GREEN BAY – In his fifth practice of the organized team activity period and second that was open to the public, new Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur displayed part of his red-zone offense to the faithful lining Oneida Street on Wednesday.
And what better way to cap the session than with an Aaron Rodgers-to-Davante Adams touchdown?
The practice was noticeably uptempo for LaFleur’s new offense, and not just for those watching.
“Today was definitely quick-out, so we were in a rush to get set and get our eyes in the right place and right communication,” Packers inside linebacker Oren Burks said with a smile. “We have a new install just like they do, so it was just a lot this first day of red zone to kind of just get everything processing fast.”
Couple that pace with the fact there is no hitting allowed yet, LaFleur had his quarterbacks dropping back and trying to pick apart the defense in the scoring area.
“The emphasis was more on the red zone,” LaFleur said. “So there was a lot of throwing periods today. I’ve told you guys before, we like to be as balanced as possible, but once you get down there – especially when you don’t have pads on – running the ball kind of defeats the purpose a little bit in practice. We’re still going to get them in, because you’ve got to make the defense honor the run, but, yeah, we just threw a bunch of concepts out there and tried to see what our guys can best do.
“So there was a lot of learning that took place this morning. It was the first time that they heard a lot of these plays in the red-zone install, but I think our guys for the most part handled it pretty well.”
Even without being able to entirely execute the ground elements of the red-zone offense due to the lack of pads, the Packers’ offensive players feel the play designs created openings, even in tighter spaces.
“You can’t get a beat on whether we’re going to pass the ball or run the ball,” Packers running back Aaron Jones said. “We have more condensed formations that we’re throwing the ball out of as well as running the ball.”
Burks admitted that even though the defense is in year two of their system under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, LaFleur’s germinating offense has already put some stresses on them in regard to eye discipline on motions and being quick to recognize coverage responsibilities. And as Rodgers and Adams showed, they can be a tougher duo to stop if a defense is lacking in those areas.
“We’ve got a lot of thing to clean up today as you can see,” Burks said. “But I feel like the tempo and the energy was up so that’s something we can build on."