GREEN BAY – As Head Coach Matt LaFleur prepares to spend the bye week figuring out how to get the Packers' offense going, two thoughts are top of mind.
One is a focus on the little things that make or break a play's success – executing assignments, using proper technique, throwing the extra block.
"There's a lot of things we can do a hell of a lot better, and I think it all starts with the detail," LaFleur said late Tuesday, less than 24 hours after another offensive struggle dropped the Packers to 2-3.
The other is perhaps scaling back on the volume of any given game plan so a higher level of execution can be honed with less to process mentally.
"It's great we have this big ol' call sheet with all these plays to attack certain looks or whatever it may be, and it really doesn't matter if you can't execute it," he said. "Although we didn't have a ton of mental mistakes, we did have a few in some critical situations that we can't have."
One of those was on the first drive of the game, when a route error on third-and-3 sent two pass catchers to the same area of the field with no one in the middle – which was the open spot with the defense playing two deep safeties.
Other instances show one mistake creating a negative play and subsequent long down-and-distance that thwarts a drive. Or dialing up the right play for the defensive look, but not being able to turn a good gain into an explosive one. Or calling a bad play against certain defensive personnel and paying the price.
Blame is spread across the board, particularly early in games as the Packers have scored just six total points in the first halves of their last three contests. The search for the "hang your hat on" plays or concepts continues with a first-year starting QB in Jordan Love surrounded by a number of young offensive teammates.
But LaFleur doesn't want to hear youth used as an excuse. It's an inevitable factor the team is dealing with, but it doesn't change the fact that every player has a job to do on every play.
"We all knew there were going to be some growing pains along the way, but I haven't lost faith or belief in the group that we have," he said. "I just think we can do things better. I think we can coach better, and I think we can execute better."
He also doesn't want anyone to assume the return of running back Aaron Jones will magically fix everything. Jones has missed three of the last four games – having played sparingly last week vs. Detroit – due to his hamstring injury.
Jones was the offensive star in Week 1 at Chicago, gashing the Bears for 127 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in three quarters before getting hurt. No player's individual offensive performance has come close to that since.
"He does tilt the field in your favor," LaFleur said. "However, there's still an expectation that you've got to go out there and perform no matter who's out there. So I never want that to be the narrative. You've got to work around that. That's football."
The hope is Jones will be back after the bye, but the collective thought is every player needs to turn inward and find what he can do better. That's how the offense will get out of this rut and produce over the long haul.
So as LaFleur sent the players into their week off, he did so asking for two priorities upon their return: a sense of urgency and a focus on improvement.
"There's a lot of good that can come out of adversity if you stay tough-minded and persistent and you don't let it bring you down," he said. "And that's what I told our guys. I was like, nobody's feeling sorry for us and if we feel sorry for ourselves, we will regress. But as long as we take that approach like, hey, we're going to roll up our sleeves and get back to work, then you've got a chance to show some progress.
"That's what I want to see. I want to see that fight from our team, and I believe that we will."