Fix the red-zone offense, beat the Lions ... it's simple but not easy
The headline could have been “Just have Aaron Rodgers not throw three interceptions in the red zone” and it may well have covered everything from the first time the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions faced off. The Packers moved the ball with ease, putting up almost 400 total yards of offense, but managed just 9 points because they went 0-4 in the red zone. With the Green Bay defense playing with its hair on fire, having stifled this explosive Lions once already, if the Packers offense can just be its normal, below-average offense in the red zone, that might be enough to win. If they play well in the red zone, they will win.
It’s the proverbial “easier said than done,” because if it were that easy, they’d already be doing it better. The Packers are 23rd in points per red zone trip this season, saved only by the fact the Lions are 27th in red zone points per drive allowed. Rodgers and Co. haven’t been sharp or consistent in the scoring area, but the Detroit defense is bad basically everywhere.
Let’s start in a straight forward spot: don’t turn the ball over. I shouldn’t have to say, “Don’t turn the ball over three times with interceptions and another on downs,” but here we are.
Detroit is 32nd in what Football Outsiders deems as variance, in other words, how consistently they play. That makes sense because while the Detroit defense struggles play-to-play, they’re good at creating turnovers. Aaron Glenn’s group enters the week 12th in turnovers per drive and 6th in fumbles per drive.
That’s what got the Packers in Detroit. Rodgers threw an off-target pass that got tipped into an interception on the first red zone turnover. That was on 1st-and-goal from the five with the game tied. The very next drive, the Packers marched down the field and Rodgers promptly threw an interception on 4th-and-goal from the one on a tackle eligible throwback play in which Rodgers missed the throw by a good 5 yards short.