Short work: Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson cashing in on red zone chances

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- This isn’t the big-play offense the Green Bay Packers have come to expect, but so far it hasn’t really slowed them down.

Despite ranking in the bottom half of the NFL in yards per play -- they’re 17th at 5.16 -- the Packers haven’t lacked for point production. They’re fourth in offensive points scored per game (25.5) and No. 1 in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 78.6 percent of their trips inside the opponent's’ 20-yard line. And they’ve been able to put together long drives because they’ve converted 49.1 percent of their third downs, which ranks third in the NFL.

“We’ve been really good in situational football this season -- top five in red zone percentage and third-down percentage, which are things we talk about a lot,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after he went 5-for-5 in the red zone and 7-of-14 on third downs in last Thursday’s victory over the Chicago Bears.

“We’ve got a lot of good film to look at, a lot of places to grow, but also a lot of stuff to be proud of -- 3-1, first quarter of the season over, with now an impending tough trip down to Dallas.”

With starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga in and out of the lineup -- they have yet to start a game together this season -- Rodgers has been forced to get the ball out of his hands quickly.

He completed 15 of 21 passes -- including all four of his touchdowns -- within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage against Chicago. He had three completions thrown more than 10 yards down the field, but two of those came outside of the pocket. His four red zone touchdowns against the Bears doubled his season total of touchdown passes inside the 20, where eight of his 10 touchdown passes have come.

Two of those red zone scores went to Jordy Nelson. He and Rodgers have connected on 15 red zone touchdowns the past two seasons. One of Rodgers’ rare deep throws against the Bears went to Nelson, whose 58-yard catch came on a ball caught 44 yards past the line of scrimmage for Rodgers’ deepest completion of the season.