Last year, the Green Bay Packers’ offense put up numbers that ranked among the best in recent memory. They practically waltzed their way to the top seed in the NFC. Expecting them to replicate that performance this year was a tall task, even though Green Bay brought back nearly everyone on that side of the roster.
Up until Sunday, this year’s offense has certainly had its moments, but they’ve been far more inconsistent. Sometimes they just can’t quite find a rhythm. In the second half against the Minnesota Vikings, they showed that they can still dial it up in clutch moments with big plays like they did a year ago.
Green Bay had only three drives in the second half against the Vikings on Sunday, and every single one of them went for touchdowns.
On their opening drive of the third quarter, it took only seven plays for Aaron Rodgers and Co. to move 75 yards downfield and into the end zone. On that drive, six of the seven plays went for ten or more yards.
Green Bay thrived on explosive plays last year. They’ve executed a few this season, but it’s been few and far between compared to a year ago. In that first drive in the third quarter, Rodgers was able to find A.J. Dillon, Equanimeous St. Brown, Davante Adams, and even use his own legs for those chunk plays to keep churning forward. There were plays that opened up right away. There were also some that Rodgers had to buy time for before he whistled a pass through the Vikings’ secondary. It all came together impressively, even though they lost the game.
The Packers also showed the ability to strike quickly, which was highlighted on their final drive of the game. Minnesota had just scored and gotten a two point conversion to jump back in front, 31-24, with a little more than two minutes to play. But on the first play of the ensuing drive, Rodgers found Marquez Valdes-Scantling streaking on a post from the slot for 75 yards and a game-tying touchdown. Those plays seemed to happen weekly last year. However, they’ve been harder to come by this season. But it all came together in the second half against the Vikings. Now we’ll find out if it will be a trend.
It’s possible that this second half wasn’t a flash in the pan for the Packers. Maybe they rediscovered that offensive magic from a year ago. If the defense corrects their mistakes from the Vikings game and the offense has truly tapped into some of what made the engine run last year, this team becomes even more explosive.
The injuries for both sides keep piling up for Green Bay. On Sunday, they lost All-Pro-caliber offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari still hasn’t played this year after tearing his ACL in 2020. Aaron Jones was inactive against Minnesota with a sprained MCL, and Rodgers hinted at his toe injury bothering him far more as the weeks carry on.
Every team endures injury woes. But it’s hit some of Green Bay’s best players on both sides of the ball. Last year, they were mostly able to keep their marquee players heathy. This year, the scales have rebalanced. Still, there’s reason to be excited after Sunday while recognizing the mistakes that need to be cleaned up.
The offense was mesmerizing in the second half, but it came after a pretty sloppy first-half showing. The team has been plagued all season by slow starts to games. Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur have constantly mentioned it when discussing necessary improvements. If they want to maximize their potential, they’ll need to come out of the gates swinging. The last two quarters against Minnesota were great, but as No. 12 mentioned afterwards, it felt like they could’ve put up 41 points.
Sunday brought some encouraging signs that this offense can still be as dynamic as any in the NFL. Everyone in the land of cheese will have their fingers crossed that it’s a sign of things to come. If that is the case, Sunday’s loss will still sting, but what will come of it will be even greater.