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Aaron Rodgers: Time for Packers' offense to 'wake up'

Two-time MVP QB wants his unit to do its part

QB Aaron Rodgers
QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – There was a sense after Sunday's game that Aaron Rodgers' patience with the Packers' offense was wearing thin.

It may have officially worn out Tuesday, during a short week no less.

"It's time for us to do our part on offense," Rodgers said during the weekly media huddle at his locker, just two days after the Packers improved to 3-0 but two days before Philadelphia visits Lambeau Field.

"Moving forward, we're going to play a stretch of really good football teams. At some point, we can't expect our defense to shut everybody down. They have been but, at some point, the offense is going to have to wake up and start making some plays."

Given Rodgers is often very calculating in his comments, it's not a coincidence he made these when he did. It would be easy for a 3-0 team barely hitting the practice field ahead of a Thursday game to stick mentally with the status quo and let that carry everyone into a weekend off before the season's second quarter commences.

But Rodgers is probably sensing what many believe, that the Eagles' 1-2 record belies their status as legitimate NFC contenders. Philadelphia is a couple of late dropped passes from being 3-0 despite a litany of injuries, more than the Packers have had to deal with thus far.

The formula through September for the Packers has been for the defense to control the action with key stops and big plays, and for the offense to protect the ball and do just enough. Rodgers' praise for the defense has been effusive, saying the unit "has not only been opportunistic but stout" with the way it has stopped drives, generated turnovers, and given the offense short fields.

But that's not sustainable over the long haul of an NFL season without more from the offense. Rodgers also is implying it won't be good enough against the Eagles or the NFC East's other top team, the Cowboys, over the Packers' next two games, nor against a 2-0-1 division rival in Detroit after that…and the list goes on.

"We've never wanted to just manage the football game around here," he said. "The standards are very high for us. We've got to play a lot better on offense. We've played some good defenses, no doubt about it, but the standard and expectations are very high here, and we haven't met them on offense."

Statistically, the Packers rank 28th in total yards, 24th in rushing yards, 27th in passing yards, tied for 23rd in points, 28th in first downs and 30th in third-down efficiency. That final category is the one Rodgers and Head Coach Matt LaFleur believe can change everything.

While some long-yardage situations haven't helped, the Packers have failed on seven conversion attempts that required eight yards or fewer over the last two games. The misses against Denver limited the offense to just 52 total snaps.

For all the talk about getting the ball to Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham more, the Packers have to give themselves more chances to feature them by keeping the ball on makeable third downs.

"It gives us more opportunities with the run game, more opportunities with the action-pass game, more opportunities for Davante and Jimmy," Rodgers said. "We've got to get Jimmy going and Davante going if this offense is going to get to where it needs to go."

In three games, Adams has produced to his liking in only one of them (seven catches for 106 yards vs. Minnesota) and has gone three straight games without a score for the first time since he was playing hurt in 2015. Graham had a TD catch in Week 1 at Chicago but has just two other receptions thus far while playing through multiple injuries.

Second-year receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling's performance last Sunday – six catches for 99 yards, including a 40-yard TD – was encouraging, but he also left a couple of plays out there. Geronimo Allison has one short TD catch but has otherwise been quiet. The running game behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams has shown signs but also has produced too many negative plays.

"Frustrating isn't the word," Valdes-Scantling said. "I wouldn't say frustrating because we're 3-0, so you can't be mad about that. Obviously you want more, because we have so much talent. Figuring out who we are is kind of our focus right now."

LaFleur has repeated there's "more out there" and his players certainly agree. LaFleur has called on himself to coach better, Rodgers has vowed to play better, and the other offensive mates have confidence progress will continue.

But Rodgers' words in advance of the Eagles game would suggest a reality check is coming if the offense doesn't start playing closer to its capabilities. In short, he doesn't want to see continued lapses on offense undo the fast start to the season the defense has provided.

"We feel 3-0. We feel great about where we're at," Rodgers said. "It's exciting.

"We've got a great opportunity in front of us to go 4-0 and get a little bit of rest. We're feeling good about where we're at. But offensively, we'd like to be feeling a little bit better."

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