For the offense it boils down to third down and where exactly the chains are. The Packers are below the league midpoint in third-down efficiency at 37.2 percent, a rate LaFleur believes can and will rise considerably if the penalties creating long-yardage situations are reduced.
The third-down numbers were starting to turn around in Weeks 7-8 vs. Oakland and Kansas City (combined 14-of-23), but then the disastrous day against the Chargers (2-10) sent things the other direction again.
“Way too many of them,” he said of third-and-longs. “I think we’ve been pretty solid when it’s third-and-7 or less, those third-and-manageable situations. But it’s tough sledding in this league when you get into third-and-8 or more.
“A lot of it has been self-inflicted. We’ve had too many penalties, just pre-snap penalties, discipline penalties, that we’ve got to clean up in order for us to be the team that we want to be.”
Defensively, the Packers have lived on turnovers and timely stops, and those will go a long way with any team. But a rash of explosive plays by opponents first cropped up in Week 2 vs. Minnesota, reared its ugly head again in Week 5 at Dallas, and has been troublesome since.
There weren’t as many big gains of 20-plus yards allowed vs. Carolina in the final game before the bye (only three), but the Packers still gave up 401 total yards in a game Green Bay’s offense won time of possession.
“We gotta look in the mirror at ourselves and do better than we did the first half of the year,” veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said. “We did OK, but we still gave up too many yards. Hopefully we’ll get hot when we need to.”