GREEN BAY, Wis. – In 1974, Burt Reynolds starred in “The Longest Yard.” The coach, Nate Scarboro, was played by Michael Conrad. In 2005, the movie was recast, with Adam Sandler starring and Reynolds playing the role of the coach.
In 2020, Matt LaFleur is the coach in the Green Bay Packers’ version of the classic movie.
For Green Bay’s sizzling offense, the longest yard has been crossing the goal line.
The Packers have run 10 plays from the 1-yard line, with five runs and five passes. They’ve scored three touchdowns. That 30 percent success rate ranks 28th in the NFL, according to Stathead.com.
Through the first five weeks of the season, the league-wide success rate is 54.7 percent.
It was a long yard last year, too. Even with running back Aaron Jones tying for the NFL lead in touchdown runs, the Packers ranked 30th last season by punching it in on only five of 15 plays (33.3 percent) from the 1.
Added together, during LaFleur’s tenure, the Packers are 31st in the NFL with a touchdown rate of 32.0 percent on plays from the 1.
Green Bay’s latest failure was on fourth-and-goal from the 1 against Atlanta. Jamaal Williams didn’t have a prayer.
“Certainly in hindsight, not a good play call,” LaFleur said after the game. “They had everybody loaded up in there and probably should have called a timeout when we came out of the huddle and lined up. It just didn’t look good from the jump.”
From 2008 through 2018, a period encompassing quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ 11 seasons with coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers’ touchdown rate of 54.5 percent tied for 13th.
The Packers drafted bruising AJ Dillon in the second round but LaFleur has been hesitant to get him in the game, let alone give him a crack at the goal line. However, with the goal-line offense being a rare chink in the offensive armor, it might be time for LaFleur to reconsider his reliance on Jones and Williams.
It’s not just the running back. With LaFleur, Rodgers is a woeful 3-of-12 passing with three touchdowns on plays from the 1. He’s 2-of-5 this year, with touchdowns to Davante Adams in Week 1 and Robert Tonyan in Week 3.
When Rodgers was at the height of his powers from 2009 through 2016, he was 19-of-35 with 17 touchdowns.