For years, the hallmark of the Green Bay Packers has been an efficient offense that always is among the best in the NFL. Since 2007, the Packers have finished every season ranked no worse than 10th in the league in points and 13th in yards.
Things have changed this year. Through three games, Green Bay ranks 27th in points scored and 28th in yards, a main reason why it has a 1-2 record. Some of it can be chalked up to facing tough defenses, as well as a few injuries on the offensive lineup. But much of it has been due to poor play, an issue the Packers will look to stop this Sunday when they face the Bears at Soldier Field.
Green Bay's leading receiver, Jordy Nelson, and its head coach, Mike McCarthy, spoke with members of the Chicago media Wednesday in a conference call, and the topic of the Packers' struggling offense was one both men addressed.
"We know we have to work at it to get it there," Nelson said of the offense. "It's not just going to happen because we believe it's going to happen. We are going about our business, knowing we have to make plays. We had too many drops last week and that just kills drives, and so when you get that opportunity you have to be sound and just take what the defense gives us, adjust to what they're doing and move forward."
The receiver referenced last week's performance, a 19-7 Packers loss at Detroit, where Green Bay gained only 223 net yards and held the ball for a mere 21:47. The passing attack struggled, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 162 yards, one of the lowest totals of his career. The team's running game didn't do much either, averaging just 3.5 yards per attempt.
Green Bay hasn't been able to gain traction on the ground all season. There were high hopes for running back Eddie Lacy after he had a terrific rookie year in 2013, when he rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. That hasn't carried over, however, as Lacy is averaging only 3.1 yards per carry and hasn't scored yet for the Packers, who rank 26th in the league averaging 78.7 rushing yards per game.
"We need to get better in the run blocking unit," McCarthy said. "The decision makers involved, we need to do a better job running the football. "It's a focus each and every week and learning from what we did last week."
Nelson was confident the Packers offense would turn it around, thanks in large part to their history. Green Bay has started 1-2 for the third straight year; in each of the last two, they rallied back and won the NFC North. Plus they still have Rodgers, one of the league's top quarterbacks despite his early-season struggles.
"It's early. Every year is different, every team is different," the receiver said. "We just have to figure out what is going to work for this team and this year and ride with that.
"When guys get the opportunity to make plays, we have to make them."