Each Wednesday throughout the season, we identify one Packers player, coach or area that is most under the microscope. This week, the primary focus is on Green Bay’s running attack.
The numbers don’t lie. If the Packers’ running backs continue to pick up only 26 yards on 11 carries — like they did in the loss to Atlanta last Sunday — they could be looking at a very short run in the playoffs, if they even get that far.
It’s unrealistic to assume they will be able to succeed solely on their high-powered passing attack, which was the case in the second half last Sunday in Atlanta when they completely shut down their ground game, save for QB Aaron Rodgers’ occasional carries. That’s especially the case with colder weather coming more into play down the stretch, starting this Sunday at Lambeau Field against the 49ers, who it’s worth noting are much better defending against the run than the pass.
Gaining big chunks against the likes of ILB Patrick Willis and NT Aubrayo Franklin figures to be a challenge, but Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and possibly Dimitri Nance (concussion) must at least make the Niners acknowledge their presence with more meaningful pickups than they provided last week, especially near the goal line.
With Jackson leading the way, Green Bay’s ground game has been serviceable for the most part this season and actually a lot better than many observers have given it credit for. But in a really huge game against the Falcons, it shot mostly blanks, and that just isn’t going to cut it moving forward. Gaining at least 120 rushing yards per game the rest of the season would be a nice target to shoot for.
And better run blocking from the offensive line certainly wouldn’t hurt.