Expect a Pass Heavy Packers Offense on Sunday

While the run game is important, with going up against a depleted Ravens' secondary, look for the Green Bay Packers to lean heavily on the passing game this Sunday.

Even with Aaron Rodgers under center and Davante Adams out wide, a healthy run/pass mix is very important to the overall success of this Green Bay Packers' offense. Now, of course, I'm not saying it should be a 50/50 split, but 80/20 isn't the answer either. 
 
We've seen on several occasions over the years how the offense can sputter when they begin the game pass-heavy or fall behind by multiple scores, and they abandon the run game altogether. Running the ball can set up play-action and those downfield shots that come with it, along with some boot-action as well. It also allows the offensive line to be the aggressor and keeps the defense honest, among many other things. 
 
Well, this week against the Baltimore Ravens, we very well could see a tendency breaker, where leaning heavily on the passing game is going to be this offense's best chance to move the ball. 
 
Much like the Green Bay Packers this season, the Ravens have had to deal with numerous injuries, and their secondary has perhaps been hit the hardest. Of their four starting members of the secondary from Week 1, the Ravens will be without all of them against Green Bay. Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and DeShon Elliot have all been on IR, while Chuck Clark was just recently placed on the reserve/COVID list. 
 
The end result of being without so many key members of the secondary for large portions of the season is a defense that gives up a lot of passing yards. The Ravens currently rank 31st in passing yards per game allowed and 30th in yards per pass attempt given up. Baltimore also ranks 31st in explosive pass play rate, according to Sharp Football
 
While the Ravens have struggled to defend the pass, they have been quite good at slowing the opposing rushing attack--which is all the more reason for Green Bay to throw the ball around on Sunday. The 3.9 yards per carry that Baltimore is allowing this season is the fourth-fewest in football, and they rank fifth in ESPN's run-stop win rate metric.
 
Against a Los Angeles Rams team that is also allowing only 3.9 yards per rush and is first in run-stop win rate, we saw Rodgers throw the ball a season-high 45 times, and we could very well see a similar formula on Sunday against Baltimore. 
 
The Ravens' pass rush may not be as stout as what the Rams have, and just because passing the ball may be the most effective way for Green Bay to move the ball, that doesn't mean that trying to push the ball downfield every play is the answer either--although I still expect to see plenty of that.
 
The Packers are still working with a patchwork offensive line that will be missing four of their five preferred starters, so the quick passing game and designed plays to get the ball to pass-catchers in space still need to be a focal point within the offense. Screens, quick slants, and outs will also take the place of the traditional run game. 
 
With Green Bay's ability to move the ball through the air and a banged-up offensive line, I won't be surprised at all if Baltimore's approach is to try to really get after Rodgers by blitzing. Of course, there is some risk involved in doing that, however, in terms of completion rate, passer rating, and yards per attempt, Rodgers has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season when under pressure, according to PFF. On the flip side, there's also plenty of risk for this Ravens' defense in sitting back and Rodgers having time in the pocket as well. 
 
All season I've been a big proponent of leaning on the run game--this offense is simply at their best when there's a better mix. But on Sunday, my expectation is that Matt LaFleur and Rodgers and going to try to throw the ball all over the yard against a depleted Ravens' secondary. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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7 points

Comments (41)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
scullyitsme's picture

December 17, 2021 at 11:28 am

And then, after the game, everyone will comment on Rodgers playing “hero ball”.

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jurp's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:41 pm

He only plays hero ball when we're down by two or more scores, especially in the second half. Doubt we see that on Sunday.

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Oppy's picture

December 17, 2021 at 05:45 pm

I love this statement, dismissive, as if Rodgers doesn't check out of runs too frequently and go into "must score in three plays" mode frequently when the Packers are down 7 or less. Hell, sometimes even when they're up two scores.

Enjoy those Rodgers horse blinders.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 17, 2021 at 07:11 pm

It was the same with Favre. Worse. Lots of really ugly and stupid things said. At the time, I said we’d win at least as many Super Bowls in the next ten seasons as we had in the last 10 with Favre, We did.

I’ll stand on that with Rodgers. We’ll win at least as many in the first ten years without him as we have with him.

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Philarod's picture

December 18, 2021 at 08:31 pm

Wow.
I guess with my "Rodgers horse blinders" on, I can't see that AR has the best passer rating in the NFL currently despite a patchwork OL, skill position players missing time and his own illness and injury. Yes, he sometimes takes shots appearing to pass up first downs, but I'll give a little leeway to the man who has the best TD:INT ratio in NFL history.

Hero ball, my butt! No QB in NFL history - in my educated opinion - could have put up his numbers and overall wins with his supporting cast -- including offense, defense, coaches, STs and elements.

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Oppy's picture

December 19, 2021 at 01:59 am

Yup, your blinders are firmly in place.

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pacman's picture

December 17, 2021 at 11:55 am

Now I'll be depressed all weekend into the game. So when everyone thinks they have it figured out will certainly not ignore the run, they do just that to start the game last week. So now, will everyone think they are going pass heavy so they will do the opposite and go run heavy? Hard to make sense of this team.

Omicron might make the rest of this season a joke anyway. Time to just sit back and enjoy the game, whichever way it goes.

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Packerpasty's picture

December 17, 2021 at 01:38 pm

covid will definitely affect either a crucial league game or a playoff game for one or more teams, that you can count on...sucks...

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jurp's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:36 pm

Three games just moved to M and T. So much for the League cancelling games (not that I'm in favor of that - I'd much rather they postpone games if they can - but why make a threat you won't back up?). One of the games moved is Cleveland, which puts them on a very short week to play us. Oh darn.

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Coldworld's picture

December 17, 2021 at 06:13 pm

Reminds me of the game last year with no recognized QB available for the Broncos. Bad spectacle and made a farce of respective merit on paper. I hope we can escape that kind of farce upending the outcomes and seedlings.

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HarryHodag's picture

December 17, 2021 at 12:00 pm

....and the Ravens wouldn't have thought of that plan of attack first? The fastest way to lose in the NFL is throw the ball 35 or more times. You need to maintain balance. John Harbaugh is one of the finest coaches and a plan to throw the ball too much easily could lead to a loss.

Balanced offense, steady defense and COMPETENT special teams=victory.

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Norm's picture

December 17, 2021 at 04:35 pm

Oh well, as a rather large and sweaty oracle once said, two out of three ain't bad.

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Since'61's picture

December 17, 2021 at 10:09 pm

Harry your plan was fine until you included Competent special teams. When was the last time the Packers had competent STs? Holmgren era? Lombardi era? Thanks, Since '61

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2021 at 12:37 pm

" I won't be surprised at all if Baltimore's approach is to try to really get after Rodgers by blitzing."

While the Ravens are bottom third in sack totals, their pressure and knockdown rates are both top 10. Only two teams (Miami and that OTHER Florida team) blitz more than the Ravens do, and that's about a third of the time.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2021/opp.htm

This is the kind of game where I think the Packers can make hay by running at the edges when the Ravens show inside pressure. I think Jones could have a huge game on the ground and through the air this week.

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scullyitsme's picture

December 17, 2021 at 01:39 pm

Right, ignore the glaring weakness cause that’s what they’d be expecting… got it. Every other team has exposed it but we’ll completely fool them by running.

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2021 at 02:42 pm

In Baltimore's last two games, both losses...
Pittsburgh 31 pass/25 run
Cleveland 32 pass/29 run
...or the Packers could drop back ARod 45 times with a beat up offensive line against a team adept at sending pressure and watch him get killed.

Either or...

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scullyitsme's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:29 pm

How about just do what works? They are the worst in the league at pass defense and they got worse this week with their last starter now out. Like the article says, doesn’t have to be 80/20, but we should see some extra throws this week and I’m sure the “run the ball” fuddy duddies will hate every minute of it( often these are the same Rodgers haters crowd, yourself being an out spoken member) and I’ll thoroughly enjoy it. And you heard right, I called you a fuddy duddy..lol

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PeteK's picture

December 17, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Obviously you're not well balanced. LOL

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dobber's picture

December 17, 2021 at 08:01 pm

Yawn.

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jurp's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:39 pm

".or the Packers could drop back ARod 45 times with a beat up offensive line against a team adept at sending pressure and watch him get killed. "

That would start the Love era a little earlier than we'd all like.

I'd like to see about 30 passes to 20 rushes, or a 60/40 split. And I'd like to see those passes be short to medium, with only a few homerun attempts.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 17, 2021 at 10:26 pm

OK, I'll pass on your recommendations to Matt.

Do you want fries with that?

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jurp's picture

December 18, 2021 at 07:08 am

Yes, please! And a chocolate malt, too, if that's not too much trouble.

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dobber's picture

December 18, 2021 at 09:03 am

Chocolate malt!?!

You must be an old fuddy-duddy, too!

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Rebecca's picture

December 18, 2021 at 09:37 am

What’s a malt?

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stockholder's picture

December 18, 2021 at 10:11 am

milkshake.

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BAMABADGER's picture

December 17, 2021 at 01:15 pm

Don't give up on the run.

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Lphill's picture

December 17, 2021 at 02:04 pm

I'm not worried about the offense , its the defense I'm worried about, without Clark I want to see 3 down lineman with Slaton at nose , activate Heflin , I'm not even thinking about special teams but Chris Gizzi should have already replaced Drayton.

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Brockrice99's picture

December 17, 2021 at 02:05 pm

I am 100% fine with having a plan to throw the ball with Rodgers and Davante... But if things are not working we have to be willing to adapt and then run the ball. In the Chiefs game we could have won, but we kept relying on the passing game that was not very successful. So, we can pass and if it works it works, but if it is not working MLF and Rodgers have to be willing to adapt and feed the backs.

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tincada's picture

December 18, 2021 at 09:44 am

"plan to throw the ball with Rodgers and Davante." Duh? That's been the GB plan for at least the last 3 yrs or so. How has that worked out.... My bad, the NFC N where the bar is really low.

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Packer_Fan's picture

December 17, 2021 at 02:25 pm

I get what you are saying, but it appears for most every game this year, what the Packers have planned and tried at the beginning of games have not worked out and they end up adjusting in game to plays that are better for the situation. I would expect that rather than a game plan that actually works from the get go.

My thoughts, always start with the short game with runs and short passes to keep ahead of the chains and then work in the longer game. It is probably more complex than that, but staying ahead of third and long at the beginning of the game to me is what is needed.

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jurp's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:41 pm

Yep, long drives to tire out their defense is what we need. As always.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:52 pm

My thinking would be that without Jackson, the offense might sputter, and if we could keep their sputtering offense on the sideline they won’t get many points. I’d expect the Packers to try to control the clock, like we usually do.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 19, 2021 at 07:52 am

Huh? On what planet do they do this?

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dobber's picture

December 19, 2021 at 10:38 am

Packers are currently second in the NFL in TOP. Baltimore is first.

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Johnblood27's picture

December 17, 2021 at 03:58 pm

MLF doesn't seem to be able to game plan an early offense that is successful, but he does get it right as things move along.

MM had the script that worked more often than not, early 7-0 leads were common. So did Holmy.

An early lead, followed by a successful 2nd quarter leading into halftime with a successful 2 minute drill for a late score, then receiving the second half kick and doubling up, then coasting to a comfortable win. What's wrong with that scenario? LOL!!!

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Coldworld's picture

December 17, 2021 at 04:14 pm

I am not in agreement with this approach. They certainly are a top run D, and their secondary is also heavily depleted. No arguments there. However, we are playing with Kelly starting his first game of the year and only questions behind him.

In addition, we have shown ourselves to be a much better O when we run the ball, not just to get yards but to force defenses to keep heavy boxes. Finally, theirs is an O that you want to keep off the field, time of possession will be key, particularly without Clark against a ground heavy team.

In my view, we should approach this game very similarly to the way we approached Chicago, balancing the run and pass.

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relleum61's picture

December 17, 2021 at 06:36 pm

Use the game plan that worked against the Rams, but start with it at the beginning of the game. Dillon was a hammer in the game against the Rams and ground out 75 of the toughest yards I have ever seen (perhaps with the exception of John Brockington). Use the quick pass game to substitute for the run. Mix both to keep the "d" honest. Be relentless when it comes to moving the chains. Take an occasional shot, but don't look for it at the expense of open underneath receivers that can move the chains. Use the check downs to Dillon and Jones. If we go old school WCO , we can dominate offensively in this game.

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Since'61's picture

December 17, 2021 at 10:46 pm

If the Ravens secondary is weak it would make sense to establish the run early and build into the play action game to give the weak secondary even more to think about. Keep them off balance with a steady mix of runs and quick passes. Build a lead and then go pass heavy to blow it open.

the weather could be a factor in Baltimore this weekend. The forecast includes 15-20 MPH winds. Probably not enough to affect short passes but could be a problem for longer pass attempts. I have no idea how the wind impacts games in that stadium. But if the wind is a factor the Packers may need to be ready to run the ball more than they're planning, assuming that they are planning to go pass heavy.

Besides if the Packers can run effectively against the Ravens that should demoralize their defense as the game goes on. They are allowing 3.9 yards per run play. Dillon could change that to 4.0+ yards per carry and maybe more. An already weak secondary forced to respond to the run game would be ripe pickings for Rodgers and the Packers receivers. I say start out running the ball and stick with it. Force the Ravens to play the run then hit them with quick passes.

My concern for this game is our STs. Harbaugh is a good coach and he will find a way to exploit the weaknesses of our Special Teams. Hopefully MLF has tightened them up this week. GPG! Thanks, Since '61

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Qoojo's picture

December 18, 2021 at 11:09 am

Balance is where this offense really gets going. Last thing they want is to be predictable and have the defense know a pass is coming.

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Packerlifer's picture

December 18, 2021 at 03:49 pm

Perhaps a reason the Ravens defense ranks so high against the run is because their pass defense is so weak. People have success throwing so they aren't running as much. Doesn't mean a team like the Packers won't have success against them with Showtime and Quadzilla.

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egbertsouse's picture

December 19, 2021 at 07:57 am

Don’t get into a slugging match with the Ravens. That’s exactly what they want, they love those 9-7 games. Throw the ball 50 times. This is a game made for hero-ball if there ever was one.

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