Elgton Jenkins Jersey , the Packers played the way the analytics community says a team should, yet they werent efficient. Can a new offense change that?" />Skip to main contentclockmenumore-arrownoyesAaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur need to get on the same page to mix modern principles with LaFleurs style and Rodgers strengths. Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesMatt LaFleur must find better playcalling balance in new offense with Aaron Rodgers, Packers Despite the offensive struggles last season, the Packers played the way the analytics community says a team should, yet they werent efficient. Can a new offense change that? CDTShare this storyShare this on FacebookShare this on TwitterShareAll sharing optionsShareAll sharing options for:Matt LaFleur must find better playcalling balance in new offense with Aaron Rodgers, Packers TwitterFacebookRedditPocketFlipboardEmailDown I-43 from Green Bay, the Milwaukee Bucks had a motto with new coach Mike Budenholzer last season: Let it fly. Unshackled from the antiquated systems run by Jason Kidd, the Bucks unleashed a barrage of three-pointers on the league to become a highly efficient offense. Despite being one of the most three-heavy teams in the NBA, the Bucks were a below-average shooting team by percentage. Their one big advantage was Giannis, who could get to the rim at will with all the added space. Two hours north, the Packers played the numbers in a similar kind of way: throw on first down and when that doesnt work, throw again on second down, especially second-and-long. The analytics community should have bee proud, except Green Bay didnt have their version of Giannis with Aaron Rodgers gimpy all season. Even a healthy all-world quarterback can only do so much. It would have been like still running Kidds offense, but shooting those threes just the same. Without the right context, the effectiveness gets blunted. To wit, the Packers were 5th in the league last season throwing after an incompletion, again, the desired playcall in those situations. The only teams who did it more? The Chiefs, Rams, Patriots and Steelers. In other words, with apologies to the Saints, four of the best offenses in football. This is what a team should want its offense to be doing, but without play design and execution, just calling the right run vs. pass balance isnt enough. Mike McCarthys offense increasingly became a conglomeration of plays rather than a cohesive offensive structure. They rarely seemed to call one play to set up a counter, and then show the counter off that. Or if they did, it would happen once and theyd never go back to it. Beautiful play design litters the tape from Green Bays season despite the struggles, but McCarthy rarely found a way to make each play work in concert without one another. How much of that fell on his shoulders and how much came from Rodgers changing plays at the line? We have no way of knowing. Its something we must set aside for the moment. How can Matt LaFleur change this? For starters, balance should be better for the Packers, which actually runs counter to what the data suggests about playcalling game theory from a 30,000 foot view. For example, on 2nd-and-8 or more, the Packers threw it 74% of the time, third-most in the league. Theoretically, thats good. But Green Bay was below league average in success rate. Matt LaFluers Titans threw just 53% of the time in those situations, the least often in the NFL, but were above average in success rate. Considering the players involved with Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and one of the best offensive lines in the league, this simply shouldnt be the case. It hints at a distinct different in play design and playcalling. Tennessees limited offensive personnel, with injuries to Marcus Mariota and Delanie Walker, certainly contributed to this rate of calls. LaFleurs mentor in Los Angeles Sean McVay, called passes on second-and-long 71% of the time while Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco did so 69% of the time. We should expect LaFleurs offense to more closely resemble those numbers in 2019 if for no other reason than he has Rodgers, Davante Adams and the best pass-blocking offensive line in football. Success on first down plays an enormous factor here as well. The Packers did the thing theyre supposed to do and throw it a bunch on first down, but were below average in success rate and one of the worst teams in the league on a per attempt basis. Meanwhile, the Titans threw the ball just 41% of the time compared to 61% for Green Bay, yet found more efficiency. Tennessee passers averaged a robust 8.5 yards per attempt on first-down passes compared to 6.8 for the Packers. The only teams worse by YPA on first-down passes were Jacksonville and Detroit. Yikes. Running more on first down would play to Green Bays strengths. The only team with more success running on first down last season than the Packers was the Rams with LaFleurs old boss, yet no team ran it less often. Thats not happening again in 2019. Playing with a little more balance may swing away from what the Platonic ideal is from the numbers crowd http://www.thepackersfanshop.com/Darnel … Jr.-Jersey , but there is intrinsic value in playing to a teams strengths. We saw it last year when LaFleur essentially abandoned his preferred offense, let Derrick Henry cook, and Tennessee regained its offensive identity. Of course that doesnt mean less Aaron Rodgers, but rather finding more efficient ways to use Rodgers. LaFleurs preferred style of offense stems from play action, another favorite of the analytic community. Analytics tell us a team doesnt need to be a good running team to have a good play action game, but they do have to actually be willing to call run plays. Too often it was obvious the Packers simply werent going to do that, potentially blunting the effects of the play action game. Game theory isnt as simple as Throw more on first down, and on second-and-long. Truisms like Run out of pass formations and throw out of run personnel work because teams have to be able to do the opposite at times as well. The Patriots understand thisat its core better than anyone: run against teams who cant stop the run, and pass against the teams who cant stop the pass. Sometimes it really is that simple. Theyre not afraid to shelve one of the all-time great QBs in the interest of team success and efficiency and hes not too ego-driven to buck that game plan. We have reason to believe Matt LaFleur will follow a similar path, play to the Packers strengths, and run the ball more to make life easier on Rodgers. He has to be adaptive, as does his all-time great quarterback. If LaFleur can run an offense that actually has packages of plays, doing work for the players rather than relying solely on their talent, that provides an upgrade for Green Bays offense. His preferred way of playing marries a strength of the team with efficiency. If they can also follow a more modern game script, balanced with more efficient use of the run game and Rodgers stays healthy, theres potential here for greatness. Those are a group of critical ifs and we are a long way from getting answers on them. Budenholzers Bucks gave away a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals because those shots suddenly stopped falling and they kept shooting rather than adapt to find ways to get Giannis or Brook Lopez to the rim. Its the balance they have to strike. LaFleur must find his own equilibrium with the modern game and the foundation of his offense. In each case, striking that balance would result in maximizing superstar, MVP talent, and could lead to championship hardware. Way back in 2011, current Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets under Rex Ryan. 2011 was a turbulent season for New York as, following up a near-Super Bowl run in 2010, things fell apart completely. That season is captured wonderfully by Nicholas Dawidoff in his 2013 book, Collision Low Crossers, in which Dawidoff was given unprecedented access to the Jets coaching staff and players for the entire 2011 season. For a fan of Wisconsin sports, the book turns out to be an extremely interesting read as two of the main characters of the story are Pettine and current Wisconsin Badgers defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, then a safety for the Jets.Every member of the coaching staff is viewed as a workaholic, and no one more than Pettine, who is portrayed as a 23-hour-a-day film rat, but the contrast between Pettine and Ryan is stark. Ryan is presented as defensive savant, who only needs to study the tape once to see what others still cant see after five or six rewatches. Pettine, on the other hand, is a paragon of detail-oriented preparation, someone who broke into the league as an underpaid technology-forward tape watcher for the Ravens (while secretly cashing out his 401K in order to hide a substantial pay cut from his then-wife), but who doesnt see the game at the same level as Ryan. Ryan is Mozart, Pettine is Salieri. While they work well together if Ryan is leading the way, Ryan cant help but criticize and interfere when Pettine is given more power.Ryan and Pettine spend much of the book bouncing ideas off of each other, often forgetting whose idea it was in the first place. However, its an uneasy relationship, with Ryan giving Pettine more and more responsibility, only to quickly grab it back when he disagrees with something he sees. Everyone in the locker room that year loved Ryan, but not so with Pettine. As a defensive coordinators defensive coordinator, he played the role of bad cop to Ryans jovial good cop while taking much of the blame (sometimes deservedly) when things went wrong. Pettine wasnt exactly Ryans fall-guy, but its unsurprising that the gang split up after the season.Working for guys like Ryan can be difficult. They see and understand things at such a high level compared to almost everyone else, that its actually difficult to learn much of use from them. Bill Belichick, who is also discussed at length, is similar in that he primarily needs coaches to execute his vision, not necessarily to bring additional ideas to the table. It is, I believe Rashan Gary Jersey , the chief reason so many of his assistants fail when they leave the Patriots. There is a lot to like about Pettine, as his pro-technology, meticulous nature, and old-school work ethic likely make him an effective, process-oriented coach. That said, I suspect he excels at the tactics of coaching more than the strategy, and some of his defenses numbers on early downs vs. late downs bears that out. The Packers, while well-prepared on 3rd and long, were eaten alive on first and second down.Likewise, the book makes clear that Ryan really isnt a great fit as a head-coach. He is too willing to delegate on offense and completely unable to delegate on defense, leading to a lack of overall chemistry and a volatile relationship on both sides of the ball. Im sure its commonplace on NFL teams for offensive and defensive players to have uneasy relationships, but in this instance, Ryans lack of offensive direction compounded the problem. I doubt there is a universe where a Mark Sanchez-led offense succeeds, but there probably is one where the the Jets offense doesnt repeatedly beat itself, allowing the defense to secure more wins.Everything came to a head for these 2011 Jets in a late-season game against the Giants that saw Sanchez throw the ball 59 times despite being in a close game. With Pettine calling the defense, and Jim Leonhard missing his second game of the season, the Jets defense allowed an unusual number of big plays, including a 99-yard touchdown to Victor Cruz. It was the nail in the coffin for the pairing.Its possible that Pettine will yet succeed, but the book made me long for Ryan as the superior defensive mind. If I were looking for someone to combat the new, innovative offensive minds in the game, it wouldnt be Pettine, who needs to process a lot of information before cranking out alternative plans. Jim LeonhardPerhaps the biggest surprise of Collision Low Crossers is the juxtaposition of the all-world Darrelle Revis, perhaps the finest corner to ever play the game, with the supremely talented but deeply flawed Antonio Cromartie and the less-talented but hugely important safety Jim Leonhard. Leonhard is the current defensive coordinator for the University of Wisconsin, where he also starred as a ball-hawking safety. In the book, Leonhard is portrayed as a coach-on-the-field, responsible for making the calls for one of the NFLs best defense while relying on his football intelligence to allow him to compete with faster, stronger players. When Leonhard is lost for the season to a knee injury for the second year in a row, the defense goes to pieces for the second year in a row, as no one behind Leonhard is capable of implementing the defensive calls as well or as quickly. In fact, when the coaching staff and front office are seeking his replacement, they dont focus on forty times or agility drills, but on Wonderlic scores (eventually settling on journeyman safety Gerald Alexander and his solid, if unspectacular 25). Leonhard also comes across as a superb locker room presence, able to laugh at himself in the way confident people can without actually sacrificing any charisma, while diffusing petty squabbles. Everyone on the team seems to respect Leonhard, and he comes across as one of the few people outside or Ryan who really seems to understand the Ryan defense at a deep level. Its no surprise that Leonhard is a rising star as a college football coach, and if he isnt a high-level head coach in the next several year, Ill be shocked. I actually found myself preferring Leonhard to Pettine as a coaching candidate once I was finished reading. Collision Low Crossers is fundamentally a book about the Jets, but for any Packers or Badgers fan wondering about their teams defensive coordinator, you wont find a more in-depth profile. Its a pretty breezy read, and it offers plenty of insight into the inner workings of a football team including a few fascinating one-off facts. For instance, the Jets did not value wide receivers in the draft because they only touch the ball a handful of times per game, which explains a lot about their offense. They also didnt trust Penn State pro-day times because the PSU facility sloped noticeably downward, and running drills were all downhill as a result. Its well worth your time, especially if you happen to be interested in the direction of the defenses for the two highest-profile football teams in the state of Wisconsin.