The Green Bay Packers are on a roll lately, having won three games in a row to improve to 5-3. Though the team appears to be coming together, the running game is still lagging.
The Packers are 26th in the league in rushing with 90.1 yards per game. That poor stat is still the case despite the team being 17th in the league with 195 attempts. Second-year running back Alex Green has carried the load the past three games since Cedric Benson was hurt against the Colts in Week 5, and his teammates believe he hasn’t done well enough.
“Quantity is important – we want to have a certain amount of runs every game to keep them honest,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during his radio show with Jason Wilde on WAUK in Milwaukee this week, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But I have to say the quality of them has not been anywhere where we’d like them.
“We’ve got to run the ball better,” Rodgers said. “If we can do that, then we are going to have the opportunity to make some of those play-action gains, make some of those gains with big plays over the top. Then you are going to see the runs in the fourth quarter pick up. That’s maybe the one area we haven’t been effective and haven’t had a bunch of. We have not been able to close out games running the football. So that keeps our attempts down. We haven’t been ahead by maybe two or three scores and kept those drives alive at times to give us even more attempts. So we have to do a better job in the quality part that goes along with the quantity of runs we get.”
Rodgers made his comments in the context of noting that he’s on pace for a career-high 594 passing attempts. He’s not the only Packers player who has said the running game needs work.
“You don’t want teams just to commit to the passing game. You’ve got to get respect in the running game,” tight end Jermichael Finley said Thursday, via the Superior Telegram. “Right now, we’re doing an OK job, under average. So we’ve got to pick it up.”
“Sometimes, we’re creating holes and they’re not hitting them,” offensive guard Josh Sitton said. “Sometimes, we’re just getting stuffed in the middle. It’s a group effort and it hasn’t been as consistent as it needs to be.”
Rodgers says they need to improve their running game in order to give the passing game better looks. He says teams like the Jaguars were able to leave more players in coverage because of the lack of a threat from the running game.
It seems like the finger is being pointed at Green for not producing, but he knows he needs to do better.
“I see the holes are there. I have to do a good job pressing the holes and make quicker reads,” Green told the Superior Telegram. “That’s one thing I have to work on, making quicker reads and getting into the hole. The holes are there. The line’s doing a great job. I just need to do my job and be a great running back.”
Benson isn’t expected back from his Lisfranc injury until Week 14 at the earliest. It probably will be up to Rodgers to continue carrying the offense, which won’t be easy with Greg Jennings now out for several more weeks after undergoing groin surgery, and Jordy Nelson still dealing with a hamstring injury.
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