Weak Texans’ defense could get Packers flying high again
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers performed with such precision in the opening four games of the season that when Green Bay experienced a dip in productivity last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, queries on how the offense could reclaim its form inevitably followed.
Rodgers amassed 1,214 passing yards and 13 touchdowns against zero interceptions while posting a 126.9 passer rating and completing 70 percent of his attempts as the Packers averaged 38 points and 445.5 yards per game in racing to a 4-0 start.
In their 38-10 road loss to the Buccaneers, Green Bay managed only 201 yards as Rodgers finished 16 of 35 for 160 yards with two picks.
In advance of the Packers’ matchup with the Houston Texans (1-5) Sunday at NRG Stadium, Rodgers offered some perspective on what proves especially critical as teams evaluate their performance and script a game plan that provides the best chance for success.
“Self-scouting is very important when you review games and also when you’re putting plans together,” Rodgers said. “And then looking at yourself playing as well, whether you’re a receiver, lineman, quarterback, running back — it doesn’t matter. I think self-scouting is very important.”
In theory, the Packers (4-1) should encounter easier sledding offensively against a Texans defense that ranks 30th with 2,538 yards allowed, a unit that surrendered 607 yards to the Tennessee Titans in a 42-36 overtime loss last Sunday.
Houston has proved feeble against the run and in the fourth quarter, facts that should enable the Packers to rediscover their rhythm.
A more pressing concern for the Packers is a defense that has forced just three turnovers, tied for last in the NFL. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has excelled in two games under interim coach Romeo Crennel, passing for 694 yards and seven touchdowns with a 73.6 completion percentage. Without any takeaways, the Packers might stumble into a shootout.
Green Bay forced 25 turnovers last season, finishing tied for seventh in the league in that category.
“I think it’s more we’ve had some opportunities that we have not cashed in on and it’s just about finishing plays,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “You’ve got to maximize those when they present themselves. We had two opportunities just last week and we’ve got to make sure we capitalize when those opportunities present themselves.”
Defending Rodgers is a daunting challenge for every team, but the Texans are especially vulnerable when taking into account their 32nd-ranked run defense combined with their inability to force turnovers (four in five games).
The Texans have been repeatedly gashed in the running game, but loading the box against Rodgers would leave a scuffling secondary more susceptible.
Only six teams have allowed a higher percentage of drives to end in an offensive score than the Texans’ 48.4 percent.
“That’s one where you pick your poisons,” Crennel said. “So, what we have to do is we have to mix it up — not show him the same thing all the time, show him some different looks. Then when we show the different look, hopefully they don’t have a play called that matches that look. Then if that’s the case, we have to rally and hustle to the football and try to get the guy on the ground before he gets in the end zone.”
–Field Level Media