GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Like most NFL teams, the Green Bay Packers will spend part of their bye week studying themselves.
The problem, however, with a Week 4 bye is there isn’t a lot to dissect.
“Statistics, at this point, I don’t think illustrate the characteristics or identity of your football team,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said recently.
When asked when the numbers do begin to tell the story of a team, McCarthy said: “I think Week 4 or 5. I think after the first quarter (of the season), you have a pretty good idea of whether you’re hitting the targets you intended to hit.”
Nevertheless, the bye gives us the opportunity to study the numbers (see accompanying chart below) that led the Packers to their 1-2 start.
When comparing the offensive numbers to last season, the Packers have improved across the board save for third-down efficiency, where they were ninth last season compared to 17th so far this season. The Packers finished 13th in yards last season, marking the first time they were outside of the top 10 since 2005, but still managed to rank fifth in points. They appear headed for another top-10 finish in yards this season. They have improved from 20th in rushing yards, ninth in passing yards and 28th in sack percentage from last season.
On defense, Dom Capers’ unit has improved in just one of the key areas, rushing defense (which ranked 17th last season). The Packers were 11th in both yards and passing yards allowed last season, fourth in sack percentage, 15th in third-down efficiency and 11th in points.
There’s one statistic, perhaps the most telling of the season so far, that helps explain why the Packers are off to a 1-2 start. They have the NFL’s worst fourth-quarter point differential, according to ESPN Stats & Information, at minus-32.
Individually, quarterback Aaron Rodgers ranks fourth in the NFL in passer rating (105.1), while receiver Randall Cobb ranks sixth in receptions (21) and receiving yards (290). Running back James Starks is tied for 14th in rushing yards (187).