By Eric Goska
Brett Favre was in his second season as a starter the last time
the Packers failed to gain 5,000 yards in a season.
The streak is over.
That it has ended is yet another indication of how far the Green Bay Packers have fallen.
As has been the case too often this season,
Green Bay came up short offensively, this time in an uninspiring 35-11 season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions. The team’s lack of firepower is one reason it was swept by the Lions for the first time since 1991.
Offense and the Packers have gone hand in hand throughout much of the team’s existence. From Curly Lambeau’s use of the forward pass to the record-setting performances of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers,
Green Bay has moved the football.
One constant had been the team’s ability to amass 5,000 yards. It did so for 23 consecutive seasons beginning in 1994.
Five thousand yards is a modest accomplishment. A team must average 312.5 yards per game to get there.
Many teams have reached the milestone. Not one did so with the consistency of the Packers.
Even in those rare instances when
Green Bay endured a losing season, it could count on that production. It amassed 5,458 yards in 2005 (4-12) and 5,618 in 2008 (6-10).
This year was different. Too often these Packers faltered, and now their league-leading streak is history.
The team got off to a good start against the Lions on New Year’s Eve. Jamaal Williams, Brett Hundley, Randall Cobb and Devante Mays combined for 47 yards rushing on 12 carries. Hundley passed for another 67 as the team piled up a season-high 114 yards in the first quarter.
Such quantity so early usually bodes well. From 1994 through 2016, the team went 84-24 (.778) in regular-season games when grabbing 100 or more yards in the first quarter.
The problem in
Detroit was sustainability. What had been an outpouring turned into a drip-drip.
In total, the
Green Bay produced 256 yards at Ford Field. It was the third lowest output of the season for the team, and it marked the seventh time the Packers failed to hit 300.
In winding up 7-9,
Green Bay finished with 4,891 yards. That’s its lowest total since 1993 (4,750) when Favre was in his second season as a starter.
In the 23 years from 1994 through 2016,
Green Bay topped 6,000 four times: 2004 (6,357), 2009 (6,065), 2013 (6,404) and 2014 (6,178). Its lowest ebb occurred in 2005 (5,118)
During that time, the Green and Gold produced 131,757 yards of offense. Only the Broncos (133,644) generated more.
Under Mike McCarthy, the Packers amassed 64,870 yards from 2006 through 2016. That was fourth best behind
New Orleans (71,334), New England (67,838) and Philadelphia (65,699).
This season, the Packers wound up 26th in yards. Their offense was the 7th poorest.
It’s the worst showing by the club since it perched fifth from the bottom (24 out of 28 teams) in 1991.
For all this talk about yards, what ultimately matters, of course, is points. A stockpile of yards guarantees nothing.
In that regard,
Green Bay didn’t measure up either. The 320 points it scored was its fewest since 2006 (301).
Yes, yards gained may not matter as much as other statistics. But a team that can consistently move the ball will generate offensive excitement from time to time, something the Packers did with far too little regularity in 2017.
A Case for Yards
Teams that earned 5,000 or more yards in 19 or more seasons from 1994 through 2016.
No. Team Record (Pct.)
23 Packers 236-131-1 (.643)
22 Broncos 216-136-0 (.614)
22 Patriots 244-108-0 (.693)
21 Vikings 180-155-1 (.537)
19 Cowboys 180-124-0 (.592)
19 Eagles 171-131-2 (.566)
19 Falcons 166-137-1 (.548)
19 Saints 160-144-0 (.546)
19 Steelers 201-102-1 (.663)