Running game taking heat

It’s not a good time to be a Green Bay Packers’ running back. Even before the Packers lost Ryan Grant to injury the running game has been under attack. The same old stuff, Ryan Grant isn’t any good, the Packers aren’t committed to the running game, the offensive line can’t run block. Since losing Grant the Packers have found out just how valuable Grant is.

Grant may not be Superman, but without him the running has vanished into thin air. It is so bad that the Packers look like they have given up trying to run at all, instead going with the short passing game as a substitute. Donald Driver might catch 150 balls this year unless the Packers figure something out soon. I hate to say it but I think Ted needs to pull the trigger on Lynch if he can get him. With the injuries at linebacker, however, A.J. Hawk can no longer be part of the equation, which means draft picks, which goes against every fiber of Thompson’s being.

Whether it be Lynch or somebody else, the Packers running game needs to at least have the respect of the defense if they are to accomplish their goals. That threat is especially needed in the red zone where with no reason to stop the run opponents can flood the short field making it twice as hard to score a TD. The Packers can march it up and down the field between the 20s but will stall out like they did Monday night.

Obviously with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and the weapons he has, the Packers aren’t going to be a running team, but last year they did run the ball more than 17 other teams, finishing 15th in rushing attempts. They won’t touch that at the pace they are at now, more like 30th probably, meaning Rodgers will be under way more duress than he should be. I hope he makes it through unharmed.

Finally, I wonder how much of a factor having Jermichael Finley the starting tight end affects the running game. Finley isn’t exactly a blocking tight end and if you bring in D. Lee and run the ball every time, it won’t be any more effective since teams will know what is coming.

It’s all quite a dilemma for head coach Mike McCarthy and his offensive coordinator. Come on Ted, play your card, the window is here now. Take advantage of it one way or another.

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  • You’re right AL. Finley was also called on to help out against Peppers further limiting his effectiveness.

  • Packer’s Advocate

    I like Lynch as best option for now, but the Packers aren’t the best run blocking team out there, so just like at draft time last year, I’d prefer they find a fast and nifty back in the mold of C.J. Spiller or Jahvid Best that can wiggle around, find a hole, make people miss and take it home when an opening presents itself.
    Rick, the Bears player may have been called for “unnecessary roughness” (which was helmet to the head according to the announcer) but maybe fines aren’t doled out for that penalty. It happened in the 3rd or 4th quarter I believe.

  • I’m not going to compare Nance to Lynch, but why is everybody giving him such short shrift? After all Grant himself, for what he was (merely adequate?), came out of nowhere and did crank up 1K+ each year. I know nothing about Starks, I know all I need to about Bjax, I’d like to have Lynch, but I’d like to see what Nance has to offer. With all our other weapons, I’m sure not going to panic. This team wasn’t built for running anyway; everybody knows we are going to go 65/35 on the pass. Geez, take into account – a little at least – that that game was an anomaly. You guys forget that “any given Sunday rule” or did you think we would go 19-0? As an aside, has Zombo passed Jones on the depth chart? I hope he can cover just a little, ’cause he sure can be explosive opposite CM.

    • jimmyus333333

      It’s not us that gave up on Nance, the MM already did by making him inactive last week. He sticks around now because they need a running back in that roster spot.

  • mel e mel

    Nance,Starks, Johnson I am up for any of them, I also would like Newhouse or Lang active.

  • Larry

    L/T…nothing against anybody on the roster but TT is always trying to find someone better for every position..certainly Nance should be given an opportunity but IF someone becomes available that is perceived to be an upgrade we have to at least look. Lynch has had some success in this league with a poor team…he’s worth a look.

    I’m like MeM…I’d like to see Lang/Newhouse get some snaps at RT…It looks like the replacements are on the roster and a little experience wouldn’t hurt.

    Our less than mediocre running is not an anomoly…and the schedule isn’t getting any easier after Detroit…if defenses start to ignore tha play action we’re going to see more blitzes and more pressure on AR.

  • Totally agree with all of you, re Lynch; pretty much at any price (pick wise).
    Count me in for increasing the snaps of Lang, Bulaga, and Newhouse – as well as Neal.
    I think the handwriting is on the wall insofar as the age impact on the OL. We’re in great shape on the interior, but the OTs look like they’re hanging on by a thread, we’ll know by mid-season.
    Ironic, if by some chance the two OTs are replaced from within, won’t that decrease the average roster age and make us the youngest team again? Heh, heh, TT can’t win…..!

  • Deek

    It’s puzzling to me why I’ve never seen a screen pass or a flanker pass or an end around, to supplement the lack of a running game.

    • Because 325 pounders can’t pull and lead block. The OL is built for pass blocking. I agree with many insofar as I hate the one dimentiality (sp?) of it. Our West Coast from old SF, and our run from old DEN. One of these days I hope to see a Barry Sanders type in GB, but it won’t happen with these guys in charge.

  • mel e mel

    I am still trying to figure out what MM means by “we have spent too much time trying to get guys healthy. Does he mean Clifton? or only Brad Jones very interesting comment.

    • The way I took it was that he was protecting starter status for vets rather than put in the most fit individual into the position. Hence, the backups were not getting enough reps because the 1st stringers were walking thru drills trying to healthy up. I’m glad he has seen the light, because I thought I could see the result in overall team speed being degraded.

      • Doug R


      • Rick

        Ding ding ding we have a winner.

        LT nailed it. That is also why we had a different group in on ST especially on Punt coverage. We were playing guys that do not normally play the starting spots on ST because of the injuries, and protecting guys stepping into starter roles. Guys are more hesitant because they are not comfortable with what they are doing and they are slow on the field. One misstep on bad angle and Boom a TD.

  • Rick

    Unless we aquire a RB…

    I say more FB and Jumbo runs out of the I formation, especially early on in games. We will make small D lines pay and we will play action off of it. I know we like to spread the field with 4 Receivers and Finley at TE but you lose the red zone efficiency. We have a big Pass Protect O line and not the pulling O line Run support personnel. So keep it simple – when you want put a nail into a piece of wood you don’t get cute you just hammer the sum beach in.

    We can run almost every play in the book from that formation and if they Blitz we have Three of the best in Jennings, DD, and Finley to make them pay, even WR and RB and FB screens. Look at the 96 Packers and our offense. We have the team do that again. Our #1 and #2 receiver are great. The TE is a mismatch all day against base defenses.

    You can’t tell if we will run or throw from the scheme so the Play action works again and we kill em. Also quick slants help supplement the running game and allow the QB to get the ball out quick which helps the O line not to have to protect as long. That will slow down the amount of Blitzes, or we will dump over them all day.

    In the game we throw in the spreads which we can then still run draws out of because we will not tip the pass / run options. It requires better coaching but MM should be able to do it. He has to.

  • I mentioned ANOMALY earlier with regard to a total team (O-D-ST) breakdown and only lose by a few.
    The explanations are found above for why they happened perhaps; and it does not only come down to coaching. However, when a line drive punt leads to a 20 yd runback, and another out drives the coverage by 15 yds, a KO goes out of bounds (penalty), at least two whiffs on the runback TD, a blocked FG (fault of the OL), offsides on a KO, and at least one block-in-the-back penalty, can’t tell you how many holds on the OL, not to mention the interference or two on the DBs: Gentlemen, thats an anomaly. Throw that one away and start over.
    I think the players have to take a good look in the mirror on this one, all those things happened on the field of play not in the film room, the locker room, or the sidelines. You can’t dicipline and bench the whole damned team…..and they all contributed, even Arod, Collins, the veteran OTs, and Woodson. Jump on a lack of coach terror if you will, but even our most proffessional veterans blew it too.

    • Rick

      I do not think we will have 18 penalties again this season. It was a strange game. We always commit a lot of penalties in the MM era so I won’t go so far as call it an anomaly.

      We feel we can move the ball on anybody. We have the best passing weapons in the NFL. The Cowboys did the same throw throw throw against the Bears and duded in the Red zone just like we did against them. The spread scheme without a run threat can make you a lot of field goals, but may not get you in the endzone.

      Last year the spread WITH a run threat won the SB in the Saints. We either need to add a run threat or have a base scheme change. Both of those are MM’s decision. Ask the boss (TT) for help or set your team up for the best chance of successwith the personnel you have.

    • iccyfan

      I didn’t expect to go undefeated this season so this road loss to a bitter division foe hasn’t sent me off the deep end. Even so, I don’t know how you can categorize this game as an anomaly. Most penalized team in the NFL two years running – Check. Untimely Holding and Pass Interference Penalities – Check. Poor special teams play – Check. More specifically, poor punting – Check.

      The fact that none of these long-standing bugaboos didn’t surface in the first two games might be the anomaly you should be citing…

      I will give you one surprise development – that was our best offensive lineman, Josh Sitton, getting blown on his can while Peppers blocked the FG. If it’d been Colledge – no surprise; but Sitton? Wow…

      • Rick

        WOW. If you have the game on your tivo or or DVR. Go slow on the Punt return TD and some of the special team plays. Quarless was a very very bad man. I watched some of the other special team plays and Quarless looked HORRIBLE. I am going to have to get the coaches game tape but TV coverage showed a man in over his head.

        The Sitton play was just a mental let down. I don’t think he deals with someone like Peppers trying to come up the gut/ It is normally back ups or big slow DTs

      • I won’t bother you with Webster’s definition I’ll give you mine. Not the usual suspects for the penalties, but the experienced pros – ie, Woodson, Arod, Clifton, Tauscher, and I believe Collins. Some call Sitton our best OL letting Peppers thru and tell me again, how many sacks did CM have? I call that an anomaly. Just like the Tampa game last yr in a 11-5 season. They failed in every phase of the game, not in just the STs. Hell, we even had dropped passes.

  • Skyler

    Good post Al.

    You need a balance attack. IMO, Rodgers will not be as effective as last season without a balance running game. As good as Favre was, without Leven and/or Bennett, the Packers would not have made it deep in the playoffs or had a chance to go to the big dance.

    We have know for 3 years that Jackson would not be able to go 20 plus if Grant got hurt. We waited to long… and now we are caught with our pants down.

    There are alot of team in the NFL with solid 1 2 RB’s. Why has TT neglected this position for so long. We have three FB’s…. And what is this doing for us?????????????

  • mel e mel

    Anomaly my eye. Did you notice the fake reverse on the kick return? How about the bunch formation on kickoffs?? Slocum has $1000 rims on a car with with no tranny. You become excellent on the basics before you dig into the bag of tricks. Quarless being active is a head scratcher to me, anyone think he can contribute more than Lang?

    • Rick

      He was added late on Friday and had almost no real experience. We had 6 new/different guys on the ST coverage unit – Quarless and two others were added to the team Friday afternoon. That is over half the players of that formation.

      By the way. With Shields not able to play, did you see the lack of a gunner on our return coverage team… I did.

      • Packer’s Advocate

        I like how you dig into it Rick!!!!!

  • cdk4205

    I’ve been hoping Quarless will develop, but I have to agree he is not ready to play. The perfect storm of penalties, turnovers, poor special teams was aggravated by the dropped pass in the end zone. of course if Finley isn’t off after cramping up, quarless isn’t even in the game to drop the pass. Without the drop, GB’s lead is big enough that the bores don’t get to kick a FG to win.

    • Rick

      Quarless needs to be the number two TE then to get the reps and tweek his game. With a Finley and Finley Mark II we would be very hard to play against.

      2WR 2 TE and 1 RB formation with both TEs able to create a mismatch. I like that alot. If Quarless develops.

      Lee is a great TE but we do not want to broadcast run or pass by him being out there. Call the Bills, we have a veteran TE and draft picks what do they need. We want Lynch.

    • iccyfan

      Not exactly accurate; Quarless did drop a certain TD pass but ARod scored on a scramble to the right on the very next play.

      Who expects the rookie Quarless to play like a present day Finley now, when Finley himself struggled mightily as a rookie? I believe Quarless was drafted to replace Finley when Finley hits free agency and commands a contract beyond what Ted is willing to pay. I don’t have the slightest idea if he should be active now, but six or seven actives from amongst the FB/TE group seems excessive…

  • Rick

    iccy. Correct on the score. We did score next play.

    Quarless needs to develop. Lee was not out there when Finley had cramps, Quarless was. Why??

    If Lee went in, the TE position was not a pass catching threat for the defense. With Quarless the D had to account for him. He did get open in the endzone, just needs better stickum gloves. Thus if we gameday Quarless as the number two then he should be the number 2 TE.

    We activated that number of players because do to injuries we lost 6 positions. So we took the injured and have them be most of the inactive 8. Everyone else was on the game day 45. That meant all the TEs and FBs were in play.

  • Skyler

    Activate is not the issue. It is the numbers of personal at each position. We do have Starks and Harris on the PUP list. But… No NFL team need 4 TE’s and 3 FB’s on the roster. Any current NFL clubs with this setup? We never had an adequate number of RB’s in the roster to start camp. TT drafts Starks who has a history, like Harrell and Blackman, of being injuryed throughout college. Fine, if you are going to do this than get insurance, like more RB’s, but he never did. Now Grant get’s hurt and his back is against the wall.

    • Other than Quarles would you like to replace those extra TEs and FBs with DTs and OGs on the Specials? Seems to me I remember not a few of you who were bemoaning the fact that Havner was gone – given his impact in Red Zone and Specials. Can’t have it both ways.
      I think TT has well learned his lesson regarding college players who have been injured. Devil is in the details, ie what round, what injuries, potential (and don’t poo-poo draftees because all draftees are no more than potential) and program they came from. Besides, one can’t visit or see 1000 college players a year, you’ve got to trust scout input eventually. Who cares what other clubs do?
      Think back, men, we didn’t have DLs worth a crap but we did have LBs so we brought in Capers and went 3/4. We had a disasterous OL injury year (’07) so we beefed up the OL. We had aging DBs so we drafted a ton of them. Kickers and Punters are a dime a dozen and we’ve brought a bunch of them in camp. Even with Crosby’s trouble from the right hash last year he is long and accurate, most of them are. We made a bad gamble with a punter that could kick a hundred yards, but unfortunately he didn’t do it in games.
      You doubters really should spend more time with the coaches, trainers, and players, I think they might agree that a rebuild is not completely done over night and five years is not a long time for a 50+ year fan like me, after all I like this team and frankly I don’t need a SB to keep me here. There are teams like WAS, OAK, DAL, MIN, etc, etc, etc, – perhaps you’d be more comfortable with more personnel in and out action, but bring your checkbook, we don’t have a billion $ owner.

      • AATP

        Well said LT…

  • roy jamison

    Maybe the Pack needs to go back to the “sweep” and get both fullbacks on the field.

  • Skyler

    Hey Larrytex,

    I never talked about DT or OL for TE and FB. At the starting of the season we needed more Running Backs and a true punt and kick returner. I bet these position could be used on Special Team as well.

    I am sure you enjoyed the 70’s and 80’s teams. Twenty years of being one of the poor NFL clubs during those time. Leadership and business sense was the problem, not money.

    There are tons of examples in all of pro sports franchises where big payrolls do not equal championships.

    Havner would have caught that ball in the endzone and the Packer would have win over the Bears. Would of, Could of, Should of, My point is TT should need have drafted a Quarles. WE have three good TE’s, all with good playing history. I not comfortable with more in and out.

    This is a win now league. Wolf would not have had this many holes in the roster after 5 years on the job.

    • Perhaps, who knows for sure, but to set the record straight it was our beloved St. Vincent that started that twenty year debacle. Anderson/Grabowski, didn’t work, leaving Bengston in charge, followed by the Hadl deal. Many, many, factors enter into success as well as failure.
      I’ve gone on record that I would give a #1 for Lynch. The caviat is that these big deals DON’T work many times over more than they DO. Which is also a point you were making, I believe.
      My point is that too many people just spout off like its so damned simple and its so easy to go for that one big score, rubbish.
      MIN tried it w/ Hershall and built DAL, Ditka tried it w/ NO and you know that result. Snyder has been trying it w/ WAS to no avail, not to mention Davis out there in la la land. More recently JETS w/ Faneca, etc.
      In the last six years IND, NO, PIT, ARI, NYG, CHI, SEA, and PHI have been to the Super Bowl and left the big spenders in the dust. PATs have been there (not sure if Moss was on the team), but I know they didn’t win it because of Moss. Would Favre and Moss made it, who knows?
      I’ll stick with the way TT is doing it, because I have the history to compare it to………!

      • jonnyfootballhero

        All true LT, but Ron Wolf was able to make it work by getting key FA’s to supplement his drafts.

      • No question about it j, I’m not ready to put TT in RW’s class just yet. In all fairness W struck gold w/ Favre and T w/ Arod, W w/REGGIE but I don’t think Peppers quite in White’s shoes, but T did move to get CM – boils down to apples and oranges. Canty and Haynesworth probably the biggest things to date in TT tenure here, but shoot, they didn’t work out so well either.

      • jimmyus333333

        Do you remember that the year that Seattle went to the SB was the year AFTER TT left, and when Seattle opened the checkbook in the offseason.

        We’ll now see what Schneider will do there…Maybe he should have been our guy.

  • iccyfan

    LarryTex says: “My point is that too many people just spout off like its so damned simple and its so easy to go for that one big score”

    I don’t see anybody saying that in this thread or the last. Please never mention Faneca again; few (if any) on this site were calling for TT to sign him and you’ve beat that horse to death a couple times over! 😉

    Back to regularly scheduled programing, I think John Kuhn will have a big day tomorrow. Give him the ball 20x / game and he’ll go Csonka on ’em. If we get a feature back like Lynch in a trade for decent value; fine – if not adopt the old Giants formula and run our version of Otis Anderson at ’em.

    • Your right iccy, nobody said a thing about it before JETs moved, only afterwards when he had one good year there and used it to criticize TT. Won’t mention him again.
      Oh, bravo, on your second point; could happen. Haven’t thought of Csonk (or Brockington for that matter) in a long, long time. There are a couple of times on Monday night’s film that might wan’t to put the DET LBs in a little closer together with him in the backfield. Don’t think he needs as big a hole as Bjax. Chuckle, chuckle….!

  • Monty

    You GUYS are all WRONG….MM says he likes the GB run game, its OK…the backs we have are OK, so if MM is saying this TT must be telling him to say it??..nah Im just messing with ya, I totally agree, with Kuhn and BJ we have become one dimensional. I agree also that MM is calling less runs, someone said or a reporter stated that he thought if MM had his way, he would pass ALL the time. Im sure something will give, its 2007 all over again and we dont have a main guy to give the rock to in the running game. Hopefully, either someone on the roster steps up or they pick up someone that can. As any smart football guy knows (see Vince Lombardi) a strong running game makes everything else that much easier, keeps the defense fresher, opens up the passing etc. Its not rocket science, its football. I agree also with you all about Newhouse, I got to watch him a little in the preseason, he looked OK, with experience, I could see him as the future LT with Bulga being the LG. Lang I think with the surgery he had in the offseason need reps and experience to get back to where he was last year. I think those three though are solid OLmen for the future.

    • Amen Monty, but our OL is light years better than ’07 IMO both in terms of depth and type of injuries. Lets face it, Tausch and Cliffy never were good run blockers, only adequate. What we see now is just plain age factor, no getting away from it. Your implication is that you would like to see the back-ups get more field (game) time, again, a big Amen! I think when we get fully adjusted to the Grant hit you’ll see a lot of rotation on the OL this year. We have to for the future good.