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Team will continue to pass while run game catches up

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Sep 26, 2007.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

    Nov 22, 2005
    Posted: Sept. 24, 2007

    Green Bay - When Mike McCarthy says there will be a time this season when the Green Bay Packers "pound the football," he is referring to an occasion sometime in the future and definitely beyond next weekend.

    Packers running back DeShawn Wynn has his feet taken out from under him by Chargers strong safety Clinton Hart as cornerback Paul Oliver also comes in for the tackle.

    You have to have a comfort when you call particular plays in certain situations, and there have been some growing pains there.

    At least one has to assume so given the circumstances.

    There's just no reason to think that the 3-0 Packers will stray from their one-dimensional offensive attack and incorporate balance into their game plan this week with the Minnesota Vikings on deck. The Vikings are ranked No. 2 in the league in run defense and are allowing opponents a measly 2.5 yards per carry, the lowest average allowed of any team in the National Football League.

    After tearing up the San Diego Chargers for 31 points and 405 yards using a spread attack that often featured an empty backfield, the Packers are good bets to continue throwing the ball.

    "As long as we keep scoring points, we can do it as long as we need to," McCarthy said of the 70-30 pass-to-run ratio the Packers used in their 31-24 victory over the Chargers. "To me, that's the week-to-week focus. That's why you look at the film, you look at the matchups, particularly going into these division games. Everybody knows each other so well."

    The Packers know the Vikings are impenetrable against the run because of their massive tackle tandem of Pat and Kevin Williams. In a 13-10 victory over the 1-2 Vikings Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs spent the first three quarters figuring they could establish the run with franchise runner Larry Johnson, only to be held to 20 yards in 21 carries.

    They woke up in time to realize it was fruitless to run on the Vikings, started throwing the ball and pulled out a come-from-behind victory.

    The Packers will need no such wake-up call.

    Currently, they rank third-to-last in the NFL in number of rushing attempts (59) and second-to-last in percentage of time they have run the ball (30.9). Their passing game ranks sixth in the NFL and only the Detroit Lions (138) have thrown the ball more times than the Packers (125).

    In the first three weeks of the season, teams whose balance is out of whack because of a heavy reliance on the pass are some of the least successful in the NFL. Of the 10 teams with the lowest percentage of rushing attempts, only the Packers and Lions have winning records. The others are a combined 4-19 going into the Tennessee-New Orleans game Monday night.

    "I don't know if this is what we're going to be doing for 13 more games," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "What did we run it against the Giants, 29 times? So I wouldn't read too much into it. We felt going into (San Diego) it gave us the best chance and that's what we kind of did. What happens this week I don't know."

    There's little question what the Packers will attempt to do to the Vikings, who rank 18th in the league in pass defense, but the bigger question is whether the Packers will ever show confidence in their running game. They were able to run it a lot against New York because they were ahead by a big margin in the fourth quarter.

    But their game plan in that game was to spread out the Giants and beat them with a lot of short passes. Against San Diego, they spread their receivers out in an attempt to take the Chargers out of their base 3-4 alignment and threw the ball 45 times.

    About the only purpose the running game served was to keep the defense honest.

    "I thought we were (effective)," Philbin said of the 11 rushes the running backs had. "I came back from halftime and we were averaging 4.2 or 4.3 (actually 4.4) yards per carry and I thought our guys came off the ball pretty well. We didn't run many in the second half, but our blocking was better. There's some potential there."

    The big question is what happens when the Packers really need their running game. Giving youngsters Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn and Ryan Grant a combined 54 rushing attempts in three games hasn't exactly prepped them to be workhorse running backs in the NFL.

    "Week in and week out, it's going to be different," running backs coach Edgar Bennett said. "As we game-plan, things change. The most important thing is to come away with a win. Each day those guys are on the practice field, they improve. And even from the game, each week we come out after reviewing the film and those guys are improving."

    The film of the Packers' carries, however, is short. Most of the advancement the backs are making is in pass protection. Until McCarthy starts "pounding the ball," no one can be sure that the young trio can provide the juice necessary to win a game.

    And as the season moves into November and December, it's going to be harder and harder to play the game the Packers are playing now.

    "I think over the long term it's probably not the healthiest way to go," McCarthy said of passing the ball all the time. "It's important to win in November and December and into January because those are clearly the most important games. And we're headed in that direction."

    Possibly, but it's going to take more than 59 rushes to convince people around here of that. McCarthy has to show confidence in his runners before they have a chance to earn his trust, so it's a bit of a two-way street.

    "It's not that I don't believe in our players," he said. "I am getting more comfortable with our runners, as far as the different things we're asking them to do. You have to have a comfort when you call particular plays in certain situations, and there have been some growing pains there."
  2. warhawk

    warhawk Cheesehead

    Dec 7, 2005
    I thought we were moving the DL in the right direction for the most part on the running plays. I also think you can contribute some of that to the fact their defense had to be thinking pass for the most part because we were hurting them there.

    It appeared there was some room to run there but to MM's credit he stayed with the plan he brought in to win the game. You CHANGE a plan that works and run the risk of losing rythm, then momentum, then the game.

    There HAS to be growing pains when the two guys with experience (Morency and Heron) go down right at the beginning of the season after getting a ton of the reps when the remaining depth has 0 experience.

    I think that we have been able to win while getting the feet under these young guys is a great thing and see no reason they won't come thru as the season progresses.
    If the game plan, however, calls for Brett to beat the other team with his arm so be it. I've said all along I doubt any RB is going to set records in the North Division where everybody seems stout against the run.

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