The Green Bay Packers (2-2) had an impressive win over the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (3-2) this past Sunday at Lambeau Field, as the Packers have won 23 consecutive games over the Lions in the state of Wisconsin.
The Packers offense didn't turn the football over once, the offensive line only allowed the Lions defense to sack quarterback Aaron Rodgers once and they paved enough lanes for running backs Eddie Lacy and wild card Randall Cobb to pile up 180 rushing yards.
Rodgers didn't have a great Rodgers day, but he was solid in completing 67% of his passes for 274 yards and throwing one touchdown.
Defensively, the Packers held the Lions to 286 total yards of offense and held Lions running back Reggie Bush to 69 total yards and only 44 rushing yards on 13 carries.
The Lions' offensive line had only allowed three sacks in the first four games this season, but the Packers defense was able to sack Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford five times on Sunday.
So in what seemed like an overall productive day, what is still a looming problem in Green Bay? It is the touchdown production in the redzone.
The Packers only scored one touchdown all day, an 83-yard pass from Rodgers to wide receiver James Jones in the third quarter, but squandered in the redzone twice on Sunday, settling for two field goals.
"It's been disappointing," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "We've had a couple of plays which we didn't convert. To me it's just football, I don't think it's anything we are doing. I don't know where we rank, but as long as we keep getting our attempts, I feel very confident."
Through the first five weeks of the season, the Packers offense has scored a touchdown on 56.3% of their redzone opportunities (t-13th in NFL). The rankings are arguably rather skewered right now, as the red-hot Denver Broncos have scored touchdowns on 82.6% of their redzone opportunities.
The Packers though have seen a significant drop off in redzone touchdown production since last season. In 2012, the Packers scored touchdowns on 68.5% of their redzone opportunities, the best percentage in the NFL.
In a week three loss against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Packers were 2/4 on touchdowns in the redzone, while the Bengals were a perfect 4/4. Statistically, the game was relatively even, but redzone production marked the difference in Cincinnati.
On Sunday, the Packers rushing offense was led by Lacy, who led all rushers with 99 yards on 4.3 yards per carry. Lacy only recorded one negative run the entire game against the Lions.
The Packers play-calling on two 3rd & 1 opportunities was rough to say the least. Instead of running the football with their bruising rookie back, the Packers threw the football and failed to convert on both passing attempts.
"Taking a shot on third and one, to me that is a situational call," McCarthy said. "There are a couple of things that have to lead up to that, when you do it, where you do it. Sometimes you get into games where things change, defenses play differently and you make adjustments on the sidelines."
McCarthy, who is responsible for calling the plays on offense for the Packers, doesn't necessarily make every decision, as he leaves many play calls up to Rodgers on the field during games.
"We do a number of things at the line of scrimmage," McCarthy said. "We had different looks, it happens sometimes. Decision making at the line of scrimmage is difficult but it is Aaron Rodgers' strength."
Whether it is McCarthy of Rodgers, the play-calling on offense must improve. Rodgers is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks and McCarthy is one of the NFL's most under-appreciated head coaches, but both Rodgers and McCarthy must trust the run game more often in short-yardage situations.
In Baltimore next week, the Packers need to score touchdowns, not field goals, in the redzone. It can't be Cincinnati all over again, it must improve.
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