Green Bay Packers Passing Game is Spreading the Wealth

The Green Bay Packers offense has led the way in their first two games. In their victories over the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, the offense has combined for a total offensive output of 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns. While their rushing attack has been a big part of it, the passing attack has been just as impressive. It isn’t just Davante Adams leading the charge in the passing game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been utilizing all of his weapons in the Green Bay Packers passing game.

Green Bay Packers Passing Game is Spreading the Wealth

Adams led the charge for the Packers passing game in the opener against the Vikings. The Packers standout receiver hauled in 156 yards on 14 catches. The Rodgers-Adams combination was close to unstoppable against the inexperienced Vikings cornerbacks. But Adams was not the only weapon that game as well as in last week’s game against the Lions.

In the 1980s, the San Francisco 49ers had one of the most potent offenses. They were blessed with Joe Montana at quarterback and Jerry Rice at wide receiver. But Montana was also blessed with other weapons for their passing game. Brent Jones was a major contributor at tight end. Lining up in the backfield were Roger Craig and fullback Tom Rathman. Both running backs were both capable receivers.

The current Packers passing game is not at the same level as the 1980’s 49ers passing game. However, the Packers passing game is starting to build up weapons behind Adams. It is one of the major reasons why they have been so successful so far this season.

Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling Contributing

Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst took a lot of heat this 0ff-season. Many wondered why he did not do more in free agency as well as the NFL draft to bolster the wide receiver group. Instead of bringing in outside help, Gutekunst put his trust in the young wide receivers he already had on the Packers roster. So far, his trust and gut have been right.

Wide receivers Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have both been contributors in the Packers passing game. In the opener, Lazard hauled in four catches for 63 yards with one touchdown. He also chipped in one carry for 19 yards. Valdes Scantling, who struggled last season, caught four passes for 96 yards with one touchdown catch. While he dropped two very catchable passes, he did show the burst the Packers have been waiting on.

Last Sunday against the Lions, the duo once again chipped in for the Packers passing attack. Lazard caught three passes for 45 yards. Valdes-Scantling also chipped in three receptions for 64 yards. While neither has played perfectly, they both are taking some pressure off Adams. Both are also providing solid blocking in the Packers run game as well.

It is doubtful either of the young receivers will ever become number one wide receiving options. But what they are providing is solid contribution and taking heat off of Adams when he is facing double teams. They are exactly what is needed for the way that Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense is built.

Help From the Running Back Position

No matter what was written this off-season, Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The veteran signal-caller understands what Montana knew very well: If an offense is going to be successful, one must use everything an offense has. This includes utilizing the running backs in the passing game.

The Packers are blessed to have one of the better running backs in the NFL in Aaron Jones.  Jones is a home run hitter as a ball carrier. That was shown this past weekend when he broke off a 75-yard touchdown run. His running ability has become a major weapon for the Packers offense. But he is just as dangerous as a pass-catcher. In the Packers two games, he has hauled in eight catches for 78 yards. In 2019, he was only behind Adams in receptions.

The Packers other two running backs have been contributors in the Packers passing game as well. Jamaal Williams has shown he is a very capable pass-catcher by catching four passes in the opener.

Tyler Ervin was signed last season to help improve the Packers return game. His hands and his ability to make people miss caught the attention of LaFleur and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.  The ability he flashed in 2019, gave LaFleur and Hackett the idea to utilize him as a wide receiver. He saw a lot of time lining up in the slot in training camp this season. While he has caught only two balls so far in 2020, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his receptions climb as the season goes on.

Having capable pass-catchers out of the backfield takes some pressure off of Lazard and Valdes-Scantling. The Packers started the season with only five wide receivers on their active roster. Last week, they carried only four. Ervin will be the wild card. If he proves he can play the slot receiver, it will give Gutekunst some roster flexibility.

Tight End Position Still has Questions

The tight end position of the Packers showed a little life last Sunday. Robert Tonyan caught two passes for 25 yards and veteran Marcedes Lewis chipped in one catch. It was good to see some production, but still, more will be needed.

Jace Sternberger was expected to be the Packers top pass-catching tight end this season. But Tonyan outperformed him in camp and earned the starting position. Sternberger has seen some action, but he has struggled so far. In the opener, he had one drop. This past week, he had two very ugly drops.

If the Packers passing attack is going to keep climbing, they need more out of the position. Sternberger especially is going to need to improve. Gutekunst and the Packers are banking on Sternberger this season. If he continues to struggle, the Packers will need for Tonyan or one of the other tight ends to step up.

More About the System than the Players

Adams will continue to be Rodgers’s go-to receiver. He has made himself into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Rodgers knows that if the Packers need a big play, Adams is his guy.

But with the other players in the Packers passing game stepping up, it will only make the Packers offense even better. Rodgers knows that having other players step up, will only keep opposing defenses guessing.

Two games do not make a season. The Packers offense was impressive in both victories. However, the Packers will face much tougher defenses in the weeks to come. When they do, the weapons in the Packers passing game will need to continue to play well. So far, it appears they are up for the task.

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