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The Packers have struggled to get the ball into the end zone all season, with an efficiency rate of just under 44 percent.
After finishing the 2012 season with a league-leading 68.52 percent red-zone efficiency rate, the Packers are near the bottom of the league in 2013 in red-zone scoring, with a scoring percentage of just 43.75 percent.
That puts them 31st in the league, just above Jacksonville.
The Packers also were in the top five in the league in red-zone efficiency the last three seasons, so the reasons for the drop-off, which was a problem this season even when Aaron Rodgers was directing the offense, are somewhat unclear.
What we do know is that in the seven games Rodgers started, the Packers went 14-of-28 on red-zone attempts, for a scoring percentage of 50 percent. But in the six games since his injury, including the game against the Chicago Bears in which he played on only one drive, Green Bay has scored on 7-of-20 trips to the red zone, for an efficiency rate of just 35 percent.
Run the ball from less than five yards out, but pass if it's from five yards away or further.
In the only game this season in which the Packers converted all their red-zone attempts (Week 1 in San Francisco, in which they went 4-for-4), they followed this basic formula.
The scores? A five-yard pass to Randall Cobb, a 12-yard pass to Jermichael Finley, an eight-yard pass to Jordy Nelson and a two-yard run by Eddie Lacy.
Yes, this formula is incredibly simplistic: Defenses will surely pick up on such an obvious tendency (and some defenses will show different looks depending on down and distance), and it limits Mike McCarthy's creativity in play-calling.
But as the article I wrote last week about McCarthy's play-calling illustrates, this offense presently is struggling with the basics, with some drives stalling when passes are called on third-and-short and runs on third-and-long. Until Green Bay can master the basics again, the play-calling should deemphasize "creativity," which has often led to blown opportunities.
Of the 21 red-zone attempts on which the Packers have successfully scored, 17 have followed this formula. More often than not, attempts to either pass the ball from less than five yards from the end zone or run from more than five yards out have failed. Moreover, in goal-line situations, with a compressed field, an inexperienced backup quarterback has less room with which to work and, if needed, to improvise.
It seems overly simple, but their play so far this season has demonstrated that when the Packers do manage to get inside the red zone, it pays to keep the play-calling simple.