Incarnation 2009: The Evolution Of The Green Bay Offense

Matthew HagenContributor IMay 29, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 16:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers prepares for the snap against the Chicago Bears during NFL action at Lambeau Field on November 16, 2008 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 37-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

All eyes are on the defense, as the coaching staff implements the philosophical and schematic changes necessary to successfully pull off a radical transition to the 3-4 base set-up, when, in fact, similar evolutionary changes are being worked on for the offensive side of the ball as well, in order to weed out the unsuccessful chunks of last year's playbook and complement the current personnel.

The biggest step in the offensive philosophy goes hand-in-hand with the maturation of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who became an NFL starter for the first time last year.  Now officially a seasoned veteran, Rodgers has a good feel for the speed and nuances of playing at a high level in the NFL. His comfort level has risen, and the coaching staff is prepared to take advantage. Expect the play-calling reigns to be loosened. 

Compared to last year's steep learning curve, Rodgers will be given every opportunity to call audibles pre-snap, depending on what he sees out of the defense on any particular play.

Audibles allow bum play-calls to be remedied. They also allow the offense to focus more on the potential mismatches that a defense presents, which is music to the ears of Green Bay's strong set of playmakers.

The raised comfort level also allows the offense to operate at an entirely different pace if they so choose. Missing from last year's offense was the spontaneous uses of the no-huddle that were often times successful when Brett Favre was behind center. Expect no-huddle efficiency to be emphasized this offseason.

Without garnering much attention, schematic changes in the offensive line slowly crept into use last year. The zone blocking scheme was brought to Green Bay with the arrival of head coach Mike McCarthy and then-offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski back in 2006.

Since then, the scheme has had its share of successful moments, but critics have also been given plenty of justified opportunities to rant and rave over its ineffectiveness. 

Those same critics need to take notice of the power elements that were quietly applied to the running game last year. Expect even more of the smash-mouth mentality of the power running game to be applied this year.

That doesn't mean the zone-blocking scheme is going the way of the dinosaur. If the team is comfortable with the versatility, work ethic, brain capacity, and cohesiveness of the offensive line, which they seem to be, the best of both worlds can be applied.

Ultimately, the ability to use both philosophies effectively can keep the opposing defense off-balance.  And that is exactly what Green Bay is hoping for.

Finally, with all the attention that Green Bay's deep receiving corps and spread formation has attracted over the last two years, a larger emphasis on the running backs and tight ends getting involved in the passing game will be incorporated.

The coaching staff will be looking in-house for the true third-down running back that they have lacked in recent years.  The addition of undrafted free agent Tyrell Sutton and his sure-handedness indicates what the team is looking for in their third running back, behind Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson.

The expected development of tight end Jermichael Finley will give the team another passing game option. Finley's specialty is his ability to make down-field plays using his exceptional athletic ability, big body, and soft hands.

Along with Donald Lee, he could even be used in a two-tight end set, which the Packer passing game hasn't utilized effectively since Mark Chmura and Keith Jackson helped claim a Super Bowl title.

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to the evolution of the Packer offense. When attacking a defense, the more options they have at their disposal, the better.

The rest of the NFL has had an entire offseason to dissect last year's offense, so you can be sure that the coaching staff will not rest until a new incarnation of a fluid and varied football machine has been built.