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Packers seek playmakers to solve red-zone woes

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    "Playmaking ability," McCarthy said Friday, a day after his offense turned four opportunities at the 20-yard line into just three points in a 9-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

    After stocking the defense with a combination of draft choices and free agents, general manager Ted Thompson will soon need to turn his attention to the offense and find McCarthy someone other than Donald Driver who can score touchdowns.

    The Packers have done fine moving the ball between the 20-yard lines, but every time they knock on the end-zone door they're treated like traveling salesmen and get it slammed in their face. .

    Only the Oakland Raiders rank worse than the Packers at scoring touchdowns when they're inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Packers have scored 15 in 45 chances for a 33.3% success rate while the Raiders have converted 31.3% of their opportunities. Only three teams in the entire league are under the 40% mark.

    "The biggest thing you're seeing is the turnovers," McCarthy said. "I don't think I've ever been around an offense that's turned the ball over that much in the red zone (seven times), and that's really our Achilles' heel on offense. That's really the first thing we need to get fixed.

    "And the other one is clearly the playmaking ability, the production."

    The Packers' style of offense relies on receivers catching short passes and turning them into big gains. But when the field gets compressed to 30 yards, you need someone who can break a tackle, jump over a defensive back or muscle his way into traffic to make a catch.

    Despite having attempted more passes than any other quarterback in the NFL this year, Brett Favre has just 17 touchdown passes, 14 to wide receivers and tight ends. Of those 14 only five have been thrown from inside the 20-yard line; seven have come from 34 yards out or beyond.

    In other words, the Packers don't have anyone consistently making something happen from short distance.

    "Playmakers, that's really what it comes down to," McCarthy said. "Making the tough catch, making the tight throw, breaking that tackle."

    Fifteen games in, rookie receiver Greg Jennings has hit the wall and become a non-factor, in part because of a nagging ankle injury. Tight end David Martin was playing well early but has missed four of the last five games with a rib injury and might not play against Chicago on Dec. 31. Tight end Bubba Franks has dropped at least nine passes this season and had his worst game as a professional Thursday night, dropping at least two balls, fumbling twice and committing a holding penalty that wiped out a big gain late in the game.

    Jennings' limitations are obvious. He's only 5-11, 197 pounds and isn't going to be Keyshawn Johnson when he's near the goal line. The Packers' two big receivers, Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday, deserve more opportunities but they lack great speed and probably aren't consistently going to make big plays.

    Then there's Franks. McCarthy has good reason to give up on him, but he said Friday that he wouldn't.

    "We need Bubba," McCarthy said. "He's a leader of the tight end group, he's viewed as one of the leaders on offense. If he didn't have history, you may think differently."

    Asked where he's lacking, McCarthy said, "Fundamentals. You've got to get your pads down. Bubba's a big man. Those guys are going to tackle him high. So, you catch the football, you get your pads down over the football and run accordingly."

    In the long-term, it's obvious Thompson is going to have to address the receiver and tight end position during the off-season. The free agent market is poor, with aging Eric Moulds as possibly the only big receiver worth examining.

    But the draft could provide the solution. If a number of junior prospects declare early as expected there could be five receivers taken in the first round, and a most of them - including Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, USC's Dwayne Jarrett, Tennessee's Robert Meachem, Notre Dame's Jeff Samadzija and South Carolina's Sydney Rice - are all 6-2 or taller.

    Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr., the smallest at 6-foot, 180 pounds, is definitely what McCarthy would classify as a playmaker.

    For now, McCarthy and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski need to find a way to score points inside the red zone, especially if a playoff berth is on the line against the Bears.

    "We're not executing when we get down there," Jagodzinski said. "We need to work this out."
     
  2. eastcoastpacker

    eastcoastpacker Cheesehead

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    Good article,thanks didn't know the packers were THAT bad inside the 20's.
     
  3. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    This is not acceptable. Plus, the seven turnovers in the red zone. That's horrible. That's what's killing us.

    It was only a few years ago when Favre was throwing 30+ TDs practically every season. We're no longer punching it in.

    If I were TT, I'd address this with a trade for Randy Moss and trying to pick up either a good TE in the draft (I don't follow college, somebody help me here) or a FA. Franks used to be solid, but he's no longer what he was.

    Green used to turn screens in the red zone into TDs too. has he lost a step?
     
  4. Hammer

    Hammer Cheesehead

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    They posted the red zone stat during the game on Thursday. By halftime, it was pretty glaring how important that stat is.
     
  5. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Yes, thursday our O looked pathetic. We kept driving and driving and choking once we got close to the end zone. Luckily, our D looked even better than it did vs the Lions.
     

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