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What Went Wrong With The Packers Pass Offense?

As the Green Bay Packers kept winning games, I was impressed with Aaron Rodgers's ability to cover up the rest of the team's mistakes by playing outstanding football. But there was just too much going wrong on offense for even him to overcome.

Green Bay Packers news | Packers scramble to patch banged-up offensive line | Green Bay Press Gazette. LT Marshall Newhouse didn't do anything that he hadn't been doing all season: struggling against elite pass rushers. Von Miller, Jared Allen, Jason Pierre-Paul, and now Tamba Hali. A disruptive pass rush can mess up any offense.

The bigger problem came later in the game when Bryan Bulaga (MRI on Monday) and Derek Sherrod (broken leg; out for the season) forced them to move T.J. Lang to right tackle. If Bulaga is out for a couple weeks, or even the season, they can survive with Lang at right tackle. And Evan Dietrich-Smith at left guard. But their depth, especially at tackle, is practically non-existent.

Green Bay Packers news | Chiefs DBs disrupt Packers' high-octane offense | Green Bay Press Gazette. When the Chiefs can put pressure on with four rushers (basically one rusher with Hali) and can drop seven into coverage, their defensive backs played press coverage ("they pressed us from the time we got off the bus" McCarthy said) and disrupted the timing routes Rodgers relies on. If the rush wasn't effective, then Rodgers could wait for his receivers to make a move, either to an open area or back to the ball. Or it would have allowed him to run for a first down (or a touchdown). But as I mentioned above, the protection wasn't good enough to overcome this scheme.

With their problems in pass protection, they weren't able to open up the multiple receiver formations, which would have created more favorable one-on-one opportunities. Here's where it would have helped to had Greg Jennings. They needed their best receiver to fight through the press coverage. But even Jennings wouldn't have solved all their problems because he's struggled getting open at times this season, and he too has had some problems with dropped passes. Arguably, he wouldn't have done any better than Donald Driver and Randall Cobb did.

Green Bay Packers news | Rants and raves: Finley's drops become contagious | Green Bay Press Gazette. No matter the official count, the drops by Jermichael Finley, then Donald Driver, and James Jones too, ended big play opportunities and killed drives. This wasn't the first time this season Finley's had trouble holding onto passes, and I don't expect it'll be the last.

These are all problems that have arisen at other times this season, but unfortunately they all happened at the same time against the Chiefs. They could all happen again at the same time, and it could result in another lost game, but I expect the coaches and players are going to do whatever they can to make sure it doesn't.