GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Forget the numbers, eye-catching as they are; they’re not sustainable. Not even for a Green Bay Packers team that has Aaron Rodgers with pinpoint control, Aaron Jones with the ability to run and catch plus a healthy Davante Adams.
Yes, through two games the Packers are on pace to obliterate their record-setting production from 2011. They’ve already totaled 1,010 yards and are on an 8,000-yard pace (the franchise record is 6,482, set during the Packers’ 15-1 season nine years ago). They’ve averaged 38 points of offense per game and 42.5 points per game overall if you count the defensive scores (a Jaire Alexander safety in the 42-34 Week 1 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and Chandon Sullivan's pick-6 in Sunday’s 42-21 win over the Detroit Lions).
The only other team in NFL history (the Buffalo Bills of 1991) has opened the season with at least 85 points and 1,000-plus total yards in the first two games, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
But don’t ask Rodgers, the only current member of the offense who also was here in 2011, to say this unit has the same -- or even more -- firepower.
All Rodgers knows is that it’s better than it was last year in coach Matt LaFleur’s first season, and that’s all that matters right now.
“I like the adjustments we made from Week 1 to Week 2 and I think we did a good job in-game with our adjustments as well, finding ways to move some guys around and get them touches,” Rodgers said after beating the Lions at Lambeau Field.
On Sunday, with the Lions intent on shutting down Adams after his 14-catch game at Minnesota (and with Adams on the sideline for much of the second half nursing a hamstring injury that might cloud his status for next Sunday night at New Orleans), the Packers turned to Jones, who set a career best with 236 total yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).
Lest anyone think this is just the same formula last year, when the Packers rode Adams and Jones -- and not much else -- to a 13-3 regular season before their NFC Championship Game flameout, Rodgers & Co. believe this offense has more to it.
Rodgers already has thrown touchdown passes to five different players: Adams (two), Lazard, Valdes-Scantling, Jones and tight end Robert Tonyan. He hasn’t thrown an interception. He’s been sacked only once and the offensive line has just two penalties. And the Jones-Jamaal Williams-Tyler Ervin-AJ Dillon running back foursome has provided flexibility.
“These backs that we have, it's just a different type of combination than we've had around here in so long, with Jonesy being able to go the distance, with Jamaal being such a versatile every-down back,” Rodgers said. “He can do it on third down, pass blocking, route running and then also a really good runner between the tackles. And then Jonesy also making plays, splitting him out wide, I think that kind of makes the offense a little bit different. It's my second year in the offense. I'm feeling comfortable with things which is allowing us to do definitely more than we could do last year two games in.”
At no point last season did the Packers ever crack the top 10 in the offensive rankings on the way to finishing 18th in total yards and 15th in points.
“We're two games into this thing, am I happy with where we are? Yeah,” LaFleur said. “I think we've done a lot of great things. Do I think there's a lot to improve upon? No doubt about it. I think it was evident today.”
Specifically, LaFleur mentioned a third-quarter drive in which the Packers reached the Lions’ 18-yard line but were backed up by a holding penalty and their lone sack allowed of the season. And then there were the three failed red zone trips to start the opener at Minnesota.
Still, the Packers became just the fourth team in the past 40 seasons with at least 40 points in each of their first two games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The most recent two -- the 2013 Broncos and the 2009 Saints -- both reached the Super Bowl. The other -- the 2001 Colts -- missed the playoffs.
But forget the numbers. This offense already has presented opponents with a wider variety of formations and pre-snap motions that LaFleur wasn’t able to install in his first season.
“This is our second year in the offense,” Jones said. “So we’re able to go out there and play comfortable and know how to run certain plays against different looks, more exotic looks.”