Entering the eighth week of the NFL regular season, the Packers are 4-3 and are currently one game back of the Minnesota Vikings in the division. However, this season for the Packers is in danger of falling apart due to the season-ending injury to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This bye week could not have occurred at a better time for the Packers. After losing at home to the Saints last week, the Packers now have the opportunity to regroup before hosting a 3-3 Detroit Lions in Lambeau Field the following week.
There are three specific adjustments that need to be made during the bye week:
1. Getting Brett Hundley More Reps
The third-year quarterback Hundley looked awful in relief of Rodgers against the Vikings as he only completed 54.5% of his passes and threw three interceptions. However, fans of the Packers hoped that Hundley would improve with a full week of first-team reps in practice. Unfortunately, that did not occur against the Saints. Hundley did manage to score a rushing touchdown last week, but he looked lost in the pocket as a whole. Against the Saints, Hundley completed 48% of his passes while throwing one interception and zero touchdowns. It was not all bad for Hundley though. Hundley did look extremely mobile in the contest and ran for 44 yards on three carries while only being sacked once.
If Green Bay hopes to return to the playoffs, Hundley has to improve his accuracy in the pocket. In about eight quarters of football, Hundley has only completed 52.5% of his passes. Out of 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, Hundley would rank 31st in completion percentage. In addition, Hundley has only thrown one touchdown and four interceptions. With those stats, it is justified to say that Hundley has underperformed since becoming the starter. If Hundley fails to improve, a playoff berth for the Packers looks extremely unlikely.
2. Getting the Offensive Line Healthy
Throughout the entire season, the offensive line for the Packers has looked terrible. Out of 32 NFL teams, the Packers are tied for 31st in sacks allowed with 24. The reason for the unit’s struggle has been the absence of both David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga. Both players have missed a large portion of the season already and are both likely to return after the bye week. Both tackles, when healthy, are above average and their return could help reinvigorate this offensive line. If both players actually return for the contest against the Lions, one can only expect Hundley to have more time in the pocket and to complete a higher percentage of his passes.
The Packers did run the ball extremely well against the Saints behind rookie running back Aaron Jones. Jones, with only 17 carries, rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown and will most likely be the starting running back moving forward. With Bakhtiari and Bulaga back, one can expect Jones to maintain this level of production which will lead to a more balanced attack on offense.
3. Getting the Defense Healthy
So far this season, a glaring concern for the Packers was their young and unproven secondary. However, the defense has looked solid this season and it is currently tied for fourth in takeaways with 13. However, the defense has been banged up in recent weeks and several veteran contributors were absent for the most recent game against the Saints. Specifically, linebacker Ahmad Brooks and safety Morgan Burnett both missed the game against the Saints. Although the defense still forced two interceptions versus the Saints, the Packers need these experienced veterans to lead the defense as these regular season games become slightly more important in the second half of the season.