The Green Bay Packers played good enough to win in most areas yesterday, but like has been the case for them in close games, especially against quality opponents, the Packers can never deliver the knockout punch and always end up on the wrong end of a decision. No different yesterday against the Falcons. They are always the chasing somebody. For once it would be nice to be the Bandit instead Bufurd T. Justice.
Today head coach Mike McCarthy said he wasn’t worried about the Packers’ running game. Here’s a flash, 31 defensive coordinators aren’t worried about it either. If McCarthy thinks his one-dimensional offense can carry him through December I’d like some of what he’s smoking. Even if you are game planning to pass the ball more against an opponent, you still have to have enough of a running game to be able to do that successfully.
Without Ryan Grant everybody knows the Packers are going to throw the ball on almost every down. With as many empty back backfields the Packers use they for the most part don’t even try to hide it. That is OK against most teams considering the talent the Packers have at receiver, opponents can’t stop them anyway. But against good teams like the Falcons and in poor weather that is sure to come, you have to be able to run the football. The last time the Packers won a playoff game Grant ran for 200 yards, not a coincidence.
McCarthy may think Aaron Rodgers is good enough to do it all by himself but I don’t think it’s possible. While Rodgers’ final pass against the Falcons was the best of his career, what did it get him? A seat on the bench while his special teams unit blows another game. In fact, if the Packers had even a good special teams unit I would be more open to the abandoned running game approach, because a good special teams can cure of lot of ills. Just ask the Bears.
The combination of poor special teams and no running game will be a lot to overcome if the Packers are to make the playoffs. If the Packers lose even one of the next two games they can book plane tickets home for early January. A loss to the 49ers in Lambeau or at Detroit would be it for the Packers with the Patriots, Giants and Bears to follow.
The Packers need to get to 9-4 so they have a realistic chance going into those final three games. Hopefully they can get some practice dropping the dagger on two less fortunate teams, and then use it when they travel to New England to start that final stretch.
The Packers are good team, but they need to find the next level if they want to be great. Getting to where they are is the easy part, taking the last step is always the hard part. The Packers have five games to be great.