Packers offense still looking for more

Eddie Lacy, James Starks sharing the backfield load


GREEN BAY—The Packers have won three straight games and scored an average of 35 points during their winning streak.

No one in the huddle thinks the offense has it all figured out, though.

"I don't think we're on a roll yet," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We're playing OK, scoring enough points to win. But we're still low in the league in yards per game, low in first-down percentage, low in a lot of stats."

That they are. It's strange to see the Packers ranked 26th in the league in total yards. Ranking eighth in points helps make up for it, and only a fool would trade those rankings if just one can reside in the top 10.

A stat that got a boost last week was time of possession, as the Packers controlled the ball in the Miami heat for more than 37 minutes, which greatly aided Green Bay's defense in those conditions.

Performances like last week's, which included three scores (two TDs, one FG) in four second-half drives, provide valuable building blocks as the offense tries to put it all together.

The hang up is with sequences such as a pair of consecutive first-half possessions against the Dolphins. One began at the Miami 36-yard line following an interception and produced only a field goal. The other started at the Green Bay 40 after a 24-yard punt return and gained just 11 net yards.

As a consequence, the Packers led at halftime just 10-3 when the defense had dominated. Those are the types of opportunities that need better results.

"Offensively, we're not as efficient as we want to be after six games," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's a focus of ours. That's how we've spent our time the last couple days."

The last couple of games have featured a steady rotation between running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, which appears to be working. McCarthy appreciates the fact that both backs can play all three downs, and it was definitely a benefit to have Starks fresh down the stretch in Miami.

Starks had touched the ball just four times through the first three quarters but was a presence on the Packers' final two possessions. On the drive for a field goal midway through the fourth period, he ripped off runs of nine and 11 yards. On the game-winning TD march, he began it with a 12-yard burst, added a 10-yard catch-and-run to convert a third down and nearly hauled in a tough sideline throw for a big gain.

"We know we're coming in and out. It's discussed on the sideline," Lacy said. "I feel like Coach is cool to the point where if one of us is in and we're doing good, he's not going to sub him, because obviously he's in a groove, so you just leave him in. It's just a matter of finding it."

That's true of the entire offense, which has found that groove twice this season, in Weeks 2 and 4. Against the Jets, the Packers scored six times in a span of seven possessions (three FGs, three TDs) in rallying from a 14-0 deficit. Against the Bears, Green Bay never punted and would have scored on all seven possessions if not for a blocked field goal late in the game.

So, it has been done this year, as well as in the past. While the record-setting 2011 season sets an awfully high standard, it always lingers as a backdrop for Rodgers & Co., too.

That's a good thing, because it seems to keep the offense from ever feeling satisfied, even amidst a winning streak.

"Look at the year we went 15-1. We need to get to that," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "We're winning games, but I don't think we're playing as good as we can. As long as we keep getting better, we'll be all right."


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