the gaps and break down in open space. If you field a defense like that, it’ll be susceptible to the kind of power running game that AJ Dillon brings to the table.
If teams stack the box with defenders to flood running lanes for that diverse attack, it’ll open up screen passes and leave cornerbacks one-on-one with a bunch of 6’5 receivers.
Now Aaron Rodgers won’t need to wait for receivers to get open, he can throw them open on 7 yard routes because teams won’t be able to sit in dime coverage with that run game.
And if teams get really tight, it will open up some deep routes… and Aaron Rodgers can still throw deep balls.
This should be a Packers offense like we’ve never seen before.
I can’t wait.